Corash & Hollender, P.C.

How debt follows you through life

Debt is a way of life in the United States, and nearly 80 percent of people in New York and across the country carry some debt. You are likely among those who tread dangerously close to the edge each month while prices for necessities rise and your debt continues to climb.

If you have at least $38,000 in debt plus a mortgage, you are not alone. This is the average debt burden in America, and reports show that being in debt is now a lifetime status for most, beginning in the earliest years of adulthood and continuing well into the senior years.

Youth and debt

The most common debts in American households are credit cards, student loans and mortgages. At different times throughout life, you may carry more of one and less of another, but these categories are constants in many budgets. You may also struggle with medical debt at different times, and you likely have a car payment or two.

Straight out of college, the most prevalent financial burden is the student loan. Financial experts suggest that a student not take out more in student loans than he or she expects to earn with the subsequent degree. However, earning any degree is nearly impossible without taking on substantial debt. Adults ages 18-24 have an average of $22,000 in debt, most of it from educational loans.

Aging expensively

If you are between 25 and 34, you probably have the most debt of your lifetime. This is likely because you have more expenses than at any other time, so you have less disposable income. You may have a mortgage on a home that needs repairs, children who need braces and additional expenses that come with raising a family. Chances are, most of those expenses go on your credit card. In this age bracket, it is common for people to carry as much as $42,000 in debt.

Once you reach 35 to 49, it becomes urgent to pay down that debt, including your mortgage and student loans. You probably carry about $39,000 in debt, and you have fewer years to earn before retirement. Most of your debt is in your mortgage, but you probably still have too much credit card debt.

Debt and retirement

By the time you reach your 50s, you will likely have less debt, but still more than is safe for this period in your life. Your mortgage and credit cards continue to weigh you down, and you may still owe on your car. You may also have medical bills and expensive prescriptions to buy each month. Sadly, most people in this category have $25,000 or less saved for retirement, so they probably have no plan to quit work soon.

Facing the realities of debt can be daunting, but for some, even these statistics and averages do not come close to describing the burden they deal with each paycheck. If you are among those for whom debt has become unmanageable, you have the option to seek the advice of a legal professional who can guide you through the alternatives for debt relief.

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