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By Susan Gulliford/Value Penguin The average credit card debt for an American household is ,700,and it rises to more than ,000 for households that do not pay off their balances each month.

Clearly, while that level of debt is challenging for many households, it can be tamed and managed, along with other expenses and obligations.

In fact, you end up paying more and staying in debt longer because of so-called consolidation.

Get the facts before you consolidate or work with a settlement company.

Here's how to manage, and eventually pay off, a credit card debt.

Managing your credit card obligations begins with assessing how manageable, or not, they really are. Zimmelman, a bankruptcy attorney from the New York City area says he often advises clients that they are "probably carrying too much credit card debt if you cannot pay it all back within six months without liquidating investments or retirement accounts." Kelsa Dickey, a Budget Coach with Fiscal Fitness in Phoenix, tells her clients that their credit card debt is too much if they "are tying up too much money in payments," and if their debt prevents them from making positive changes such as "leaving a job you hate or saving money for a vacation."Making a budget is a critical first step to managing debt and other obligations.

But let’s be honest: Your interest rate isn’t the main problem. This specifically applies to consolidating debt through credit card balance transfers.

The enticingly low interest rate is usually an introductory promotion and applies for a certain period of time only. In almost every case, you’ll have lower payments because the term of your loan is prolonged. Your goal should be to get out of debt as fast as you can!

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To do that, you have to change the way you view debt!

Here are the top things you need to know before you consolidate your debt: But here’s the deal: debt consolidation promises one thing but delivers another.

That’s why dishonest companies that promote too-good-to-be-true debt relief programs continue to rank as the top consumer complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission.

Two words for you: , although often the terms are used interchangeably.

We’ve already covered consolidation: It’s a type of loan that rolls several unsecured debts into one single bill. Debt settlement means you hire a company to negotiate a lump-sum payment with your creditors for less than what you owe.