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Credit card debt, student loans weigh heavily on consumers

For many Washington consumers, debt is an inescapable part of life. Recent studies indicate that people are currently taking on more debt than ever, and it's not all for big purchases, like homes. Credit card debt and student loans in particular are especially troubling for people who are trying to rise above their ever-growing debt. 

The total consumer debt and mortgage levels were listed at $14.7 trillion 10 years ago. Now, these levels are on track to hit $15.7 trillion by the end of 2018's second quarter. That's a full $1 trillion more than the peak levels of debt during the Great Recession. So what's to blame for all this debt? 

According to experts, student loans, auto loans and credit card debt shot up 45 percent since 2008. Student loans currently weigh in at more than $1.5 trillion and take up 42 percent of the average consumer's consumer debt, which does not include mortgages. Credit card debt accounts for 27 percent of consumer debt. 

Mortgages, which were once extremely troublesome to the average consumer, pose less of an issue. Many younger consumers either choose to continue renting or do not qualify for homeownership, which has led to a slow overall growth of mortgage debt. The percentage of mortgage debt that consumes the average homeowner's disposable income is only 68 percent compared to 98 percent in 2008. 

With over half of consumer debt coming from student loans and credit card debt, escaping financial insecurity can feel impossible -- particularly since student loans cannot be discharged during bankruptcy. However, this does not mean that Washington consumers are without options. By pursuing a better financial future through bankruptcy, individuals can discharge eligible debts, lay a better financial foundation for their future and put themselves in a better position to repay remaining debts. 

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