Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Average American Consumer Carries over $90,000 in Debt

Most American consumers carry some form of debt. In fact, debt has become a way of life for many Americans. Whenever a big purchase needs to be made, consumers will often apply for financing to pay for this purchase. This can include items like a home, car, furniture, or even for basic purchases.  

According to data from the credit agency, Experian, as of 2019, the average American consumer has $90,460 in debt from various sources, including mortgages, student loan debt, personal loans and credit cards. Escaping this debt load can be tricky, and Experian’s data shows that certain generations struggle more than others when handling consumer debt. 

The Experian study broke down different generational categories by age, examining which group carried more debt.  The lowest debt load was carried by the youngest group, Generation Z. Individuals in this category are between the ages of 18 to 23, and they reported an average debt load of $9,593. The largest debt load by far was carried by members of Gen X, ages 40 to 55, with an average debt load of $135,841. The next highest group was the Baby boomer generation, ages 56 to 74, with an average debt of $96,984. Millennials who are between the ages of 24 and 39 reported carrying an average of $78,396 in debt, while the oldest generation, the Silent generation (ages 75 and older) owed an average of $40,925.  

Experian reported that members of the Baby boomer and Silent generation groups saw the most significant decrease in debt since 2015.  The largest increase in debt over the last five years was seen in the Millennial generation. In 2015, the average millennial had $49,722 in debt. By 2019, this figure had jumped 58 percent to $78,396 in average total debt.  

While members of the youngest group, Gen Z, had the lowest overall debt load, they also struggled the most to make their payments on this debt. According to Experian, 12 percent of Gen Z consumers had credit card accounts that were at least 30 days or more past due.  

Gen X carried the highest average debt in all categories with the exception of personal loans. Members in this group had the highest credit card balances than others with the average balance being at $8,215. Gen X members also had the highest car loan balances at $21,570. They also carried the highest average mortgage balance with the average being $238,344. Gen X also had the highest average student loan balance at $39,981 and highest home equity lines of credit (HELOC) balance at $49,221. However, in the personal loan category, Baby boomers had the highest personal loan balance with the average balance of $19,253.  

Continuing to struggle with debt is a slower, less effective way to pay it off.  Many different debt relief options exist, including debt consolidation, debt settlement or negotiation and bankruptcy – but it is important that as a consumer you research your options carefully. 

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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at   

student loan debt, Student Loans

A New Loophole for Certain Kinds of Private Student Loans

Student loan debt has traditionally been extremely difficult to discharge in consumer bankruptcy cases. For those consumers struggling with insurmountable student loan debt, the ability to seek a fresh start through a bankruptcy case has been impossible for this reason. Even if they are able to successfully discharge most of their debts, they still walk away with a significant amount of  student loan debt, including both federal and private student loans. A new loophole could change this fact for borrowers who are struggling to pay their private student loan debts.  

A staggering 45 million American consumers owe a collective $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Over one million borrowers defaulted on their student loan debt annually. The only method available to these borrowers to discharge their loans in bankruptcy is to meet the “undue hardship” test. Unfortunately, courts view this exception very narrowly and not all courts apply the test uniformly.

Essentially, the borrowers need to file a legal action against their student loan service providers under their bankruptcy case to show that they have made long-standing good faith efforts to pay back their loans, but due to undue hardship, they are not able to feasibly pay these loans back in full. The lenders then can present evidence against their case to show why the loans should not be discharged. The process is complicated, lengthy, and expensive, which is why many borrowers avoid it altogether and simply never file for bankruptcy. However, a recent loophole was made available in a court case decided in Colorado that could change this fact for certain private loan borrowers.  

The case comes out of the 10th Circuit, where a Colorado couple was able to have their nearly $200,000 in private student loan debt cancelled without the requirement of meeting the undue hardship case. However, the ruling narrowly focuses on the categorization of their loans. The borrowers, Byron and Laura McDaniels, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, listing their private student loans through Navient Solutions LLC, in the list of debts they requested for discharge. Navient filed a response, saying that their loans could not be dried because they were obligated to repay funds received as an educational benefit.  

The court found that their loans were taken out instead to fund living expenses and not tuition, which meant that the private loans were not received as an educational benefit under the bankruptcy code. Therefore, the McDaniels’ private loans could be discharged because of how they were used.  

While technically this ruling focuses on a rare situation and one classification of loans, the lawyer for the McDaniels said that he believes the ruling had broader implications, showing the courts could be more flexible when determining whether to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy. 

Student loan reform has been a major issue in the impending presidential election. Many have pushed their congressional representatives to reform how student loan debt is handled in bankruptcy.  The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and the financial struggles many Americans have sustained because of statewide shutdowns have made this need even more pressing. Currently, student loans make up the largest category of consumer debt not dischargeable in a bankruptcy case.  

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For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at  

Florida Super Lawyers

Miami Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade Selected to Serve on the Super Lawyers Blue Ribbon Panel

Managing Shareholder, Timothy S. Kingcade of the Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been selected as a Blue Ribbon Panelist for Florida Super Lawyers. Only those in each practice area with the highest point totals are asked as part of the panel to evaluate the candidacy of fellow lawyers to enter the prestigious Super Lawyer rankings.

“It is an honor to be selected among the Blue Ribbon Panelists in the most comprehensive and independent review of exceptional lawyers. Being selected as a Super Lawyer the past seven years is an achievement in and of itself, but to know that Super Lawyers values my opinion in the evaluation of my peers receiving the title of Super Lawyer is a true privilege I graciously accept,” said Timothy S. Kingcade.

Credit Card Debt

How to Negotiate Your Credit Card Debt

When someone owes a large amount of money on credit cards, the possibility of ever paying down that balance can seem impossible. Simply making the minimum monthly payments can be a struggle, as well, especially during the current pandemic. However, credit card companies would rather work with the consumer directly in lieu of the account going into default, forcing them to pursue a collection on the amount owed. It is possible to negotiate directly with the credit card company on the amount owed in certain circumstances.  

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, certain credit card companies are working with consumers who are behind on payment. This assistance is temporary in nature but can include pausing payments, reducing interest rates, waving late fees, and putting a pause on interest charges.  

Debt Relief

How To Ensure Student Loan Debt Does Not Prevent You From Getting a Mortgage

With the cost of attending a university rising each year, more students are taking out student loans to pay for their education.  According to statistics from the Federal Reserve and New York Federal Reserve, more than 44 million American consumers owe a collective $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. Student borrowers oftentimes graduate with up to six figures in student loan debt. Certain steps can be taken to ensure that student loans do not prevent young adults from reaching important milestones, like homeownership.   

Income-to-Debt Ratio 

When being approved for a mortgage, the borrower’s income-to-debt ratio is an important figure considered by potential lenders. Two different ratios are used by potential lenders. One of them is called a front-end ratio, which looks at the loan applicant’s expected mortgage in comparison to his or her monthly income. The second ratio is called the back-end ratio. This figure reviews the applicant’s monthly expenses, including housing costs, car payments, student loan payments, and other monthly expenses, in comparison to the person’s monthly income. If the borrower’s debt far outweighs his or her income, it is unlikely that person will be approved for a mortgage. However, certain steps can be taken to help boost that ratio. If the potential borrower is carrying a high credit card balance, by paying that balance down, he or she can help boost chances of being approved for a mortgage. If the borrower can pay down the balance in full every month, then that debt will not even factor into his or her debt-to-income ratio.  

Business Bankruptcy, Coronavirus, COVID-19

Growing Number of Retailers and Restaurants Are Folding as the Covid-19 Pandemic Continues

Retailers and small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, after facing a brutal 2019.  Now a growing number of businesses and restaurants are folding, as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the retail, restuarant industry and the global economy.

Here are the latest ‘big-name’ companies to file bankruptcy since mid-March.

Ruby Tuesday is the most recent restaurant to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  It will permanently close 185 restaurants while it restructures.

Bankruptcy Law

The Fear of Bankruptcy is What Keeps Many Consumers from Filing

The fear of the unknown is a powerful force. Unfortunately, the fear of filing for bankruptcy and the unknown keeps many from proceeding with a bankruptcy case, even when it is the best option.

It is for this reason that only a small portion of American consumers file for bankruptcy annually, even though many of them could benefit from either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. While many different reasons exist for this failure to file, a misunderstanding of the process and fear of taking that first step keeps them from moving forward.    

Debt Collection

Can a Creditor Come After Money that is Gifted?

The law allows for a certain amount of money to be gifted to individuals with no tax consequences on an annual basis. For the 2020 tax year, the gift tax exclusion amount is $15,000. Many aging parents take advantage of this exclusion to reduce their probate estate and avoid tax penalties by gifting up to this amount to their adult children annually. However, if the adult child they are gifting this money to has his or her own financial struggles and is being pursued for creditors, that money could be fair game. 

The problem is that this money is not protected if the receiving party is being pursued by a creditor for an outstanding debt. If the debt is valid and still legally collectible, money that is gifted to the consumer is reachable for purposes of satisfying what is owed.   

student loan debt, Student Loans

ITT Tech Student Loan Lender Must Pay $330 Million in Debt Relief to Former Students

An agreement has been reached between the attorneys general from 43 states and the now-closed ITT Technical Institute (ITT Tech). This agreement was part of a lawsuit brought by former ITT Tech students, requesting approximately $330 million in student loan forgiveness for 43,000 loans.

This lawsuit was a joint legal effort brought on by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and 43 different states. The settlement was made with PEAKS Trust, a private lending institution that is run by ITT and is also affiliated with several Deutsche Bank entities.

Debt Collection

How to Avoid Resetting the Clock on Old Debt

Once a debt is past a certain age, collecting on that debt through legal channels is barred under Florida’s statute of limitation laws. However, if the person owing the debt is not careful, the debt can be reset, making the amount owed legally collectible once more. Knowing what to do to prevent that from happening is important for this reason.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

Every state has a set of laws that governs how long a person or entity has to bring a legal claim on any given issue, including debt collection. If a claim is brought after that period has passed, the claim will likely be barred. When it comes to debt collection, this timeline is five years from the date the debt began for written contracts, including personal loans. If the debt is one with a revolving account, including credit card debt, the statute of limitations is four years.