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Americans carry a significant amount of debt

Some Florida families may be among the households throughout the country that owe an average non-mortgage debt of more than $24,000. The credit reporting agency Experian also found that in 2017, people's average mortgage debt was over $200,000. On average, people owed more than $6,300 on their credit cards and $1,841 on retail cards. The average student loan debt set a new record at $34,144.

These averages do not necessarily represent the typical situation of most households. There are significant regional variations, and even people who carry a high credit card balance might pay it off monthly. However, it is clear that overall, Americans carry a large amount of debt. In June 2017, the total debt hit a record high of $1.02 trillion. Furthermore, the fact that 33 percent of people with student loans have had a late payment over the past year and that over 7 percent of credit card debt was at least 90 days past due in the third quarter of the year suggest that some people are struggling with those obligations.

There are several approaches people can take to paying off debt. It might make financial sense to pay off the ones with the highest interest rates. However, the debt snowball, which involves paying off the smallest ones first, may be the most psychologically rewarding and thus easier to stick to.

Unfortunately, in some cases, people simply do not have the resources to pay off their debts. When this occurs, they might want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Although this can feel overwhelming, a bankruptcy filing immediately stops any creditor actions. People are usually able to keep at least some assets, and it can provide a fresh financial start.

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