When it comes to consumer credit card debt, some cities and states have been hit much harder than others.
A study from Equifax, a national credit reporting agency, reveals that the top 50 metropolitan statistical areas with the heaviest credit card debt burdens are clustered in six states: California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Washington.
The total credit card balances for people living in those states are pretty staggering. Just look at these numbers:
- California: $90,566,978,302
- Texas: $48,833,824,544
- Florida: $47,568,265,541
- Ohio: $28,985,502,668
- North Carolina: $22,386,064,118
- Washington: $18,288,819,367
In some metro areas, consumers owe 15 percent, 16 percent, even 17 percent of their yearly household incomes to credit card debt.
In Wilmington, N.C., credit card debt per household is $7,315, accounting for 17.26 percent of yearly income. In the Canton-Massillon metro area of Ohio, card debt per household is $7,050, accounting for 17.23 percent of yearly income.
Metro areas where credit card debt reaches more than 16 percent of household income included Toledo, Ohio; Duluth, Minn.; El Paso, Texas; and Asheville, N.C.
For many Americans, confronting a hefty credit card burden may seem like a frightening task, according to personal finance expert David Bach, author of "Debt Free for Life: The Finish Rich Plan for Financial Freedom."
"To overcome the fear of getting started, change your frame of mind when it comes to paying off debt," Bach says. "Don't focus on what you're giving up, but rather think about what debt is holding you back from -- family vacations, buying a new home or even starting your own business. Focus on what living debt free will enable you to do helps keep you focused and motivated."
The next step is to be honest with yourself about the extent of your credit card debt.
"Start the process with an honest self-assessment," Bach says. "The sooner you get honest with yourself about your debt, the better positioned you'll be to start taking real action to get out of debt once and for all."
So pull out the most recent billing statement for each of your credit cards and take a close look.
What is the balance, annual percentage rate, due date and minimum payment for each of your credit cards?
Tally up all of your credit card balances. How much total credit card debt do you owe?
Make note of the monthly finance charges being charged on each credit card on which you carry a balance. Add together each of those monthly finance charges and you'll see just how much credit card debt is costing you and your family each month.
Once you organize your card information, you're ready to take action.
These simple but effective pay-down strategies will help you chip away at even the most stubborn credit card debt.