In our second annual holiday debt survey, MagnifyMoney found consumers who took on debt this holiday season will kick off the New Year with an average of $1,003 worth of new debt. That is up from $986 in 2015, for a year-over-year increase of 1.7%.
What’s troubling about this year’s findings is that most people who went into debt didn’t plan on it. We found the vast majority — 65.2% — of consumers who took on debt did so unexpectedly this year, and didn’t budget for the extra expenses.
It’s easy to imagine scenarios in which people might spend more than they can afford over the holidays. Last-minute gifts, family emergencies, and, for some, fewer work hours, can all add up to a hefty credit card bill if not planned for in advance.
And people who took on debt will need months to pay it off. Nearly half (46%) predict they’ll need four months or more to pay off their holiday debt, or will only make the minimum monthly payments.
Even a seemingly meager amount of debt can quickly balloon over time if it isn’t paid off aggressively. We can illustrate this using the MagnifyMoney Credit Card Payoff Calculator.
A person carrying an average debt load of $1,003 who makes one $25 minimum payment per month would need 58 months (4.8 years) to pay off their debt. That calculation assumes an average annual percentage rate (APR) of 16%.
On top of paying off their principal balance of $1,003, over that time they would pay an additional $442 worth of interest for a grand total of $1,445.