Some Florida consumers are struggling with overwhelming debt that is difficult to repay, especially in the months following the holiday season. According to the Federal Reserve, credit card debt rose by the largest sum in a single month in over 20 years in December 2019, as people rushed to fund holiday gifts and other purchases with their credit cards. In December, overall U.S. consumer debt rose by $22.1 billion, doubling the increase of $11.8 billion in the previous month. Not all of that debt was linked to credit cards, as consumer debt also includes auto, student, and personal loans.

Credit card debt alone rose by $12.6 billion in December, marking the largest increase since April 1998. In November, credit card usage actually declined. Some researchers attribute part of the climb to the rise in online retail, where nearly all purchases are made using credit cards. Across the country, Americans owe $1.1 trillion in consumer debt overall, and consumer spending finances 70% of the American economy as a whole. These bills can easily become overwhelming, especially when people lose their jobs, become ill, or suffer another change in circumstances.

The large-scale consumer debt does not fully encompass the financial straits that people may experience. Medical bills, for example, are not considered consumer debt, but they are one of the largest single financial stressors pushing people to file for bankruptcy. As payments become overdue, people may find themselves dealing with mounting bills, late fees and creditor calls.

People may not know how they can escape their financial obligations, especially if they are struggling with hefty medical bills or other overwhelming expenses. A bankruptcy attorney may provide advice on options for debt relief and seeking a new financial future.