Gen X Has a Debt Problem

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For Generation X, debt is a fact of life. Carrying the load of mortgages, kids, aging parents, and of course, student loan debt, the financial pressure is on. This is true more for Gen X than other generations at the same stage of life, according to NerdWallet’s Kimberly Palmer.

According to Lightstream, the online lending division of SunTrust Bank, which surveyed more than 2,000 people in the U.S., 80% of Gen X has debt. That’s compared to 75% of millennials and just under 70% of baby boomers. 

The numbers: How much debt is Gen X carrying exactly? According to 2017 statistics from credit reporting agency Experian, Gen X is carrying $30,000 on average, excluding mortgage debt. That’s compared to baby boomers who carry about $27,000, and millennials with about $23,000. Gen Z (aged 22 and younger) only carry about $7,000.

The problem: Even though Gen X is at the peak of its earning years, carrying so much debt is a concerning element of this age group’s financial health picture. This is especially true because rather than accessing more traditional safety nets, Gen X is turning to credit cards, which tend to have high interest rates. 

Perhaps even more alarming, over half of Gen Xers with significant debt have never considered refinancing their debt through a debt consolidation loan, for example. This is leaving at least a quarter feeling helpless. According to the LightStream survey, almost 25% of the Gen X population it surveyed consider it “nearly impossible” to pay off their significant debt. 

The bottom line: Gen X should kick high-interest credit cards and instead use other options like personal loans or credit cards with 0% APR to eliminate high interest rates and pay down debt, says Palmer. One set monthly payment can be extremely helpful, especially for people who have the capacity to pay it off in 12-18 months.

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