Dec 23, 2011 Mike Garretson
This holiday season may lead to a dramatic rise in consumer debt, even as people move to rein in their credit card balances, auto loans and student debt. According to a report released this week by Counselling Directory, more than half of surveyed consumers - 52 percent - admit to spending beyond their means this holiday season, and nearly as many - 46 percent - claim they have used credit cards to pay for gifts. Furthermore, 56 percent of individuals admit to feeling pressured into buying presents, and 58 percent feel stressed or worried because of how much they spend during the holiday season. Accordingly, debt management experts advise consumers to plan ahead and pay off their debts whenever possible. Don't delay a debt payment for some enticing product or service. "Read the small print," the Consulting Directory advises. "Always scour the small print for any hidden extras in any credit agreement before you sign on the dotted line. Interest free credit may initially seem appealing but if you don't pay on time you may be penalised and concealed extra costs may leave you worse off." Consumer credit risk management is a growing concern among most lenders, but credit card issuers are increasing their approval ratings in light of dwindling balances.