Ohio residents are likely aware that many Americans are struggling with high levels of consumer debt. While expenses such as installment loans and medical bills play an important role, it's credit card debt that often causes the greatest problems for families struggling to cope financially. According to figures from the U.S. Federal Reserve, Americans in July 2014 owed approximately $880 billion in revolving debt, primarily credit cards.

While most people with credit cards pay off their balances every month, studies have found that as many as 35 million Americans carry balances of at least $2,500. Many of these people make only the required minimum payments, which do little to lower these balances. The owners of small businesses often use credit cards to make ends meet during slow periods, and 50 percent of them carry balances on their cards. A survey released in May 2012 by the National Small Business Association revealed that 9 percent of small business owners were carrying over $50,000 in credit card debt.

According to a 2012 survey, credit cards are also being used for necessities such as food by 40 percent of low and middle income households. The survey revealed that the average credit card balance carried by these families was $7,145.

Many families turn to credit cards as stagnant incomes fail to keep pace with rising monthly bills, and an unexpected illness or layoff often makes their situation even more difficult. Those wishing to escape unmanageable debt have a number of options available, and an attorney who is experienced in bankruptcy law can explain their merits and possible shortcomings.

Source: NASDAQ, "Credit card debt statistics", September 23, 2014