December proved to be a huge month in terms of consumers taking on more debt. The Federal Reserve reported earlier this month that borrowing in December rose by nearly $19 billion. That represents the biggest increase since February.

The category in which the greatest borrowing was noted was the one that includes car and student loans. Officials say borrowing in that area went up by nearly $14 billion. Credit card debt increased by $5 billion. That represented the strongest showing in that category since May.

For many economists, burgeoning borrowing rates are considered a good sign. They say it reflects a rebound in consumer confidence — something that has been somewhat lacking since the official end of the most recent recession was declared. Consumer spending is the largest single measure of economic activity, accounting for 70 percent of the measurement.

Of course, as many in Arkansas well know, increases in credit card balances can also be an indicator that consumers are facing financial difficulty. So many people are still living paycheck to paycheck and look to their credit cards to cover gaps where they occur. Should a sudden medical emergency arise, credit cards may be the first line of defense to meet the cost.

Finding debt relief in such situations may seem impossible, but it is not. Knowing the full scope of the options available, including Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, is essential. To get the best information and feel confident that any decision you make is the right one, it is always advised that you consult an experienced attorney.

Source: USA TODAY, “Consumers up borrowing nearly $19B in December,” Martin Crutsinger, Associated Press, Feb. 7, 2014