With jobs scarce and unemployment high for the past two years, many Florida consumers have realized that accumulating high interest rate debt simply no longer makes sense.

According to a recent report, consumers accumulated less credit card debt again for the third month in a row. In fact, in the past three years, credit card use is nearly 20 percent less than it had been three years ago at the height of the housing boom. This is because many consumers have learned the hard way that paying cash makes more financial sense in this weak economy.

On the other hand, consumer loans, such as car and student loans, rose by a whopping $7.4 billion in September. This came just after a large drop in such borrowing during the month of August. Consumers may be lured by lower rates on cars loans and student loans, both of which hover around 5 percent, making that debt more reasonable and sensible than credit card debt, considering the long-term benefits of a car or an education.

According to economists, it is more likely that consumers will again begin to increase their credit card debt in the coming months with the holidays just around the corner and as the economy looks like it will continue to improve.

However, even if Florida consumers do start to increase in their borrowing activity, it is unlikely that they would do so at rates equivalent to the time period during Florida’s housing boom. Though borrowing made sense when residents believed that their home values were skyrocketing, that is obviously no longer the case in Florida.

If you are one of the many Florida homeowners struggling to make ends meet because of overwhelming credit card debt, do not despair. Help may be available in the form of bankruptcy protection, which can help to prevent you from losing your home and give you a fresh start.

Source: The Pioneer Press, “Consumers cut credit card use, get car, college loans instead,” Martin Crutsinger, Nov. 7, 2011