(New York Post) - More American households are falling back into the debt hole, this time without the safety net of home values to help bail them out, the New York Post reported Sunday.
Last year, total US consumer debt reached its highest point in a decade, according to a credit card industry observer.
"Now more than ever, families need to work at saving and paying off any outstanding debts," said Howard Dvorkin, a certified public accountant and founder of the credit counseling service Consolidated Credit.
After a few months of reducing credit card debt levels, Dvorkin said, Americans are starting to return to their reliance on debt.
"People made some progress in reducing card debt earlier in the year, but in the last few months, as the stock market started to rise, they started to return to their old ways of charging things," he explained.
In December 2011, the total consumer debt -- which is the combination of non-revolving and revolving debt -- rose by some 9.3 percent to $2.498 trillion, according to the latest Federal Reserve Board numbers.
Both revolving debt and non-revolving debt increased. Revolving debt, which is credit-card debt, went up by 4.1 percent. Non-revolving debt, which includes loans for cars and education, rose 11.8 percent, the central bank's report said.
The trend -- month to month, quarter to quarter and year to year -- is rising steeply.
Read more: Credit Card Debt Nears Toxic Levels