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.
To get that process started, here are a few tips from Ventura Wealth Management, a financial management firm in Ewing Township, N.J. (Incidentally, the firm touts Ben Franklin's adage that "if you're failing to prepare, then you're preparing to fail" on its website.)
Check your retirement planning progress. Ventura advises Americans to balance debt payments with long-term savings. "Have a good sense of where you stand in your retirement planning," the firm says in a research note released this week. "Companies continue to recover financially, which means corporate plans and benefits packages also continue to recuperate. Review the options in these plans since default options, though easy to enter, may not offer the best results for you."