TAMPA (FOX 13) - We're not living like we used to: Too much debt is just the reality of daily life for too many Americans.
“The typical household carries four times as much today as our parents and grandparents carried,” said Chris Jones with the USF Department of Economics.
We looked at stats with him on credit cards, student loans, and car payments. He started with credit cards. “A typical family in the United States carries today $7,949.”
Then it’s on to student loans. “With respect to student loans it's $11,175 per household. And with car loans, it's almost $9,000. So when you look at that, in total, you're in excess of $27,958.”
And that number doesn't even include mortgages.
A recent study found 70 percent of people said the reason they were delaying buying a house was because they're swamped by their student loan. Stats show Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loans -- that's about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt.
Grads are facing more than $37,000 in loans. With an average payment of around $350 a month to work into their budgets, paying off balances becomes a balancing act.
Christie Arkovich specializes in helping people negotiate their student loans down. She says when students first graduate it’s usually not that bad, but as they push back payments, the problem balloons.
“When grads first graduate, it's mid 30's and that's actually sustainable if you have a job that pays $30,000 to $35,000. That's a one-to-one ratio that's usually OK. But people run into trouble, they do forbearances when balance keeps increasing, so most of what we see are 50 or 100 or beyond 100.”
So how are we doing looking at these debt stats?
“Our nation as a whole probably rates anywhere in the C to C-minus range,” Jones continued.
Economists warn that we can only borrow so much before it becomes more than our ability to pay it back. And when that day comes, it’s going to be a significant credit crunch for our country.
He warns that the departure from “layaway” culture -- actually saving ahead of time to buy something -- is creating a consumer bubble that could burst.