NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Federal Reserve reports that consumer credit rose by 4.75% in November, at once an alarming figure but an understandable one given the increased spending on big-ticket items such as student loans and auto loans last year.
With that much debt on hand, it's critical that consumers take a break to review their personal financial situations, largely to ensure their debt burden doesn't get away from them.
That's not easy, however, for many Americans. Financial advisory experts say U.S. adults may be letting their guard down a bit, with more and more good news coming out on the economy.
But last Friday's U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics employment report poured some cold water on any upbeat consumer sentiment. An economy that needs to generate 200,000 jobs monthly just to tread water doesn't look so hot when the economy produces only 74,000 jobs per month -- as it did in December.There's not much Main Street Americans can do about the jobs report, but there's a lot they can do about stabilizing their own personal financial situations. The Bank on Yourself Revolution, has some good tips for Americans struggling with debt and savings and takes a more holistic approach to the issue. "You have to realize we all have it within ourselves to modify our behavior," she explains. "So understand that real, permanent change is usually driven by your own desire, rather than outside pressure." Yellen advises having a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. "Where are you right now financially, and where do you want to be?" she asks. Yellen encourages Americans to enlist the support of one or more allies or a coach to stay on track. "An ally -- whether a professional for hire, a friend or a religious leader -- can help you reinforce your commitment to good personal financial management." Recommitting to sound personal financial practices is as much an emotional commitment as a logical one -- in fact, it helps to bring both attributes to the table. "By setting your mind and heart to the task, you can successfully turn around your fiscal direction," Yellen adds. "This could be the year that you surprise everyone."