Many people live beyond their means. But for cash-strapped consumers simply looking to get by, credit cards act as a safety net, helping them to make ends meet during tough financial times.
Not everyone who carries a credit card debt is a spendthrift. While some cardholders certainly are compulsive shoppers or buyers with little self-control, this is not always the case. A degree of the massive debt in this country can be attributed to Americans who simply lack the necessary savings to get out a jam. As a result, borrowing money is their only choice when times are hard.
Many Americans, from the middle class on down, find that basic necessities become tougher to pay for each year. With an already-tight budget, the events that can force a consumer to run up credit card debt are by no means unusual.
The cost of medical care can be a huge burden, with many necessary procedures or treatments falling beyond the monetary means of the average person. Likewise, with many U.S. companies scaling back operations or moving them overseas, layoffs are a constant threat to the American worker. Without their main source of income, the unemployed may turn to a credit card as their sole access to funds. Meanwhile, the sky-high divorce rate in the U.S. produces not just broken homes, but difficult financial situations for people accustomed to making ends meet on a combined income.
The critics who charge that the American public are unable to live within their means and are simply too willing to rack up unnecessary debt on credit cards should consider these factors. Challenges like medical costs, job loss, and divorce can leave consumers with little choice but to use their credit card for staples like food, gas, and clothing.
For those consumers who need a credit card to get out of a jam, consider a credit card that offers a low interest rate. That way, when financial pressures do ease up, it will be easier to pay back any outstanding balance on the card.