'Quest for Credit' is a not so fairy tale story of credit card use

Credit cards are a big part of life for many of us, but unfortunately, too many of us don't learn the proper way to use credit cards until we have already burdened ourselves with purchases and minimum payments.

While the process of getting out of debt takes time, commitment and smarts; at its heart it is a simple process. Mint.com, a personal management website, has created a short video, Quest for Credit, to illustrate in a humorous manner the effect of reckless credit card use and how to go about taming your debt monster.

The fairy tale-like video follows our hero, who we'll call Joe College, from his first card into the valley of debtors and with a plan and payments up Credit Mountain. If only he had listened to the Wise Wizard's warning, "With great spending power comes great fiscal responsibility," it would have been a shorter trip.

Sure, this video simplifies how to get out of debt in order to be entertaining, but too many people think that taming their debt monster requires a complex contraption, like one of those Roadrunner traps that Wiley E. Coyote always tried to use. In reality, getting out of debt starts with a budget, spending less than you make and thinking through your decisions.

The first step to figuring this out is using personal finance management software like Mint. According to Mint, their users reduced their aggregate credit card debt 14.3 %, from $5,501 to $4,716 last year! If Mint isn't the right fit, check out one of the other great tools like Wesabe, Rudder or MoneyStrands.

Just like Joe College, you don't have to be well on your way up "Credit Mountain" to get things right. If you have too much credit card debt, find a budget, get a lower credit card APR, look for a peer-to-peer loan at a lower rate or keep looking to find the method that fits you. Whether it's a debt snowball, a debt tsunami or a hybrid debt snowball fight method; you'll know when you find it.

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