| March 22, 2013

U.S. Households With Debt See Balances Rise

Although fewer American households have debt, the U.S. Census Bureau reports those who do have debt have seen balance increase.

Between 2000 and 2011, the percentage of U.S. households with some sort of debt dropped from 74 percent to 69 percent. However, in that same period, the median household debt increased from $50,971 to $70,000.

Those aged 55 to 64 years old saw the largest increase – 64 percent – which could be a concern for people nearing retirement.

“Those 65 and over became more likely to hold debt against their homes, and their median housing debt increased, as well, which explains a significant portion of the increase in their overall debt between 2000 and 2011,” Census Bureau economist Marina Vornovytskyy said.

Households that find themselves stricken with credit card debt could benefit from these debt reducing tips.

1. Determine how much debt you have – The first step to reducing your debt is to figure out how much you have. While this may seem obvious, having an exact number will be essential with paying down debt. Be sure to write down the balance and interest rate for every card.

2. Try to lower your rates – One of the best ways you can limit the amount of debt you have is to attempt to lower your interest rates. This can be done by calling your credit card provider. If asking doesn’t work, tell them you have other credit card offers that you will be forced to take if your rate isn’t lowered.

3. Create a budget – Another necessary step to take when ridding yourself of credit card debt is to create a budget. This can help ensure you aren’t wasting any money on a daily basis and possibly lead you to find unnecessary expenses. Any money saved through budgeting can be used to pay down your debt.

4. Stash your credit cards away – Perhaps the easiest way to limit the amount of credit card debt you have is to stash your cards and not use them. Making payments toward your debt is great, but it doesn’t do much when you continue to use your cards for purchases. This negates the benefit of making a payment, so instead of using them, put them away until your financial situation improves.

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