Debt and Today’s Economy
Being in debt is a losing play in today’s economic world. Fortunately, the average credit card rate today versus a year ago is one percent less, 17.03%, according to the latest bankrate.com survey, but that slight decrease is not enough to spur consumer relief.
In fact, recent reports indicate that $715 million dollars will be charged off from consumer debt for 1996. Whose fault is all this debt? It’s difficult to assess blame. Going into debt has been a socially accepted practice for the past 30 years and was even considered a wise strategy when inflation was pushing prices higher. “Buy now—pay later” was the motto. The lenders behind all this debt…are they worried? Perhaps, yet the preapproved offers still flourish.
Think You’ve Assumed Too Much Debt?
What can you do if you think you’ve assumed too much debt? There is one way to find out. Using the example in the Debt Limit Worksheet below, let’s determine how much debt, as a percentage of your income, you can afford, and limit your borrowing to that amount. Note: This does not include groceries, utility bills, etc.
It’s no doubt that lenders and credit card issuers make it easy for you to borrow money or establish high credit lines. Unfortunately, the end result for many consumers is that they’re over their heads in debt. If you pay for everyday necessities, such as food, rent and gasoline with a credit card or if you frequently receive overdue notices from creditors, you may be overextended.
If you find that your credit card bills are out of hand, the worst thing you can do is ignore them. Most creditors would rather help you work out a debt repayment schedule than send a collection agency after you or take away your assets.
Consider the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) 800-577-CCCS, which offers its service free of charge or for a small fee. Under the guidance of CCCS, your counselor will help you work out a realistic budget and debt repayment plan and work with your creditors. The goal: To ensure that you pay back your debts over time.