Auto loan balances are up

This week’s Debt Report

Auto: Consumers struggling to make car payments on time

As many have noted, the economy has grown more quickly than expected in the last few months. So has something else: auto loan debt.

Experian Automotive, a research company, announced that outstanding auto loan balances in the second quarter of 2014 reached an all-time high total of $839.1 billion, up 11.7 percent from last year. Repossession rates also jumped 70 percent from 2013.

Experts say the increase is due to higher numbers of risky auto loans. As a result, “the total of car loans in default has increased in the past two years.”

MainStreet, citing a New York Fed report, also suggests that the increases of unpaid car loans are because Americans are buying “more expensive cars with glitzy features,” possibly meaning that buyers are have more job security. Or at least they think they do.

College: Getting a degree is now a family effort

It’s the end of summer, and most high school graduates are finishing up their lifeguard jobs and getting ready to head to those institutions of higher learning and partying.

But not without mom and dad’s help.

A study by the national investment firm Fidelity says most parents plan to finance about two-thirds of their child’s college education. With tuition costs “doubling every nine years,” this can leave potential students out to dry by requiring them to take out loans and rack up debt.

Fidelity recommends a five-step process to help parents and their children start saving for college, including making use of a 529 college savings plan.


Travel: Americans set to break records next weekend

Planning to travel somewhere for Labor Day weekend? You’re not alone. An AAA report says that the upcoming Labor Day will be the most traveled holiday since the recession hit in 2008. AAA predicts that lower gas rates and a recovering economy will spur nearly 35 millions travelers over the weekend of Aug. 28-Sept. 1. About 85 percent said they were traveling by automobile. 

Honesty: Study says Americans are more honest than they give themselves credit for

Ever wondered how honest your fellow Americans are? Honest Tea conducted a national social experiment that concluded a whopping 95 percent of Americans were honest. The study was done by setting up unmanned beverage racks with Honest Tea products that cost $1, with payments based on the honor system. Data collected on participants included the number of people who paid or stole, hair color and gender, and found that blondes are more honest while people with black hair tended to steal the most often.

Other highlights included the ranking of Honolulu as 100 percent honest, and Washington, D.C. as the most improved honest city with a rate of 96 percent, up 16 percent from 2013.

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