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Debt in America: What We Owe

At a time when Uncle Sam appears to be a terminal shop-a-holic, incessantly begging for a higher limit on his credit card, you and I have become increasingly careful with our cash.

By and large, Americans are getting their fiscal lives in order by paying off debts -- particularly high-cost debts, according to data compiled by Credit Karma, a web-based credit scoring company. Better yet, we've stopped shaking equity out of our homes -- the piggy-banks of yesteryear -- and started replenishing the pot.

Credit Karma, compiled data from the credit files of its 211,000 users, to create a picture of how much individuals owe, broken down by loan type and the state in which they live. MoneyWatch analyzed this data to determine which state's residents are the most and least indebted -- and where people are making the most progress in paying down their loans.

What resulted is a four-part series, that takes a detailed look at where we stand with what we owe. And it gives some advice on handling the one type of debt that has burgeoned over the past year -- student loans.

I hope you find it enlightening:

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