As the average amount of consumer debt climbs, a national poll found that 83 percent of respondents opt to pay down debt rather than invest in a savings account.
Boston, MA – August 21, 2013
Eighty-three percent of Americans admit that they would rather pay down their debts instead of save for their future, according to a recent online poll conducted by American Consumer Credit Counseling. The survey also found that 58 percent of consumers do not regularly deposit money in a savings account – a risky financial move that could land consumers further into debt.
Of the 397 consumers surveyed in the recent ACCC web poll at ConsumerCredit.com, 83 percent say paying down credit card debt is more important than putting away funds for a rainy day or future investments such as retirement or their children’s education. Additionally, 27 percent of those surveyed confessed that they hold over $20,000 in credit card debt, which typically holds the highest annual interest rate.
“With outstanding consumer debt surpassing $2.8 trillion, Americans are being forced to choose between paying down rising debts and saving for a healthy financial future,” said Steve Trumble, president and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Although diminishing credit card debt is important, a balance must be struck between preparing for financial downturns and limiting the amount of debt that you hold.”
ACCC’s national survey also found that 34 percent of respondents reported they simply do not earn enough money to stash away any savings for the future, while only 8 percent confessed that their excessive spending habits restrict their ability to save.
“Even in tough financial times, there are still opportunities for consumers to boost their savings,” added Trumble. “An employee-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) matching program, can exponentially increase your savings funds if you participate in it to the fullest– it’s essentially free money that can act as the last step between debilitating debt and freedom from the bank.”
According to ACCC, there are several steps that can help consumers pay down their debts, while stowing away money for future financial security. Some initial steps that consumers can take include:
- Create a budget to see what your total monthly financial commitments look like and then list all your debts from lowest to highest, organizing debt by the highest interest rates.
- It’s really a matter of choice when it comes to choosing to either pay off the lowest debt or tackle the card with the highest interest rate. However, many consumers reap an emotional reward when they can quickly pay off an entire balance which often motivates them to continue.
- Pay only the minimum amount on other debts while you are trying to pay off your targeted debt payment and, if possible, always pay more than the minimum to pay off that debt faster.
- Cut back on any non-essential expenses such as entertainment, and utilities such as cable while trying to pay down debt and save for the future. Apply this extra savings to the targeted debt payment.
- Include a savings column in your budget, even if it is as little as $5, and put that money aside in a separate account.
- Don’t give up. Proper planning and realistic goal-setting will lead to financial success.
“The age-old conundrum of what’s better – paying down debt or increasing savings – has always plagued consumers’ financial decision-making,” added Trumble. “However, the choice isn’t black and white. Instead, consumers should focus on choosing the best-pay down strategy for their individual circumstance and start stashing away money for the future, even if it’s $5 a week.”
The saving and debt repayment poll is the latest in a series of ACCC web surveys for 2013 that focus on a variety of financial education, budgeting, and planning topics. The online survey can be found at /monthly-poll.aspx
American Consumer Credit Counseling’s certified and experienced counselors offer various financial education, counseling and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability.
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
- For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
- For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
- For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
- For more information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x1980
- Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health through education, counseling, and debt management. ACCC provides individuals with practical solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC works with consumers to help them with the best plan of action to reduce their debt and regain financial stability. ACCC is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A+ rating. It is also a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.