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Credit card debt: How it impacts Americans every day

Credit card debt is something that most Americans live with. In fact, the average U.S. household has a balance of around $15,654. Including mortgages, the average household owes around $131,431.

With that kind of debt, it's not surprising that some people turn to bankruptcy when their finances get out of control. Losing a job, suffering from a disability or other life changes can result in serious financial losses that damage your credit and impact your ability to live comfortably.

One good thing is that household growth has finally stopped being outpaced by the current cost of living, as of 2017. What this means is that people tend to have more money left over each month, which is then applied to credit or other forms of debt.

Unfortunately, this wasn't how things were for a long time. Over the last decade, food prices, medical costs and other expenses outpaced the growth of income. Food prices went up by 22 percent, and medical costs went up 34 percent. Incomes went up by only 20 percent, showing how significantly rising costs impacted American debts.

How bad can interest really be?

The problem with credit debt is the interest people pay. Instead of paying $1,000 for something outright, the individual could end up paying $1,250 over time. It depends on the particular interest rate, but credit cards tend to have extremely high interest rates. Americans end up using these cards because of rising costs with which their incomes can't keep up. With food, medical care, housing and other expenses rising faster than incomes, credit is one of the only ways some people can survive.

Around a third of Americans attribute credit card debt to having to spend money on necessities that their incomes couldn't cover. Health care is one of those necessities blamed for much of the debt in America today.

As someone struggling with debt today, you're in a difficult position. Credit cards are almost unavoidable in the American culture, and they can make it hard to live a financially secure lifestyle. If you're struggling with your credit cards, a few things you can do are to rework your budget, contact the credit card lenders and add an income.

If you decide to budget, try to cut out anything that isn't a necessity. Saving even $30 or $40 a month can make a big difference when paying down debt.

Next, contact the credit card company. If you have the money to offer a lump sum to pay off the debt, you may be able to close the debt without paying everything you owe. Other times, lenders may be willing to lower your interest rates or reduce fines or fees on your account.

Finally, consider bringing in extra income from a hobby or part-time job. Even a small amount of extra money can help you get back into a financially stable position.

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