25
Sep

The following information provides insights into Americans’ new view of the American Dream, as well as the financial risks people are willing to take in pursuit of their dream. You will find overall key findings followed by the detailed findings per question afterwards.

Key Findings

Survey results show that Americans have a new perspective of the American Dream, with four in five (80%) considering owning a home, three in four (74%) saying the financial ability to retire, 63% believing living debt free, 51% saying a college education and 34% saying a promotion to a higher ranking position all as components of the new dream.

For the majority of Americans, their dream has already become a reality as nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say they have owned a home in their lifetime, with the likelihood of doing to increasing with age. Other less common accomplishments include having a college education (39%) and living debt-free (37%).

With regard to financial burdens, 37% of Americans have a mortgage on their home, 35% have credit card debt that isn’t paid off each month and 29% say they have a car loan. 65% say they have debt/loans, with 69% of those claiming they pay more than the minimum each month on their credit card debt or loan(s). Just over a quarter (27%) of those with debt/loans say they pay the minimums each month, while 5% pay less than the minimum. Over one in ten of those with debt (15%) admit they are on a payment plan. 12% of Americans say they sometimes pay their bills late while 5% think it’s OK to be late on their payments every once in a while, with men being more likely than women to think this (6% vs. 1%).

Detailed Findings

1. Which of the following, if any, do you consider part of the American Dream? Please select all that apply. (U.S. adults, n=2,017)

More than nine in ten (94%) Americans believe in an American Dream. Eight in ten (80%) Americans believe that owning a home is part of the American Dream, while nearly three in four (74%) say having the financial ability to retire is part of the American Dream. 63% believe living debt free, 51% say getting a college education and 34% say getting promoted to higher ranking positions are part of the American Dream. Only 5% of Americans believe renting a home is part of the American Dream, 9% say it’s something else and 6% say there is no such thing as an American Dream.

Older adults age 55+ (82%) are also more likely than adults age 18-34 (63%) and age 35-54 (71%) to say having the financial ability to retire is part of the American Dream.

Adults age 55-64 (70%) are more likely than younger adults age 18-54 (60%) to say living debt free is part of the American Dream.

Younger adults age 18-34 (43%) are more likely than older adults age 35-44 (32%), age 45-54 (25%), and age 65+ (30%) to consider getting promoted to higher ranking positions is part of the American Dream.

Adults age 18-64 (6%) are also more likely than adults age 65+ (1%) to consider renting a home to be part of the American dream.

2. Which of the following, if any, have you accomplished in your lifetime? Please select all that apply. (U.S. adults, n=2,017)

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans have owned a home in their lifetime. Four in ten (39%) have gotten a college degree, 37% have lived/are living debt free and one third (34%) have been promoted to higher ranking positions in their career. One quarter (26%) of Americans say they have enough money to retire, and 18% say they have rented a home in their lifetime. 11% say they have not accomplished any of these.

Not surprisingly, likelihood to have owned a home in their lifetime increases significantly with age, with just 32% of those age 18-34 having owned a home compared to 61% of those age 35-44, up to 71% for those age 45-54, 78% age 55-64 and 91% for those age 65 and older.

Older Americans age 65+ (59%) are the most likely to say they have lived/are living debt free followed by those age 55-64 (44%), significantly higher than younger adults age 18-34 (25%) and adults age 35-54 (30%).

Men are more likely than women to say they have been promoted to higher ranking positions in their career (40% vs. 29%, respectively). Older adults age 65+ (45%) are more likely than those age 35-54 (32%) and those age 18-34 (26%) to say they have been promoted in their lifetime.

Also not surprising is that likelihood to have enough money to retire increases significantly with age. Older Americans age 65+ (68%) are the most likely to have achieved this, compared to 41% of those age 55-64, 18% of those age 45-54, 8% of those age 35-44 and just 4% of younger adults age 18-34. Men are more likely to say they have enough money to retire than women (30% vs. 24%, respectively).

Younger adults age 18-34 (23%) and those age 35-44 (22%) are more likely than older adults age 45+ (14%)to say they have rented a home in their lifetime.

3. Which of the following, if any, currently apply to you? Please select all that apply. (U.S. adults, n=2,017)

Nearly one in four Americans (37%) say they currently have a mortgage on their home, 35% say they have credit card debt they do not pay off each month, three in ten (29%) have a car loan, 16% have a student loan, 14% have medical related debt, and 6% have more than one mortgage on their home. 32% say none of these applies to them.

Younger adults age 18-34 (22%) are less likely to currently have a mortgage than their older counterparts age 35-54 (46%), 55-64 (41%) and age 65+ (36%). And, not surprisingly, only 2% of those age 18-34 say they have a second mortgage, compared to 6% age 35-44, 8% age 45-54, 10% age 55-64 and 4% age 65+.

Older adults age 65+ are less likely to have credit card debt than their younger counterparts (25% age 65+ vs. age 18-34 (34%), age 35-44 (42%), age 45-54 (39%) and age 55-64 (35%).

Interestingly, adults age 35-44 (40%) are more likely than any other age group to say they currently have a car loan, compared to 26% age 18-34 and 27% age 45+. Men (32%) are more likely than women (26%) to say they currently have a car loan.

One third (33%) of younger adults age 18-34 report having student loans, compared to 21% of those age 35-44, 11% of those age 45-54, 8% of those age 55-64 and just 1% of those age 65+.

Surprisingly, more than twice as many adults age 18-64 (16%) report having medical related debt as adults age 65+ (7%).

 

4. Which of the following best describes how you typically make monthly payments on your debt/loan? Please select all that apply. (U.S. adults, n=2,017)

A majority of Americans (65%) have some type of debt/loans, while 35% of Americans say they do not have any debt or loans.

Of those who have any debt/loans (n=1,329) …

Seven in ten Americans (69%) who have any debt/loans say they pay more than the minimum monthly payment.  58% pay more than the minimum on their credit card debt and 29% pay more than the minimum for their loan(s).

Adults age 45+ with debt (69%) are more likely to pay more than the minimum monthly payment on their credit card debt than adults age 18-44 with debt (46%).

More than a quarter of Americans (27%) who have debt/loans say they pay the minimum monthly payment. 10% pay the minimum on their credit card debt and 21% pay the minimum of their loan(s).

5% of Americans who have debt/loans pay less than the minimum monthly payment. 3% pay less than the minimum monthly payment on their credit card debt and 3% pay less than the minimum for their loan(s).

Young adults age 18-34 with debt (6%) are more likely than older adults age 55+ (1%) to pay less than the minimum monthly payment on their credit card debt.

Young adults age 18-34 with loans (7%) are also more likely than older adults age 45+ (1%) to pay less than the minimum monthly payment on their loan(s).

15% of Americans who have debt/loans pay say they are on a payment plan.

Young adults age 18-34 with debt/loans (22%) are twice as likely to say they are on a payment plan as older adults age 45+ (11%).

5. Which of the following, if any, applies to you? Please select all that apply. (U.S. adults, n=2,017)

More than seven in ten (72%) of Americans say they always make sure to pay their bills on time.

Agreement with this increases with age, with 61% of younger adults age 18-44, 72% for those age 45-54, 79% age 55-64 and 90% of those age 65+ saying they always make sure to pay their bills on time.

Two in five (40%) Americans say they always pay more than the minimum on their credit card debt.

Adults age 55+ (49%) are more likely to say they always pay more than the minimum on their credit card than adults age 18-44 (31%).

12% of Americans say they sometimes pay their bills late.

Adults age 18-54 (17%) are almost three times as likely to say they sometimes pay their bills late as those age 55+ (6%).

One in ten (10%) of Americans say they buy what they want, when they want since they have credit cards.

Men are twice as likely as women to say they buy what they want, when they want since they have credit cards (14% vs. 7%, respectively). Adults age 55+ (16%) are more likely to say this than adults age 18-54 (6%).

6% of Americans say they feel like they will never be able to pay off their mortgage.

6% say they never pay more than the minimum amount for their loans.

Younger adults age 18-44 (8%) are more likely to say they never pay more than the minimum for their loans than adults age 65+ (2%).

5% of Americans say they think it’s okay to be late on their payments every once in a while.

Men are more likely than women to say it’s okay to be late on their payments every once in a while (6% vs. 3%, respectively).  Adults age 18-54 (6%) are more likely to say this than adults age 65+ (1%).

10% say none of these applies to them.

6. Which of the following, if any, would you consider to be a financial disaster? Please select all that apply. (U.S. adults, n=2,017)

For more than three quarters (76%) of Americans, foreclosure on a home would be considered a financial disaster.

Older adults age 55+ (81%) are more likely to consider foreclosure on a home to be a financial disaster than young adults age 18-34 (70%).

Seven in ten (73%) of Americans consider filing bankruptcy to be a financial disaster.

Women (76%) are more likely than men (68%) to consider filing bankruptcy to be a financial disaster.

47% say getting into medical-related debt would be a financial disaster.

Adults age 55+ (55%) are more likely to consider getting into medical-related debt to be a financial disaster than adults age 18-54 (41%).

More than a quarter (27%) of Americans considers having a late payment on a loan to be a financial disaster.

Americans age 45-54 (18%) are less likely to consider late payment on a loan to be a financial disaster than both younger adults age 18-44 (28%) and older adults age 55+ (31%).

Nearly a quarter (23%) of Americans say not paying off a credit card balance in full each month would be a financial disaster.

Adults age 65+ (33%) are more likely to consider not paying off a credit card balance in full each month to be a financial disaster than adults age 18-54 (20%).

5% of Americans say there is some other thing they consider to be a financial disaster, while one in ten (10%) say there is nothing they consider to be a financial disaster.

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