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Study examines debt patterns

California residents who are struggling with financial obligations may be interested in how their debt burden stacks up with that of other Americans. According to a study from the Urban Institute, consumers who have more types of debt also tend to have higher balances on each of those debts.

The study sampled about 5 million consumers at random and found that almost 90 percent who had credit reports would fit into one of six groups. One group had no debt at all. Several groups had debt from only source, either a mortgage, an auto loan or a student loan. One group had only an auto loan and home mortgage, and one group only used credit cards to borrow money.

In 2014, the largest debt category was credit cards with 61 percent of consumers having debt from this. This was followed by auto loans, mortgages and student loans. The lowest credit card balances were held by people who had no other debt. Consumers who had auto loans and mortgages also tended to have higher credit card balances. Younger and older individuals tended to have more credit card debt with those in their 30s and 40s having the least amount. Consumers between the ages of 38 and 52 tended to have the most overall debt. The types of debt consumers had varied by age as well.

Whatever the age, at some point, people may find that they are unable to keep up with their financial obligations. This often is not due to carelessness on the part of the consumer. Medical problems, unemployment, divorce and other unexpected life changes may lead to an unmanageable debt burden. In these circumstances, an attorney can often discuss the available forms of debt relief that may be applicable.

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