Consumers in New Jersey stung by the downward economic spiral in recent years managed, along with households across the country, to eliminate debt by curbing their borrowing habits. It now appears as though old borrowing practices might be returning.

According to recent figures, consumer debt has increased by $78 billion in the third quarter of this year with mortgages and car loans leading the way.

Other financial indicators point to an increase in consumer confidence in the economy. Along with mortgages and car loans, the statistics reflect an increase in student loans and credit card debt.

Some financial analysts see the increase in consumer debt as signaling a boost in spending that will stimulate the economy. Other experts have concerns that the increased debt could once again lead to financial challenges for borrowers.

One area of concern is the $105 billion in auto loan debt consumers incurred in just one fiscal quarter. The concerns focus on the renewal of lending practices that offer loans to borrowers who are in the high risk category.

Rising student loan delinquency rates could be another sign that a continuation of current consumer borrowing practices might not be as good for consumers or for the economy as some people think.

Individuals who find themselves confronted with financial challenges such as foreclosure, unpaid credit card debt or other dire financial circumstances that require debt relief should speak to a bankruptcy attorney.

Options available to them for a fresh financial start might include consumer bankruptcy to eliminate debt or to structure an affordable repayment plan under the supervision of a Bankruptcy Court.

Source: Press of Atlantic City, “More-confident US households step up borrowing,” Nov. 25, 2014