South Floridians are taking their New Year's resolutions seriously when it comes to debt: Average credit card balances dropped 12 percent in January from a year ago, according to the consumer website CreditKarma.com.

The average credit card debt was $5,410 in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, down $746 from January 2012 when it averaged $6,156, Credit Karma reported.

The average mortgage balance fell even more during the same time -- dropping $10,862 or 5 percent. The average home loan plunged from $205,809 to $194,947 in a year as some owners paid down their mortgages, Credit Karma found.

In fact, the entire state is in a mindset to pay down debt. Florida had one of the greatest declines in debt, dropping from $181,241 in the last three months of 2011 to $176,337 a year later. The national debt average at $186,785 is now more than $10,000 than Florida's.


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Still, the housing bust and student debt remain a sore spot. Florida still has the nation's highest mortgage delinquency rate -- 12.47 percent at the end of the fourth quarter in December.  The national average of 5.19 percent is less than half that.

Meanwhile, students loans in South Florida continued to rise even if they have dropped slightly in the state: The average debt load jumped 7 percent in a year to $31,852 last January in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, Credit Karma found. The state's student loan average is almost $3,000 less at $29,012, according to the website.

But rising student debt is not just limited to South Florida, said Kenneth Lin, CEO of Credit Karma.

"Student loan debt has been rising consistently across the country due to increases in tuition, prolonged unemployment which drives more people back into schools, and the increase of for-profit universities," he said in an email.

In fact, average college loan balances are now almost double the typical car loan debt in South Florida.

Auto loan balances grew nearly 6 percent in Broward and Miami-Dade with average balances at $16,629. That was up $904 from the average $29,599 a year ago.

Still,  South Florida's average car loan balance was not increasing as fast as student loans.

Florida's car loan stayed basically the same, at $29,012, Credit Karma found.

dgehrke@tribune.com or Twitter @donnagehrke