credit card debt; plastic money | Americans struggle to get a grip on credit card debt as holiday shopping approaches

It’s true. Americans are spending more money on their credit cards than they have in decades.

“The main thing is just shopping smart,” said financial expert and wealth advisor V. Conley Perry with Socratic Better Wealth. “A lot of people are using credit cards to make ends meet; which they probably have done that in the past and they’re just continuing that through these times that we’re going through right now.”

According to Experian, Americans are carrying $887 billion dollars in credit card debt right now. That is a 13% increase compared to last year.

“My advice is if you’re gonna get a credit card, try to make sure you pay it off in 30 days,” said retiree Clark Hood. The McGee’s Crossroads retiree has a credit card with an interest rate below 10%, lower than the current average for Americans. “If you take one out today it’s like 27% on a new card. So that gets kind of tough.”

Retailers have already begun offering deep discounts on shopping ahead of the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

A recent survey, consumers will spend less on holiday shopping this year, but will still use their credit cards.

“I try not to,” said Karen Smith. “That’s why I use a BJ’s credit card only because you get money off on the gas. So overall that’s actually a good savings. So that’s probably the only credit card I use.”

The survey, which was conducted in mid-October via SurveyMonkey, reported 50% of those surveyed will use their credit card to cover holiday shopping. Additionally, 54% said they plan to spend more because of inflation.

Perry suggests approaching your personal finance like a finance executive or business would.

“We as consumers don’t do that enough. We don’t look at our personal situation like a CFO would or a business. And this is the time that you should do that,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that we can look at to take a really close look at our personal situation and we can find a cut.”

For consumers who carry a balance, the average interest rate currently sits at 18%, a 30-year high.

To limit credit card debt and interest rates, financial experts suggest paying your credit card in full at the end of each month, apply the debt snowball or debt avalanche approach, or ask your creditor to reduce your interest rate.

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