Debt may not be on the same par with death and taxes - i.e., something
Credit card debt load outweighing Americans' emergency savings
Debt may not be on the same par with death and taxes – i.e., something that everyone will experience – but with expenses coming in a variety of forms, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t owe money. Provided there is a payment mechanism, debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, maintaining some debt can improve your credit score.
At the same time, though, debt has a tendency to pile up when it’s not paid off in a timely manner. And as it turns out, many people have so much of it than it’s exceeding what they have saved up when life throws them a curve ball.
At 52 percent, a slim majority of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt, according to a recent poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. That’s unchanged from another poll also performed by PSRAI in 2011, when only half of respondents indicated their emergency savings were more substantial than what they owed on credit card payments.
Many without debt also have no emergency savings
“20 percent without credit card debt haven’t saved.”
Not having any credit card debt whatsoever is something that more people are pursuing, largely because interest rates can be expensive, often requiring borrowers to pay a great deal more than the principal. While some have succeeded in this goal, many haven’t compensated by contributing to their emergency savings. Roughly 1 in 5 of respondents with no credit card debt also had no savings either, the poll revealed. That’s up from 13 percent who had no credit card debt or savings last year.
Even though the ideal would be consumers having double or triple the amount of emergency savings versus credit card debt, the percentage of people whose credit card debt is larger than their emergency financial reserves is at a six-year low. Approximately 22 percent of Americans have more credit card debt than savings, the survey found.
Several polls show that a smaller percentage of millennials have credit card debt.
Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, which commissioned the poll, indicated that millennials are a big reason for this.
“Contrary to society’s perception of millennials and their financial characteristics, millennials have learned from their parents’ mistakes and are more cautious when it comes to saving for that rainy day,” McBride said. “Their aversion to credit cards may have also played a part in helping them grow their savings accounts.”
Millennials most likely to carry student loan debt
“Millennials are the least likely generation to have credit card debt.”
While credit card debt may not be as big of an issue among millennials, the same can’t be said for their student loan obligations. Over one-third of millennials have student loan debt, according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup. Being out of school for a longer period, Generation Xers aren’t as debt-addled, with 1 in 4 still paying off the cost of tuition.
Among Americans overall, slightly less than 20 percent have student loan debt, the Gallup poll found, a notable contrast from younger individuals who are fairly new to the working world.
Some polls have found that millennials are putting off major purchases because their student debt load is so significant. However, it apparently hasn’t been too much of a financial constraint. The same Gallup poll found that consumers with student loan debt are nearly two times more likely to also be financing a vehicle. Approximately 50 percent of respondents with student loan debt had auto loan debt as well. This compared with only 29 percent of people who had a car loan but no outstanding payments for tuition.
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