Money Health

Survey: What Would Americans Give Up To Get Out of Debt?

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What would you give up to get out of debt?

We surveyed over 2000 Americans on what they would give up to get out of debt, and our results were surprising. Many Americans were willing to sacrifice a lot of get out of debt, including:

  • A little more than 1 in 5 (21%) said they would give up vacationing for 10 years to get out of debt
  • 22% of respondents said they would give up going out to eat
  • 13% would give up the right to vote

However, there were some things Americans were very reluctant to sacrifice to get out of debt, including:

  • 5% would give up the internet
  • 6% would give up their phone
  • Only 3% would give up their driver’s license

While some people are willing to make big sacrifices to get out of debt—but a larger majority would rather use cash windfalls to do it.

  • 41% of those surveyed plan on paying off debt with their tax refund
  • 26% plan to put it into savings
  • Only 7% plan on investing it.

While it’s possible that upcoming tax returns could make a dent in some American’s credit card debt, there’s a good chance that at least some of that debt will come back over the next year.

  • 42% of respondents have about the same amount of credit card debt as a year ago.
  • 33% of respondents have about the less credit card debt than a year ago.
  • 24% have more credit card debt than a year ago.

This could be because the biggest contributor to credit card debt was everyday expenses like food, utilities and gas (42%), followed by retail purchases (17%) and medical bills (13%).

Debt takes a huge emotional and financial toll on everyday Americans:

  • 46% of those surveyed say that debt leaves them feeling stressed
  • 40% say that they are delaying life goals
  • 12% are delaying having children
  • 54% of respondents said that it would be difficult to very difficult to handle an unexpected $500 expense

The survey also highlighted the need for affordable healthcare, as seen in households across all demographic profiles (Ranked in order of importance for each):

Other findings include:

  • More than half (53%) of respondents said they carry a credit card balance month to month.
  • 42% of respondents said they have about the same amount of credit card debt as a year ago. 33% have less, and 24% have more.
  • Only 53% of those surveyed had a “rainy day fund”.
  • 38% of those surveyed have less than $1000 in their saving and checking accounts, and 72% have less than $10,000.
  • Almost half (49%) believe that a recession will occur in the next year.
  • 49% of Gen Z and Millennials say that everyday expenses like food utilities and gas are the main contributors to their credit card debt.
  • 44% of Millennials plan on paying off debt with their tax refund.
  • 64% of Gen Z said it would be difficult to very difficult to handle an unexpected $500 bill.

Survey Methodology: This SurveyMonkey Online Poll was conducted January 23-25 among a national sample of 2,195 adults aged 18-65. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data was weighted for age, gender, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States. Download the raw data here.

Michael Micheletti serves as the Director of Corporate Communications at Freedom Financial Network where he is responsible for the strategic communications planning, knowledge dissemination and outreach to key consumer audiences. Before joining Freedom he held a variety of high profile communication and consumer education roles focusing on healthcare, tax and housing. He is a former reporter for FOX News, CNN and served as news director for Clear Channel Radio San Francisco.