BOSTON (STL.News) – In a world of credit cards, loans, and “buy now, pay later” deals, it is easy for consumers to accumulate debt. Even though taking out loans and using credit cards are often necessary for consumers today, there are strategies to navigate and minimize debt. To help, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) offers seven tips for avoiding debt.
“Credit cards and loans can feel like free money. “Consumers may quickly forget how much they can afford to spend,” said Steve Trumble, President, and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “It is important that consumers have a financial plan and budget in place so they can avoid falling deeper into debt and move towards a healthy financial life.”
According to ValuePenguin, the average American household debt is $5,700 with 41.2 percent of all households carrying some sort of credit card debt. In Massachusetts consumers owe an average of $6,277 in credit card debt. Experian also found that the average student loan debt in Massachusetts is $36,181.
ACCC offers consumers seven tips on how to avoid debt:
1. Set a monthly budget – Consumers need to be aware of how much they can afford to spend. Consumers should divide their monthly budget among three categories: necessities (utilities, housing payments, etc.), wants (eating out, going to the movies, etc.) and pending debt, (student loans, mortgage payments, etc.)
2. Pay with cash – It can be useful for consumers to pay with cash whenever possible to avoid overspending with a credit card.
3. Avoid “buy now, pay later” deals – This type of payment option is a way for consumers to postpone debt. If a purchase is not essential, consumers should wait until they know they can afford the entire cost.
4. Track credit card payments – It is suggested that consumers keep track of all credit card payments to avoid accidental overspending. This, too, will help keep track of any fraudulent activity.
5. Have emergency savings – Debt is often created due to unexpected expenses, such as a medical bill or home repairs. During such times, it is useful for consumers to have emergency savings to fall back on.
6. Stay up to date on loan payments – Consumers need to stay on track with payments to avoid accumulating debt. If consumers are late, it will be harder for them to make the next payment, especially if there are late fees.
7. Limit amount of credit cards – By limiting the number of credit cards a consumer owns, can lessen the credit available, which helps to decrease their chance of falling into debt.
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling and financial education concerning debt solutions. To help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living, and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx.