Tips for keeping debt levels down

With the recent report that consumer debt totaled $11.5 trillion through the first three months of the year, CNBC is offering borrowers tips for how to keep debt levels low.

For instance, the news service says one of the best ways of doing this is making sure housing payments don't take up more than 30 percent of one's salary so there is enough money left for other expenses.

Another way to keep debt levels low is appreciating just how much credit can impact one's life. Eleanor Blayney, a consumer advocate for the nonprofit Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, says some consumers regard their credit rating too cavalierly. In reality, it should be taken seriously, as many employers look at them before hiring and landlords may review them before renting out an apartment.

CNBC further advises borrowers not to take on credit card debt if they think they won't be able to pay relatively soon. Jeff Kostis, president of a financial firm in Illinois, told the source credit customers should not buy something that will take more than 12 to 18 months to pay off, excluding a mortgage or car.

Having a good credit rating may be of particular importance when it comes to securing a mortgage or car loan, as it can dramatically improve the chances of being approved. However, even if one has bad credit, a credit repair company may be able to improve it if any inaccurate statements were made.