Freedom Financial Network Continues to Urge Consumers to Spend Conservatively

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FFN Quarterly Comment: Debt continues to rise faster than income increases.

We become concerned when we see debt increasing at a double-digit rate, while income increases at a tenth of that pace.

When it comes to the nation’s economic recovery, the summer of 2014 was hot, from real estate prices to auto sales to credit card debt, notes the Freedom Financial Network Quarterly Comment on consumer debt and credit issues.

Freedom Financial Network observes several economic indicators closely and provides consumer education in its work to help consumers get out of debt and stay out of debt.

“In the past quarter, consumers continued to respond to a healthier economy by dusting off credit cards and replacing vehicles,” said Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network (FFN). “This optimism is heartening, but we caution consumers to remember the lessons of the past economic downturn and prepare for the future. Fortunately, we’re seeing a hint of this caution as people saved a higher portion of their income this summer.”

In July, non-revolving consumer debt increased by more than 10 percent compared to this time last year. The increase was driven in part by motor vehicle sales that were more than 5 percent higher than last year and 10 percent higher in August than in July. Hand in hand with those sales are increases in auto loans with terms of six to seven years. Experian Automotive data show that nearly 25 percent of all new-car loans were for 73-84 months in the first quarter, up from just 10 percent four years ago.

“Those new vehicles on the road might be good for the U.S. economy, but consumers need to be cautious when evaluating whether a purchase – of a car, home, vacation, education or other goods – will be good for their personal economy,” added Andrew Housser, FFN co-founder and CEO. “We become concerned when we see debt increasing at a double-digit rate, while income increases at a tenth of that pace.”

Recent financial data as reported:

1.    Total consumer debt continues to skyrocket compared to past years. In July (the most recent data available), consumer credit rose by 9.75 percent, year over year. With the increase, total consumer debt (excluding mortgage debt) is projected at $3.238 trillion, which is $16 billion higher than the previous month. This makes 32 consecutive months of record highs.

2.    Revolving debt also climbing. In July, total consumer revolving debt, which includes credit card debt, rose 7.4 percent. The total amount of revolving debt held by U.S. consumers was $880.5 billion, or $5.3 billion higher than in June.

3.    Personal income rising, but slowly. In July (the most recent data available), personal income rose by $28.6 billion, or 0.2 percent. Disposable personal income rose $17.7 billion or 0.1 percent, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports.

4.    Unemployment stays put. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the national unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in August, little changed in recent months.

5.    Consumer savings improved. In July, consumers saved 5.7 percent of their income, up from rates in the 3 percent range several months ago.

The FFN Quarterly Comment pulls together significant statistical releases and provides quarterly comment on timely debt and credit issues that matter to consumers. To schedule an interview with Kevin Gallegos or Andrew Housser, contact Aimee Bennett at 303-843-9840 or aimee(at)faganbusinesscommunications(dot)com.

Freedom Financial Network (http://www.freedomfinancialnetwork.com)
Freedom Financial Network, LLC (FFN), provides comprehensive consumer credit advocacy services. Through the FFN family of companies – Freedom Debt Relief, Freedom Tax Relief, ConsolidationPlus, FreedomPlus and Bills.com – FFN works as an independent advocate to provide comprehensive financial solutions, including debt consolidation, debt resolution, debt settlement and tax resolution services for consumers struggling with debt. The company, which has resolved more than $3 billion in debt and assisted more than 265,000 clients since 2002, is an accredited member of the American Fair Credit Council, and a platinum member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., FFN also operates an office in Tempe, Ariz. The company, with 650 employees, was voted one of the best places to work in the San Francisco Bay area in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and in the Phoenix area in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. FFN’s founders are recipients of the Northern California Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

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