IT has been eight weeks since Christmas and most of us have already received our credit card statements outlining the damage done.

Quite a few of us would have also made a New Year's resolution to become debt free in 2006.

While our intentions are always honourable, just how do we go about reducing our personal debt?

Nationally, we owe a personal debt of more than $6 billion, while commercially business lending has reached a staggering $31.5 billion.

So, if paying off personal debt is one of the best investments you can make, how come we are all so bad at it.

When people get into trouble with their finances, the credit card is often where it first starts to show up.

David Tennant, director of Care Financial Counselling Service in Canberra, says a quarter of those who contact the centre need help with credit card debt.

"But it is usually not just about the credit card," Tennant said.

"The card has been used to mask inabilities or incapacities to stretch the family income to meet the demands that have been put upon it."

A survey commissioned by the Institute of Chartered Accountants found that consumers with three or more cards had an average debt of $4387, compared to $1183 for those with one card.

The survey also showed that those with multiple cards were much more likely to carry their card debts over into the following month than someone with a single card.

Those struggling with credit card debts are likely to be paying a lot of interest.

If you find yourself on the merry-go-round of credit card debt and are serious about getting off, examine consolidating your debt ? that is, putting all your credit cards into a single, low interest rate personal loan, and cutting up your credit cards.

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