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Do you know the warning signs of too much debt? Credit is great when it's used wisely, but more and more Americans are getting in over their heads and threatening their financial futures.

Just because you can pay your minimum payments each month doesn't mean you don't have a credit problem. Remember, low minimum payments benefit the credit card company, not you. They are the means by which many people become enslaved to their debt, taking decades to pay off purchases whose prices have become grossly inflated by interest charges that have accumulated for years. This is how credit card companies make their money.

Don't allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security that you have your debt under control just because you're not late on any payments and you can manage the monthly minimums.

Here are some of the warning signs that you have a credit/debt problem.

If you answer yes to one or more of the first six questions and no to the rest, you may have caught the problem before it's unmanageable, as long as you act now to change your spending habits. If you answer yes to one or more of questions 7 through 15, your problem is much more serious and will require more drastic steps. Time is of the essence.

Warning Signs of Debt Problems

  1. You don't have any savings.

  2. You make minimum payments on your credit cards.

  3. You use credit cards for things you used to buy with cash, such as groceries.

  4. You use increasing amounts of your total income to pay off debts.

  5. You have more than two or three major credit cards.

  6. After you pay your credit card bill, you increase your balance by the same amount (or more) the following month.

  7. You're at or near your credit limit on your credit cards.

  8. You count on the float in order to pay your bills, writing a check hoping that you'll be able to cover it by the time it clears your bank.

  9. You're unsure of the total amount you owe on all your debts.

  10. You take out cash advances on your credit card to pay other bills.

  11. You've tried to make a purchase with your credit card and been declined.

  12. You've been denied credit.

  13. You bounce checks.

  14. You get calls from collectors.

  15. You lie to your spouse or other family member about your spending or hide credit card statements from family members.

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