The day after New Years, Elizabeth Bracher, a 29-year-old children's librarian in Ohio, posted a powerful message on Instagram: a screenshot of the calculator app showing the amount of $16,200.46. The total represents the credit card debt she has racked up from over six years of moving expenses, vet bills, car repairs and more.
Now, she's ready to turn things around: "It's 2019 and time to start getting real about my credit card debt," she wrote. "I feel like consumer debt has a more shameful connotation than other types of debt, but it can affect anyone."
About 40 percent of millennials (defined here as those 20 to 35 years old) have credit card debt, according to a recent survey by LightStream, the online lending division of SunTrust Bank. That's in addition to student loans, car loans and other kinds of debt. Owing so much money can leave millennials feeling pretty hopeless: The same survey found a quarter of them believe it's almost impossible to dig yourself out of a significant amount of debt.
It is possible to get out of debt, though. Especially with some expert guidance.
CNBC Make It brought in Cleveland-based financial planner Michael Kelley to review Bracher's current goal: to wipe out at least half of the roughly $16,000 she owes in the next year. They talked strategies and together formulated a plan for how to move forward.