Carmel, Calif. - A new year brings a new awareness to your finances. According to a 2018 report by Experian, the average American has more than $6,300 in credit card debt, up 2.7% from the previous year. The issue is even larger with the millennial generation - their average debt rose 10.8%.
Salinas-based bankruptcy attorney Clark Miller says there are things you can do to turn your financial situation around. First, he tells KION people in credit trouble should consider leaving their credit card at home - only buy what you know you can pay for.
He also recommends people start looking at ways to make extra money immediately. While Miller says the historic stock market fluctuation isn't having a large direct impact on people's wallets, a downturn or recession obviously would. Finding a second job now, or looking at ways to bring in a few more dollars, would make your situation more secure, if the unemployment rate begins to increase.
"If people start getting laid off than we have a problem," Miller says, talking about the issue of growing debt.
The Central Coast's economy is based on tourism and agriculture. If people don't have jobs they aren't buying our food or spending money to visit our cities.
"Part-time folks working in the restaurant industry, the hospitality industry in general, if their employment numbers soft, that might be a concern."
Miller tells KION we need to be proactive. First, map out what you're spending on, and then set up a savings account. Many people don't even know how much they're spending, swiping their cards and accruing debt. Too much debt, and an unexpected change in their lives means the debt could become insurmountable.
"A cut in salary, loss of a job, a new child or an illness, all of a sudden they're off the brink and they're in my office seeing me," Miller said.
And to see if a slowdown, or even recession, could be on the way, Miller believes that the "canary in the coal mine" is a halt in construction.
"(Watch for a) cut back on remodels, cut back on spec homes, cut back on starting a new home."
Another tip from Miller is to make sure you have good health insurance - use an agent if you need help finding a good and affordable plan.