With growth spiking above four percent for the second quarter, it’s hard to argue that the economy is on fire and it’s a great time to be looking for a job or starting a new business. But there are dangers even in this upbeat economy. In fact, a recent Federal Reserve report shows consumer debt will hit $4 trillion by the end of the year and that 26 percent of Americans owe more than a quarter of their income to this debt. So, I spoke with Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate.com, about what consumers should be watching out for and what they should be doing now to boost their bottom line.

Here are the takeaways

1)   Wages may finally be moving higher but they are not keeping up with inflation. No doubt about it, even if you’ve seen an improvement in your pay, you may still feel like you’re making no headway against higher prices for everything from housing to groceries.

2)   Moreover, higher interest rates on variable loans, even credit cards, are “water torture” for consumers and McBride says consumers can expect rates to continue rising as the Federal Reserve boosts rates this fall.

3)   McBride sounds a warning on taking out long-term auto loans. He says that loans for cars and trucks that stretch seven and even eight years can lead to financial troubles as the value of that asset depreciates more quickly than consumers pay down the loan.

4)   With rates rising as the economy expands, McBride recommends “making hay while the sun shines” by paying off variable rate debt and expanding emergency and retirement savings.

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