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How do Americans feel about their personal debt?

If you are an Illinois resident who believes your household has never fully recovered from the 2009 financial crash, you are not alone. Despite frequent news reports of an economic recovery, many people across the nation have failed to feel its effects. If you are one of them, your amount of debt likely has increased in the past decade while your salary or wages have not kept pace.

Surprisingly enough, however, the results of a recent survey reported by, show that while 80 percent of Americans reported having at least one type of debt, the majority of them do not think that they have too much debt. The figures break down as follows:

  • Only 40 percent of survey responders believe they have too much debt, with 47 percent of these between the ages of 35-54.
  • Only 43 percent of responders making less than $25,000 annually believe they have too much debt; the figure decreases to 34 percent for those making more than $75,000 annually.
  • The percentages split almost evenly between those with a high school education or less and those with a college or higher degree; 39 percent of the former believe they have too much debt, and 38 percent of the latter express the same opinion about their own debt.
  • Of the people who believe they have too much debt, however, only 18 percent of them are happy about their personal financial situation.

Bill collectors

Overall, only 18 percent of responders reported being contacted by a debt collection agency within the past year. But of the 21 percent of responders who reported having medical debt, 55 percent said that a debt collection agency had contacted them within the past year. These responders likewise reported that they often forego doctor visits, necessary medical tests and filling their needed prescriptions in an attempt to not incur any further medical debt.

While it is not surprising that 40 percent of survey responders said they likely could not come up with $2,000 in cash to pay for any type of a family emergency, what is quite surprising is that 46 percent said they have put aside emergency funds representing a full three months’ worth of earnings.

No one need tell you that in the event of an emergency, your debt, especially your credit card debt, could skyrocket. It therefore pays to establish and follow a family budget so you do not inadvertently spend too much on things that, while enjoyable, could put you in financial distress should the worst happen. This is educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice.