If you are one of the thousands of families relocating to South Carolina every year, there is good economic news … and a word of caution before you set up shop.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much income — $21,583 is all you need, according to analysis from 24/7 Wall Street – to be considered middle-class in South Carolina. That’s the primary reason the state’s population grew by more than 600,000 people in 2020, most of them out-of-staters looking for a fresh start in a low-cost, thriving economy.

But while it doesn’t cost a lot of money to live in South Carolina, you don’t make a lot either. The median state income in 2019 was $56,227, more than $12,000 under the national median of $68,703.

Worse news: South Carolinians have an average credit card debt of $5,389, seventh highest in the nation and 6,833 bankruptcies were filed in South Carolina in 2019.

It’s not a good combination when you’re near the top of the list for spending, but at the bottom of the list for income.

The best news is that debt-relief is available. Private companies, specifically nonprofit credit counseling like InCharge Debt Solutions, and state and federal agencies, offer options that will help you make ends meet in South Carolina.

Debt Relief Options for South Carolina Residents

The fastest and easiest answer for debt relief in South Carolina is to call InCharge Debt Solutions and speak to a professional about the best solution for handling your situation.

The certified counselors at InCharge will go over you budget to examine where increasing income and reducing expenses would help get you out of debt. If you don’t have a budget, the counselors will talk you through the steps to make one.

The counselors may recommend debt management as a solution to credit card problems. Debt management is not a loan. It is a program that consolidates credit card debt, reduces the interest rate you pay on it and helps you create an affordable monthly payment so that you eliminate debt in 3-to-5 years.

You can apply for a debt management program online, or over the phone.

If debt management doesn’t solve your problem, you’re certified counselor can recommend other debt-relief options that include:

  • Debt Settlement – This is a program that tries to convince the lender (credit card company) to accept less than the amount owed. Ideally, it would be as much as 50% less. However, using this debt-relief option will make it difficult to get credit because it stays on your credit report for seven years under the heading: Paid less than amount owed.
  • Debt Consolidation Loan – This involves going to a bank, credit union or online lender to get a loan large enough to eliminate all your credit card debt. You would make monthly payments to the lender at a much-lower interest rate than what you pay on credit cards. However, if you don’t change your spending habits, or miss payments on the loan, your credit will continue to suffer.
  • Bankruptcy – The is last choice anyone wants to make, but when all else fails, it’s available. Bankruptcy gives consumers a second chance to get their finances in order. It will be difficult to find credit anywhere – bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 7-to-10 years – but at least you’ll have the weight of unsecured debt off your mind.
  • The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) – This requires a lot of discipline and commitment. It would start with developing a budget that includes making healthy monthly payments on credit card debt. It means sticking to that budget and avoiding department store sales or restaurant visits or spur-of-the-moment vacations. It can be done, but make a plan and stick to it.

South Carolina Debt Resources

South Carolina has a large number of stage agencies designed to help consumers get their finances in order. The agencies can provide temporary assistance with housing, food, childcare transportation, medical and other issues that make it difficult for families to stay on budget.

Here is a look at a few of the agencies you could contact for help.

South Carolina Appleseed. The Appleseed program offers cash assistance, food, healthcare, transportation, childcare and other form of assistance for families out of work.

South Carolina Family Independence. The SCFI program helps needy families work toward self-sufficiency. It has strict qualifications. You must have a child 18 or under; or be pregnant; or be 18 or younger and be considered the head of your household.

HUD Foreclosure Counseling Agencies.  If you are in danger of foreclosure, this program offers counseling to explain loan modification, forbearance, principal reduction and more.

SC Child Care Voucher Program. The Voucher Program makes payments to childcare providers from low-income families so the parents can go to work or attend school.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is a federal program better known by its old name of “Food Stamps.” I income people by helping families in need buy the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet. (800) 768-5700

HUD Rental Help. Low-income tenants are offered reduced rents on apartments and public housing projects.

South Carolina TANF Program. Low-income families who qualify for this program are offered employment training and placement, childcare and transportation and a monthly stipend..
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This government assistance program helps lower-income families in South Carolina pay their utility bills.

South Carolina Debt Statistics

South Carolina’s economy was buzzing along until, like many other states, COVID-19 gave it a punishing shot in the gut.

The state’s unemployment rate was a microscopic 2.4% at the end of 2019, but shot up to 12.4% by May of 2020, before falling again to just 4.6% in December.

Some other financial statistics of interest for South Carolina include:

  • The average FICO credit score in South Carolina was 689, while the average for the U.S. was 711.
  • South Carolina’s average credit card debt of $5,389 is 10% higher than the national average
  • The hospitality and leisure industry lost an estimated 43,000 jobs in 2020
  • Despite the uneven economy, home values in South Carolina were up 7.6%
  • College graduates in South Carolina have an average student debt loan of $31,524
  • 4% of South Carolina’s population holds a Bachelor of Arts or higher college degree

Sources