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If you had credit cards with small limits and other obligations (rent, phone, etc.), would you just pay them off in "one shot," or do you think it's best to pay the minimum...?

First, make sure you can meet your non-debt obligations, and groceries, and at least the minimums on all debt obligations! (Late payments often mean paying late fees as well as notations on your credit report that make future debts more expensive.)

If you can pay off all your debts as well as meet your other obligations, then you are better off going ahead and paying them off--I don't see the need to pay unnecessary credit card interest.

If you can pay only some of your debt off, dollar wise, you are better off paying off the cards with the highest interest rate while paying the minimum to the other cards. Psychologically, if it is going to take more than a few months to pay off the cards, many people find the elation on getting a card paid off as fresh motivation to tackle the next card and in that case paying off the card with the smallest outstanding balance gives the soonest encouragement, but keep up the minimum payments to the other cards while you do it. In either case, the idea is to pay as much as possible to one debt while paying the minimum to the others, and as each card is paid off, add what you were paying to that card to what you are paying to the next card you are going to pay off.

Once consumer debt is paid off, it is actually better to save up for normal purchases and then pay for that item in full than it is to go into debt for something you want. Sometimes it is a little frustrating saving up for a significant purchase (say, a used car or a new computer), but not nearly as frustrating as having purchased that object and then spending even more money paying off that debt.
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