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The holidays are over and now that all the shopping and festivities are done, many people in Kansas City are facing a dreaded annual staple: a high credit card bill. Fortunately, there are some steps debtors can take to lower their credit card balances before they become overwhelming. In doing so, they may be able to set and reach new financial goals for the New Year.

If a debtor has more than one credit card, one step they could take is to start paying off the credit card bill with the smallest balance first, and then move to the larger ones. This could be a good way to keep a debtor motivated to keep tackling their debt, because they can see their progress as they go.

Another similar strategy is to pay off the card with the highest interest rate first, and then go on to the next. This is an especially good idea, according to one expert, if the cardholder’s credit card balances amount to 30 percent or more of the credit they have available. This tactic could help improve a debtor’s credit score.

In addition, if possible a debtor can try to make extra payments on their credit cards. This could lower the amount of interest they’ll eventually pay, which could be significant depending on how high their balance is.

Another option is to file for bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be one way for debtors who simply cannot pay all their bills to satisfy their creditors and move forward with a clean slate. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also an option for those who feel they can pay off their debts through a court-approved plan. Both options are good ones for debtors who feel stuck in a tough financial situation and want to start the New Year with a new plan for financial stability.

As this shows, debtors have many options when it comes to overcoming credit card debt, including filing for bankruptcy. By carefully exploring all their options, they may be able to choose a strategy that will benefit them in the long run.

Source: MarketWatch, “5 ways to tackle post-holiday credit-card debt,” Vera Gibbons, Jan. 5, 2015