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Color of Money

To Cut Debt, Consider the $10-a-Day Plan

By Michelle Singletary
The Washington Post
Sunday, December 5, 2004; Page F01

I know it's no use fussing about the financial mess many of you are probably going to get into this month by buying holiday gifts you can't afford with other people's money -- you know, credit cards.

In fact, for 38 percent of Americans, the holiday season brings financial stress, according to a survey by Million Dollar Roundtable, an association of financial services professionals.

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MDRT found that 55 percent of those who use credit cards for holiday purchases don't pay them off right away.

But lots of people interviewed for the MDRT survey said they want to do better with their finances. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they are resolving to improve their financial situation in 2005. Of that number, three in four plan to save more and spend less, and -- most important -- 56 percent intend to get out of debt.

Of course, getting out of debt won't happen if you don't have a plan. So this month the December Color of Money Book Club selection is "Pay It Down!" (Portfolio, $19.95) by Jean Chatzky, a columnist with Money magazine and contributor to the "Today" show.

What I like about this book is its brevity both in size and solution.

Chatzky's get-out-of-debt plan is simple: Find $10 a day out of your regular expenses, and you can pay down your debts in less time than you think.

And, yes, you read right -- $10.

How is that possible?

"It's a movie without popcorn," Chatzky writes. "It's lunch at McDonald's for two children. It's skipping the carwash and washing the car in your driveway instead. It's so many of those things that you can do without."

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