Consumer debt stands at more than $3 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. Below are five of the top debt traps Americans face and how you can avoid them.
1.) Job loss.Unemployment is steadily improving; but the level still remains above 7 percent. Unemployment or underemployment is the number one reason people seek financial counseling. Having an emergency savings fund totaling three to six months’ living expenses can help bridge the gap between jobs, if necessary.
2.) Medical costs. An unexpected illness can be emotionally and financially devastating, even for those with health insurance. It’s tempting to choose lower healthcare coverage to bring down a monthly premium. But those who forgo needed medication to mediate costs can face substantially higher emergency and ambulatory costs. Those with chronic health conditions or medication needs should consider a plan that’s more all-inclusive.
3.) Credit card overuse. When expenses increase and income decreases, many turn to credit cards to cover the difference. When managing credit card debt, pay off the cards with the highest interest rates first.
4.) Loss of a partner. Whether going through a divorce or losing a spouse to an illness, the loss of a partner can be financially devastating. Many times, this loss cannot be predicted. Paying down debt and building savings can provide a cushion if tragedy strikes.
5.) Student loans. The average student loan balance among borrowers is more than $24,000 and 66 percent of all bachelor’s degree recipients incur student loan debt. In some circumstances, student loan payments can be postponed through deferment or forbearance- sometimes these can even be forgiven. Federal lenders also offer extended payment and loan consolidation programs, which can extend the term of the loan and lower your monthly payments.
If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing 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, P.A. 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.