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Americans are wallowing in debt.

It's been building up for many years, of course, but in the past 10 years American consumers doubled the total to $1.98 trillion -- adding a thousand billion dollars to the current level of consumer debt.

It now averages $18,700 for every single American household.

No wonder experts call it a ticking time bomb.

Managing your debt

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How Bad Is It?

Why we're in debt Top 10 causes of consumer debt -- You know you're in debt, but may be uncertain exactly how you got there. Bankrate's Debt Adviser Steve Bucci lists the top 10 causes.

Debt-o-meter -- Do you suspect you have a problem handling credit? Take this quiz to find out.

Take the debt comfort quiz -- This quiz will help you decide whether your debt is causing problems.

Quiz: What's your spending style? -- Are you impulsive, decisive or pragmatic? Discover how well you understand yourself.

Quiz: Are you financially self-destructive? -- These questions will help you find out whether your habits are sabotaging your finances.

Men and women spend and save differently -- The sexes exhibit distinct gender traits when saving, investing and spending.

How it affects us Good debt vs. bad debt -- A mortgage is usually good debt. Buying more clothes you don't need on credit is not.

Debt and marriage: a dangerous mix -- These strategies will help you work through debt without ending up in divorce.

Dealing with a debt collector -- They can try to collect legitimate debts, but there are legal limits on how they do it.

Garnishment: the unexpected pay cut -- If you don't pay your taxes, child support or other debts, creditors can go after the cash directly from your paycheck.

How debt management affects your credit -- Once it was considered the kiss of death, but it's not that bad anymore.


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