When looking at their credit card bills, most people only pay attention to one number: the total amount they owe. But if that's your priority, you're probably not getting far in eliminating your debt.
After analyzing data from 1.4 million credit card holders in the U.K. who use more than one card and don't pay off their entire balance every month, researchers in England found that people overwhelmingly choose ineffective strategies for paying off their debt, Christopher Ingraham reports in The Washington Post.
Mathematically, the most effective way to eliminate debt is to follow the avalanche method, in which you list your debts from highest to lowest by interest rate. Pay the minimum balance on each, then dedicate as much extra as you can each month to the one with the highest interest rate.
However, in the study, researchers realized people are doing what's known as "balance-matching," in which the amount they pay per card per month is proportional to the total amount owed on that card.