The average credit card debt for someone in their 30s is $4,110, but that only tells part of the story about what America owes on their plastic.
Credit card debt in America is a significant issue, with combined balances topping $1 trillion in the third quarter of 2023. You probably are aware that credit card debt is high-interest debt and can be hard to pay off.
If you are wondering how your balance compares to those of other people your age, to see how you stack up, read on. What follows is a decade-by-decade review of what Americans owe. Whether your debt is less than or more than the norm for your age group, you could likely benefit from paying it off, which is why you’ll also learn smart tactics for doing so below.
Credit Card Debt Ages 30 to 39
Welcome to your 30s, which can be a time that many people are establishing their adult lives. What does that mean? Possibly home ownership (or outfitting your rental home), having a family and paying for the kids’ expenses, traveling, dinners out with friends, and maybe new clothes because, congrats, you snagged a new job.
Some of these changes will impact your overall debt by age, but consider just your debt related to using your plastic. Your evolving lifestyle can cost you.
The average credit card debt for those in their 30s is $4,110, significantly more than the $1,462 owed by people ages 18 to 29. You should consider not only how this figure can impact your overall financial life, but also how it can affect your credit rating. You’ll want to take note of your credit utilization ratio, or how much of your credit limit your balance represents, as you work to keep your profile in good shape. Financial experts suggest this number stay at or below 30%.
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Credit Card Debt Ages 40 to 49
Americans between 40 and 49 have on average, $5,373 in credit card debt, which is the highest for the age groups reviewed here. Many Generation X-ers have bought houses, cars, and started families. They are increasingly consuming and, as life gets busier, growing financial demands can encourage the growth of credit card debt.
As consumers are more and more stabilized in their lifestyle and careers, they tend to grow more comfortable spending money they can’t immediately repay. Additionally, at this age, people may be focused on financing children’s education, which can make paying off their credit card balances a lesser priority.
Credit Card Debt Ages 50 to 59
This age group owes an average of $5,085 in credit card debt, a bit less than those in their 40s. Many people in their 50s may be over the crest of their expenses as a parent or as a homeowner; perhaps their kids are out of college and they’re happy with their house as is.
However, as time passes, medical expenses can grow, and those can be put on their credit card and grow their debt.
What’s more, saving for retirement is likely to be a primary focus at this age. For those trying to fatten up their nest egg, paying off credit card debt may move to the back burner.
Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly
Ways to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
As you plan to pay off your credit cards, it’s important not to underestimate the challenges of your mid-to-late 30s. With growing responsibilities and increasingly complicated finances, it can be easy to fall into debt.
It’s important to organize your budget in a way that allows you to make monthly payments to reduce and eventually eliminate debt while still accumulating savings. Also, knowing when credit card payments are due and paying them promptly is an important facet of maintaining your financial wellness.
• One strategy that may be worth trying is the debt snowball method, where you prioritize repayment on your debts from the debt with the smallest amount to the debt with the largest amount, regardless of their interest rates. (While still making minimum payments on all other debts, of course.)
When you pay off the debt with the smallest amount, focus the money you were spending on those payments into the debt with the next lowest balance. This method builds in small rewards, helping to give you momentum to continue making payments. This method is all about giving yourself a mental boost in order to pay off your debt faster.
The idea is that the feeling of knocking out a debt balance — however small — will propel you toward paying down the next smallest balance. The con, however, is that you could end up paying more interest with the snowball method, because you’re tackling your smallest loan balance as opposed to your highest interest debt.
• The other popular payoff method, the debt avalanche method, encourages the borrower to pay off the loan with their highest interest rate first. While you don’t get that psychological boost that comes with knocking out small debts quickly, paying off your highest interest loans first is the more cost-effective solution of the two.
• Another option to consider is to apply for a personal loan. Personal loans are loans that can be used for almost any purpose, whether that’s home improvement, covering unexpected medical expenses, or paying off credit card debt.
Personal loans can be a way to get ahead of debt, since interest rates are typically competitive, especially when compared to high-interest credit cards. A personal loan allows you to consolidate debt — simplifying multiple monthly payments with different credit card companies into one monthly payment.
• Another strategy to pay off credit card debt is, of course, to cut down on expenses and tighten your budget. When it comes to paying off debt, organization is key.
Pick one of the different budgeting methods that suits you best. Make sure you are tracking both your income and your expenses. Take a look at your monthly purchases and try categorizing them into different areas. With some strategic planning, small changes can add up to make a big difference.
Using a Personal Loan to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
If you decide that a personal loan is your best option, shop around, and see what kinds of offers you qualify for from different lenders.
Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.
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