How to Tell If You Have Too Much Credit Card Debt in Atlanta
Credit card debt doesn't usually happen overnight - sometimes it just kind of sneaks up on you.
Unfortunately, this means that many consumers don't easily recognize when their debt crosses the line from manageable into unmanageable territory. As a result, they may ignore steps that can help relieve debt and protect their assets - such as an Atlanta bankruptcy filing.
According to Bankrate.com, 9 of every 10 Americans say that debt is not a significant issue for them. Yet statistically speaking, most consumers are shouldering thousands of dollars in debt. The average household carries $4,200 in credit card debt - in Atlanta, that number is as high as $4,960.
By some estimates, more than 10% of Americans are delinquent on their mortgage. Many more people are struggling to make payments. Often times, the problem is too much credit card debt.
It all points to one thing: Atlanta consumers are in debt denial.
It's easy to think of credit card debt as a national problem, not a personal one. Maybe you tell yourself that you'll cut back on spending tomorrow or that when you get that raise or new job you'll be able to get things under control. Maybe you're ashamed to admit you have a problem. Yet that's the kind of denial that allows debt to spiral out of control, according to our Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys.
If you're routinely making minimum payments, leaving bills unopened, or squirreling away purchases, it's time to take an honest look at your finances. Here are some of Bankrate.com's top signs of serious debt trouble.
Remember, there's nothing shameful about having too much credit card debt - many Americans are in the same boat thanks to the Great Recession. It only reflects poorly on you - and your credit - if you don't do anything about it. If you find yourself identifying with many of the points on this list, filing for bankruptcy in Atlanta may help you take charge of debt once and for all.
Are You Frequently Paying Just the Minimum?
It's simple math: making minimum payments means you're paying interest on the majority of your balance every month. Depending on the size of your minimum, you may not even be covering interest. If your last several payments haven't been enough to lower your credit card balance - but you can't afford to increase them - it's time to consider getting help before you debt grows any further.
Are You Spending More Than You Earn?
If you're always putting more on your credit cards that you're bringing home, it's unrealistic to believe you'll be able to pay off your debts without assistance. Waiting for that raise or bonus? Studies show that when people increase their earnings, the new money usually goes to groceries, gas, new clothes, etc. Putting off dealing with debt won't make it go away. It's only a matter of time before your growing balance leads to ruined credit, harassment from debt collectors, garnished wages and more.
Are You Maxing Out Cards?
Do you frequently get close to - or exceed - your credit limit? If you do, you're hurting your credit. Up to 35% of your credit score is based on the amount of debt you carry in relation to your limit. Using under 30% of your available limit is recommended. Using more than that? You probably have too much debt.
Are You Ignoring Important Bills?
Do you leave bills unopened until the last minute because it stresses you out to think about debt? Ignoring your balance makes it too easy to keep spending when you know you shouldn't. It's also a surefire way to rack up late fees and other expenses.
Are You Hiding Purchases?
Many times, hiding credit card bills and purchases from your family is a sign that you're feeling guilty over your debt. Why suffer alone in shame? Two heads are better than one. Talking about your debt problems with a trusted relative, advisor, or attorney can help you find solutions for your debt and also relieve the stressful burden.
Many times, we allow ourselves to live in denial because we're hoping a miracle will come along and help us pay off what we owe. But why wait for something that probably won't happen when Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are real, viable options that can actually do something about debt? In the meantime, bankruptcy can help you rebuilt credit, protect your home from foreclosure, and clear your mind and heart of your burden.
More Blog Entries:
How Atlanta Bankruptcy Filings Can Improve Consumer Finances in 2012: January 1, 2012
Atlanta Bankruptcy Numbers Drop Slightly, But Remain Steady in 3rd Quarter: December 28, 2011
15 Signs of Serious Debt Trouble, by Bankrate.com
Denying Our Debt, by Lucy Lazarony, Bankrate.com
Cities with the Most Credit Card Debt, by Blake Ellis, CNN Money