debt

Americans worried about debt

Comfort level
More than half of Americans who carry monthly debt (54 percent) admit they worry about it somewhat, but say they can manage it. One in 10 Americans who carry monthly debt, however, are really worried and are unsure how they are going to pay it all back. About one-third (35 percent) say they don't worry at all about the amount of debt they carry each month.

Our debt-tolerance level
GenderIncome
Which of the following statements best describes how you view the amount of debt you carry month to month?
Base: Carry debt from month to month
TotalMaleFemaleEarn less than $50KEarn $50K+
You don't worry at all about the amount of debt you carry month to month35%40%30%29%40%
You worry somewhat about the amount of debt you carry month to month but you feel able to manage it54%52%56%53%55%
You are really worried about the amount of debt you carry month to month, and are not sure how you are going to pay it all10%7%13%17%5%
Refused1%1%1%1%--

"I was very surprised that only 10 percent of consumers said they were really worried about their debt," says Detweiler. "We're heading into the most difficult year credit-wise that I've seen in the 21 years that I've been looking at this industry. So, I'm surprised that more consumers aren't more concerned about the debt they're carrying and how they'll pay it back."

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While those earning less than $50,000 are more than three times as likely to say they are not sure how they will pay for it all (17 percent vs. 5 percent), higher-income folks may also have cause for added concern.

I was very surprised that only 10 percent of consumers said they were really worried about their debt.

"I'm hearing a lot more from consumers who have been able to maintain great credit all their lives," says Detweiler, "who make good or even excellent incomes, but now are caught in the mortgage crunch. And between that and the other debt that they're carrying and concerns over their income dropping, they're getting very nervous that everything's going to cave in this year. In terms of the type of consumers I'm hearing from, it's more the higher-income consumers who have done fine up until now and suddenly it's catching up with them."

-- Posted: Feb. 25, 2008

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