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Consumer Watch: Living without credit cards

Credit cards can be useful financial tools, but they are easy to misuse and get consumers into serious financial problems. (KOKH)

Having a credit card is not a bad thing, but carrying debt on one is not so great. Personal finance experts tell Fox 25 Consumer Watch that all you really need is one credit card, but could you live with that or maybe no credit card at all?

Debt is on the rise, and according to the New York Fed, in the first quarter of 2018 household debt increased for the 15th quarter in a row. Mortgages and student loans are some heavy hitters, but so is credit card debt.

Maybe right now you can't avoid your student loan or mortgage debt. For many credit card debt can be a place to start lowering your total debt now. It's key not to add to your debt when you're trying to pay it down. For many of us that means -- stop using credit cards. A good way to distance yourself from credit cards is to build a savings account. Having some money stashed away in a savings account, can help if something unexpected comes along, like car trouble. You can dip into that savings account for real emergencies before swiping the plastic. Saving 10 to 20 percent of your income is the easiest way to start building a savings.

Practicing better habits is also key to living without credit cards. That means building and following a budget, and saving for larger items you want, like a vacation, so you can pay cash and not be paying interest on your splurge for years to come.

Remember-- credit cards can be useful tools, and it is usually user error when things go wrong. Don't charge things you can't pay off at the end of the month or if you don't have a plan to quickly pay it off.

Even though national debt numbers are going up, there is a bit of good news. It seems Americans can keep up with their credit card bills because delinquency rates are down for the first part of 2018.

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