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Consumers Incur Less Debt

December 17, 2012, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

Consumers Incur Less Debt

For the majority of this year, consumers have charged less on their credit cards than expected.  That's according to a study by  We're still expected to end the year with $36.4 billion dollars more in credit card debt than when it started, but that's some $7 billion less than expected.  But that number could rise if people overspend during this holiday season. 

With the pressure on to buy gifts, many people just whip out the plastic and don't think about those bills rolling in come January. 

"You always want to think about what is the value of this gift and how does that relate to my long-term goals?  Is my long-term goal to have a house, or to be able to go on a family vacation? What is it costing me in the short term for those holiday gifts, in order to get there?" Marley Prunty-Lara with Consumer Credit Counseling said.

The average household carries $6,747 in credit card debt.  If your balance is high, you may want to consider a zero percent transfer. It can save you up to $1,000 while you pay it off, unless there are fees that go along with it.

"Not only are there fees to put it on the new, zero-percent credit card, but there can be fees to move it from your current credit card," Prunty-Lara said.

Consumer Credit Counseling says it advises people not to charge more than they can pay off by the end of the month or at least within six months.

"If you're going to pay off the debt in six months, does it make sense to transfer the balance or more sense to pay more than the minimum, an extra $100 or $200 a month to just wipe out the balance completely," Prunty-Lara said.

And if credit card debt and impulse buying is a problem for you, consider using only debit cards, where you cannot spend more than what is in your bank account.

"We tell people weigh the options.  Is it a credit card for you or is a debit card?" Prunty-Lara said. 

One reason consumers are racking up less debt than expected is because unemployment is the lowest in four years and consumers don't have to rely on going into debt as much just to get by.

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