Americans seem to be managing debt better

Nothing against the big-screen TV or McMansion, but it seems Americans are starting to get the picture: Borrowing above your means is a bad idea. How do we know that?

First, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reports that consumers are using much less of their income for paying debts — in fact, the debt-service ratio is the lowest it’s been since the 1990s.

Check it out, yo:

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But wait, there’s more.

Standard & Poor’s reports that the default rate on first mortgages dropped to 1.93% in July — that’s down from a year ago, when 3.24% of mortgage holders were defaulting. (It’s also down from June, when about 2% were in default.)

And people with second mortgages? Their default rate dropped even more — down to 1.25% in July; it had been 2.77% in 2010.

It’s not just mortgages. Credit rating company Experian says that late credit-card payments declined 20% since 2007.

“In looking at the numbers, we’re seeing that even in the cities at the bottom of the list, consumers are meeting their bankcard payment obligations better than before the recession,” said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics at Experian in the press release.

A bit of bad news: In that same report, Experian found that late mortgage payments are increasing — but heck, better a late payment than a default, right?

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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