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When I meet with people for one-on-one sessions, credit card debt is a common initial topic. Many believe that credit card debt is just a normal part of life in order to support their desired lifestyles. They figure they will be able to pay them off at some point in the future. Usually there is no set plan of action.
From what I have gathered over the years, it is a loop that is very difficult to get out of. Many in debt are miserable at work, and as a result, they use retail therapy to try to make themselves happier. Inevitably, it is a short spike in happiness. Then they are left with debt and become even unhappier than then when they had started.
Recently I came across a study of the 25 cities with the highest credit card debt per resident, along with each city’s average median income.
1. Washington, D.C.
Topping the list is my hometown of Washington D.C. with an average card balance of $7,442. Ouch. On the plus side, however, Washington D.C. has one of the higher median income levels in the nation at $46,536, making it slightly easier to make more than the minimum monthly payment.
2. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
The home of the dreaded Dallas Cowboys (I’m a Washington Redskins Fan) comes in second. In the Dallas area, average credit card debt comes in at a whopping $7,171. The worst part is the median income there is $33,621, a 25% drop from Washington DC levels.
3. New York City, NY
The city that never sleeps comes in third. Admittedly, I thought that they would actually lead the list due to their high cost of living. The price for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is more than $3,700 per month. The credit card debt for the average person is $7,145, while the median income level comes in at $38,951.
4. Houston, TX
Here we have another city in the great state of Texas. The average credit card debt is $7,121, along with a median income of $33,244.
5. San Antonio, TX
A third city in Texas! Everything is bigger in Texas, including the amount of credit card debt that the average person holds. The Alamo City has an average credit card debt of $7,070 and even worse, has a 13% decrease in median income of $29,124.
6. Baltimore, MD
The city of my alma mater Johns Hopkins. Interestingly enough, it has one of the higher median incomes of $41,241. Sadly though, it carries one of the higher credit card debt balances in the country with a balance of $6,985. The median income there is $41,241.
7. Atlanta, GA
The Peach State and the heart of SEC country has an average credit card debt of $6,907, with a median income of $32,658.
8. San Diego, CA
This is where you receive news from Ron Burgundy on a daily basis. San Diego has credit card debt of $6,848, with median income at $32,656.
9. Seattle, WA
The place where Microsoft, Amazon, and formerly the Supersonics call home. The average credit card balance in the great Northwest is $6,729, compared to a median income of $40,482.
10. Denver, CO
The Mile High City has credit card debt of $6,720, while the median income is $37,049.
11. Philadelphia, PA
The city that boos Santa and whose police officers have to grease light poles to prevent rioting comes in just outside the top 10 list, at #11. The average resident has a credit card balance of $6,693, along with a median income of $36,962.
12. Chicago, IL
The state of Illinois’s finances are in such disarray, but comparatively, they look good when compared to that of Chicago. The average resident holds $6,649 in credit card debt. The median income comes in at $35,329.
13. Los Angeles, CA
The center of our country’s entertainment industry comes in a lot lower than I had expected. The average credit card debt in L.A. is $6,632, with a median income of $30,944.
14. Miami/Fort Lauderdale, FL
I shared this figure with my friend being from Fort Lauderdale, and he was upset that he got lumped in with Miami, since the two locations are an hour away from each other. However, since the study lumped them together, I will too. In this case, the average resident holds credit card debt of $6,615, while the median income in the two cities is $28,396.
15. San Francisco, CA
The land of Silicon Valley surprises me coming in so low on the list. Being known as one of the most expensive housing locations in the country, I would have expected it higher up. Clearly, all those high-paying jobs are helping diffuse some of the credit card burden, as they come in at $6,533, with the second highest median income on the list of $44,304.
16. Boston, MA
The home of Tom Brady, the Boston Red Sox, and the Celtics, has an average resident with $6,455 in credit card debt and a median income of $40,935.
17. Phoenix, AZ
Home of the Valley of the Sun, this city is one of the fastest growing in the nation. Unfortunately, moving out west to Phoenix has a heavy burden as the average credit card debt is $6,422 while the median income comes in at $31,744.
18. Charlotte, NC
Home of Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats, people living in this part of the country carry an average credit card balance of $6,296, with a median income of $31,896.
19. Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL
Residents living in this area of Florida carry an average credit card debt burden of $6,204, while the median income is just $30,830.
20. St. Louis, MO
Residents living in this part of the country have credit card balances of $6,203 and a median income of $32,674.
21. Portland, OR
Has anyone watched the show Portlandia? That show is crazy. If half of the things are true, I can understand why Portland makes this top 25 list. The average Portlander has credit card debt of $6,120, with the median income of $32,050.
22. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
The Twin city come in next on the list with credit card debt of $6,036 and a median income of $38,067.
23. Orlando, FL
This is the third city in Florida to make the list and the home of Disney World, which has provided job opportunities for many people. They also have an average credit card balance of $5,984, with a median income of just $28,044.
24. Detroit, MI
Has there been a resurgence in a city recently like that of Detroit? The city has come roaring back since its 2013 Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. Out-of-state residents are flocking to this city. The average credit card balance of Detroit residents today is $5,889, with a median income now of $31,921.
25. Riverside/San Bernardino, CA
Admittedly, I had no idea where Riverside/San Bernardino was. I learned that it is located in a metropolitan area known as the “Inland Empire” in the southern region of California. They come in last in this top 25 list, with an average credit card balance of $5,829 and a median income of $28,533.