Personal Debt on the Rise, Savings Lags Behind

By CNN News Wire

Published 02/25 2014 08:14AM

Updated 02/25 2014 08:17AM

After scaling back in the wake of the recession, it appears Americans are back to their old ways. Consumer debt is climbing and for many households, debt outweighs savings. An annual campaign encourages Americans to put more in the bank.

A new survey finds Americans still facing challenges when it comes to savings. And while a majority are saving some money, they still don't feel like they're saving enough.

One-third of Americans surveyed by the Consumer Federation Of America and American Savings Education Council as part of "America Saves Week," said they're making "good" or "excellent" progress towards personal savings goals, while 63 percent characterize their progress as "fair" or "none."

In many cases, debt gets in the way. An analysis by the personal finance website Nerd Wallet finds the average American household carries more than $15,000 in credit card debt, more than $32,000 in student loan debt, and just under $150,000 on a mortgage.

To get Americans building savings, consumer groups suggest setting a goal - whether its short term like building an emergency fund, or long term like retirement or a child's college education - and calculating how long it will take to reach that goal.

Setting aside a small amount is better than nothing at all. Have funds automatically deposited from each paycheck into a savings account. And if a tax refund is on the way this spring, that's a good way to get the savings started.

(Karin Caifa for CNN's Consumer Watch)

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