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What, us worry about debt?
Americans' ambivalent attitudes about debt won't be too helpful during an economic crisis, say experts.
Out of the red and into the black

Americans worried about debt

If you step into an elevator with four other occupants, chances are two people are worried about debt. Are you one of them?

The results of Bankrate's latest survey show that two out of five Americans are preoccupied with worrisome debt. Over half of us (61 percent) carry some debt, excluding mortgages. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) who do carry debt say it's cause for concern.

Our attitudes about savings and debt are somewhat contradictory. While almost all Americans believe that debt can be controlled by disciplined saving and spending (91 percent), nearly three-quarters (72 percent) also believe that debt is a part of modern life and difficult to avoid.

Bankrate commissioned GfK Roper to conduct a random survey of Americans' attitudes about savings and non-mortgage debt as part of our focus on tackling debt in this segment of the Financial Literacy series.

Americans' mixed feelings
The cause of debt is up in the air: 66 percent of Americans say debt is often the result of unfortunate circumstances beyond a person's control, while 60 percent attribute it to human error, saying debt is usually the result of bad decisions.

Attitudes about debt
Income
Percent who agree with each of the following statements.
Base: Total respondents
Total Have debt Do not have Earn less than $50K Earn $50K+
Debt can be controlled through disciplined spending and saving 91% 94% 85% 87% 96%
Carrying some debt is part of modern life and is tough for anyone to avoid 72% 80% 60% 73% 74%
Debt often happens due to unfortunate circumstances beyond anyone’s control 66% 69% 62% 74% 60%
Debt usually results from bad decisions 60% 56% 65% 67% 52%

Veteran consumer credit expert Gerri Detweiler says the results to this set of questions are interesting because they reveal our mixed feelings about debt.

-- Posted: Feb. 25, 2008
 
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