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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Report: More Ohioans Rely on Credit Cards for Basic Needs

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Monday, March 27, 2023   

More than one in three Ohioans are relying on credit cards for spending needs, and nearly a quarter say they've increased their credit-card use in response to cost-of-living increases, according to a new report.

Michael Welker, editor of Upgraded Points, a website tracking credit-card reward and travel programs, explained when the pandemic began, people spent less and got a financial boost from stimulus checks, leading to lower credit-card balances overall. Now, persistent high inflation is causing many to use credit to cover basic household expenses.

Welker said it poses a risk as interest rates rise.

"As you carry over balances month to month, and interest starts to accrue, potentially it's going to be even harder to pay down your debt," Welker advised. "That's going to be even more pressure, in terms of covering your household expenses."

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed new regulations which would, among other changes, cap late fees for credit-card payments at 25% of the minimum payment amount. The agency is taking public comments about its proposal until April 3.

According to the report, nationwide more than 95% of people with annual incomes below $75,000 said they are feeling stressed about inflation. Welker recommended using credit cards only when needed to meet basic expenses, and shifting habits instead to reduce dining out, entertainment and other leisure spending.

"Be more mindful of your spending," Welker suggested. "Figure out where you might be able to cut or trim back, find less expensive alternatives."

He added consumers may soon feel relief as the federal government works to combat inflation, but only those who rein in their credit-card use.

"The Fed is still raising interest rates trying to tame inflation," Welker pointed out. "Potentially, at some point later in the year, we finally start to see that come down to a more manageable level."

In another survey, by Clever Real Estate, 40% of Americans believe high prices are the "new normal," and 62% say they expect everyday prices will be even higher this year.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.


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