WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — A new study signaled that credit card debt for American households crept up in 2022, meaning family finances are increasingly stretched thin.

A January study from NerdWallet analyzed consumer spending and debt from last December.

Average US households owed $18,000 in credit card debt — 1.11 trillion dollars in total, nationwide. The study also signaled nearly 7 in 10 Americans have financial concerns this year.

Among NerdWallet’s ‘key findings’ — median household incomes increased by 4%, but the cost of living jumped 8%. In addition, almost 1 in 5 people admitted to using a buy now, pay later service in the last year.

The study also forecasted average credit card debt carried this year will include $1,400 in interest. Since the study’s publication, the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates, meaning financial advice to tackle credit card debt is all the more timely.

Jason Howell, a certified financial planner and adjunct professor at American University and George Mason University said, “great people to talk to about credit are loan officers…” “…they will often tell you, ‘keep your balance below about 20% of your credit line. And that will give you the best opportunity to advance the most credit.'”

WalletHub published several tips to manage credit card debt, including points to make debt payments, and stick to a plan. It also advised consumers to repay the most expensive debt first and make minimum payments on other cards.

While credit cards offer points or cash-back for certain purchases, Howell said consumers should make an effort to pay on time to avoid penalties.

“Of course it’s easy not to have cash around — of course it’s easy just to swipe,” he said. “Those are all temptations to get you to a point to be paying them interest and late fees.”