(NPN) - You've heard of yo-yo dieters, people who lose weight just to gain it back, then start the dieting cycle all over again. Experts now warn the same type of up and down cycles are happening with too many people's credit cards, and it's resulting in financial chaos.
That's what happened to Charlese Antoinette. She is careful how she uses a credit card these days, but that wasn't always the case.
"I would just buy whatever I want and charge it up," Antoinette said.
She'd push her plastic to the limit, and once she paid the cards off, she'd just fill them up again. Experts have a term for this. It's called "yo-yo debtor."
"A yo-yo debtor is someone who treats their debt like a yo-yo," Tonya Rapley, a millennial debt expert, explains. "They pay it off and reel it back in. Then they release it, and they get back into debt."
While financial experts say yo-yo debt impacts all ages, a recent survey shows nearly a third of millennials have maxed out a credit card. Experts say some of the younger set just don't understand how credit works.
"That doesn't mean that they're not intelligent or not financially literate," Rapley said. "They just might not know that it's not a healthy practice to be a part of."
Research also reveals 43 percent of millennials have sub-prime credit, worse than other age groups. The problem is often spending without planning.
"It's typically when there is no budget in place," credit counselor Mark Higgins said. "They're running a budget deficit over the course of time, which, in turn, balloons the credit card debt up."
Tips to stop the yo-yo'ing:
- Budget monthly.
- Know your credit limit.
- Pay more than the minimum.
- Increase savings even while you are in debt.
Antoinette says she reached her limit when she didn't have enough credit to rent an apartment. She got a credit counselor, paid off all but one card and boosted her credit score 200 points in less than a year.
"I'm really glad that I figured out how to be more financially responsible," Antoinette said. "I'm like okay, I got it."
If you have credit problems there are a number of low and no-cost credit counselors available. Find out more at www.USA.Gov/Debt.