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debt piggy banks homespunA recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) online poll revealed that close to one in five consumers, 18 percent, believe that carrying credit card debt over from month-to-month is a responsible way to manage his or her finances.

“This data suggests that not only are many Americans are using credit cards to fund a lifestyle their income can’t support, but they are comfortable doing so,” says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

Consumers need to be aware of the consequences associated with continually carrying credit card debt from month to month, some of which are below:

• Interest on a credit card is typically calculated on an average daily balance. For those who carry a balance over from the previous cycle, interest is not only charged on the unpaid balance, but on any new purchases added to the balance.

• With interested added onto the balance month after month, consumers end up paying interest on the interest.

• Carrying a balance has the potential to negatively impact a person’s debt to credit ratio, one of the main components of credit scores.

• A higher balance decreases the amount of credit available for future purchases.

However, there can also be disadvantages to charging too little. At the other end of the spectrum, a similar number of respondents, 21 percent, indicated that they do not use credit cards. While this approach to money management can avoid many financial pitfalls, it too has its problems:

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