SAN FRANCISCO — Your debt or your diet: which is a bigger priority for you to set straight this year? If you chose debt, you’re in the minority. A new survey finds that about half of Americans said their top goal is to eat more healthfully in 2018, while slightly more than a third hope to pay down their loans and credit card statements.
In fact, nearly 2 in 5 Americans would be fine with adding to their debt if it meant they could avoid gaining 10 pounds, according to a survey of more than 2,100 adults conducted by the free finance and credit aid service Credit Karma. The company sought to find out whether one’s waistline or wallet was more important to them.
What they found was that 38 percent of respondents would take on new debt — about $1,300 on average — to keep off just 10 pounds of fat. This despite consumer debt hitting a new high of nearly $13 trillion amid talks by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates potentially three times this year.
Still, just 37 percent indicated that cutting their IOUs topped their list of goals in 2018, while 49 percent said improving their diet was more important. Forty-four percent said spending less and saving more was their biggest resolution.
“Using the new year as motivation toward better health is great. And this survey is a fantastic reminder the same energy can be applied toward your finances,” says Bethy Hardeman, chief consumer advocate for Credit Karma, in a press release.
Did gender matter in the results? They did — and if you thought that women might be more agreeable to pack on the debt instead of the pounds, you’re wrong. Turns out men would be willing to add nearly three times as much new debt — about $1,973 on average — than female respondents (just $692 would be OK for them). Moreover, about half of the women surveyed indicated spending less in 2018 and building up their savings was their top goal, versus the same for 38 percent of men.
Interestingly, most respondents would also agree to put on 10 pounds to avoid adding $1,000 to their tabs.
So what else would Americans give up to get rid of their loans? One in five would forego sex for an entire year to eliminate all of their debt, though that number was heavily weighted by women — 24% versus just 13% of men.
A third of those surveyed would give up alcohol or chocolate for the year to erase their loans, while 38% say they’d exercise six times a week. Forty-five percent would clean the bathroom weekly (shouldn’t they be doing this anyway?)
Age made a difference in those results too, with Gen-Xers most willing to do undesirable deeds to get rid of debt:
Those surveyed reported having about $3,158 in credit card debt on average, which was slightly less than the $4,000 figure determined by the Fed. Credit Karma reports that 17% of Americans owe at least $5,000 on their credit cards, while 10% have debt of more than $10,000.
Generation X was found to have the most credit card debt on average ($4,404), more than twice as much as millennials ($1,942). Baby boomers averaged about $2,917 in credit debt. Gen Xers were also twice as likely than the other groups to owe more than $10,000 on their cards.
The survey was conducted in Dec. 2017 by Harris Poll on behalf of Credit Karma among 2,146 U.S. adults ages 18+, of whom 1,637 currently have debt.