Study shows Alabamians have high credit card debt

By Cody Holyoke - bio | email

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- You see it everywhere.

Nationwide, companies are going bankrupt--even dissolving because of money problems.

Meanwhile, Alabamians are in the same boat when it comes to debt.

A study recently released by credit bureau TransUnion shows--on average--residents owe $2,015 on their credit cards.

That debt is the third highest in the country and about 300 bucks above the national average of $1,717.

Economists say spending habits are partially to blame.

"The consumer has to start thinking that you don't really need to have everything, and if you want to purchase something, maybe you should save a little bit," explained Dr. Chuck Hegji, an economics professor at Auburn Montgomery.

However, with high prices for everything from food to fuel, critics say the money may not be available when residents need it.

"Wages are not increasing to balance that people are going to more extreme measures to pay for basic services," said Stephen Stetson, policy analyst for Alabama Arise.

"Whereas a year or two ago, you wouldn't have to use your credit cards as much.  Now, we're having to just to make it from week to week," said Kent Rutledge of Montgomery.

That's a situation that can build financial stress--here at home and across the country.

"Sooner or later, something's going to break.  And it did," Hegji explained.

Meanwhile, people who can afford to get their debt down will try hard to keep it that way.

"I've had credit card debt and I know how it feels, and I don't want to go back there again," said Felisha Sellers, a Montgomery resident.

"If I can't pay cash for it, I don't want it."