Consumer Payment Card News

Credit vs. Savings

Believe it not, many Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, do not save, and are losing wealth everyday. One reason for this dilemma is high interest credit card debt, especially among lower income households. According to a study released this week by the Consumer Federation of America, 53% of those polled say that they sometimes, most of the time, or always “live from paycheck to paycheck.” This percentage increases to 64% for those with moderate incomes (household incomes of $20,000 to $50,000) and to 79% for those with low incomes (household incomes under $20,000). The CFA also found that between 1995 and 1998, a period of strong economic growth and rising incomes, the net assets of very low-income households (under $10,000) fell from $4,992 to $3,950, and that of other low-income households ($10,000-25,000) sank from $31,940 to $24,650. Rising credit card and home equity debt were important reasons for this decline. Nevertheless, despite widespread financial anxiety, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed say that “I have the ability to save money and build personal wealth.” Even more than half of those with moderate incomes, and 47% with low incomes, believe in their capacity to save. An overwhelming majority, 82%, “would like to save and build wealth.” To encourage consumers to save, the CFA has received a grant from Bank of America to launch the America Saves campaign. The funds will support local organizing, the development of a newsletter and web site, and the development and marketing of membership in America Saves. The goals of the campaign is to enroll 100,000 low- to moderate-income savers, encourage millions of Americans to build wealth, and support wealth-building campaigns throughout the nation. For more information visit

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