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The Truth About Personal Debt

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    The Truth About Personal Debt

    You've probably heard that the average American carries more than $8,000 in credit card debt. It's a figure frequently cited by politicians, journalists and pundits as a sure sign of impending economic collapse. They argue that consumers, already struggling under this massive burden of debt, soon will have to stop spending like drunken sailors. The economic recovery, therefore, is doomed!

    The surprising thing about this statistic isn't that it's so widely known. Rather, it's that the statistic paints a picture that's just plain wrong.

    ***In reality, most Americans owe nothing to credit card companies.
    ***Most households that carry balances owe $2,000 or less.
    ***Only about 1 in 20 American households owes $8,000 or more on credit cards.

    These figures are from the Federal Reserve's 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances, one of the most comprehensive assessments of what Americans own and owe...
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