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US Consumers Cut Back on Credit Card Use

By , Posted on May 11, 2013
General Budgeting Debt. Saving Money Savings credit card credit cards debthelper.com credit card debt
General Budgeting Debt. Saving Money Savings credit card credit cards debthelper.com credit card debt

Americans cut back on using their credit cards in March, suggesting many were reluctant to take on high-interest debt to make purchases. AP  According to the Federal Reserve, Consumer borrowing rose just $8 billion in March from February to a seasonally adjusted $2.81 trillion. It was the smallest increase in eight months.

cutcardsIs this a sign that people are finally becoming more cautious when it comes to using their credit cards?  I hope so.  Credit card debt is the third largest source of household indebtedness. Only the mortgage and student loan debt is larger.

But even with a slight decline, credit card spending is holding fairly steady.Is this a good thing for our economy?

Some economists contend that higher consumer spending puts the economy on a positive track. With higher spending that leads to more jobs and higher incomes, which then leads to higher spending.  …That’s all fine and well.  However, if wages and employment are improving at such a slow pace, such as they currently are, this might instead be an indication that families are borrowing to make ends meet as opposed to a reflection of increase in consumer confidence.

According to creditcards.com in 2012 the average American household, with at least one credit card, has nearly $15,950 in credit-card debt, with the average interest rate in the mid to high teens.  …That’s staggering. This kind of debt is certainly bad.  Isn’t any debt inherently bad?  Well, personally I like the idea of not having any debt, and consider all debt bad.  Bad as in it is something I do not want to have.

There is I suppose debt that could be considered “good” if compared to the “bad” kind of debt.  If you borrow for to purchase a home, that I guess you could consider good debt.  Provided you borrow at a good rate and don’t borrow more than you can afford.  After all it is pretty difficult to “save up” to purchase a house.

Now borrowing or using a credit card (that’s borrowing remember) to make purchases of things that go away quickly, is just bad.  You don’t want to buy meals or pay for your vacation with a credit card.  The bill will be around much longer than the meal or the memory of the vacation.

Also using credit or borrowing to buy something that you really want but it is expensive, start saving for it instead of just whipping out the plastic.  If you can’t pay off your credit card each month or maybe within two months, you should keep your credit card in your wallet.  There is no faster way to fall into serious indebtedness than making minimum payment and continuing to use your credit card.  You will soon find yourself in over your head and in dire straits.

If you feel yourself getting close to a credit card problem you need to take action now!  Don’t put things off for a later time, do something now.  If you are not in real trouble yet, get a hold on your spending.  I’ve mentioned it before but if you take one month and write down everything you spend money on, I mean everything, McDonalds, chewing gum, Starbucks, everything…  I guarantee you will find someplace where you can make cut backs to your spending and start to save yourself some money.

Then start paying off your debts.  Start with the smallest balance first.  I know many say to pay the highest interest rate debt first, but paying the smaller balances off first will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.

Don’t fall into the credit card minimum payment trap.  Always pay more than the minimum even if you can’t pay off the whole amount.  By paying just the minimums it will take you something like 10 billion years to pay off your debt.  …Well not really, but it will take what seems like a lifetime; trust me I’ve been there.

Start putting money aside for that rainy day.  I like to call it our emergency fund.  Even if it’s a dollar a paycheck, get in the habit of paying yourself first.

Get help if you just can’t handle it.  If you find yourself in a situation where your debt is starting to get out of control and you just can’t handle it, it’s time to seek the advice of a professional before it gets too far out of hand.

The professionals at DebtHelper.com can explain the benefits of a debt management program and provide you with a fresh start.

One of the biggest long-term benefits of the debt management plan is the reduction in interest. Reduced interest allows you to pay off your principal balances faster while saving you possibly thousands of dollars in finance charges.

In order to determine if you are eligible for a debt management program, you can fill out an online budget application form now and then you can contact one of their Certified Personal Finance Counselors© at (800) 920-2262.

DebtHelper.com can currently accept clients from the states listed here. DebtHelper.com is licensed, insured and complies with all state licensing requirements to ensure mandated regulations are followed. They are diligently working on becoming licensed in every state and are opening new states monthly.

Please call (800) 920-2262 if you have any questions. DebtHelper.com’s consultations are free, call them any time.

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