NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We have a personal debt problem.
The Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute reports that 35% of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to nationwide collection agencies.
Altogether, U.S. consumers owed an average $5,200 each to creditors as of September, the UI reports, which is worrisome because consumers with too much debt can't spend the kind of money the economy needs to stay on course. Worse, identity theft is on the rise and Americans are even more at risk for losing money and suffering the resulting debt and credit problems.
Avoiding mindless money mistakes, including such things as losing track of credit and falling victim to identity theft, can help Americans keep debt down and income and savings up.
It's all about creating wealth-generating -- and ultra-safe -- money habits, says Patrice C. Washington, chief executive at Seek Wisdom Wealth, a personal finance training and development firm.
"When you're busy and caught up in the stresses of everyday life, it's easy to make mindless mistakes that directly impact your finances," Washington says. "It is essential to thoroughly think through every decision prior to making it so you don't let your finances take the back burner."
Here are some common money mistakes Washington urges you to avoid:
Sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Social media are a natural gathering place for I.D. thieves, so be careful when using it. "Be cautious when posting any information on social networking sites -- just remember that some things are best kept private," Washington says. "The less information you put out there for the world to see, the less likely you are to potentially fall prey to identity theft.