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Better economy has more going into debt


As Americans face the dreaded “tax day” Wednesday, the average consumer now carries more debt according to a study by Experian called State of Credit.

Consumers are also opening up more bank cards and credit cards. That doesn’t bode well for the long-term financial security of the average family, NeighborImpact warned Tuesday.

As part of Financial Capability Month, NeighborImpact is highlighting important issues surrounding financial health. (NeighborImpact is a “21 Cares for Kids” partner.)

Lynne McConnell, associate director of HomeSource and assets for NeighborImpact, warns that if consumers have too much debt, it can affect a variety of financial decisions:

“Credit is important for a vast number of things like landing a job, leasing a home, buying a car, and getting the best rate on insurance premiums, so it’s vital know what’s on your credit report and how to improve it.”

Experian tracks specific credit data for cities across the United States. In Bend, for example, the average credit score is 680, average consumer debt is $29,017, and the average balance on bankcards is $4,772.

Sometimes bad credit can be the result of poor choices or unexpected circumstances, like a major medical event. Regardless of the situation, financial experts say the number one way to improve your credit score is to pay bills on time. NeighborImpact’s HomeSource program is designed to help families wade through their credit nightmares.

“There’s lots of rumors out there about what may or may not lead to a good or bad credit score, and we can help clarify those,” says McConnell. “We can also help set people up so that they are not as likely to fall victim to predatory scams that would then affect their credit as well.”

NeighborImpact serves all of Central Oregon and offers free workshops on credit, including how your credit score is determined and one-on-one coaching to help determine the best path forward.

As McConnell stresses, it’s important to get control of your situation right away: “Unfortunately, damaging a credit score can be a really quick process but rebuilding it takes much longer.”

For more information on NeighborImpact’s HomeSource program, visit the website at or call 541-323-6567. You can also download a PDF with a list of HomeSource classes here:

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