In a dramatic devolving paradigm shift over the last five decades, Americans have come to accept excessive debt as part and parcel of daily life. Unfortunately, the credit card has become a tool to subsidize the American lifestyle, living beyond your means. Since there are no longer any societal and cultural stigmas attached to possessing debt, removed from the equation of the American psyche are major components of restricting undesirable behavior, that of possessing bad debt. Today, Americans are more than happy to say, Charge it.”
Herein, Americans are increasingly saddled with debt, struggling to pay bills, unable to extricate themselves out of the viscous cycle of debt. Not surprisingly, credit consolidation, debt management, credit counseling, and debt management services are busy helping consumers find relief from bad debt.
These debt counseling and consolidation services help people pay off their credit card debts and other bad credit debts in a methodical manner. The counseling goes a step further by attempting to instill in the debtor a sense of fiscal discipline.
But current economic conditions are having a detrimental effect on the personal economy of Americans. If people with minimal or no bad credit debt are having difficulty sustaining themselves, imagine the plight of the many saddled with debt. The ever increasing gas and food costs are leaving people with little or no discretionary income.
Discretionary income is the key to paying off debt faster, as well as saving for the future. Nevertheless, consumer credit counseling services see burgeoning demand for help. New federal statistics show the growing issue with consumer debt as Americans’ credit debt rose 6.7% in the first quarter of 2008 to $957.2 billion, according to the Federal Reserve.
This jump in credit card debt is not surprising despite the tightening of credit by banks and credit card companies.
Regrettably, for many accumulating bad credit debt is an unavoidable choice, lacking cash flow to make needed purchases.
During the boom housing market, consumers could have tapped into the equity in their homes through home equity loans, lines of credit, or mortgage refinancing. But due to declining home prices and mortgage lenders suspending home equity lines of credit, accessing a HELOC is no longer a viable alternative for generating cash flow.
Generally, HELOCs carry lower interest rates, but their availability seems suspect until the rejuvenation of the housing and credit markets occur.
Alas, faced with soaring fuel and food costs, many Americans must charge to make ends meet.