Americans Still Carrying Enormous Credit Card Debt in 2015
American outstanding debt currently stands at $16 trillion. It’s said that in only 7 generations, banks would own every facet of our lives if this scary number continues to rise. Part of the reason why this number is so high is credit card debt, which currently is estimated to be about $15,000 per person. In addition, the United States Federal Reserve System estimates that as of July last year, total credit card debt stood at $793.1 billion. While credit card ownership seems to be on the decline especially with the younger generations, our spending habits as well as attitudes towards credit and debt hasn’t changed.
Statistics point to the fact that about 183 million of us own credit cards. To be honest, a credit card or two is a necessity in today’s world since it allows you to build a credit history over time, which in turn will help you when it comes to the following financial decisions:
- Renting a house
- Buying a car
- Getting a job in finance and management arenas
- Applying for a mortgage
- Buying insurance.
It’s been shown that the baby boomer generation is at the top with regard to the number of credit cards owned, with about 2.66 cards per person. Following closely at second place is generation X with 2.13 cards per person. That being said, the 2008 economic crash and subsequent recession made banks and other financial institutions which provide credit cards wary about who they give cards out to, ostensibly as a means of averting another credit crisis in the future.
Credit Card Debt
NASDAQ recently carried a piece intimating that average credit card debt has been steadily decreasing over the last 6 years. In addition, according to creditcards.com, the average American owes anywhere between $1,098 and $7,743.
This number ranges when one takes into account factors such as:
- Card types
- Credit reports
- Social security number possession
- Individual versus household
With all this debt going around, it’s no wonder that most people are overwhelmed when it comes to knowing where to start to clear what’s owed by them.
Here is a fantastic documentary on the American credit problem:
Here are a couple of useful strategies that can help you conquer and keep down your credit card debt:
Figure Out Your Monthly Payment
It’s important to know how much you’re expected to pay off on a monthly basis. A great place to start is the internet; all you have to do is choose your preferred credit card payoff calculator and enter the necessary data (your interest rate, balance and monthly payment) in order to determine how long it would take to clear your current debt. Some great websites we’d like to suggest include credit.com’s Payoff Calculator and one offered by CNN Money found here.
Use Multiple Means to Cut Down Your Credit Card Debt
When confronting your debt, you really want to attack it from all angles. Here are a few simple yet effective ways of doing so:
- Create a budget using an online service such as Mint.com and stick to it. Reward yourself every time you stay on budget at least twice a month.
- Reduce your monthly bills by rethinking a few things such as a phone plan, cable plan and that daily Starbucks coffee that you can live without.
- Speak to a financial expert to get more information on repayment plans as well as skills you can weave into your daily life to help reduce your debt.
Use a Professional to Negotiate With Credit Lenders
Let’s face it; nobody’s superman or superwoman. The truth is, there are numerous consultancy companies which have the needed know-how as well as experience with regard to negotiating with credit lenders. These companies can help you iron out a plan with your credit lender that will see you pay off your credit in easy and flexible installments. These companies may also help you keep your credit score at an all-time high by meeting in the middle with your lenders on your behalf.
Credit repair service companies also do the all-important job of handling all the stressful aspects of credit lender negotiation, giving you the peace of mind you need to stay on top of your daily routine as well as goals. Services such as those offered by Lexington Law provide you with blow-by-blow details on demand, showing you the progress they’re making when it comes to lowering your credit debt.
Going it Alone
If, however, you would like to hack it alone, here are a few tips on how to do so:
- Try to pay off a large amount of the debt if possible straight out of the gate. Doing so will influence credit lenders not to send damning information to credit bureaus on your current credit situation. In this case, anything above 70 percent is a good amount.
- Go straight to the supervisor should your request to have your credit status reviewed get declined; they tend to have more power and can make things go your way.
- The process may take weeks, since you may become embroiled in placing offers and receiving counter-offers. Be patient as well as flexible.
- In case you come to an agreement, don’t forget to put everything in writing, finished off with signatures and dates to make it a binding one.
- Don’t overpromise when it comes to how much you’re willing to pay off on a monthly basis. Be realistic in keeping with your current income, expenses and budget and commit to a figure that you can comfortably handle on a month-to-month basis.
- Credit lenders usually like to intimidate customers with legalese and technical terms that you may not understand. Do not agree to anything, and have your lawyer ready in case you feel stumped or overwhelmed and intimidated.
At the end of the day, credit card debt shouldn’t have to the bane of your existence if you use the tips we’ve outlined in this article in a diligent and consistent manner over a long period of time.