90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Life With Debt

With so many Americans scraping by, we’re looking at the debt traps and who’s most vulnerable.

Consumer Eva Cevallos with her eleven-month daughter, Quinn, pays with a credit card at Walmart. (AP)

Consumer Eva Cevallos with her eleven-month daughter, Quinn, pays with a credit card at Walmart. (AP)

Comforting headlines last year about how Americans were paying down household debt. Repairing their balance sheets. Maybe getting ready to rock. To bounce back. We sure hope so.

But look again at those numbers and there’s another story there, too. A lot of that “pay-down” in debt has actually been write off. People walking away from old mortgages, credit card debt. And adding new debt to get by.

Borrowing for the basics. It’s an easy trap when you’re up against it. And a lot of Americans know it.

This hour, On Point: tough times and America in debt.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Matt Fellowes, former Brookings Institution researcher and chief executive of HelloWallet financial advisory (@mattfellowes)

Kristin Seefeldt, sociologist and professor of social work at the University of Michigan. (@kristinseefeldt)

Michelle Jones, senior vice president of counseling at the nonprofit financial counseling service CredAbility.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “The belt-tightening was the easy part. Cancel the cable. Skip the air conditioners. Ration the cellphone, unplug the wireless Internet, cook rice and beans — done, and done.”

The Washington Post “A large and growing share of American workers are tapping their retirement savings accounts for non-retirement needs, raising broad questions about the effectiveness of one of the most important savings vehicles for old age.”

Associated Press  “U.S. consumers took on more debt in November to buy cars and attend school, but stayed cautious with their credit cards. The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that consumers increased their borrowing in November by $16 billion from October to a seasonally adjusted record of $2.77 trillion.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 1, 2015
In this Dec. 19, 2014 file photo, oil pump jacks work in unison, in Williston, N.D. The number of drill rigs in western North Dakota's oil patch has slipped to a five-year low with the falling price of oil.  (AP)

American energy production at a time of low oil prices. Oil, gas, wind, solar. And what the changed oil price landscape means.

Apr 1, 2015
Characters and logo from BabyFirstTV , a television and digital entertainment group specifically targeting infants and babies younger than two years old. (BabyFirstTV / Facebook)

TV and screen time for babies. Toddlers. It’s so tempting. So available. But is it a good idea?

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 31, 2015
Jazz icon Billie Holiday performs in New York City's Club Downbeat in February 1947.  (Library of Congress / Creative Commons)

A meditation on the life and music of Billie Holiday. The lady who sang the blues.

 
Mar 31, 2015
Some of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, March 28, 2015, for a rally against legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Mike Pence stand on the Statehouse's south steps during the 2-hour-long rally. (AP)

Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Critics call it anti-gay. Business leaders say bad for the economy. The governor’s not backing down. We’ll dive in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: March 27, 2015
Friday, Mar 27, 2015

More on the incessant email debate, plus some goats living their best lives and the sad allure of Manhattan’s shuttered Pommes Frites.

More »
3 Comments
 
Mobile Payments Offer Convenience If You Keep Your Email Safe
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Thinking about moving your wallet to your phone? You can! And maybe you should? But TechCrunch senior writer Josh Constine has a few things to tell you before you do.

More »
1 Comment
 
Using Technology To Get Your Kids Outside
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

The latest and greatest — using apps to make natural exploration more fun for your kids.

More »
Comment