personal debt


Americans are the world's best consumers, even when we don't have money to spend. But, as it turns out, with all the worry about Americans being free and easy with Amex and Visa, our personal debts are still smaller than our assets (on the whole). This page gives a snapshot of the spending and saving habits of Americans.


How much the average* America household spends a year (2004) BLS (pdf)

  • Total: $43,395 (we earned on average $54,453, before taxes)

What we spend it on:


source: BLS (pdf)

*The "average" household has 1.3 earners and 2.5 people

Personal debt

  • Average household debt:

    • $38,800 Fed (pdf) ("median" average - that is, half of us owe more and half of us owe less)

    • $84,454 (2004) according to USAT (we assume they mean the "mean" average - you add up all households' debt and divide by the number of households)

What kind of personal debt owe (2001)

What we take out the loans for (2001)

source: Fed (pdf)


  • Average (median) American household assets: $147,400

  • Average (median) financial assets: $28,000

What our assets are in:

source: Fed (pdf) (2001)

Net worth:

When you add up our debts and assets, the average American comes out in the black. (2004) Fed (pdf)

  • median average: $93,000

  • mean average: $448,000

Servicing our debt

One way to keep an eye on our debt problem is to track how much of our income we spend on servicing our debt (that is, paying interest on our loans). The graph below shows the percentage of our income we have to spend to repay our debts.

sources: Census and Fed (pdf)

Where the facts are from

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It's a scam!

Due to the recession that we are encountering today, the rate of unemployment is getting worse. Besides, today, people find it hard to make decision when it comes to financial planning because of the financial crisis that we are experiencing. People in a financial bind will turn anywhere for financial help, but there are also a veritable buffet of scams out there trying to get at people that are getting desperate. Con artists, and frauds had a banner year in 2008 and they are trying to keep going throughout 2009. Many of these jackals offer things such as "credit counseling," and will try to offer you debt relief services, payday loans without approval first, or work from home programs that will make you money โ€“ and all of them require up front money. If you've seen these kinds of offers, don't walk โ€“ run โ€“ they are all scams. You also want to watch out for overpayment schemes, because those are the worst kind of thing to get trapped into. Check out this post to find out what an overpayment scam is, on

Omarion J | January 19, 2009 - 6:39am