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Money Poll #22: Current Debt Load

Written by Nickel - 42 Comments

Okay, I’ve asked in the past about whether or not you guys carry a credit card balance, but I’ve never really touched on the issue of actual debt load. So in this Money Poll, I’d like to ask about your current debt load. Before we get started, here are a few ground rules…

First of all, please don’t include your current credit card balance if you pay it off in full every month. Also, without getting into a debate about ‘good’ debt vs. ‘bad’ debt, I’d like to ask that you exclude: (1) your primary mortgage, and (2) credit card debt resulting from a 0% credit card offer that you took advantage of such that you could bank the proceeds and earn interest. Aside from that, if you owe money for something you should include it.

Of course, if you’d like to include additional information, you’re always welcome to provide a breakdown in the comments. And if your debt isn’t so bad (maybe you don’t even have any), but you had a whopper of a debt sometime in the past, please share that in the comments, as well… Your success story could be just the thing that someone needs to get them through a tough time.

With that said, here we go…

How much debt do you have?
View Results

Note: If the poll doesn’t work properly in the RSS feed you’ll have to click through. Sorry.

Published on January 15th, 2007
Modified on September 15th, 2007 - 42 Comments
Filed under: Credit Cards, Debt Reduction, Polls

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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42 Responses to “Money Poll #22: Current Debt Load”

  1. 1
    Me Says:

    Minus my student loans, we currently carry approximately $53,000 worth of debt. We started on our journey to aggresively pay it down in November, with a goal of paying it down by January 2009. Thus far, we’ve put almost $5k towards our goal.

  2. 2
    geo Says:

    Oh, those pesky rules!

    Our only debt is on a home credit line, on which we only have home improvement expenses. In a way, I consider that essentially part of the primary mortgage, as in theory that expense can be recovered in a sale.

    But, for consistancy, I answered the poll to include that line of credit, as it is not technically a primary mortgage.

    If you discount the line of credit as well as the primary mortgage, we have 0, and have for mmmm, 13 years.

  3. 3
    Clever Dude Says:

    Right now, we have about $80,000 in non-home debt. That’s 2 cars, 2 student loans and 1 credit card. We have excellent credit scores and history, but we just bought a little too much. I’ve been chronicling our rise from the debt demon at my site.

    I plan to pay off our 1 car ($15,000) by September of this year, then move onto either my student loans or my Ridgeline. My wife wants me to pay off the credit cards, but we have 0% interest on them. It’s more of the idea of having credit card debt bothers her.

  4. 4
    Starfevre Says:

    As one of the much indebted, here is the requested breakdown.

    Excluding primary mortgage, I have:

    Secondary mortgage (~28000)
    Student loan (~22000)
    Car loan (~7500) will be paid of by end of 2007
    Unofficial parent loan (~14000) (0% interest)

    Approximate total: ~71500

    Yes, life does indeed suck right now, but I’m working on it. Upside: no credit card debt, and I do have an emergency reserve so I’ll likely never have this much debt ever again. My current plan has this all gone in 5 years.

  5. 5
    Aaron Says:

    Approximately $81,000, the current mortgage balance on our share of a rental property. No other debt.

    So we’re in pretty good shape as far as debt goes, but we still fall in the $50k+ category for this poll…

  6. 6
    Kim L. Says:

    Between a HELOC, a credit card and 2 car loans we have $27k in debt. That’s the bad news. The good news is that one year ago it was $43k!

  7. 7
    Erich Says:

    My total debt load is approximately $24,386. Here is the breakdown:

    Credit cards (7) – $14,650
    Student loans (2) – $4,100
    Upside down vehicle payoff – $4,100
    0% interest furniture purchase – $1,536

    I’m actively snowballing my high interest debt as I write this. I am also thankful to have an emergency fund as it allows me to pay out every last penny to the debt without worry.

  8. 8
    Erich Says:

    I forgot to mention that one year ago my debt load was around $58,000.

  9. 9
    LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    All student loan, starting out $8500 and counting fast.

  10. 10
    Blaine Moore Says:

    I just bought a house, so I have a lot of mortgage debt. But it won’t last.

    Outside of mortgage debt, we only have student loan debt. Right now, that’s less than $20,000, but it will be climbing quite a bit. The wife starts her second semester of law school tomorrow, and I’ve only paid about half of my student loan debt off over the past 4 years.

  11. 11
    save the deltas Says:

    Car loan was just paid off in December and I received the title on Saturday. It was a 7 yr loan, I paid off in 3 yrs almost to the day. That was a relief. I’m going to drive this car until my kids go to college, that’s 14 yrs from now. :)

  12. 12
    ntguru Says:

    Should the full balance of car loans be counted or the difference between the balance
    and the realistic wholesale value of the vehicle?

    Not that it’s everything, but shouldn’t income be factored in? Perhaps just give the ratio of debt (as outlined above) to AGI?

  13. 13
    Luna_C Says:

    We have just over $20k on a HELOC fo the house we just bought — we only put down 15% to leave some cash (aside from our emegency fund) that we could tap for furniture, etc.

    We expect to pay it off by the end of ‘07. Other than that and the huge mortgage we just took, we are debt free. And have been for 10+ years.

  14. 14
    bluntmoney Says:

    We just have our mortgage, so that’s no debt now following your rules. I can’t even remember how much in debt I was several years ago, but it was a lot.

  15. 15
    Matt Says:

    Wow. Exclude the mortgage and instantly go from “Over $50,000″ to “Zero”. :)

    Of course, my _business_ has about $80K worth of debt on paper, but that’s a bit of a complicated situation (the debt exists primarily to help shelter business income from US taxes)…plus it’s not personal debt, so I don’t include it.

    But the only debt my fiancee and I have that requires periodic payments is the mortgage. It’s a doozy of one, at the moment, but it’s categorically excluded from the poll. :)

  16. 16
    rob Says:

    approx. 75k

    my student loan 15k
    wife’s student loan +/- 40k
    HEL for repairs to primary house 20k

  17. 17
    RootAnn Says:

    Approx $11k – car loan at 0% interest.

    We have enough to pay it off now, but we figure we’re earning off the money and they are getting $0 off us. It’ll be paid off in roughly a year from now, early enough that we won’t incur any fees or increased interest.

    Otherwise, just the mortgage, which isn’t too high.

  18. 18
    Sam Says:

    We started 2007 with $55,000 in unsecured debt.
    Credit Card (6): $23,576
    401K Loan: $4588 (will be paid in full 7/07)
    Student Loan (1): $27,238

    We have a plan to pay all of this off in 2007. We are already down to $51,975. Wish us luck.

  19. 19
    Erica Says:

    $47K in school loans…due to a masters degree from a private school.

  20. 20
    savvy Says:

    Just bought an apartment building…. over $300,000 in debt.

    It hurt to write that.

    http://savvysaver.blogspot.com

  21. 21
    Tweedy Says:

    I owe $93,900 (ouch!)

    $12,000 in credit card debt at 0%.
    $11,300 on a car loan at 0%.
    $70,600 in school loans.

    Managed to pay off $18,400 in 2006. I hope for even better results in 2007.

  22. 22
    foo Says:

    About $49,000 in debt:

    $8,500 = student loan for master’s degree
    rest is credit card debt :-( – mainly from the almost 2 years that husband was laid off and could only get temporary/freelance work.

    But within the last year, we paid off a car so we now have 2 paid for cars :-) and also one less kid in daycare, so we can put some of that money towards our emergency fund, then towards debt.

    I’m crossing my fingers that things are better this year!

  23. 23
    getting the hang of it Says:

    Over $50K…

    mortgage on 2nd home: $85K (used to be where I lived but is now a rental and was bought, luckily, just before the housing boom; was just appraised at $161K)

    student loans: $33K

    credit card debt: around $8K but is all on 0% promotions and will be paid off before the promotions end

    personal loan from friend: $5K (0%)

  24. 24
    Jenn @ Frugal Upstate Says:

    Nuttin.

    Wow, according to the poll results, your readers are heavily skewed to the zero side. We all must be so smart from reading eh?

  25. 25
    Brian Says:

    Have around $13,000 in an auto loan, which I purchased for about $27,000 last July. Will have it paid off by June of this year. No CC debt, pay it off every month. So although I’m in the 10-20,000 category, it’s not as bad as it seems.

  26. 26
    mt Says:

    My wife and I have over $148,000 in debt without a mortgage or car loans. The breakdown is:
    credit cards: ~$10,000
    school loans: ~$130,000

    most of the school loans are mine which were used to finance my medical education.
    Hope to have the credit cards paid off this year.

  27. 27
    Laura K Says:

    ~$27,000 is a 2nd mortgage I took out so I wouldn’t have to pay PMI. I wasn’t sure if this counted as a primary mortgage since it’s a mortgage on my primary residence.

    ~18,000 is student loans that will come due 1/08 (but that I’m already starting to pay off).

  28. 28
    Blaine Moore Says:

    I think that the 2nd mortgage qualifies as not appearing in your total; it’s a way to get out of fees.

  29. 29
    mbhunter Says:

    I have $1,000.57 in debt, but that amount didn’t fall under any of the ranges you offered.

    Seriously, though, only debt I have is my mortgage (>$50k).

  30. 30
    debt kid Says:

    I have $334,442 in “bad debt”. That does not include my 40K plus of student loans. Needless to say, I’m in quite the pickle at the moment. About 100K of that is business loans, but unsecured and personally guarenteed by me. Another 50K is in credit cards. I am about 60K upside down in my mortgage on my house. The remainder of the debt is owed to family members, luckily at 0% interest, but still bad debt none the less. I’m probably not going to make it, but I have to try. So far, nothing has gone to collections yet, but I am starting to get behind.

  31. 31
    Claire Says:

    Ick – I’m in the second largest group, 10001 to 20000. We have about 13.5K in credit card debt. Can’t even tell you what we bought. :( The rest of our debt is our house, but we have mucho equity, so if all else fails, we can sell I ’spose. Trying to get dh on board to help me figure out how to stop the cycle, but no luck so far! I’m studying many finance blogs to fortify my very non-mathmatical brain (and why am I the one who handles the finances?!). Gee, I wonder why we’re in debt!?

  32. 32
    Mia Says:

    $40,000 home improvement loan at 7.7%. Nothing else, and we are on track to pay it off in 2 years (so about $43,200 if counting total interest). After paying off our old debts (credit cards & auto) we made sure to first fully fund our emergency savings (including payments for this loan) as well as our 401k and Roth IRA’s (we’re too old to wait any longer on these!)- plus prove to ourselves we could go an entire year without recharging up our cc’s. One of the great reliefs about being credit card debt free is having the money to fund much needed home repairs and knowing we now have the ability, know-how, and discipline to pay it off. Meanwhile we are hoping that the energy savings from new windows, new central air, etc., will offset the interest expense. Just a few short years ago I would never in my wildest dream have imagined being able to come up with $40,000+ in just 2 years! *Claire, we used to be just as clueless as you, and as stubborn as your husband. Keep reading and studying, and applying what you learn. We changed our lives around and I know you can too!

  33. 33
    mari Says:

    We owe no debt, we own one farm, own one house, and own 2 vehicles. It feels great! We have been debt free since ‘91 and we are under 50. Keep working at it.

  34. 34
    Karen Says:

    Just barely made it in the $50K and over group…
    HELOC ~$45,700
    Car ~$4,700
    Credit cards (not included in total b/c they will be paid off this month)

    Sounds horrible, but in the last 12 months we’ve used bonuses, tax refunds, savings, and every last scraped-together-dime to pay off:
    Car ~$15,000
    Time share ~$29,600
    Student loans ~$18,000

  35. 35
    Tina Says:

    Around 70k combined in student loan debt for my husband and I – since we’re internationals, no interest-free loans from our home country for us!

    Plus ~$4500 in consumer debt. In the last 6 months we’ve paid off ~$12,500 of consumer debt (wedding plus moving to another country), and were about to pay off the last $4500, until “real life” hit us with several really hard bangs! Looking forward to getting back on track though, once I get a new job and we move to our next country.

  36. 36
    Anonymous Says:

    $76K

    $17K Car Loan
    $35K Student Loans
    $24K Credit Cards

  37. 37
    nancy Says:

    I have over 60k, not sure of the exact figure right now. About 6,000 is student loans, and the rest defined my (former) dysfunctional life! :)

  38. 38
    17 Says:

    $65k Credit cards (5)

    Should have taken advantage of the 2.99% for life transfer offers I received late last year. Now 4.99% for a limited time is the best I am receiving.

  39. 39
    nancy Says:

    Oh I sooo hear you!

    Last summer I was offered a balance transfer for 1.99% for life. Stupid me..I didn’t take advantage of it!! I figured there would always be more offers…Nope! :(

  40. 40
    Susan Says:

    We can officially break even … no credit card debt … no car loans but a 12 year old minivan and a 6 year old car. By pulling a little more than 1/2 of my husband’s IRA … we may pay off our house by the end of the year and just take the hit on taxes… figuring that taxes are the lowest now that they will ever be in our lifetimes. (The U.S. government looks like it is heading towards bankrupcy unless more responsible people are elected in 2010?)

    I am not sure if we have done the right thing. We’re close to debt free but without savings, retirement, and with super old cars and old hand me down furniture.

    Is there more to the story than just being out of debt?

  41. 41
    Jen Says:

    I have 220K, all student loans for medical school =(

  42. 42
    Lady Day-Day Says:

    Car loan $3,600, Visa $2,450

    Will pay off Visa by Feb 2011, car paid off by June 2011.

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