Nearly one in three Americans expects to spend an entire lifetime in debt, with low income named as the top reason why, a new study finds.
Some 44 percent of Americans said they don’t make enough, but high costs of living and tuition costs also are weighing down their debt burden.
That’s according to a survey released Thursday by GOBankingRates.com, a personal finance news website.
That one in three Americans believe that they’ll they’ll never escape debt strikes as a truth to Peter Nicholson, vice president and senior portfolio manager at First Advisors in Bar Harbor.
“Because of our geography our levels of income generally are not as high as in other states,” he said. “So the one in three number is pretty accurate.”
He also said he has heard numbers for Mainers that are more cumbersome than that.
The average American owes $52,048 in overall debt.
Mainers are in way deeper than that, with the average resident owing more than $90,000. Only 58 percent of respondents in Maine don’t have a car loan, but the more than 8 percent who do owe more than $20,000 on their vehicles.
A third of Mainers surveyed also are paying off student loans, with more than 8 percent still owing up to $20,000 for their educations.
Nicholson said that consumer knowledge about debt is improving, especially among younger generations who understand the choice of either paying down certain debt or letting their money work for them in the stock market.
But improved knowledge won’t make a huge dent in decreasing the debt crisis, he predicted, because interest rates are climbing, especially variable rates, and they could negate any savings gains.
The GOBankingRates.com survey also found that 30 percent of respondents nationally said debt had become a problem for them between the ages of 18 and 24.
On average men owed slightly more than women — $55,081 compared $50,124 for women.
A higher percentage of women claimed that their income is too low to pay off debt — 48 percent of women compared to 40 percent of men.
Household debt continues to rise in the United States. It is at an all-time high of $13.29 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Categories of debt such as mortgage, home equity line of credit, student loans, auto loans, credit card and total debt have increased by $1 trillion or more since 2017, the GOBankingRates.com survey said.
The biggest contributor to the rise in household debt is growing mortgage debt, which reached $9 trillion this year. However, experts say mortgage debt is good debt — higher mortgage debt means fewer Americans are paying high rents without earning equity.
The survey also found that 41 percent of respondents would save more for retirement if they could eliminate or reduce debt.