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Debt is a Way of Life for Generation X

[Saturday, August 1st, 2015]

Being in debt is no fun, but a recent study found that people may be becoming more comfortable with it, even seeing it as a way of life and accepting their big balances as something they simply need to get by.

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North American (Allianz Life) asked 2,000 Americans, half of them ages 49-67 (Baby Boomers) and half of them ages 35-48 (Generation X) about their finances, including their debt load and their attitude toward money and debt, specifically mortgage debt, student loan debt, and credit card debt.

Generation X deeper in debt than previous generation

This study grouped folks born between 1967 and 1980 under the Generation X umbrella. Baby Boomers are respondents born between 1948 and 1966. The study found that Generation X is deeper in debt than the generation preceding them.

Generation Xers carried an average of $144,000 in mortgage debt, compared with Boomers, who carried an average of only $90,000 in mortgage debt. Non-mortgage debt, made up of student loan debt and credit card debt combined, was also higher for the younger generation, with an average of $8,000 in non-mortgage debt for Gen X and $6,000 in non-mortgage debt for Boomers. Percentage-wise, that’s 38% higher mortgage debt and 45% more non-mortgage debt for Gen X compared with Boomers.

Attitudes toward debt balances

A more blasé attitude toward debt is becoming endemic to younger folks, if this study is any indication. Close to half of all 2,000 respondents (48%) said credit cards are a “survival tool” and nearly that percentage alsofelt that having a lot of credit card debt didn’t mean someone wasn’t intelligent, a hard worker, and careful with their finances. “Lots of smart, hardworking people who are careful with spending also have a lot of credit card debt” was the statement given on the survey, with which 43% agreed.

Retirement on the line

Having a lot of debt can make retirement tricky, and signs indicate that Generation X may not be counting on retiring anytime soon, if at all. Twenty-seven percent of Generation X respondents said they aren’t sure if or when they will retire. Only 11% of Baby Boomers said the same.

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