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A candid look at accumulated debt across America

Many people are aware of the risk of accumulating excessive debt and how it can affect long-term finances. However, some aren't and weren't as aware of what large amounts of debt can do when a person is unable to pay what is owed in a timely fashion. A recent article examined what the "face" of debt looks like in America. The article detailed the efforts of an artist who is a photographer that takes portraits of "what debt looks like" and conducts short interviews with the debt holder.

The initiative is called The Debt Project. Basically, The Debt Project is a mixed-media project, with each portrait attached to a video interview and a short written statement in which each of the subjects writes down the amount of debt they're in and the story behind it. It helps shed light on what debt really looks like in America today and helps reflect back to America the reality of people's finances. Most importantly, it shows how easily someone can become consumed by credit card debt, mortgages or other lending options.

Credit card debt is one of the easiest forms of debt a person can achieve access to. It is essentially a small personal loan that can be used anywhere the credit card is accepted. Most people do not realize that when they are spending on a credit card it is easy to get in over your head. Ideally, you should never charge more than a percentage of your income on a credit card unless you have an alternative way to pay the balance in a timely fashion.

It can be very tempting to spend money on credit cards because it makes money available immediately. Some noted in The Debt Project that they racked up thousands in credit card debt just by paying for things they needed between paychecks, like groceries and gasoline. The reality is that anyone can fall victim to an overwhelming amount of credit card debt. Each case of debt is different and should be carefully analyzed in order to determine the next step in consolidating and paying back the debt.

Source:, "Poignant Portraits of Americans in Debt Explore the Role Debt Plays in Our Personal Identity," DL Cade, Nov. 15, 2014

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