How Credit Card Debt Effects You financial articles
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How Credit Card Debt Effects You

By Amber Knutson



The statistics are truly mind numbing and continue to get worse each and every year. At the current rate about 1% or one in a hundred families will be forced to declare bankruptcy at some point and over 90% of Americans' disposable income is spent paying back debts.

Not a happy picture but as bleak as that sounds running won't change it but knowledge may and so, let's take a quick snapshot at a few of the current credit card debt statistics facing so many Americans today.

The American Consumer spends over 1 trillion (that's a 1 with 12 zeros) per year on credit card purchases. Not a big deal in and of itself but the problem lies in that they end up carrying over and paying interest on about half that amount or $500 billion. This translates into a balance of between $5,000 and $8,000 per family, with about $1,000 per year going just to pay the interest.

That's just the average - many people owe much, much more!

Excessive Debt Costs Everyone Money
Many American receive at least one new credit card offer in the mail every day. The money being spent to service the debt industry is truly immense. Billions are spent administering, calculating and marketing the various aspects of the credit card industry.

Few industries or people escape unscathed, at least in the long run by debt. The burden that bankruptcy puts on the court system or the cost to government of providing subsidized debt counseling, are just a few examples of how debt effects the nation. In addition, consumers with excessive debt have less to spend and when money isn't flowing, it hurts the economy.

Whatever Happened to Saving?
Debt is becoming increasingly more common. Not long ago, even a little debt was considered to be absolutely unacceptable. When you wanted something, you saved up for it and bought it ONLY after you had enough money to actually pay for it. And, if you had less than perfect credit, you couldn't even get a credit card. Look at consumer debt figures as little as 50 years ago and they were absurdly low - the way most of the non-Western world is today.

The reasons are many and everyone has an opinion but regardless of the reasons, the art of saving, at least in the "western world" seems to have been lost. Outside of a 401K or similar vehicle offered at your place of employment, virtually nobody is saving enough for retirement. Banks are starting to have to offer ever-higher interest rates to get people to put money anywhere near a savings account. In fact, few people even have a savings account anymore. Most people have a checking account and that's it. Our society and progressed into a "now" culture and the virtues of patience that help grow this country seem to have been lost. Whatever it takes to live life in the present with little regard for the future, appears to be the prevailing sentiment.

Is Over Spending the Culprit?
Ok, I've been a bit harsh up until now but I don't want to give the impression that the only reason you're in debt is because you continuously and frivolously overspend. Other factors are involved.

Truth be told, many people get buried in debt because of the loss of a job or an illness and they use credit cards to pay for basic expenses. As a result, they fall into the downward interest trap spiral as their debt grows out of control from just a few thousand dollars initially borrowed to pay for essentials.

Most people do have a reasonable sense of what they can afford and they don't just go out and use credit cards to buy any and everything. Getting heavily into debt is usually a combination of many factors but the problem lies in people leaving balances on their credit cards for too long and not realizing just how deadly compounding interest really is to their financial well-being.

About the Author: Amber Knutson is a contributing writer to: Eliminate Credit Card Debt and Debt Consolidation and Managing Debt. This article may be reproduced only in its entirety.



Published - December 2005

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