According to third-quarter 2012 figures from the Federal Reserve, American consumers used less than 11 percent of their after-tax income on debt payments. The percentage has not been at a lower level since the early 1980s.

Flickr User 401 (K) 2012

Following a long-term borrowing binge last decade, workers have spent the past few years "sobering up," learning that debt is something that must be managed in a more careful manner, compared to ten years ago.

"People realized that when you enter into a debt arrangement, that ultimately has to be paid, and it goes to the front of the list," explained Patrick O'Keefe, Director of Economic Research at CohnReznick in Roseland. "This is very good news looking forward."

Compared to 2007, debt payments dropped nearly four percent, or about 400 billion dollars. That money, instead of going to outstanding obligations, can be pumped back into the economy for purchases that consumers may have avoided in recent years past.