Americans are spending, which is one reason Friday’s jobs report came in unexpectedly strong.

Unfortunately, much of that spending is being put on plastic.

Credit card debt jumped 18.5% in the fourth quarter from a year before to a record $931 billion, according to the credit agency TransUnion.

The average balance rose to $5,805.

This is understandable. With consumer prices at the highest level in decades, millions of households are getting by paycheck to paycheck, and are increasingly forced to borrow just to put food on the table.

The problem is that interest rates have steadily risen over the last year as the Federal Reserve has moved aggressively to cool the economy and rein in inflation.

This means you’re probably paying close to 20% interest on that $5,805 card balance — and that’s a recipe for trouble.

Bankrate crunched the numbers and determined that if you made minimum payments each month, it would take more than 17 years to pay off your debt and cost more than $8,213 in interest.

It’s difficult to tell people scrambling financially to tighten their belts, but that’s the unavoidable advice under the current circumstances.

Debt is like a chronic disease. Left untreated, it just gets worse.

And you don’t want to go there.

That’s not to say you have to pay off your balance right away. But it’s important not to worsen things. And it’s equally important to start easing your financial obligations.

If possible, try to avoid minimum monthly payments. They just prolong the pain.

Strive to pay off your balance each month. If that’s impossible, ask your bank or lender about possible payment plans that may come with lower interest rates.

Also consider seeking guidance from a credit counselor, who can help get spending under control.

These are tough times for many consumers. Running up bills doesn’t help.