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Debt, Debt and more Debt
By Robin Bowerman
Smart Investing
7th July 2010
Principal & Head of Retail, Vanguard Investments Australia

A special report on debt in The Economist magazine (June 26-July 2) makes the telling point that “in the rich world, getting your first credit card is a rite of passage”.

“And even if you shun the temptation of borrowing to indulge yourself, you are still saddled with your portion of the national debt,” adds the report, headed Repent at Leisure.

The credit card statistics in the Reserve Bank Bulletin for June shows how their total outstanding balance has grown relentlessly in Australia over the past 25 years, reaching more than $47 billion in April (the latest figure available).

The average credit card balance in April was $3234 – against an average credit card limit of $8884.

It is significant to emphasise that there are 10.6 million credit and charge accounts in existence, and, of course, an average balance gives no indication of the number of consumers with multiple accounts.

The horrific story of credit card debt would typically involve consumers who are “maxed out to the limit” on a handful of cards.

ASIC’s consumer website provides terrific tips for those with seemingly out-of-control debts.

It includes pointers about how not to accrue excessive debt in the first place, a calculator showing how to budget and how to assess your debt position, how to reduce debts, and where to go for help.



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