Americans Feeling More Optimistic About Debt

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Fewer adults expect to go to their graves owing money to their credit card issuers than they did a year ago, according to a new survey.

This may seem like a morbid statistic, but the fact is, many people will, in fact, never get out of debt. Last year, 21% of those surveyed felt that they would be among those folks who die with credit card debt. But this year, only 12% think they’ll never crawl out of the black hole of credit card debt.

The increase in optimism when it comes to debt held true across all age groups. Predictably, older people were more likely to be pessimistic about their chances of paying off their debts; 28% of people ages 65 and older never expect to make that last credit card payment and bring their balance to zero. But last year, it was 35%. Fourteen percent of 50-64 year olds didn’t think they’d get out of debt before the Grim Reaper calls, down from 24% last year, and 11% of those ages 30 to 39 felt they’d die in debt – down from 19% last year. Young folks, who naturally expect to have a few more years ahead of them to get out of debt, were the most optimistic. Only 4% of them thought they’d kick the bucket still owing on their credit cards. Last year, it was 11%.

Staying out of debt is the best bet for dying debt-free

Of course, not everyone is in debt in the first place. Twenty-four percent of Americans said they aren’t in debt at all. That’s the highest number of debt-free folks in three years of this particular survey.

Credit card debt isn’t the only type of debt the study looks at: it also includes student loans, mortgages, and car loans. Some of these, such as mortgages, are considered “good debt” and may have terms of as long as 30 years, or longer if folks have refinanced.

If their debts magically disappeared tomorrow, 72% of people surveyed said they’d put the extra money toward savings – retirement, an emergency fund, a college fund, or a down payment on a house. Only 6% said they’d go wild and spend the extra funds.

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