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What are the main causes of overwhelming credit card debt?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2021 | Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

As a young family, you and your spouse may find yourselves making credit card purchases far more often than you would have anticipated. After all, when you first set up housekeeping, you likely need “everything.” Unfortunately, for most couples, this need continues for several years.

But are credit card purchases the way to go? As with most complicated questions, the answer to this one is “it depends.”

Needs versus wants explains that credit card spending tends to fall into two general categories: true need expenditures and emotional expenditures. One expert calls this conscious versus unconscious spending. Another calls it love-based versus fear-based spending.

Whatever you call it, the point is that you need to identify the reason why you make your various credit card purchases. This can help you use credit wisely and avoid the overwhelming credit card debt that many young couples accumulate.

Need-based expenditures

Naturally, you and your family need basics, including the following:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Health care coverage
  • Uncovered medical costs

You have little opportunity to negotiate the costs associated with these needs. Consequently, these types of expenditures represent the major cause of increasing credit card debt by young families.

Want-based expenditures

Conversely, you have a great deal of control over your want-based expenditures. For instance, do you really need a three-bedroom apartment in the “best” part of town or will a two-bedroom apartment in an older neighborhood do? Do you really need a pair of $100 designer jeans or can you wear a stylish $20 pair with just as much pride, knowing how much money you saved?

Once you differentiate your needs spending from your wants spending, you are well on your way to responsible credit card usage.


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The Law Office of Kim Covington, is a woman owned debt relief agency, and I have helped families, individuals and small businesses, file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, for over 24 years.