For a large chunk of the American population, debt has become a fact of life. Like having to pay taxes, going to work, or even lying down to sleep at night, owing money has become the new normal, and a recent study shows that many with debt believe they will never pay it off.
What does the survey say?
Over two-thirds (68%) of American adults with debt are not confident they will ever be able to pay it off, according to a new CreditCards.com report. A full 30% of that group believes they will never be debt-free, while 38% aren't sure if they will ever pay off all of their bills.
The numbers are even fairly bleak for the 32% of debtors who believe they will someday pay off everything they owe. That group reported that, on average, it will take them nine years to get completely debt free.
However, the report isn't all bad as the survey of 1,114 U.S. adults showed that 27% of Americans have no personal debt at all.
What kind of debt?
As you might imagine, credit card debt is the biggest problem. Over one-third (35%) of those carrying a credit card believe they have dug themselves into a hole they will never be able to climb out of, according to the study. Another 33% of those with credit card debt don't know if they will ever be able to every fully pay it off.
"With credit card debt currently at near record levels, it's frightening that so many Americans do not have a plan to get out of the red," said CreditCards.com Senior Industry Analyst, Matt Schulz. "Credit cards should only be used to pay for things that you can already afford or, at worst, for things that you have a strategy in place to finance."
Maybe it's getting better
While some of these numbers are fairly bleak, the report did include some rays of sunshine. Half of those surveyed reported increased comfort over last year while only 8% said they were less comfortable. Still, only 13% of those surveyed said they would feel more comfortable taking on more debt now compared to last year and 45% percent would be less comfortable.
"It's encouraging that Americans seem to be prioritizing paying down debt this year, rather than accumulating it," added Schulz. "It starts with looking at your budget, identifying where you can cut back spending and then putting a plan in place to attack high-interest loans."
It all starts with a plan
Viewing your debt as hopeless can be an excuse to not do anything about it. Instead, it's important to take a measured approach. Examine your income, your expenses, and see what can be changed. Can you take on a side hustle or get a better paying job? Are there expenses you can cut in order to put the money toward paying down debt?
Doing nothing will ensure that you never solve the problem. Taking steps, even small ones, to begin working toward a debt-free future puts you on a path to getting there even if it's a very long one.
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