There have been some tentative signs that the economy may be, well not quite recovering, but not falling as fast. One of these often cited is that the American consumer came back and shopped this past holiday season.

“It was the first real Christmas in years.” One retailer exclaimed.

So, are Americans earning more? Are they spending more of their savings? No, unfortunately, every indication is that the years of austerity have worn thin, paying down credit card debt is not as fun as racking up credit card debt and Americans really just cranked out the cards again.

Today in The Boston Globe, this little statistic popped out at me.

But here’s what got me concerned: Thirty-three states showed an increase in average credit card borrower debt from the previous quarter, according to TransUnion’s quarterly analysis. The national average debt was $4,965.

I’d file this under lessons unlearned. Personal debt is another interesting and often over-looked part of what is happening to our country. We are far removed from the days when people like Ben Franklin advised us that we are far better off to wake up hungry than go to bed in debt. The ability for so many to wrack up so much debt and then when unable to pay, the fear that that invokes is easily capitalized upon. The $5,000 a month per person credit card debt is pretty concerning when you balance that against credit card interest rates and average salaries.

I hit the Google to find out some more about the increase in debt and check out the relationship between that increase and increased consumer spending and came across this gem of a website,

Here I found really the advice we all need, some frank talk on what to do if God forbid, you’re paying down your debt too fast.

Check it out – and file this under sad but true.

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About the Author

James Boyce

James Boyce has been involved in the progressive community online since his role as a Senior Advisor for John Kerry in 2004. Since then, he has been both a leading blogger, a frequent contributor to MSNBC, advisor to Bill Richardson in 2008, and founder of Common Sense NMS ( a online strategy group with clients such as Product (RED), NRDC, The Rainforest Alliance, Stonyfield Farm and more. James can be reached at

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