What do people consider acceptable reasons for credit card debt?

There is a certain stigma associated with having a large amount of credit card debt. Sometimes, however, it may be unavoidable.

A recent survey by NerdWallet asked over 2,000 Americans what they considered to be acceptable reasons for having credit card debt. The two most-named reasons were for emergencies and medical expenses (at 63 percent and 61 percent, respectively).

Of those surveyed, 45 percent said that paying for necessary expenses while unemployed was an acceptable reason to put purchases on a credit card. Following that was necessary expenses that couldn't be afforded on income alone, at 36 percent.

Even some of the credit card debt that stems from emergency or unforeseen but necessary expenses can be avoided if people focus on putting away more money in savings. Unfortunately, Americans have gotten worse at saving over the years. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the personal saving rate dropped in the past 50 years -- from 12.1 percent in 1966 to 5.4 percent in 2016. The U.S. ranks below most developed countries in the percentage of our income that we save.

Financial experts stress the importance of budgeting, using something called the "S.M.A.R.T." system. That means developing a household budget that is:

-- Specific-- Measurable-- Achievable-- Realistic-- Time-based

If you're facing overwhelming credit card debt, whether you had unexpected expenses that your income and savings wouldn't cover, or because you made some poor spending decisions, it's never too late to take steps to turn things around. Experienced legal and financial advisers can provide guidance to help you do that.

Source: Motley Fool, "There Are Only 2 Acceptable Reasons to Go Into Credit Card Debt, New Survey Shows," Sean Williams, Feb. 06, 2017

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