Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (528 words)

Many Americans Have More Credit Card Debt Than Savings

When surveyed consumers about their credit card debt and emergency fund or savings, only 55% of them answered that they have more money saved up than they have in credit card debt. Forty percent (40%) either has more in credit card debt than in savings or no credit card debt or savings at all. The final 5% didn’t know or didn’t answer.

Men are faring better: 60% of men said they have more in savings than in credit card debt compared to 49% of women. And, people who make more money seem to be better able to put money toward their savings. Sixty-seven percent of people making at least $75,000 a year have more in savings than in credit card debt compared to 41% of those making $30,000 or less.

Having kids can make it harder to save up money: 29% of parents with children younger than 18 have more money in credit card debt versus 21% of people who don’t have young children.

The rule of thumb is to have three to six months of living expenses saved up and set aside for an emergency, like job loss or major medical bills. Obviously, building that kind of emergency fund is hard to do when you’re already spending money on credit card bills and other expenses each month.

It’s tough to balance two big financial goals like saving money and paying off debt, especially if there’s not much money leftover after all the bills have been paid. You may put something in savings and then you have to spend it on a bill. Or every time you reduce your credit card balance a little bit, you have to charge it up again because there’s an expense you can’t afford. Many people are living on bare-boned budgets, simply unable to make significant dents in their debt or build up a substantial emergency fund.

Don’t completely give up on these goals because it’s hard to accomplish them now. Remind yourself “When I have an extra $50 or $100, I’m going to put it in my emergency fund.” or “I’m going to put a little more toward my credit card debt.” Every little bit does count.

To make it easier to save, have money automatically deposited into your savings account either directly from your employer or through a recurring bank transfer. This hands-off approach may work better for you because you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have time to talk yourself out of making a savings deposit.

If you’re continuing to use your credit card while you’re also trying to pay it off, you won’t make much progress. Stop using your credit cards. That way your monthly payments will have more significant impact. It may seem like your balances are only inching down but compare your progress on a quarterly or semi-annual basis rather than checking each month.

It’s not going to be easy to turn your debt-to-savings ratio around. You’ll often hear the same suggestions, but they work: decrease your living expenses as much as possible and find ways to make extra money, for example, through part-time work, various revenue streams, or a money-making hobby.

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Thursday, 25 July 2024

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