Following up on my previous post about paying for college and the realities of student loan repayment, today I would like to share some new survey information about the longterm effects of significant debt, student loans and otherwise. The findings are both interesting, surprising, and maybe even shocking.
Specifically, this survey involves responses from Millennials. If you're like me, you may be confused about which generation is known by what moniker. So, to set the scene for this survey, let's take a look at who Millennials are. Here's one way to consider them:
... The term Millennials generally refers to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and 1990s, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Some people also include children born in the early 2000s.
The Millennial Generation is also known as Generation Y, because it comes after Generation X — those people between the early 1960s and the 1980s. The publication Ad Age was one of the first to coin the term"Generation Y," in an editorial in August 1993. But the term didn't age well, and "Millennials" has largely overtaken it. But the terms basically mean the same thing.
A new survey from Credible finds that millennials (lower-case "m," as it refers to Generation Y) with credit card balances think their debt is scarier than climate change, the threat of war, and even dying. Here are some more surprising results from this survey:
- 33% said that their credit card debt is scarier than war, climate change, never retiring, and even dying.
- $5,290: that's how much credit card debt the average millennial has.
- 66% said they have credit card debt because of emergency expenses or one large purchase.
- 80% said that they are confident they will be able to pay off their credit card debt within the next year.
Personally, I think the result showing that "80% said that they are confident they will be able to pay off their credit card debt within the next year" is way off base. Oh, the survey results are no doubt accurate, but the 80% who say that they will pay off their credit card debt within the next year are deluding themselves, in my humble opinion. The analogy is someone who needs to lose weight during the year-end holiday season. They confidently proclaim, "Starting January 1, I'm getting on the wagon. No more bad food for me! I'll lose this weight next year!"
Same thing with credit cards. Without either an iron will's discipline or an unexpected influx of cash, it's highly unlikely that the behaviors that created the debt can be changed that quickly. There has to be a revelation that inspires a significant change in thinking and behavior.
But I digress. Back to the survey, highlighting some quotes:
It's hardly a surprise, given Americans hold nearly $800 billion in credit card debt. Close to half of American households carry a balance on their credit card -- $5,700 on average.
To put some context around these numbers, and to understand how credit card debt affects millennials' daily lives, we conducted a survey asking respondents about their feelings and behaviors around credit card utilization. ...
... we targeted respondents who were 18-34 years of age and carried credit card debt. We've analyzed the results of the survey and compiled some key findings:
- Millennials with credit card debt find their debt to be scarier than climate change, the threat of war, not being able to retire, and even dying
- The average credit card balance among all 500 respondents surveyed was $5,290, with nearly one in five millennials saying they needed to rely on their credit card(s) to supplement their monthly income
- Millennial debt holders found the scariest aspects of their credit card debt to be the fear of accruing interest (32.6%) and making their monthly payments (32%)
- Despite their balances, 80% of millennials surveyed are at least somewhat confident they will be able to pay off their debt in the next year
- An overwhelming majority said they planned to change their spending habits in order to get a handle on their debt
There's no doubt about it:
Millennials are terrified of credit card debt.
We asked survey respondents to select which of a number of options was the scariest in their daily life, and more than 33% indicated it to be credit card debt — far greater than the percentage of respondents who were scared of dying (20.4%), or afraid of the threat of war (16.8%).
Perhaps surprisingly, given its prominence in the media, climate change wasn't an imminent concern, with only 6.4% of respondents selecting this option. Even having to work forever wasn't too intimidating, with just 11% of respondents selecting 'not being able to retire' as their biggest fear.