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%).
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%
Produced in association with SWNS Research
Edited by Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld and Jessi Rexroad Shull