This post is was originally published on The Penny Hoarder

Honest Abe


Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

It’s no secret: Americans have a lot of debt.

We see new statistics each day paired with exclamatory headlines.

But rather than using these numbers to instill shock and horror, let’s use them to our advantage. Let’s use these numbers to understand where our debt is coming from, where it’s concentrated — and how to get rid of it.

What Type of Debt Do Americans Carry?

GoBankingRates recently surveyed more than 2,500 Americans. The average debt owed, by all respondents, totals approximately $63,000. Of those with debt, the average owed was $140,113.

That sounds like a lot. And it is. But let’s understand where that debt is coming from:

  • 65% have mortgage debt, which isn’t necessarily bad, mind you.
  • 50% have credit card debt, though most owe less than $500.
  • 32% have auto loan debt, the most common amount owed is less than $1,000.
  • 25% have student loan debt, which isn’t news to any of us.
  • 21% have medical debt, the majority of respondents owing less than $500.

With this breakdown and these numbers, we see that, yes, there’s plenty of debt out there, but that it’s manageable for most people.

Plus, here’s a note on mortgage debt: GoBankingRates reported that mortgage debt is the largest component of household debt in the U.S., according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“Actually, I wish the percentage of Americans with mortgage debt was higher,” chairman Howard Dvorkin told the site.

He emphasizes that mortgage debt is good because rather than dumping money into rent, you’re investing in your home’s value.

Which Are the States With the Most Debt?

Some states are much better off than others when it comes to debt.

Kristy Gaunt / The Penny Hoarder

Here are the states with the most debt, along with the average amount people owe:

  1. Hawaii: $869,250
  2. Maryland: $284,851
  3. Texas: $185,584
  4. Oklahoma: $174,839
  5. Indiana: $166,844

Again, it’s worth noting not all of this debt is bad. Take Hawaii, for example. It had the highest percentage of respondents reporting mortgage debt — at 83%. The state also has the nation’s highest cost of living.

Note, too, that debt tends to be lower in southern states because the cost of living is typically lower.

What to Do About Your Debt

How much debt do you have?

Shh… You don’t have to tell us aloud. Just think about it.

Or you can always check your free credit report for a precise breakdown.

Sign up for Credit Sesame, and click over to your debt analysis. There, you’ll find how much you owe toward credit cards, home loans, auto loans and student loans. It’ll even show your percentage of monthly income that goes toward debt.

If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, take some time to hash out a plan — even if it’s only for 13 minutes.

We’ve also got some more creative ways to pay down debt, including refinancing your debt through an online marketplace like Even Financial.

You can search tons of top lenders to find the best personal loan offer through Even. It takes about 60 seconds. Its platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.

So now you know: The numbers don’t have to be uber-terrifying. Plus, you’ve got options!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Honest Abe


Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.


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