Most of us are well-intentioned when it comes to things like spending and saving. However, the reality is that things sometimes come up that can make the ability to do either difficult if not impossible. For example, a sudden car repair may mean more money coming out the savings account than going in, or a sudden sale on a coveted item might mean adding more to the growing credit card balance.
While this is typically not problematic if savings ultimately resume in earnest and credit card spending is kept in check, a recently released report suggests that this isn’t exactly what’s happening among consumers.
Indeed, the 2016 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, which was conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and credit union BECU, found the following after surveying 1,600 adults:
- 35 percent of people were carrying credit card balances from month-to-month, a slight increase from 2015.
- 26 percent of people were saving more than they did the previous year, a 2 percent increase from 2015.
- 14 percent of people were carrying a credit card balance of $2,500-plus from month-to-month, a 3 percent increase from 2015.
While the fact that a larger percentage of people are saving more money is certainly promising on the surface, the researchers argued that any gains realized in savings could quickly be wiped out by the carrying over of credit card balances.
This makes sense when you consider that figures show the average interest rate on a credit card is now 15 percent, and can balloon to an astounding 30 percent in the event of a late or missed payment.
The researchers encourage those who do find themselves faced with insurmountable credit card debt — a trap easier to fall into than people imagine — to consider all of their options, including working with a non-profit credit counselor.
Another option to consider would be filing for personal bankruptcy — Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 — which can provide both a fresh start and peace of mind to those people for whom escape from the debt trap seems impossible.
If you have questions about how bankruptcy works, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can provide the necessary answers.