15 More Frightening Financial Facts

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Our economy seems to be rolling along nicely, with a full recovery from the Great Recession and the stock market hitting record levels. But is all well and good with the economy when it comes to American consumers spending, debt, savings, and retirement?

In part one of this series, we brought you 25 frightening financial facts to ponder. Here are 15 more:

1. Despite our economic rebound, the average American household still owes a lot of debt. In fact, the average household owes $135,924 in loans as of 2017, including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans and other types of debt.

2. The average U.S. household now pays $1,292 in credit card interest per year. Of course, that number would be much higher if we just looked at households that carried credit card debt.

3. Despite paying heavy interest, nearly one-third of Americans pay only the minimum due on their credit cards each month.

4. In 2016, the average college graduate left school with $37,172 in student loan debt. Even more concerning, that’s up a whole 6% from only one year earlier, or an additional $2,200 average debt increase in just 365 days.

5. Surpassing credit cards, auto loans now make up our third highest form of debt in America, behind only mortgages and student loans. In fact, Americans owe well over $1 trillion to pay for their cars.

6. These days, two-thirds of people buying new or used cars take out loans to pay for them. But if you think that they’re shopping around for the best rates and terms among their bank and other lenders, consider that just about half of them got financing right from the car dealer where they purchased the vehicle.

7. About one in eight (12%) of car buyers who took out a loan actually chose a financing option with a longer repayment period than the time they planned on keeping the car. For example, they have a 54-month car loan but plan on getting a new car in three years.

8. It’s frightening how ill-prepared most people are for retirement. For instance, only 18% of Americans are actively contributing to their IRA.

9. Are they not contributing to an IRA because their employer offers a great retirement plan? Nope. In fact, 25% of those who don’t contribute to an IRA say they “simply don’t know enough about these accounts,” while 46% report that they don’t have the money to save.

10. Speaking of retirement, as of 2017, the average American’s Social Security retirement benefit is only $1,363 per month, or $16,356 per year. But 43% of single retirees are counting on Social Security to cover 90% or more of their post-employment income. (Originally, Social Security was intended to replace only 40% of the average worker’s pre-retirement income.)

11. And 31% – nearly one-third- of all non-retired adults have no retirement savings or pension at all. This isn’t just a post-Great Recession hangover, as that’s the same number that had zero retirement savings in 2017 as 2014.

12. Of all non-retired adults ages 60 or older who are still working, about 14% still have nothing at all saved for retirement.

13. About two-thirds of all Americans have less than $1,000 cash in savings these days. Other surveys show that almost one-third of us in the U.S. couldn’t come up with $400 in one day without selling something or borrowing money.

If faced with an emergency that required a quick $400 to remedy, 38% said they would put the amount on a credit card, 28% said they would borrow money from a friend or family member, 17% said they would sell something, 7% said they would use money from a bank loan or line of credit and 4% said they would use a payday loan, deposit advance or overdraft.

14. When polled, 18% of Americans – or almost one in five – report that someone in their household (including themselves) had some sort of financial hardship within the last year, such as a medical emergency, job loss, cut in pay, or divorce.

15. It’s probably no surprise that paying for healthcare is a major struggle for many Americans. About 20% of Americans surveyed said that they’ve skipped getting dental care in the last year because they weren’t covered or couldn’t afford it, 12% went without seeing a doctor, 11% went without prescription medicine, 7% skipped follow-up care and 5% didn’t get mental health care or counseling.


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