Most people can only stay debt-free for 8.5 weeks: poll

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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.


A graphic reads "What would you do to be debt-free?"
A new poll of 2,000 Americans shows that many would make significant modifications to their lifestyles in order to stay or become debt-free.
SWNS

A graphic shows a few of the things people would be willing to do to become debt-free: giving up social media for a year, spending a night on a remote island, and going a month without internet access.
Respondents’ biggest debt hurdles include credit card debt (57%), mortgages (30%), automobile loans (30%) and medical debt (28%).
SWNS

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.” 


A graphic shows the statistic that "the average person feels they could only stay debt-free for 8.5 weeks."
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%).
SWNS

Unhappy couple sitting on the couch surrounded by boxes.
Debt can create stress and anxiety for people and families and prevent them from fulfilling long-term goals like home ownership, traveling, and saving up for their children.
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“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%). 


A graphic reads "On average, people have $54,767 worth of debt" and "56% owe more for necessities than for nice-to-haves."
Only 38% of respondents feel “very confident” in their ability to remain out of debt.
SWNS

People are also seeking support to manage their debt, with about a third (31%) crediting their family s 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%

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