The Motley Fool Discussion Boards

Previous Page

Personal Finances / Credit Cards and Consumer Debt


Subject:  Credit Card Debt up 53% Date:  9/23/2003  5:23 PM
Author:  TMF2Aruba Number:  170234 of 312185

How do you stand in this latest statistic?

According to latest studies out, the average American family owes over $4100 in credit card debt, up 53% since the 1990's.

Scary, isn't it? Even though more people are aware of the importance of reducing debt, more people are in debt, and by higher amounts.

However, before we're too quick to cluck our tongues and wag our fingers at John Q. Public for being so unFoolish in their debt management, it's important to realize that there are some contributing factors which make it more difficult to cast blame.

According to this latest study, two groups who's debt rose significantly include the low income, and the elderly. The low income consumers are trying to just keep pace in providing for their needs, and it seems they're forced to resort to plastic just to make ends meet. Unlike in earlier decades, these folks are using their credit cards for such purchases as groceries despite the fact that the interest rates (some as high as 29%) will make their financial situation even more dire.

The elderly seem to be using their credit cards to pay for prescription drugs, and other out of pocket health care costs as well as for expenses which their fixed incomes are unable to cover.

Neither group can truly be admonished for frivolous spending, wouldn't you say? It's hard to tell Grandma that she should be ashamed to pull out her Visa card when it may well be the only way she'll have have her refill on the blood pressure pills.

So what can be done to help?

Well, here's an idea. Why can't credit card companies step in to help those who are relying on plastic to survive. Here's my proposal:

Credit card companies should offer people who can provide proof of need the ability to purchase necessities like food, medicine, healthcare and the like on plastic as very low, or 0% interest, as long as payments are always made on time. These companies would still benefit by receiving the amount they always do from the merchant, but would just forgo the added interest income. This would not only create goodwill for the companies, it would be a huge boon to those in need.

And why not?

...but I still am...

Copyright 1996-2018 trademark and the "Fool" logo is a trademark of The Motley Fool, Inc. Contact Us