Families have cut down their total debt to pre-recession heights, which could lead the way to a faster financial recovery, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"It's sort of a new reality that you have," Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago, told the Times. "We're going to try to live within our means because living beyond it didn't work out."
Though student loans have increased dramaticallly, many other liabilities like home mortgages and credit card debt have been on the decline.
The number of credit cards in circulation has fallen to 470 million, down from 600 million in 2008, according to the article.
While consumers feel better about their situation than they have in five years, according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey, experts are concerned consumers will continue to cut spending.
The holiday shopping season should be a good indicator of sentiment of consumers towards buying more after reducing their household debt.
"You're comforted that it's receded by as much as it has," Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, told the Times. "But what you don't know is whether there's a higher consumer willingness to take on more debt."