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Unsecured debt still up for many Americans

A recent Harris Poll showed that Americans are still struggling with credit card debt, though there are some indicators that many individuals are beginning to think smarter about personal finance. The poll surveyed 1,600 adults on behalf of credit union BECU and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Around a third of the individuals polled indicated that they carry debt on credit cards over each month, which means they are likely paying interest and fees on that money. That number is up from a previous poll in 2015. Also up is the number of people carrying balances of at least $2,500 over every month. Fourteen percent of participants reported doing so in the 2016 poll compared with 11 percent of participants in the 2015 poll.

While credit card use is up for some people, savings is also up slightly from 2015. Around 26 percent of individuals in the poll reported they were saving more now than they were a year ago. That's up slightly from the report in 2015. Almost 70 percent of individuals in the poll said they were saving in some way that didn't include retirement funds.

Saving money is always a good habit to create, but if you are saving for a rainy day while also carrying money over on credit cards, then you might be costing yourself money. CreditCards.com reports that average interest rates for credit card accounts in the nation is 15 percent, which is much more than a savings account is likely to pay.

If you are struggling to make headway on credit cards and you can't save money because you are constantly spinning in the debt cycle, it might be time to make a big change. Bankruptcy can offer a way to handle that change, but bankruptcy laws are very complex, so working with a knowledgeable professional is critical to success.

Source: NBC News, "Americans Are Saving More, But Credit Card Debt Is Still a Problem," Herb Weisbaum, May 02, 2016

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Joshua Z. Goldblum, Attorney at Law
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