The 10 biggest reasons we're in debt

Despite recent belt-tightening, US consumers still owe plenty. Here are the top sources of personal debt, and how such borrowing affects your finances and the economy.

 of 12
 of 12


May 13, 2013 9:12PM
So Americans are paying down their debt, living within their means, and showing fiscal responsibility. Good for us! Wouldn't it be nice if those idiots in congress were able to live by the same rules. Our personal debt is peanuts compared to the debt they have run up for us!
Jan 2, 2013 11:19PM

The biggest debt is the one we didn't make.  The national debt.  Not one of us signed for this debt.  I think lawmakers should shoulder the blame for that.  They should be forced to sell whatever they have and pay on the debt.  Their bank accounts and any pensions should be seized and paid on the debt.  I do not think we should have to pay that.  We didn't sign for it.  Now,  the next sore issue is the medical debt.  When you go to a doctor, then to the legal drug lords you get more side effects, more docs, then more pills, more side effects, more docs...then hospital.  Get one scan and you get bills from ten other people you never heard of.  One did the scan, one read it in anohter town, one interpreted it, and one wiped his ash on it, one sent it back to doc, get bills from all of them!  I hope the Chinese foreclose on America and take over the operations of the whole country! Send idiot congress home!

May 13, 2013 8:14PM
The debtor is a slave to the lender.
Jan 3, 2013 10:15AM
We the people did not make these debts, our elected representatives did.  So, our elected representatives should have to pay the bill and leave the rest of us alone.
May 13, 2013 7:50PM
A very wise man taught me that it isn't always how much you have, it's what you do with it that counts. Even tho we saved and scrimped and put $$ into the IRA's, paid off our mortgage and cc bills, saved and paid 2 years of college for each of the 4 kids (paid not borrowed, then they were on their own), managed to be live very modest retirement lifestyle, what will do us under is the healthcare. We both worked 50+ years and they deducted for Medicare plus we paid for most of our employer's health plan. At 70-ish I still work part time and and they withhold for Medicare, plus we both pay a Medicare premium every month and our supplement is about $500 a month. On top of that we spent over $10K out of pocket last year on healthcare with medication co-pays deductibles dentist eyeglasses etc. So at this rate with the prices going up and health premiums going up but benefits going down, when we hit about 80 we will choose how we will die either freeze when we can't pay the heat, starve if we can;t pay groceries or die from not being able to afford the medications. Obamacare death panels have lots of between the line designs......
May 13, 2013 11:19PM
Those 10 "Reasons" are not the causes of debt, they are the results of absolute stupidity. You don't buy things you can't afford. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
May 13, 2013 10:36PM
Here is why "we" are in debt; we are told there is an American dream and we all want it NOW without building our finances first.  We get the big house before we can afford it.  We have too many kids too early before we can afford them.  Every 19 year old kid I know is going out and buying a $40,000 car these days.  I am $800,000 in the black because I lived within my means and worked up slowly only when I could truely afford things.
May 13, 2013 8:52PM
Another article on debt that ignores the national debt and annual budget deficit.

National debt is $16.8 trillion and growing. A "temporary" lifting of the debt ceiling allows the national debt to grow without limit. Will the U.S. Congress and President keep authorizing "temporary" liftings of the debt ceiling until it becomes de facto permanent?

What about unfunded liabilities of the U.S. Government? They amount to $100 to $222 trillion, but because the U.S. Governement does not follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that every business has to follow, no one knows about the huge problem of unfunded liabilities. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and foreign wars make up a large amount of this.

Annual budget deficit is typically $1.1 to $1.3 trillion per year out of a $3.5 trillion budget (and growing).

$802 billion for Medicare and Medicaid
$768 billion for Social Security
$670 billion for Defense
$615 billion for "discretionary" government programs
$461 billion for other "mandatory" government programs
$223 billion for interest on the national debt

Families get into financial trouble when they spend too much.
So do countries, even big and prosperous countries like the United States of America.

Jan 2, 2013 11:02PM

Is there anyone who has read this article/slideshow, who knows the ins and outs of health insurance that can provide the answers to:

Is there a type of health insurance that covers everything?

Is it possible to cover everything?

How could the U.S. go about having better health care and health insurance for the future?

Is there any stock in wellness programs through your employer?


P.S. I'm thankful to everyone who did their part in paying down credit card debt.

May 13, 2013 9:02PM
Speaking of gambling, the author neglects to mention derivatives, something Warren Buffet calls Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Too Big To Fail (or Jail) banks are currently gambling on highly leveraged financial instruments called derivatives. The value of these derivatives are in the range of several hundred trillion dollars to one quadrillion dollars, many times greater than the world GDP.

What happens when one of these Too Big To Fail (or Jail) banks fails? Even if the Federal Reserve were to print money to bail out these banks, it would cause massive hyperinflation.

May 13, 2013 9:53PM
Welcome to crony capitalism=oligarchy=plutocracy!   Thank god I had no kids because yours are screwed
May 13, 2013 9:56PM

This country will be in debt till the end of time .......

May 13, 2013 9:19PM

Fascinates me that they include mortgage debt in this because it's considered to be the only kind that is "good".  My wife is from China and they abhor debt, tending to pay cash whenever possible for everything.  With rates this low I've encouraged her to learn to live with using OPM to expand wealth as long as we are capable of repaying the debt.  We only have mtg debt and are proud of that fact.  It's still difficult because it's a large payment.


Consumers should learn to pay in full when ever possible and to hell with the banks and lenders.  It's time this country retrench and learn to cover it's expenses and that includes the gov't.  Of course I am preaching to the choir here.  We all know that gov't is totally out of control at all levels in terms of spending.  What direct benefit do you or I actually derive from the government?  The middle class is dying and it's only going to get worse as we are taxed into oblivion in order to fund bridges to no where, airports that serve ONLY ONE COMPANY, studies on why 3 year olds fall off beds, etc.  While there is some importance to some projects much of what the gov't spends on is nonsensical.  The biggest thing is that now we're going to sign on the dotted line to support Afghanistan, WHY?  They didn't exactly welcome us to get the Taliban out, and aren't exactly nice to us now...they want our $$$ CAPITAL.  This is where the US has to tighten it's belt and begin to take care of it's own first.  PEACE!

May 14, 2013 9:33AM

1)-An entitlement mentality




5)-Poor Math Skills




9)-"Live for Today" Attitude

10)-Voting for Politicians with the characteristics listed above

May 13, 2013 8:52PM
They aren't accurately factoring in that Medical Bills which is the primary reason people max out credit cards. So the number is MUCH higher than hundreds of millions. 
May 14, 2013 12:15AM
Higher education used to be subsidized more .Plus higher education does more for stupid students(Students that do not belong because they did not try much in high school).  Welfare takes more money out of state budgets now. Free housing, Medicaid,  pre school, baby sitting(child care). I went to a junior college and then went to a university. I paid it back my loans.
May 13, 2013 8:23PM
I would rather pick $hit with the chickens than be in debt.
May 13, 2013 7:54PM
It is interesting to me the only two debts that are "estimated" are medical and "gambling."  Gambling would be kept quiet, I think, and medical is probably due to the fact that it rises so fast nobody can count it.  The one reason, in my opinion, we are in debt is CONgress!!! If we could keep most of what we make, we wouldn't have to borrow nearly as much money.  And, yet I notice it says "taxex owed to CONgress...."  Why don't they state that more accurately as "money extorted by CONgress?"  CONgress could control medical expenses, but they don't.  It is a racket.  Even as I type this, I am hearing "tell your doctor", "ask your doctor" and want to yell.  If I have to "ask my doctor" I need a new doctor!!!  I wish I could get a new CONgress as easily as a new doctor.
May 13, 2013 9:15PM

Kind of weird that entering the Iraq war at the same time cutting taxes is not listed as number one?



May 13, 2013 9:32PM
We can vote out the politicians that won't balance the budget and vote in those that will.  At this time forty six cents of every dollar the federal government spends is borrowed.  Every indicator says we are in the upward inflation cycle and when the interest rates go up we are in deep trouble.  Just imagine paying 5% or more on twenty plus trillion dollars.  No more uncontrolled printing money, to much money chasing to few goods equals inflation which simply means we have decreasing value on our savings and wages.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.