How do I climb out of $30K credit-card debt?

DEAR HARRY: I am a retired man on a pension who has foolishly allowed his credit-card debt to go above $30,000. I pay the amount due each month on time, but with rent, car payments, insurance and other debts, I am left with nothing at the end of the month.

I am single, 59 years old, and I do not want to go through bankruptcy. I have a friend who did, and it was a hellish experience.

I'm aware that this is totally my own fault for wanting to live fancier than I could afford.

I have recently seen ads on TV for several credit-recovery outfits that claim they will reduce my monthly payments and my total debt through negotiation with my creditors.

I hesitate to deal with those companies, because they're from out of town and use a hard-sell approach.

What's your opinion?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Be prepared to cut back seriously on your spending. Before you go anywhere with this, go over your spending for the past three months to see where you can trim your discretionary items.

I know what you mean when you say these outfits are using a hard sell.

There is big money to be made in this business, so you really have to be on your guard.

The only organization that I feel comfortable with is the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Delaware Valley (800-989-2227).

It's a nonprofit place that's right here. Readers have reported to me that they have been quite satisfied with their results.


Email Harry Gross at or write to him at Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, PO Box 8263 Philadelphia, PA 19101. Harry urges all his readers to give blood — contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.