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"Many U.S. consumers are so deep in a financial hole that even as the economy begins to turn around they can’t quite dig themselves out.

A survey by released Tuesday found that 25 percent of Americans have more credit card debt than they have in emergency savings, and that spells trouble if an emergency situation actually hits.

Consumers are doing better when it comes to living within their means, said Greg McBride,’s senior financial analyst. But, he added, years of stagnant wage growth, high unemployment, declining home values and escalating household expenses have strained wallets. “Even though there’s been progress things are still out of whack,” he said."
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Yet it was a banner holiday-spending season for retailers. High unemployment, increased gas prices are probably part of the story - but unnecessary consumer spending probably still is too.
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