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NerdWallet's

2017 American Household Credit Card Debt Study

As Americans' credit card balances continue to climb, many blame their own debt on unnecessary spending. That's actually good news: It means they can take steps to stop buying, pay down their balances and cut their interest costs.

Americans’ total credit card debt continues to climb in 2017, reaching an estimated $931 billion — a nearly 7% increase from the previous year — according to a NerdWallet analysis. [1]

Andthe average household that’s carrying credit card debthas a balance of $15,983. Households with any kind of debt owe $133,568 (including mortgages), on average, the data analysis found.

NerdWallet’s 2017 household debt study shows that several major spending categories have outpaced income growth over the past decade; many Americans are putting medical expenses on credit cards; and the average indebted household is paying hundreds of dollars in credit card interest each year.

It’s not all bad news, though: Household income growth is no longer being outpaced by the total cost of living. And according to the results of a new survey, a significant number of people with credit card debt blame it on unnecessary spending, which means consumers can choose to cut their spending and pay down their balances.

Before Americans can begin working to lower their debt , it’s important to know how much it is. Here’s what the typical indebted household owes, as well as total consumer debt balances in the U.S., according to NerdWallet’s analysis:

The $931 billion in total credit card debt calculated by NerdWallet is lower than the $1 trillion commonly cited elsewhere in the media. That’s because the $1 trillion estimate includes what’s called “prearranged overdraft plans” or overdraft lines of credit that don’t necessarily belong to credit card users. With these overdraft plans, consumers can withdraw money and make payments from the account with the credit line up to the credit limit.

For previous editions of our annual household debt study, as well as other credit card research, see our Philipp Plein Life Is Life sneakers E79s0vA
page.

Since NerdWallet’s number focuses on credit card debt only, the $931 billion is a more accurate estimate of how much debt is outstanding. It’s also important to note that this total includes the balances of cardholders who pay off their cards in full every month, as well as those who carry debt from one month to the next.

Cool. I’ve never seen a zero vacation solution. Especially after spending all that time homeschooling. Who will spend the hours homeschooling since both parents are working? Or how do you make up for the lost income if one parent homeschools?

Can you share your expenses and how many kids you have? What do you guys live? Thanks

Reply

Hi Sam,

First, thanks for responding. Love the blog – even when I vehemently disagree with it! So I’ll start out by saying I could absolutely, positively 100% be wrong about what I’m going to say. But at least I have hard data (Source: 10 years of tracking all of my spending/giving/saving, by category, in Excel) to back up my perspective.

Answering your direct question, vacations can be cheap. Very, very cheap. It depends on what you want to get from them. It also depends (which may be part of your expense) on whether you have family far away that you have to spend tremendous amounts of money just to locate yourself to see.

But the root cause question here is this: What do you value in life? What is most important? What next? How about the top 5?

Once you have those nailed down, your spending will follow. And you may have already done this in another post; if so, please refer me there and I’ll check it out.

For me, my value system drives a desire to spend as little as possible so that there is both financial cushion and the ability to help others significantly.

I also am blessed by the opposite of what most people have: a desire to declutter and get rid of just about anything that I don’t use, with a corresponding desire to make everything as efficient and cheap as possible.

So let me share my spending on categories for a recent year for which my spending was moderately above average.

Automobile: $3,481 – Gasoline was most of the expense (~$150/mo). Insurance was a decent chunk ($50/month) with a significant amount for maintenance ($75/mo). Repairs were negligible.

Charity: $49,985 – My primary charities are Churches the poor. Most of the churches I support have significant benevolence funds that also help the poor, which is as it should be. I used a Donor Advised Fund (Fidelity’s is amazing and has a low initial deposit requirement) to minimize my tax liability and maximize the ability to give.

Child Care: $4,495 – One child in diapers ($30/mo). Use Kirkland brand and Huggies, since the latter often have crazy sales/rebates that took the cost per diaper in the single cents. Above-average spend on toys games ($125/mo) because I have a ton o’ kids, they like games and I use them to teach them math/stats/probability concepts. Overspent on Christmas this year ($1,000 total); future years I budget $100/child. They loved their gifts just as much in past/future years – even in years where I spent half as much. I put my life insurance ($50/mo) in this category since if I had no kids, I’d have no life insurance.

Education: $9,494

For 7 children. A quarter of this alone is for piano lessons. Since we homeschool, this demonstrates a pretty efficient level of expense: about $1,400 per child. I expect this to rise modestly as the younger children get older, offset by the older children leaving the house and/or entering college.

Entertainment: $1,188

Music and movies total $73. Pandora music ($48) was the majority. We don’t watch TV, when we rent we use a local video store or Redbox ($1/night). Vacation spending was a significant part of the rest ($50/month). One trip to visit a friend’s farm. One trip to visit in-laws. No spending on hotels due to mileage cards signed up for (Thanks Marriott and IHG!) or staying with relatives.

Food: $15,756

Eating out was $2,064 ($175/mo). This includes Eating Out when on the road – we mostly pack a cooler with sandwiches, fruits, veggies, nuts and other reasonably healthy foods. Once in a while, we’ll go for ice cream but given our family size, it will usually be a McDonald’s $1 cone. This year, there was a 50 cent Frosty special (score!) so we hit that a few times. Cost each time for 10: $5. Spent an embarrassingly large amount of eating out on… coffee. About $400. We shifted to home coffee 80% of the time in the years following to save a few hundred bucks.

Home food was $13.5K. Per person it was about $140 a month. This includes everything bought at a grocery store – shampoo, garbage bags, toilet paper, etc. Costco was our friend here – cheap in bulk. Sales are great too – there are no double or triple coupons, but around holidays there are great deals. Aldi’s is also amazing, especially for staple items.

(continuing in next post so that your spam filter doesn’t think I’m trying to kill your site)

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