My husband and I are both 61. Our combined income is $58,000. Our $225,000 house is paid for. We have $325,000 in an annuity and $120,000 in other investments. He will receive Social Security; I will have a public pension. I plan to work as long as they will have me.
We paid for major repairs to our home several years ago through a home equity loan. We still owe $10,000 on that, and have $33,000 in credit card debt. I have reduced interest rates to the lowest amount and work on paying off the highest-interest-rate card first. I also pay above the minimum on the others.
All this time you thought your romantic appeal was due to your clothes, your looks or your charming personality.
Turns out, all you had to do was cut up your credit card.
Almost half of Americans, or 49 percent, find credit-card debt a turnoff in a potential partner, according to a new survey by personal-finance site NerdWallet.
Women, in particular, are wary of someone buried in bills, with 51 percent (compared with 46 percent for men) saying, "Sorry, not interested."
"People just don't want to enter into a relationship with someone with debt," said Sean McQuay, NerdWallet's credit-card expert. "Individuals should always be looking to pay down debts, but that apparently goes double if you are looking for a relationship. You are making yourself more marketable."
Simply put, credit-card debt is not sexy.
NerdWallet found that 70 percent of Americans think there is a nasty stigma surrounding it, versus other kinds of "good" debt like a home mortgage or student loans.
That is why 35 percent say they are embarrassed to even admit how much they owe on their plastic, and 43 percent say they feel judged by friends and family.
Are we really so calculating in making our romantic choices, though? After all, almost all of us have grappled with credit-card debt at one time or another in our lives. And presumably human connection is more than numbers in a ledger.
Besides, the average American household owes $15,355 on credit cards. If everyone has faced similar struggles, we are hardly in a position to be holier-than-thou in our romantic lives.
Yet singles polled on social media say they would "swipe left" as users do on the dating app Tinder to decline interest.
"Oh my God, are you kidding? There's hardly a bigger deal breaker."
Not necessarily because of the debt itself, but because of what it might symbolize: irresponsibility, self-control issues, a lack of foresight. Potential partners might also fear being on the hook for whatever debts you have accumulated.FATAL MISMATCH
Of course, people can change their financial habits, and do.
But it is better to go into relationships with eyes wide open, and recognize fatal money mismatches earlier rather than later.
Big credit card debt is a big problem. Collectively, Americans are on the hook for more than $900 billion, according to CardHub, the highest total since the 2008 recession.
Not only are Americans racking up debt at an alarming rate, but we're also in denial about how much we owe. When people are asked about the total balance on their credit cards, their estimates are 37% percent lower than the amounts reported by lenders, according to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Whether they know exactly how much they owe (and how much they'll end up paying over time on their debt), many Americans fear they'll be shackled to debt for the rest of their lives. Twenty-one percent of people surveyed by CreditCards.com in 2015 said they feared they would die in debt.
Based on data from CardHub, they have reason to be concerned. The website, which helps people search for and apply for credit cards, recently put together a list of the average credit card balances in nearly 2,500 US cities, based on data from credit reporting agency TransUnion. Using median income data for each city, they also determined how long it would take the average resident to pay off their debt and how much they would pay in interest (assuming an average interest rate of 14%).
In many cities, payoff times could take a decade or more. CardHub determined it would take over 32 years for people in College Station, Texas, to pay off their average debt of $5,601. Over that period, they'd fork over more than four times their initial debt - $25,221 - in interest. People in Murray, Kentucky; Marquette, Michigan; and Stillwater, Oklahoma, were also looking at payoff periods of more than 10 years.