Two boys, brothers , wearing skeleton Halloween costume

Telling scary stories is a popular pastime on this spooktacular holiday, so I thought I’d tell one of my own. Usually, these stories are filled with ghosts, urban legends, or crazy ax murderers, but sometimes the truth is scarier than fiction.

I dug deep into The Ascent’s research vault and found some of the most disturbing facts about Americans’ finances — the kind that can (and probably already do) keep even the bravest among us up at night.

1. Americans now carry a collective $868 billion in credit card debt

Student loan debt gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, but credit card debt is almost as big of an issue. A recent Ascent investigation of the state of credit card debt in America found that credit card debt topped $868 billion as of the second quarter of 2019. That’s an increase of 4.7% from the year before. The same data indicates that delinquencies are also on the rise.

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