2. Slay the Debt Dragon

Debt may be more American than either apple pie or baseball. After all, about three-quarters of U.S. families owe money to lenders. The median balance owed, including mortgage debt, is about $67,000.

Most families handle their debts pretty well, Federal Reserve statistics show. Fewer than half carry any credit card debt, more than 90% are current on their bills, and most keep their debt burdens manageable.

But about 15% of families are in trouble. Their debt payments exceed 40% of their incomes, indicating that they’re at great risk of financial distress. Millions have lost homes or are in the process of foreclosure, and more than a million people a year file for bankruptcy.

If you’re one of the 15%, you need help fast. ...

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