Debt Facts

By: Ian Young

In 2003, almost one and a third percent of US househoulds (about 1,650,000) filed for bankruptcy, indicating that bankruptcy may not have quite the stigma attached to it as in other parts of the world.

Somehow, the USA, with a population of about 294 million, managed to have over a billion credit cards in issue. That's over 4 cards for every man women and child. About 20,000 different cards are on offer from suppliers.

Those credit cards, together with debit cards, account for a quarter of ALL personal expenditure in the US.

Debt is a fairly recent phenomenon. Before the 1930's, most people couldn't borrow, even to finance property, and either rented homes or built them from scratch. Nowadays, mortgage debt runs in the trillions. Personal debt excluding mortgages is about $19k per household on average, over half of which is on credit cards, a figure that is triple the statistic of 1990.

Nowadays, over 40% or US families routinely spend more each year than they earn. The difference? Financed by debt.

Convenient to use? That credit card convenience ends up costing the average Joe 12% more than paying by cash.

If you only ever pay the 2% minimum monthly payments, each $1000 you owe will take nearly 22 years to repay and will add a further ?2,300 to the bill, meaning you effectively pay $3,300.

Despite this being common knowledge, almost 60% of credit card users DON'T pay their credit card bills in full each month. This reliance on high interest credit cards means that the average US family pays about $1,200 in interest on their cards each year, at an average APR of 18.9%.

90% of Americans 'are not concerned' by their credit card debts, although about 50% of them would refuse to tell a friend how much they owe.

A quarter of adult Americans have 'maxed out' a card at some time or other.

A tenth of them have been hounded by collection agencies for late payment, the same amount as have gone at least 30 days overdue on their credit card bills.

The typical US student has 7 credit cards, and a significant percentage of them (over 10%) owe $15,000 or more on them.

Credit cards encourage you to spend more. In surveys, it was found that paying for junk food with a card as opposed to cash led to a 50% increase in spend. You want fries with that?

Far from becoming rich, the average middle aged US citizen is only worth about $40,000, and that INCLUDES any equity in their homes. The rest of it belongs to banks and lending institutions. This reflects the drop in personal savings, down from 8% of income to less than 1% in 2004, thanks mainly to the poor returns on savings accounts, and the easy availability of credit.

In 2002Psychology Articles, the sum total in card fees for the US credit card sector was $45 billion. It is expected to top $60 billion by the end of 2004. Why is this? Find out at http://www.nodebtever.com

Debt, Loans & Business Cashflow
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