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A look at debt by age groups

Debt seems to be a way of life in Tennessee and across the United States, and many have accepted that they will always be paying on credit cards, medical bills and mortgages. While some in America have reached the elusive goal of being debt free, the average citizen carries about $38,000 in debt, and that doesn’t even include their mortgages.

You may be among the nearly 80 percent of consumers with tens of thousands in debt. Unquestionably, debt can put a strain on your life as your paycheck stretches thinner and thinner. You may find yourself postponing important decisions, such as having children, making critical home repairs or saving for retirement. You may be interested in knowing how debt affects people of different ages and the kinds of debt people are more likely to carry throughout their lives.

How does debt break down among the generations?

The most common sources of debt are credit cards and mortgages. In fact, many people pay as much to credit card companies each month as they do to their mortgage companies. Student loans are the next highest debt in many households, and car loans follow. Like many consumers, you may find that more than half of your paycheck goes to pay your debts. If you fall within these age groups, you are likely dealing with these particular forms of debt:

  • Ages 18 to 24 average $22,000 in student loans and credit card debt.
  • Ages 25 to 34 average $42,000, but more of this is due to credit cards, and some carry mortgages.
  • Ages 35 to 49 have about $39,000 in debt, which is mostly mortgages, but credit card debt is also substantial.
  • Ages 50 and older carry around $36,000 in debt, but they typically have less than $25,000 put away for retirement.

Financial advisors offer suggestions to avoid the kinds of debt typical for your age group. For example, don’t take out more in student loans than you can expect to earn right after graduating. As you grow older, curb your credit card spending and set a goal for being debt free before you hit 50. However, for you, these gems of wisdom may come too late. If you are already sinking under the weight of your debt, seeking advice about your legal options may be your best alternative.