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Most credit card debt due to job loss, illness

Arizona families who find themselves overwhelmed by credit card debt are most likely not in that position due to carelessness or ignorance about finances. A recent survey reveals that people with credit card debt are often there due to turning to credit to pay for necessities, and they tend to spend less and budget more than people who are debt-free.

Health care costs can be a significant factor in acquiring debt even for people who carry health insurance. There still may be deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, and those can quickly add up. Medical expenses account for a portion of credit card debt for more than half of the households. Being unemployed can lead a person to paying for necessities like rent, food and utilities with credit cards. Underemployment is an issue too. The study found that 40 percent of households with credit card debt had a family member who had sought full-time work but found only part-time jobs. Only 22 percent of households with no debt were in the same situation.

Owning a home can lead a family into debt as well. People may be forced to turn to credit cards for repairs on the house that cannot be delayed. Other factors that lead to debt include having children. Households in debt are generally not making reckless purchases. In fact, the survey indicated that families without debt were more likely to have bought major appliances or gone on vacation.

People who are overwhelmed by debt may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Although they may feel there is a stigma attached to the decision, studies like this one demonstrate that doing so is rarely the result of irresponsibility. More often, people are simply struggling with a run of bad luck.

Source: Think Progress, "No, People Don't Get Buried In Credit Card Debt Because They're Bad With Money", Bryce Covert, May 10, 2014

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