US Consumers Hold an Average of $29,800 in Debt Outside of Mortgages

Gen X-ers have the highest amount of personal debt.


According to a study from Northwestern Mutual, U.S. adults have an average of $29,800 in personal debt. The figure takes into account personal debt excluding mortgage debt. Much of the personal debt is in the form of credit card debt.

The study uncovered other insights as well. For instance, 15 percent of Americans doubt they’ll ever achieve a debt-free life and believe they’ll have debt for the remainder of their lives.

Also, 34 percent of American salaries are earmarked towards paying down debt, while the same percentage of Americans are unaware of how much of their monthly salary goes towards their debt. 45 percent of Americans report anxiety about their debt, while another 35 percent say they feel guilty about the debt they’ve accumulated.

One in five respondents said that they feel physically ill at least once a month over their debt load. Another one in five respondents isn’t clued in to how much debt they owe.

Generation X-ers report the most personal debt and average $36,000 on average. Baby Boomers average $28,600 in personal debt, while Millennials average $27,900 in debt. Generation Z Americans report the lowest levels of debt at $14,700 on average.

Emily Holbrook, Northwestern Mutual’s senior director of planning, said: “The road to financial security is long, even in the best of circumstances. By carrying high levels of personal debt, that road gets even longer, often requiring all kinds of detours and other twists and turns.”

While the amount of personal debt seems inflated, the study shows an improvement from last year, which showed an average of $38,000 in personal debt for American adults.

Holbrook alluded that while a year-over-year improvement is a good thing, the numbers are still alarming.

The findings were illustrated in Northwestern Mutual’s 2019 Planning & Progress Study. The Planning & Progress Study is a yearly research project that investigates Americans’ behavioral attitudes towards financial decision-making, money, and other factors that impact their long-term financial security.


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