The Psychological Cost Of Debt

In a survey of over 1,000 indebted Americans concerning debt:

56% said money could buy happiness “to an extent,” and another 17% said it absolutely could. Just 8% thought that money could not lead to an overarching sense of satisfaction.

70% with debt reported feelings of satisfaction, compared to 83% of those without debt.

Those with a mortgage, which is generally considered to be good debt, reported a life satisfaction rate of 86%, followed by those with an auto loan at 82%.  People with medical loans were the absolute least satisfied with their life at just 64%, followed by student loan holders at 71%. The amount of student debt being accrued in the U.S. is hardly slowing down. This creates a social climate in which indebted individuals are marrying later, holding off on buying a home, and delaying their parenthood.

Of respondents with no debt, 57% said they lived life to its fullest, compared to 42% of indebted respondents.  Of debt-free respondents, 60% felt they made the most of themselves, compared to 49% of indebted individuals.

When it came to monthly payments, personal loans -- while second to last in terms of total debt amount -- were the most expensive debt to have on a monthly basis, likely due to the extremely high interest rates associated with these types of loans. However, not all debt is bad debt: If you’re working toward a brighter future and are certain you’ll have the means to pay your dues in the long term, debt like student loans, auto loans, and mortgages can be regarded as a building block as opposed to a stumbling block.

Medical debt was the only category that saw a significant percentage of people being unable to make their minimum payment every month (42%). While it might seem counterintuitive, the majority of people with medical debt in the U.S. owe money for a single health event, as opposed to racking up bills associated with chronic illness.

66% reported their loan burden hindered their ability to save money with nearly three-quarters of indebted individuals saying they thought about their financial burden more than they wanted to.

Credit card debt was most frequently associated with feelings of guilt, with 49% of indebted respondents saying they felt completely at fault for their situation. If this type of debt is weighing on you, you are far from alone: studies have shown that the American middle class, in particular, has struggled with the cycle of debt and keeping up with credit card bills.  Student loans led to the second-highest rate of self-blame, followed by personal loans and mortgages.




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