As credit card debt soars, so do calls for credit counseling help

Creating a budget and analyzing what needs to be sacrificed is the first step.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:24 AM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Dominque George carefully plans her meals. Last night’s chicken finger leftovers will be tonight’s chicken pot pie.

“I’m always, every day, literally looking at my bills,” the mom of four told On Your Side. Grocery bills kept getting more expensive and rent jumped a thousand dollars a month. Some of it ended up on credit cards. “I had about $9,000 in debt, which to some may not seem like a lot. It was a lot for me,” George said. “I just felt like I was drowning.”

She’s not alone since credit card debt has jumped to $925 billion dollars in the U.S. It’s a 15% spike compared to the third quarter of 2021, marking the largest year-over-year increase in more than two decades, according to a LendingTree analysis. As balances go up, so do calls for help to credit counseling and financial education companies like Money Management International.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of folks reaching out,” said MMI’s Thomas Nitzsche. “Raises haven’t kept up with inflation for most people, so that is what we’re seeing.” If the story sounds familiar, you need a budget. “Really, the ground floor is understanding what’s coming in and what’s going out,” Nitzsche said. “Creating a budget, which most of the clients we work with have never done. You really need to do that.”

George has paid off more than half of her debt. MMI helped her lower her interest rates on her credit cards, and she’s made sacrifices along the way. “There have been times where I’ve had to go out and get a second job just to make sure we had food on the table,” she said. George is on track to wipe out her debt by the end of the year. “It’s going to be really great,” she said. “I feel like it’s going to be a huge, huge boulder off of my heart.”