Vantage Point

Debt: The American Way of Life?

According to the Center for Microeconomic Data’s latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, total household debt increased by 1.8% at the end of 2016. That debt increase spanned mortgages, vehicle loans, credit cards and student loans.

With the national mean credit card balance hovering around $16,000 per household, and total household debt coming in just shy of $132,500, tackling debt can seem overwhelming.

Is frivolous spending to blame?
What comes to mind when you think about debt? Excessive shopping trips at the mall? Daily gourmet coffee purchases? Brand new cars in the driveway? While you may think that debt is a result of spending beyond your means, that isn’t always the case. In the past 13 years, consumer expenses—like medical care, food and housing—have significantly outpaced income growth. For many, it can be a challenge to cover cost of living expenses without the use of credit cards and loans.

Take control of debt!
What can you do to get a handle on your current debt? Making more money sounds like a logical solution. However, based on the statistics, income growth still may not be enough.

  • Review your expenses. While cutting back on expenses may not eliminate the problem, it could contribute towards the solution. What spending can you reduce? Maybe scale back food purchases like gourmet coffee or meals out and bring your coffee and lunch to work instead. Consider alternative options to cable or satellite.
  • Consolidate credit card debt. Are you carrying balances on multiple credit cards with high interest rates? Consider consolidating your credit card debt with a balance transfer to a card with a lower interest rate. For example, Vantage Mastercard credit cards offer money-saving benefits over big bank cards. With World, Platinum Rewards and Platinum options, there is a card for every need.
  • Consider a personal loan. With competitive rates, a variety of terms and no prepayment penalties, a loan from Vantage may help you achieve your financial goals. Some options, like our Signature loan, use the power of your credit score and don’t require collateral. When considering this option, do your homework, understand your credit history and score, and determine how much you can afford.
  • Creative financing with the equity in your home. Of course, you can use a home equity line-of-credit (HELOC) to improve your home and add to its value, but did you know you can also tap into the equity in your home to buy cars, consolidate or pay off credit card debt, pay for tuition or other bigger expenses that eat into monthly cash flow? Plus, a HELOC offers many unique benefits you can’t get from other revolving lines of credit.
  • Know when to ask for help. At Vantage, we are committing to helping our members improve their financial lives. As part of that commitment, we’re pleased to provide free financial education and counseling services through Accel Financial Counseling. Professional, degreed counselors from Accel can work with you with budget counseling, credit report counseling, debt management and much more! Check out our calendar for free webinars hosted by Accel.

Are you ready to take control of your debt? Vantage is ready to help you!

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