Even with the end of the recession, the debt load that many Americans are dealing with has been rising. In fact, the total amount of debt in America is up five percent over the last year. The average American household now owes more than $15,000 in credit card debt. With these increases, many Tennessee residents may be struggling to meet all of their obligations. In these cases, experts offer some debt management tips.

First, experts say that people should create a plan. Similar to a good diet, the plan shouldn’t be too strict, but should offer rewards and incentives for sticking to it. These small rewards can help people from giving up before meeting their debt management goals.

Second, people should pay their debt back based on their interest rates. Experts suggest that people pay off the debt with the highest interest rates first. This way, people can save money by paying less interest over the life of the loan. However, repayment plans can also yield good results — as long as people stick with them.

Experts also suggest that people make payments on all of their debt. They say that by consistently making payments, instead of defaulting, people will have more leverage with creditors to negotiate lower interest rates, which can help them save money in the future.

People also need to be aware of their other debt management options, including filing for bankruptcy. In many situations, legal help may be available to lower payments and debt loads. With the right help and keeping these tips in mind, people can lower their debt levels and realize a fresh financial start.

Source: Market Watch, “You’re paying off debt wrong,” Quentin Fottrell, Aug. 13, 2014