Financial Planners to Target the 30% of Americans Who Worry about Debt

BY Rachel Cagle
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In a new survey by GOBankingRates​.com, nearly a third of Americans expressed concern that they will not be able to pay off debt in their lifetime. Forty-​four percent of Americans said that low income is the top reason for their ongoing struggle with debt. Respondents also reported that high costs of living and the cost of tuition contributed to their debt burden.

To find out more about Americans' struggles with debt, GOBankingRates asked more than 5,000 adults the following questions:

  • Of the following, what is the most likely reason you have debt or are struggling with debt? Select all that apply.
  • Which type of debt would you like to get rid of most?
  • What would you do if you could eliminate or reduce your debt? Select all that apply.
  • Do you think you will ever get out of debt?
  • To your best estimate, how much total household debt (mortgage, credit card, student loan, auto & medical debt) do you currently have?
  • At what age did debt become a burden in your life?

Overall Average Debt

  • On average, Americans reported to have $52,048 in overall debt.

Gender and Age Insights

  • A high percentage of respondents (30%) reported that debt became a burden between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • On average men reported to owe slightly more than women — men owe an average of $55,081 while women owe an average of $50,124.
  • A higher percentage of women claimed that their income is too low to pay off debt — 48% of women vs. 40% of men.

Overall Debt by Age and Gender:

  • 18–24: $28,090.77
  • 25–34: $58.216.71
  • 35–44: $68.233.57
  • 45–54: $57.901.95
  • 55–64: $53.694.77
  • 65 and Over: $48.066.73
  • Females: $50.123.50
  • Males: $55.080.53

In the past 30 days, 77.1% of Consumers Wanting to Reduce Debt have used an internet connected device to do banking online, according to AudienceSCAN. While online, 64.8% use search engines to research products or services they're considering for purchase, such as the financial/​retirement planning services 11.6% of this group plans to pay for in the coming year. Only 19.6% will go past the first page of results though.

Additional Insights

  • Household debt continues to rise in the U.S. and 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 almost a trillion dollars or more since 2017.
  • The biggest contributor to the rise in household debt is growing mortgage debt, which has reached $9 trillion this year. However, experts say mortgage debt is good debt –higher mortgage debt means less Americans are paying high rents without earning equity.
  • Forty-​one percent of respondents reported that they would save more for retirement if they could eliminate or reduce debt.

Businesses who can provide aid to Those Wanting to Reduce Debt can reach this consumer group with digital advertisements. According to AudienceSCAN, 47.8% took action after receiving an email ad last year and 33.3% clicked on text link ads on websites. Additionally, 39% took action after either seeing an ad on their mobile smartphone apps or after receiving a text ad and they're 24% more likely than other adults to find advertisements on social networks useful to them. Traditional can also be useful when targeting this group since, last year, 61.7% took action after seeing TV commercials and 58.8% were driven to action by direct mail advertisements.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.