Disposable income is being disposed of at a record pace. Plasma TVs, digital cameras and talking navigation systems are coaxing the almighty dollar out of consumers' wallets. With low financing and scores of temptations, it's no surprise that household debt has reached record highs. According to research by the Federal Reserve, about 14 percent of disposable income was used for debt payments in 2002. How does rent figure into the mix? Usually, it's the largest slice of the monthly budget, consuming some 25 percent to 30 percent of gross income, according to federal housing guidelines. Problem is using that figure may get a tenant in trouble. Luxuries unheard of a decade ago, such as laser printers, cell phones, palm pilots and laptops, are taking ever-larger slices of the pie. So are the accessories, such as high-speed Internet connections and deluxe surge protectors for $199. Factor in batteries and rechargers, combine car payments and the price of gas – and renters may fi...
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