Consumer Borrowing Increase Verifies Consumers Still Stink at Finances

consumers take on more credit card debt
If there was any ray of hope that US consumers could learn the lesson that consumer debt was not their friend, and try to part ways with it, the latest numbers suggest that consumers have no intention of breaking up their consumer borrowing romance. Outstanding consumer credit soared in March to the largest increase it’s seen in a year, with consumers going into debt for student loans and borrowing to buy new vehicles. Consumer borrowing now stands at $3.14 trillion, an increase of $17.53 billion, which is the biggest gain since February 2013.

There was great news last month when consumer revolving credit, which is mostly credit card debt, decreased by some $2.73 billion in February. A continued decrease in this number could have signaled that consumers were finally trying to break their terrible credit card debt habit. Instead, consumers decided to take their credit cards out onto the dance floor again this month by adding $1.13 billion to their consumer revolving debt.

While these figures might be good news for the overall economy, they are terrible news for individual consumers and their personal finance. One of the first rules of personal finance is to live within your means by spending less than you earn. Consumers putting more revolving debt on their credit cards shows that many still haven’t learned these lessons.

For those that currently do have credit cards that they aren’t paying off in full each month, doing so as quickly as possible should be their number one priority. The first step is to realize that consumer debt is bad for your personal finances. The next step is to put together a plan to eliminate the debt that you have. There are a number of snowball methods that can help anyone pay down their credit cards and other personal debts, plus a couple of easy ways to build an emergency fund so that there is no need to put debt on the credit cards or borrow in other ways in the future.

Until consumers realize that credit cards aren’t free money, and that they cost a small fortune in interest payments when not paid off in full each month, they are going to continue to struggle to meet their financial goals. The goal of almost every consumer should be to be debt free as quickly as possible. These latest numbers from the Federal Reserve show that there are still far too many Americans that suck at personal finances.

(Photo courtesy of Jason Rogers)

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3 Responses to Consumer Borrowing Increase Verifies Consumers Still Stink at Finances

  1. Guest says:

    That photo posted has either pounds or euros as the unit which seems interesting since this article is about US debt.

  2. DNP says:

    This article is an oversimplification. The sad truth is the american government has padlocked millions of retired americans with paid off homes from slowly withdrawing equity cash from their home.

    In other words, people who spent 20, 30 and 40 years paying off a home cannot access it for even a small monthly draw. It’s as if the government is afraid of the competition local retired homeowners would bear if they started pumping small amounts of money into their local economies.

    The irony being that money going back into local economies would actually increase tax revenue for local, state and national government.

  3. There is some hope. Credit card companies have brought back with a vengeance the 0% balance transfer and introductory rate. Although its typically only good for a year its not a bad idea to use it on a purchase that you can really afford while you let your money sit in the market. I will be the first to admit that most US consumers are just not that savvy so lets cross our fingers and try hard to wish away the next market bubble!

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