A Short History of Consumer Debt in the United States

by DeLadurantey Law Office, LLC on October 6, 2009

A Short History of Consumer Debt in the United States

For many American families, spending has become an addiction. Each year a large proportion of families spend more than they earn, contributing to a larger and larger pile of consumer debt over time. Many consumers today focus simply on making the minimum payments on their credit cards instead of focusing on becoming debt free. This trend towards irresponsible spending has led to an increased amount of debt for the average American.

Before the 1950s, very few families carried any consumer debt at all. Borrowing and lending was seen as a dangerous activity that could quickly lead to financial ruin. During the Great Depression and World War II era in particular, families exercised restraint and bought only what they needed. As the economy improved after WWII and the credit card was invented in the 1950s, purchasing with credit and living on loans became a popular notion that gave the average American the opportunity to buy a house, a car, and other material possessions that early generations could not have dreamed of.

This material consumption, however, has inflicted a heavy toll on American households. Since 1980, the average amount of consumer debt has risen from 15.5% of personal income to 19%, almost one-fifth of total personal income earned per year. This accumulation of debt is no surprise when we look at the fact that 43% of American households spend more than they earn from year to year. This means that almost half of all American families are taking on more debt every year, with no sign of limiting spending. Today, the average American household owes about $8,000 in outstanding credit card debt.

Contact Us

If you have been caught up in consumer spending, you may be one of the many U.S. households afflicted with credit card debt. To learn how you can negotiate your debt and begin to reduce your outstanding payments, please contact the experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyers at the DeLadurantey Law Office, LLC today at 414-377-0518.

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