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Patty Craig: A Slice of Time

Although media sources report that our economy is doing well, the United States financial statistics are still somewhat disheartening. Rob Berger said, “The best thing money can buy is financial freedom” ( If this is true, our country still has financial ground to gain. An Internet search led to the following statistics:

U.S. National Debt

•The amount of the national debt of the United States amounted to around 20.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2017 (

U.S Personal Debt

•The average U.S. student loan debt amount is $37,172 and the average student loan payment is $393 per month (

•American consumers hold $1.03 trillion total U.S. credit card debt. The average credit card debt per cardholder in the U.S. is $5,234, and the average credit card debt per U.S. household is $8,750.

•The total U.S. mortgage debt is $14.9 trillion. The average mortgage size for new purchases is $338,078, and the average annual percentage rate on a 30-year mortgage is 4.45%. 

•At the end of 2017, the total U.S. auto loan debt was $1.13 trillion. The average auto loan amount on a new car was $31,099. The average loan term was 69 months on a new car, and the average auto loan payment on a new car was $515. The average annual percentage rate on a new car loan was 5.11%. 

•Medical debt in the United States has increased. Approximately 42.9 million people have overdue medical debt in the U.S. The average balance owed among people with overdue medical debt is $1,766 (

U.S Personal Financial Planning

•Each year the Bureau of Labor releases an overview of average household money management statistics. The 2016 report included the following information:

1.33% of housing costs go to rent and mortgage payments.

2.The average household spends 56% of their food budget on groceries and 44% on dining out.

3.40% of transportation costs go to the vehicle, such as paying off an auto loan; 21% goes to gas and oil, with the remaining 32% spent on other costs, such as repairs.

4.For health care costs, 69% covers insurance (

•A 2017 report in MarketWatch found that half of American households currently live paycheck to paycheck. 19% have $0 saved to cover an emergency expenses, and 31% have less than $500 in emergency savings. However, only 1 in 5 people (20%) facing financial hardship fall below the poverty line and make less than $40,000 per year (

Despite the gloomy statistics, Dave Ramsey advised, “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you,” and Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan” ( Recently, I read that we should “be people of margin,” meaning that we should not deplete all of our resources because we will encounter needs – not always our own. The United States is certainly a prosperous nation, and we have much for which to be thankful. Maybe we – individually and collectively – should determine to take on the very uncomfortable task of better planning.


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