U.S. Households Owe More than $16,000 in Credit Card Debt

The average U.S. household owes $16,061 in credit card debt, up from 10% from $14,546 in 2006, according to an analysis released by personal finance company NerdWallet. That figure is still down from the recent high of $16,912 at the height of the recession in 2008. Credit card debt levels aren’t expected to hit pre-recession levels until the end of 2019.

Interest rates play a large role in the debt: The average household that owes money on credit cards pays about $1,292 in interest each year. That could jump to $1,309 after the Federal Reserve voted on a rate hike of a quarter of a percentage point. If you find yourself in credit card debt, check out MONEY’s recommendations for the best cards to get you out of debt.

Total debt—including mortgages, student loans, and auto loans—is expected to surpass the amounts owed at the start of the Great Recession by the end of 2016. That’s largely due to the growth of mortgage debt, which surged from $159,020 per household in 2010 to $172,086 this year, and debt from auto loans, which jumped from $20,032 in 2010 to $28,535 in 2016.

Total household debt now hovers at $132,529 per household, or nearly $12.4 trillion total. Its strong growth is that the cost of living has significantly outpaced median household income. For instance, while earnings have grown 28% over the last 13 years, medical costs spiked by 57% and food and beverage costs increased by 36% during the same time frame.

Below are 4 tips that may help you find freedom from your credit card debt in 2018!

Reduce The Chance Of More Debt

Choose one or two of your credit cards with the lowest interest rates and hide the rest. If you leave the other credit cards at home in a safe place then you won’t be tempted to use them when you’re shopping.

Get Reduced Interest Rates

If you have any credit cards with interest rates above 14% then contact the dealers and tell them that you are having difficulty making payments. Most credit card companies will work with you to reduce the rate or to figure out an extended payment plan because they don’t want to lose your business

Pay More Than Your Minimum

Look at your credit card statement. If you pay the minimum balance on your credit card, it takes you much longer to pay off your bill. If you pay more than the minimum, you’ll pay less in interest overall. Your card company is required to chart this out for you on your statement, so you can see how it applies to your bill.

Pay a bit extra each month. Every dollar over the minimum payment goes toward your balance—and the smaller your balance, the less you have to pay in interest.

Cut Your Expenses – Put Savings Toward Your Debt

For a while, you need to cut out all spending that isn’t essential. Learn to cook a few simple, inexpensive meals at home. Start getting movies from Redbox instead of going to the theater. Play games at home instead of going out. Let cable or satellite TV go and get Netflix and Hulu instead. Find any and every way you can to avoid spending money. Then use the money you don’t need for rent, car payment, utilities, and other essentials to pay your debt. Every dollar you pay gets you one step closer to being debt free! Some people even make a game out of it. Challenge yourself, your roommate, or your spouse to see who can cut the most expenses.

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