There has been a lot of talk lately about the nation’s financial recovery. Though things certainly seem to be getting better, it is not a perfect picture. In fact, some statistics have experts worried. For example, the average auto loan term period reached 66 months for the first time in the first quarter of 2014. Though this allows individuals to obtain lower monthly payments, it also increases the amount these individuals will spend on interest. Rather than seeing this as a sign of positive economic activity, some see it in a negative light, showing how many Americans borrow because they need to, not because they want to, in order to afford a new or used vehicle.

And the stats do not stop at auto loans. Revolving credit card debt has grown by 12 percent so far this year, which many are saying evidences increased consumer confidence. But the statistics may not support this assumption. In fact, consumer confidence has remained relatively steady since the beginning of the year. However, credit card companies have started to loosen their borrowing standards, extending credit to those who may not have been able to obtain credit last year. This fact, coupled with significant increases in energy and food costs, may show that credit card debt is rising not because consumers are buying more things that they want, but rather that they need the credit to buy basic necessities.

If this is true, then many American’s financial challenges could be worse than many people suspect. Their overwhelming debt can become frightening and stressful, leaving them uncertain of their future. However, those who are struggling with debt have options for debt relief.

Perhaps the best option for some is chapter 7 bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy will stop wage garnishment and stop creditor harassment while allowing an individual to shed debt and obtain a fresh financial start. An individual should not be afraid or ashamed of taking such action, but instead should view it as an opportunity to take his or her future into his or her own hands. By speaking with a Tennessee attorney, those considering bankruptcy may become more fully informed to make the decisions that matter most to them.

Source: Minyanville, “Borrowing to Just Get By: The Worrisome Growth of Non-Discretionary Consumer Debt,” Peter Atwater, June 17, 2014