The economy has been very tough on many people the last few years during the recession. Unemployment levels have remained high, inflation has risen, wages have stayed low and home values have slipped. This has created a very difficult financial situation for many in California.

While the economy has been sluggish, many people have been forced to turn to their credit cards to pay cover their day-to-day expenses. Many are stuck making minimum payments on large amounts of credit card debt.

According to a recent study, the average amount of credit card debt for each consumer has recently been rising. Between April and May of this year, credit card spending increased by $8 billion. Furthermore, all consumer debt rose $17.1 billion during this time. Experts expect consumer debt to continue to rise over the next few months.

Some experts see the increase in debt as a sign the economy is recovering since people are more willing to extend themselves.

However, other experts do not take such a positive stance. They believe that because consumer confidence has fallen for four straight months and only 75,000 jobs were created on average each month from April to June, the economy is not actually better off. In fact, these experts argue it is likely people are using credit cards more frequently to cover necessary expenses they cannot otherwise afford to pay.

There are ways to reduce credit card debt. With the right help, consumers can work with credit card companies to overcome their financial challenges. In other situations, filing for bankruptcy may be the consumer's best option to getting a fresh start.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Americans step up credit card use sharply in May," Martin Crutsinger, July 9, 2012