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Are Americans Too Comfortable With Debt?

Christine DiGangi

Nearly a fifth of consumers who responded to an online poll said carrying credit card debt from month to month is a responsible way to manage his or her finances, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

The poll was posted to the NFCC’s website, www.DebtAdvice.org, from July 1 to July 31, and 1,630 people responded. The self-selective nature of this poll implies that it is not meant to be a complete picture of consumer opinion, but the results deserve some attention.

Using credit cards helps to build a consumer’s credit and financial history, but they can make it easy to overspend. Carrying a balance means paying more for purchases in the long run, so card users should aim to minimize such debt. But 18% of the poll respondents think it’s a good strategy to carry debt from month to month.

“This data suggests that not only are many Americans using credit cards to fund a lifestyle their income can’t support, but they are comfortable doing so,” said Gail Cunningham, a spokesperson for the NFCC who was quoted in the poll news release.

At the same time, 21% of respondents said they don’t use credit cards, meaning they may not be building their credit at all. Without a payment history, those consumers may find it difficult to get auto and home loans.

While 61% of respondents said they believe paying credit card bills in full is the only responsible way to manage their finances, it should be noted the poll asked what consumers believe, not what they do.

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