Web Winners: Debt fatigue

20080224_inq_site24-a
With the subprime-mortgage crisis spotlighting business and household debt, some Web sites can help individuals get their finances in order.

With many of us facing the problem of how to pay back mounting debts, here is a look at Web sites explaining how to recover from "debt fatigue."

Good debt. This seven-part lesson on controlling debt starts with the "top things to know." These include knowing that there's debt that usually is considered good - for a home or college - and plenty of debt that's bad - use of a credit card for food or vacations, for example.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson9/

Consumer Reports. "Getting into debt is easy," says this article. But then what? Be cautious in choosing a credit counselor, for one thing, because some of them are disreputable. And don't expect a quick fix. "It generally takes about five years to pay off debts with a debt-management plan," the site warns.

www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/credit-loan/controlling-debt-106.htm

Credit counseling. Two groups try to keep tabs on credit counselors by setting standards for them. Check out these sites to find the groups' members:

The first is for the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.

www.aiccca.org/

The second is for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

www.nfcc.org/

Debt bomb. Get a definition of a term, such as "debt bomb," or most any other finance-related expressions at this site. Investopedia has an enjoyable dictionary that will toss you a "term of the day," and let you browse by category. One recently added term: debt fatigue - which occurs when an overwhelmed debtor, sensing futility, stops trying to pay off the bills and resumes spending.

www.investopedia.com/terms/d/debtbomb.asp

Pay first. At Bankrate.com, there's a bit of advice on how to prioritize your debts for deciding which to pay off first. Basically, there are two choices for dealing with credit cards. One is to concentrate on the bill carrying the highest interest rate. The other is to pay the smallest bill first, then the next smallest, and so on.

www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cc/19980713.asp


Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or rkanaley@phillynews.com.