Americans worried about debt

"For example, let's begin with 'Debt can be controlled through disciplined spending.' That's a motherhood-apple pie statement. You would expect most people to say yes. However, the fact that most people (72 percent) agree with 'debt is difficult to avoid' -- I think that is an interesting result," says Mandell.

Debt types
Among the majority of Americans (61 percent) who carry some sort of debt from month to month outside of mortgages, credit cards are the most frequently cited form of debt (45 percent). One-third have car loans; one-fifth have home equity loans or lines of credit, and 16 percent carry student loans. The higher the income level, the higher the tendency to hold debt. For example, 75 percent of those with annual incomes of at least $75,000 regularly carry debt month-to-month as opposed to only 36 percent of those with annual incomes under $20,000.

Types of debt we owe
Most people carry some sort of debt from month to month. Do you currently owe money on any of the following types of accounts?
Base: Total respondents
TotalEarn less than $50KEarn $50K+
Any (net)61%52%77%
Credit cards45%36%59%
Auto or other type of vehicle loan33%24%48%
Home equity loan or line of credit20%13%31%
Student loans16%13%20%
Don’t know1%1%--

Detweiler is encouraged that nearly 40 percent of consumers are free from non-mortgage debt. But Howard Dvorkin, founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, focuses more on the disproportionate number of people who owe money on credit cards compared to other loans. 

"This shows the American addiction to credit cards and, often, the use of money that they do not have at the time of purchases," he says.  

-- Posted: Feb. 25, 2008

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