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Bankrate Survey Paints Grim Financial Picture

Many households in Louisiana and around the country are struggling to cope with unmanageable levels of debt, and it is often their credit card balances that they find most difficult to pay down. A recent study from the consumer financial services company Bankrate found that barely half of Americans have more money in their savings accounts than they owe to credit card companies. It also revealed that 39 percent of the adult population has no money at all put aside for emergencies.

While only 43 percent of Americans have more than $1,000 in the bank, average household revolving debt balances in the United States have now grown to $7,136. Reducing this debt is made difficult by interest rates that can soar past 20 percent, and credit card balances can take decades to pay off if only minimum monthly payments are made.

Financial experts have little advice to offer those who are caught in the revolving debt trap. Careful budgeting, frugal living and other cost-saving techniques may help people to reduce their credit card balances, but the answer for a growing number of people is more work. About 44 million Americans have taken on second jobs to earn extra money to pay down their debts, but these gigs rarely pay enough to significantly improve their financial situations. According to the data, only about a third of the Americans who work second jobs bring in more than $500 extra each month.

Attorneys with debt relief experience may understand how hard it can be for families to make ends meet and that emergencies like illnesses or layoffs can wreak havoc on even the most carefully laid financial plans. Lawyers can explain that the nation's bankruptcy laws were written to provide individuals who are struggling with their bills the opportunity to have a fresh start. An attorney can also point out that filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition puts an end to creditor harassment and could provide an escape from revolving debt.

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