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By Sean McQuay

From a young age, I knew what a burden credit card debt could be. For a time, while my dad was in grad school, my parents supported our family on scholarship money and a carousel of low-interest and balance transfer credit cards. It took them years to pay off the card balances.

But as stressful as I knew the debt was for them, my parents never seemed ashamed of it. They didn’t avoid talking about their credit card balances, and they didn’t shy away from reading their monthly statements. Instead, they looked for the best terms available and focused on paying down the debt quickly. And in doing so, they taught me one of the most valuable financial lessons I’ve ever learned: The best way to get rid of debt is to face it head-on.

But the shame we feel about our debt can make that a difficult task. About 39% of U.S. consumers with credit card debt said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that they felt ashamed of their credit card debt, according to a recentNerdWallet study conducted by Harris Poll. For some, that shame might stop them from negotiating with their lenders or building a debt-payoff plan, options they can’t afford to ignore; the average indebted household carries about $15,355 in credit card debt, according to NerdWallet.

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