3 On Your Side

Are you a "yo-yo" debtor?

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You’ve heard of yo-yo dieters…people who lose weight, just to gain it back, then start the dieting cycle all over again

 Experts are now warning that the same type of up and down cycles are happening with too many people’s credit cards, and it’s resulting in financial chaos.

That’s what happened to Charlese Antoinette. She is careful how she uses a credit card these days, but that wasn’t always the case. “I would just, like, buy whatever I want and charge it up,” says Antoinette.

She’d push her plastic to the limit. But the biggest problem? Once she’d pay the cards off, she’d just fill them up again.

Experts have a term for this. It’s called “yo-yo debtor.”

Millennial debt expert Tonya Rapley explains. “A yo-yo debtor is someone who treats their debt like a yo-yo. They pay it off and reel it back in then they release it and they get back into debt.”

And, while financial experts say yo-yo debt impacts all ages, a recent survey shows nearly a third of millennials have maxed out a credit card. Experts say some of the younger set just don’t understand how credit works.

“That doesn’t mean that they’re not intelligent or not financially literate,” says Rapley. “They just might not know that it’s not a healthy practice to be a part of.”

Research also reveals that 43 percent of millennials have sub-prime credit, worse than any other age group. Experts say the problem is often spending without planning. According to credit counselor Mark Higgins, “It’s typically when there is no budget in place. They’re running a budget deficit over the course of time, which, in turn, balloons the credit card debt up.”

Tips to stop the yo-yo-ing: Budget monthly; know your credit limit, pay more than the minimum, and increase savings-- even while you are in debt. Antoinette says she reached her limit when she didn’t have enough credit to rent an apartment.  She got a credit counselor, paid off all but one card and boosted her credit score 200 points – all in less than a year. 

“I’m really glad that I figured out how to be more financially responsible,” Antoinette says. “I’m like OK. I got it.”

If you or someone you know is having credit problems there are a number of low- and no-cost credit counselors available. 

Find out more at http://www.USA.Gov/Debt

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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