FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Consumers weren’t shy about spending this holiday season, as the latest consumer credit report reveals a nearly 10 percent increase in overall consumer debt. According to the Federal Reserve, consumer borrowing surged in November by $20.4 billion raising the consumer debt total to $2.48 trillion. Financial experts at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. advise consumers to reexamine spending habits.
With more consumers turning to credit for purchases, revolving debt showed an 8.5 percent increase. Credit card debtaccounts for almost all of revolving debt, which rose by $5.6 billion to $798.3 billion. This was the largest percentage jump since March 2008.
Howard Dvorkin, CPA and founder of ConsolidatedCredit.org warns consumers to be fiscally conservative as the recession is not over. “American households are feeling better about the economy, but in reality unemployment is still high. Now more than ever families need to work at saving and paying off any outstanding debts,” says Dvorkin.
Nonrevolving debt significantly increased 10.7 percent landing at $1.68 trillion. Nonrevolving debt includes auto loans and student loans, as well as loans for mobile homes, boats, and trailers.
“November kicks off the holiday shopping craze with Black Friday and Cyber Monday falling towards the end of the month. Consumers turned to credit for purchases they couldn’t otherwise afford,” says Dvorkin. “As the bills begin to roll in, consumers may find themselves unable to pay them off. It’s good to see an increase in consumer spending but never is it worth going into debt.”
Consolidated Credit’s Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt:
- List all debts: Make a list of all credit card accounts include the account number, interest rate, outstanding balance, payment due date, credit limit and the minimum payment. Not only does this keep things organized but it better prevents bills from being late or unaccounted for.
- Pay more than monthly minimum: Try to pay more the than just the minimum amount due. Any amount paid over the minimum goes directly towards the balance owed. This allows debt to be paid off faster reducing overall interest.
- Make payments on-time: Falling behind on payments only causes unnecessary fees. Set up automatic payment plans to avoid late fee charges.
- Avoid accumulating new debt: Now is not the time to apply for new credit cards or loans. Focus on paying off debt already established. It’s difficult to get out of debt when new debt is mounting. Use cash for purchases rather than credit.
- Pay off high interest rate debts first. The most efficient way to resolve debt is by paying down the highest interest rate balances first. Once high-interest debt is paid down, tackle the next highest, and so on. Continue paying the minimum due on all other debts.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are reputable debt-counseling agencies that consolidate debt and teach individuals to manage their finances better. Consolidated Credit conducts a free debt analysis and dispenses free advice on a daily basis. If someone needs help they can speak with a counselor with no obligation or visit ConsolidatedCredit.org.
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc., founded in 1993, is one of the nation’s largest credit counseling organizations in the country and has helped over 5 million people with financial issues. Their mission is to assist families throughout the United States in ending financial crisis and solving money management problems through education and professional counseling.