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How does Arizona compare to other states in credit card debt?

Many Americans are going to be hit with some hefty credit card bills this month for gifts and other purchases made during the holiday season. However, for too many of us, high credit card debt is a year-round problem that they can't get out from underneath.

Interestingly, residents of some states overall have a more dangerous credit card burden than others. The website CreditCards.com recently published a ranking of states based on how long it would take residents to pay off their average credit card balance if they earmarked 15 percent of their income for that purpose.

It also looked at the average credit card debt for cardholders in those states, as well as the average income (which can, of course, influence how long it takes to pay off debt).

The numbers varied significantly. However, the Sun Belt states, including Arizona, had some fairly heavy credit card debt compared to other states and required the greatest length of time to pay it off, using their formula.

Arizona came in at 17 months for credit card debt pay-off -- three months less than our neighbors in New Mexico and slightly less than other Sun Belt states farther east. The states with the lowest debt burdens were largely in the north.

So what were Arizona's numbers?

-- The average credit card balance was $5,578 (19th in the nation).

-- The number of months to pay it off (if paying 15 percent of monthly earnings) was 17. That was 9th in the country.

-- Our average income ranked 32nd in the country.

-- 15 percent of monthly earnings equaled just over $376.

-- Average overall debt was slightly more than $40,100.

While it's interesting to see how Arizona compares with other states and to see where there are patterns, the only credit card debt that matters is your own. Obviously, if you're only paying the minimums on your credit cards, it will take a lot longer to pay off your debt than it would if you paid 15 percent of your income. You also end up paying a lot more towards interest rather than the principal.

If you're struggling to get ahead on your credit card bills without sacrificing necessities, it may be wise to seek legal and financial advice to determine how best to get out from under this debt.

Source: CNBC, "The 5 US states that struggle most with credit card debt," Kathleen Elkins, Dec. 22, 2016

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