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
Feb 27, 2015
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.  (AP)

A US-Israel rift. A win for net neutrality. “American Sniper” verdict. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Feb 27, 2015
This image released courtesy of the Lead Belly Estate shows folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949. (AP)

Going back to Lead Belly. The blues legend is back. His influences, as big as ever.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 27, 2015
This image released courtesy of the Lead Belly Estate shows folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949. (AP)

Going back to Lead Belly. The blues legend is back. His influences, as big as ever.

 
Feb 27, 2015
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.  (AP)

A US-Israel rift. A win for net neutrality. “American Sniper” verdict. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment
 
Two Congressmen Weigh In On DHS Funding
Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland present their views on the ongoing Congressional budget fight over Department of Homeland Security funding. (Spoiler: They do not agree on a resolution of the crisis).

More »
1 Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February
Friday, Feb 20, 2015

We explain what happened with the old podcast feed this week and last, share some other Oscar categories and reminisce about the golden days of Double Rainbows and Honey Badgers who just don’t care.

More »
Comment