Credit cards often seem like a lifeline when people in South Carolina have trouble making ends meet. While lines of credit can be invaluable tools for building a credit report or making sure there is food on the table, they can also impose a heavy burden. As household debt recently hit a record high, some economists worry that more consumers might be struggling with staggering monthly bills.

The current cumulative household debt tops out at nearly $13 trillion, with credit cards responsible for nearly $785 billion of that amount. After the United States’ recent recession, many lenders reined in their lending policies and limited home loans only to those who can reasonably afford the debt. Credit cards lenders, however, tend to be far less picky.

One economist expressed concern over the growing debt and pointed out that most people are not able to fully pay off their credit card debt each month. This leads to many consumers being pulled into a cycle of paying off high rates of interest without actually chipping away at much of their debt. The added burden of student loans — which Americans carry to the tune of $1.34 trillion — complicates the matter, with one study showing that the drag on finances often outweighs the increased salary that a college degree offers.

Carrying large amounts of debt can create ongoing cycles of stress that are sometimes impossible to get out of. This stress can branch out and impact virtually every other aspect of a person’s life, including relationships with friends and family. There are compassionate choices for those in South Carolina facing these issues, including bankruptcy, which can relieve burdensome credit card debt and set individuals on a path toward financial security.

Source: NPR, “Americans’ Borrowing Hits Another Record. Time To Worry?”, Chris Arnold, Sept. 12, 2017