The American Dream Means Debt-Free
Being out of debt and retiring financially secure represent the American Dream for a majority of Americans, and most are optimistic that they can achieve it, according to the 2014 Credit.com American Dream Survey. Retiring financially secure at age 65 represents the ultimate American dream for 36 percent of those surveyed, while getting out of debt came in at a close second, with 25 percent of respondents choosing it as their definition of the “American Dream.”
The majority of survey respondents are optimistic about their ability to achieve their version of the American Dream, with 16 percent saying they have already achieved it and another 50 percent indicating it is within their reach. Only 24 percent say it is it not within their reach.
Other significant findings from the survey include:
• Dreams are personal and varied. After retirement and getting out of debt, the other top definitions of the American Dream included owning a home (17 percent), joining the “one percent,” (five percent), graduating from college (three percent), and paying off student loans (two percent).
• Getting out of debt is a top priority. When asked about their top financial priority for the next year, at the top of the list was paying off credit card debt, with 19 percent of consumers choosing that option. Close behind that, another 18 percent chose “being debt-free.” Other responses included investing for retirement (12 percent), saving for a major purchase (12 percent), buying a home (nine percent), paying off student loans (six percent), retiring financially secure at 65 (six percent), sending kids to college (five percent) or paying off the mortgage (four percent).
• Most are fairly optimistic about their ability to pay off debt. When it comes to being debt-free, 79 percent said they are very or somewhat likely to achieve that milestone in their lifetimes, with only 18 percent indicating that it was not very or not at all likely that they would be debt-free in their lifetimes. Not surprisingly, those with student loan debt were most likely to say it was not very or not at all likely that they would be debt-free in their lifetimes (28 percent), followed closely by those who have been unemployed in the past three years (24 percent).