The recent economic downturn has forced many Americans to turn to other ways to pay for everyday items instead of cash. One common payment method people turn to is credit cards. But with an increasing use of credit cards without an increasing income to pay off the balance, many Americans have experienced an increase in credit card debt.

Most credit card holders have tried to reign in their spending in recent years to prevent racking up large credit card bills. However, the market has not started well this year, which means that credit card debt is likely to increase throughout the rest of the year.

The average household owes over $6,500 in credit card debt. There are many tips to help improve one's financial picture, including one's level of credit card debt.

One tip is to work on building an emergency fund. It is always important to have some type of safety net at all times. Being able to pay off part or all of emergency expenses or fund unexpected breaks in work or other sources of income can substantially help when trying to keep debt down.

It is also important to try and stick to a budget. A budget can be one of the most integral tips to keeping debt down and building up savings. It is important to track monthly expenses to see where money is going each month. This can help identify where money is going and where expenses can be cut down.

Another important tip is to pay off balances owed. It is recommended to pay off the most expensive one first and keep making the minimum payment on others in order to decrease the amount of interest paid.

Credit card debt is one of the types of debt that can be discharged in bankruptcy, which is another option for dealing with overwhelming amounts of consumer debt.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Credit card debt forecast signals ominous warnings to consumers," Odysseas Papadimitriou, July 3, 2013