What to Know About the U.S. Economy as the End of 2014 Draws Near

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- With a slew of economic news on the interest rate front, on mortgages and in the auto market, it's a good time to take stock in where the U.S. consumer is on the "kitchen table" economic front.

The holiday shopping season looms, and the end-of-year deadline for 2014 taxes. Then there's the larger picture on how consumers handle debt and spending issues, which can drive two-thirds of the nation's economy as measured by gross domestic product (listed under "personal consumption.")

The most recent checklist from Freedom Financial Network, a San Mateo, Calif., consumer debt management business, shows that Americans are spending more and accumulating more credit card debt, but are also mindful of too much consumer debt going into the end of 2014.

"In the past quarter, consumers continued to respond to a healthier economy by dusting off credit cards and replacing vehicles," said Kevin Gallegos, a vice president at Freedom Financial Network. "This optimism is heartening, but we caution consumers to remember the lessons of the past economic downturn and prepare for the future. Fortunately, we're seeing a hint of this caution, as people saved a higher portion of their income this summer."

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