DEAR BRUCE: I had $19,000 in credit-card debt on three cards. I am retired from the military, living on a fixed income. My friends told me to use one of the services to reduce the debt, but I told them it's my debt and my responsibility to pay it off.

DEAR BRUCE: I had $19,000 in credit-card debt on three cards. I am retired from the military, living on a fixed income. My friends told me to use one of the services to reduce the debt, but I told them it's my debt and my responsibility to pay it off.

This took almost all of my disposable income for three years. This month I paid off my department store card, next month I pay off the bank MasterCard. On March 1, I pay off the other bank card, which leaves me free of this debt. I might add, my credit score used to be 820, but as of Oct. 31, 2010, it was 930. Those people who say they can't pay their debt off are wrong. I am on a fixed income and if I can do it, so can they. — Dave, via e-mail

DEAR DAVE: It's a pleasure to receive a letter such as yours. Written by a man facing his responsibilities unlike so many of the whiners we all meet in our daily life who are constantly blaming others for their troubles and looking to be bailed out. Congratulations! Every morning when you shave, a man looks back at you. You have every right to be proud.

DEAR BRUCE: I am 69 years old, and my husband is 76. Our retirement income is $65,000 a year. Our real estate property value is about $200,000. We have long-term health care and we are debt-free. However, we have less than $200,000 in savings. Our lives are comfortable, and I am wondering if we should spend less money and focus more on adding to our savings? — Carole, via e-mail

DEAR CAROLE: You and your husband obviously lived responsible lives. You are debt-free, you have long-term health care, substantial equity and savings. I don't endorse going out and squandering all of your savings. On the other hand, who are you saving it for? It seems to me that you ought to live comfortably. Take a vacation every year.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com.