What would you do to be completely debt-free? A new survey found Americans would give up social media for a year (32%) spend a night on a remote island (31%) and even go a month without internet access (29%). According to the poll of 2,000 U.S. adults, the average person feels they could only stay debt-free for 8.5 weeks before accruing new debt.
The research also measured people’s confidence in their ability to remain out of debt, revealing only 38% feel “very confident” in this regard.
The most uncertain respondents (384) shared some of the reasons, including the rising cost of living (54%), unexpected expenses (46%), rising interest rates (29%), not having enough support from others (20%) and feeling the need to spend to keep up with others (16%).
Biggest Debt Hurdles
People’s biggest debt hurdles include credit card debt (57%), mortgages (30%), automobile loans (30%) and medical debt (28%).
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Beyond Finance for National Financial Freedom Day, the survey also found the average person has $54,767 worth of debt, with 56% saying they owe more for necessities than for nice-to-haves.
For some, their debt has stood in the way of making significant life changes, such as buying a home (33%), a car (30%) and setting up their child’s savings (24%).
What would people do if they woke up debt-free? Thirty-two percent would add money to their emergency fund, while 27% would purchase their dream home and 26% would take a long-awaited vacation. Others would “pursue a different career,” “start my own business,” finance their children’s education, and “help my parents with their debts.”
“Debt can sometimes deter people’s short- and long-term goals for themselves and their families,” said a spokesperson for Beyond Finance. “Learning to manage it effectively can be life-changing, but 49% admit to feeling anxious about their debt, which may make it challenging to focus on finding solutions.”
What can make debt stressful for many? Interest rates (24%), the inability to pay it off (22%), and seeing how much they owe increase (20%). But not all debt is created equal, as nearly half (48%) said some of the debt they had taken on was worth it. That includes a mortgage (38%), car loan (33%) and home improvement or repairs (28%).
People are also seeking support to manage their debt, with about a third (31%) crediting their family as being the most helpful resource. However, only 29% are “very confident” in their ability to pay off their current debts on time — including fewer women than men (19% vs. 41%).
And four in 10 (41%) said it will take them years to be debt-free.
“Choose a debt resolution program that’s personalized to your needs and helps you keep track of your progress. Seeing your debt gradually diminish is a great way to stay motivated on the path to becoming debt-free,” the spokesperson added.
What Would People Do To Be Debt-Free?
- Give up social media for a year – 32%
- Spend a night on a remote island – 31%
- Give up internet access for a month – 29%
- Go skydiving – 20%
- Eat something gross – 19%
- Go storm chasing during tornado season – 18%
- Get tackled by a linebacker – 14%
- Go BASE jumping – 12%
- Swim with sharks – 12%
- Complete a triathlon – 11%
- Run with the bulls – 11%
Debts That Were Worth It
- Mortgage on a home/ apartment – 38%
- Car loan – 33%
- Home improvement/ repairs – 28%
- Medical bills – 27 %
- Graduate school – 17%
- Small business loan – 15%
- Undergraduate school – 14%
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Beyond Finance between June 9 and June 12, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).