What does it mean when one out of every four Americans has more credit card debt than emergency savings?
February 27th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

What does it mean when one out of every four Americans has more credit card debt than emergency savings?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are back to their old irresponsible ways when it comes to credit card spending.

A new survey shows that only 54% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt.

Which means many of us are only one major unplanned expense away from financial catastrophe.

The BankRate.com poll also shows 25% of those surveyed have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

And 16% have neither credit card debt nor emergency savings.

Who's most likely to save? Households making $75,000 or more per year, college graduates and retirees.

And parents are most likely to have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

No surprise here - households making less than $30,000, those with a high school education or less and the unemployed are most likely to have neither debt nor savings.

The survey also shows consumers' overall financial situation is negative:

More people report a lower level of financial security and are less comfortable with their savings compared to one year ago.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that total consumer debt reached its highest point in a decade last month.

Experts say that after a few months of reducing credit card debt levels, Americans are back to relying on the plastic.

There's a concern that middle class Americans are taking on too much risk.

Running up credit card debt at a time of long-term unemployment, stagnant wages and increased household expenses could be toxic.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when one out of every four Americans has more credit card debt than emergency savings?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Posted by
Filed under: Jack Cafferty • Personal Finances
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. David in Tampa

    They are in a higher income bracket than I am in.

    February 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  2. Charles, Lansing, Michigan

    It means the job creators are still creating jobs overseas.

    February 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  3. Wm in PA

    It is a good sign that we are saving more and adding to credit card debt less.
    But the 46% with more debt than savings are in serious trouble but so is the nation. Our leaders are addicted to debt why would we not be too?

    February 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  4. Gerry

    It meams that we are following the same philosophy of the federal government. I have always supported a Consumer Tax opposed to the current Income Tax as I believe it would encourage people to save. Your taxed when you spend it.

    Ash Fork, Az

    February 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  5. tom bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    It means rather than being taught how to handle money, we are brainwashed into compulsively buying junk we don't need. This while Oxfam struggles to feed the starving.

    It also means Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Protection Agency was long overdue. Fine print gobbeldy gook contracts have been a public menace for too long.

    February 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  6. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    It means that 46 % are feeling extremely Blessed!

    February 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  7. Larry in Houston

    What does it mean when only 54% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt?
    Answer : It means that only 46% of Americans have more credit card debt than emergency funds.

    February 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Vic in Texas

    54% – Can't believe it is that high!

    February 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  9. Russ in PA

    Don't worry, be happy! Just listen to all the Progressives that tell you that all is fine, and things are getting better! Hey, credit is a good thing! After all, just look at the state of our country's finances! And the finances of countries in Europe! Why, all of those operate with a central bank, and things are just so rosy! Don't worry, be happy! After all, what is the alternative? To go back to a gold standard and sound money as proposed by Dr. Paul? What nonsense! Debt is the answer!

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    February 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  10. Rick, Medina, OH


    If you want to know the truth, I'm surprised it was that high ...

    Medina, OH

    February 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  11. Jenna Roseville CA

    What does it mean when only 54% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt?

    If you ask a Republican it means that they do not know how to hadle their finances. That is THEIR problem.

    If you ask a Democrat it means that the people are still without the jobs and salaraies that they need to not have to live off their credit cards to make ends meet. That we need to focus on them and NOT the wealthy.

    Roseville CA

    February 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  12. kim smith, Dodge City, Ks.

    There are probably several dynamics at work here, such as, artificially stagnant wages, constantly rising living expenses, poor financial skills, and many more. As long as a society is punished for saving, this will never improve.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  13. Pete in Georgia

    It's no secret that American culture has completely been converted to one of leisure and entertainment coupled with living to the fullest, mostly on credit.
    Now, with the growing mentality of a Socialist federal government ready and willing to encourage more of the same...................at warp speed, the die is cast.
    The future looks to be one of pure fantasy, government reliance for the lower and middle class, until the bubble bursts with a final cataclysmic collapse.
    Bye bye America.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  14. Bill of New Mexico

    What used to be the middle class is giving up on the future.

    As the middle class loses its motivation, America loses its strength.

    America is in decline.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  15. Phyllis G. Williams

    What does it mean when only 54% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt?

    Personally, I am now debt free with only Pension and Social Security as emergency savings, but God says He will
    clothe us like the lillies and grass, let us eat and drink, etc. (Luke 12: 27-32) and King David says (Psalm 37: 25-26)
    we will always be blessed. I am now on borrowed time (Psalm 90: 10) so I know that He will care for all of us who
    trust and serve Him.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  16. pad

    The Fed. should keep on giving the banks money for near zero interest so the banks can keep stealing from Amreicans with high credit card interest.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  17. ranch111

    Are you sure it isn't the other way around? So really, this is about 50%? I would have expected the people with more savings than CC debt to be much lower.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  18. Ken from Pinon Hills, California

    It is reflection on our nations impatient culture of endless want of the material. We are making payments on socks and underwear that wore out, and was thrown in the trash a long time ago.
    Those one percent occupiers talk about, got much of their wealth from those forty six percent credit card debtors, who make up some of the ninety nine percent.
    It also means fifty four percent of American's have some economic of peace of mind.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Greg Turman


    It simply means that some people are irresponsible with money, very much like our federal government.
    When General Motors and Solyndra pays us tax payers back, we will all be in the top 1% !!! Hallejuhah ! Can I get an Amen from the consensus math masters !
    Gregory Turman

    February 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  20. Aiyana in Austin

    Means we are broke and dumb. We are told spend spend spend credit cards will set you free. With our political heroes for examples what would you expect. All the more reason to toss em all out. We need more real education not the biased versions that both sides want but real historically accurate education designed by people without a agenda. Oh wait we live in America not gonna happen.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  21. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Frankly, I'm shocked that many people have a reserve at all. What it means is that wages are too low given the productivity of the American workforce. It also means that there are too many Goldman Sachs types advising the President not to more aggressively and immediately raise taxes on the wealthy, even if the middle class pays slightly higher taxes as a result.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  22. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    It's plain and simple Jack. Thanks to the trickle-down theory, it means that we are becoming a nation of rich and poor, if are not already there yet.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  23. Jk from Minnesota

    That the upward wealth distribution to the top 1% is working well. So of it in the past has been from Americans living higher than their means and living for instant gratification.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  24. Pete in Florida

    It means we're SAVING too much. If we want the economy to improve and more jobs created, we need to get out there and SPEND our money, not save it. Besides, what's the point of saving your money if the world's gonna end this December?

    February 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  25. Gary H. Boyd

    It confirms that just a bare majority of our citizens understand basic economics. One cannot spend more than one brings in. But, compare that to the federal government. It's so deep in debt it'll never get out. A better question would be - what does it mean when 100% of the government has no emergency fund savings yet owes over $15 trillion? It means we are being governed by economic idiots.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    February 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  26. Michael From CT

    I no longer have any credit card debt at the same time I have no emergency funds because despite the fact I've cut back on everything to try to save money it's still not enough where I just can't afford to have save for emergency funds which is a very freightening thought when I think about it. I don't know what I'm going to do if Godforbid an emergency comes up. The cost of living for me is too high and gas prices are over $4.00 per gallon where I live which has also caused grocery stores to raise their prices too. Something has got to change. I say give us Hillary Clinton to save the day, things were so much better when the Clintons were in the Whitehouse.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  27. David of Alexandria, VA

    These are harder times than most and therefore maybe a difficult time to make a real measurement here. But, as a nation, we have somehow morphed from a population of savers in the 50's to a nation of borrowers, hoping that something will intervene, like the government, when the storm hits. Hope is not a strategy. This has to change. Social Security will never be a retirement program, houses can never be short-term investments or ATM's, better health care means longer life and greater individual retirement cost, even if the government pays for your health care. The government can kid us about all the rich people who can make this go away if only they paid their "fair share." But, in the end, it is personal accountability and financial discipline which will save us. This shortage of parsonal accountability did as much to worsen the financial crisis as the banks and the government. Start teaching it in the schools early. Get over the denial. There will be no more bailouts unless you are truly a hapless victim of lfe.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  28. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    it means there is a RECESSION, Jack. a LOT of unemployed people have gone thru their savings and now are piling on debt just the EAT.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  29. Tom in Desoto, TX

    It means people didn't learn from the 2008 crash. It could have been worst if George W Bush's plan for everyone taking care of their own financial dealings while disolving social secuirty and other aid to the citizens. Unfortunately, what it says more than anything is that people continue to go along the yellow brick road of hyperbole. It will all be better, you'll see.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  30. Jane in CA

    First, a lot of Americans always needed every dollar they made just to stay housed, clothed, and fed. Second, a lot of Americans have already used up their emergency savings. Third, advertising works to make people want things, and people don't like to defer gratification, so they buy on credit. Fourth, a lot of things that people consider necessities today didn't even exist 100 years, or even 50 years ago. I don't know if the statistics have changed much, but huge numbers of people have been lacking basic emergency savings for as long as they have been studying it. Only 3 and 4 above are even remotely recent developments

    February 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  31. Brad, Portland, OR

    It means that the median salary has been going down, and the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

    Regular middle class people don't have extra money to save, and they often have to use credit cards just to make ends meet some months.

    These are the people the Republicans want to pay higher taxes to pay for the tax cuts they want to give the wealthy.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  32. Ray in Knoxville

    This is news? Jack, Americans savings have been declining for the past 30 years, at the same time their personal debt has been rising. That's 30 years of Republican economic policies at work. What it means is that we finally have to rid ourselves of the Reagan legacy that is dooming this country.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  33. Jim


    Americans have always loved to spend and credit cards make it so much easier. I guess it means if there really is an emergency a credit card will be used to pay for it. And if hoards of Americans start defaulting on their plastic debts resulting in hard times for banks, it will mean that banks still haven't learned their lesson.

    Reno, Nevada

    February 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  34. Kevin in CA

    It's a reaffirmation that the income and standard of living for the average American is continuing to go down. It also means that without Social Security and Medicare that the average American would be doomed to a cold, homeless future in abject poverty.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  35. diridi

    that means it is time for us to educate that Banks are not giving this credit for free, their percent of interest rate is 29% on cash advances, and 9% on credit lines. God bless, fin. reg. reform, the credit interest rate should not exceed more than 9. but cash advance is 29. watch out....get rid off all the cards. do not use them.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  36. BILL, WI

    It's called fiscal irresponsiblilty. People go into debt chasing after things rather than security. After all Uncle Sugar will take care of us when we are in need. Listen to reports of peple using up their unemployment benifits, then apply for Social Security disablity benifits. That is the society we have become. It is all about me!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  37. Dave, Orlando, FL

    It means what some of us already knew; that almost half of us are myopic slackers who choose to satisfy their immediate desires over prudent spending, saving and investment – you know, a lot like the US government. I’ll bet most of them voted for Bush and the rest work for the government.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  38. David Gerstenfeld

    Jack, It doesn't take my expensive college education & near 73 years of life experience to know "It ain't good" !
    David, Las Vegas

    February 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  39. andy Lynn, MA

    It means that the New Republican manifesto is a success! Ya, right!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  40. Paul - North Carolina

    It means two things. First, a frightening number of Americans have no clue how to manage their personal finances. Second, and more importantly, the damage that George Bush wrought lives on long after him. Millions of people were wiped out during his recession and a large percentage have yet to recover. For some it may take several more years. Ironically, a significant number of those people will vote Republican in 2012. Go figure.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  41. Leta

    Considering the economic situation today, won't be surprising if some are using their credit cards as money
    but it can be fix. I am an optimist – always see America as the greatest and richest country in the
    world and the economy will turn around not as fast as we want . We just have to change the way
    we live, the basic principle of not living beyond your means. Saving is part of financial planning.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  42. Paul From Austin Texas

    It means that people are in much worst shape than any one person wants to address. It also means that when they gave all the large corporations bail outs they also should of gave the main street dude a break also.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  43. bonnie from NJ

    Really Jack, where have you been? Have you noticed that even if you were able to hold on to a job the past few years, your salary is stagnant. But the prices of food, gas, utilities, just keep going up and up. Where does the extra to pay for these come from? Yes, you can cut some expenses but that still doesn't leave much for saving. How does middle class America pay for college, student loans or parent's credit cards. You sound like we are just out there spending foolishly (although I am sure some of that exists). I think CNN pays you a better salary than I imagined.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  44. Dave - Phx

    It means that the Republican class warfare is working. The one percenters have taken everything leaving everyone else with nothing.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  45. Mr D

    Sounds like the federal government. The people of this country have been trained to spend money, and the government is helping by keeping saving rates extremely low. Buy now, there might not be a tomorrow!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  46. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    It means that the plan is working. The tax cuts for the rich, who are the ones that create jobs is a total failure and the plan to eliminate the middle class is not too far away. I hope all of those in Congress get voted out and some people that want to re-create the American dream take over before its too late. This means that the war mongers must go.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  47. Jeff In Minnesota

    Oh come on Jack, what do you think it means. It means that a lot of us are living way beyond our means. This is all symptomatic of the shrinking of the middle class. In the old economy, jobs provided wages to support a decent standard of living for someone with a high school education. There is an illusion that bringing manufacturing back will fix things. Manufacturing in the 21st Century is all robots and automation with very few people involved and those people that are involved need vocational/technical or college engineering degrees. Apparently, unbeknownst to GOP Presidential candidates and, in particular Senator "Snob" Santorum, the game has changed and it now takes education beyond high school to live in the middle class. And this situation is not going to change. Until people wise up and understand that high school is no longer enough, these sorts of situations are only going to get worse.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  48. John from Alabama

    Jack: The reason is people have debt from everyday expenditures; rather than, a new car debt, or a vacation debt, or Christmas. They are using credit cards to pay for food, gas, electric bills, and children expenses. The not saving money is due to the low rate of interest on savings accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. Any other questions, Jack.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  49. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    This is not a real suprise to me as Americans have become used to having more and more and with lower paying jobs, thanks to jobs being sent to China, India, Canada and Mexico. Congress needs to put America first, not war and spending our money that we borrow from China to other countries.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  50. Chandler in Rockaway, NJ

    It means the middle class in this country is still suffocating in a depressed economy. The job NUMBERS, still woefully low, are slowly coming back, but job QUALITY has gone, probably forever. Good corporate jobs with benefits have been replaced by temp contractor jobs, often at poverty wages. The richest 1/10th of 1 percent have swindled the rest of us for their personal gain. The voting public has been screaming for years that the top priority is JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, and all the politicians can talk about are deficits and birth control. Time for another revolution.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  51. Larry Feierstein-Denver

    It means we have a lot of ignorant consumers who think the world owes them. We are like the government, spend spend spend and worry about the debt later. Later is now. Boomers cant retire and now take up the workplace where normally it would have been Gen X or Y. Just think if in a normal (not perfect) economy those baby boomers saved for their retirement, had money in the bank, no debt. They leave the job force (dont collect unemployment) and turn their jobs over to younger entrants into the work place. Those days are over and boomers will work unto death (cant afford the burial right now either).

    February 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  52. ken, atlantic city, nj

    It means the middle class is broke from paying for programs for the poor and tax breaks for the rich but they don't care, they still love obama. The taxpayers are paying half of the travel bill for obama to fly around the country telling people how great he is and how bad the republicans are. Obama is using your credit card to buy your votes. Wake up!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  53. John Lake Charles, LA

    What do you expect Jack, the government has been pushing people to buy, buy, buy for years just to get the GDP to stay in positive territory. If peopple start saving instead of buying then the GDP goes negative and we have a recession. We just can't make Washington happy, can we?

    February 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  54. Tina Tx

    Means keeping up with the Jones"s is a killer to the American Dream. Quit buying all the new things that come out. Keep it for years before upgrading. You will wake up a broke up old person & look back & kick yourself in the backside cause you kept spending.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  55. Denny from Tacoma

    This is another means by which the very rich and the banks are getting richer. 24% annual interest and we are paid less than 1% on our savings? Give me a break! In the last year 10% of accountholders of the megabanks changed to credit unions or other institutions. Kudos to those who changed and many more should do the same.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  56. Doug Ericson

    I think it means the average citizen knows the Government is bankrupt so they don't care. Why should they behave responsibly if their leaders borrow more than they can pay back. At least Joe Citizen isn't borrowing money to wage loser wars, and to give the money to every big corporation that goes bankrupt. Maybe they are afraid they are going to lose the money they save. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  57. Mike S., New Orleans

    Jack, it means that one out of four Americans are in the same shape as the U.S. economy.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  58. Eve of London, Texas

    It shows how "supply and demand" hurts the poor and middle class. The one percenters have most of the money and tax breaks, thus they aren't about to turn loose of their money. That's what keeps them and the republicans in power. Until our tax laws are changed, the poor and middle class with stay where they are. Eve of Texas

    February 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  59. Nancy, Cunningham, TN

    It means we are not in as much trouble as I thought. One would guess that the number of people in these tough times with credit card debt exceeding their savings would be much higher. There is hope for America.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  60. Mark in Houston

    It means too many of us are complaining about the Governments financial practices and not paying attention to our own. You can't convince me that during the Christmas shopping spree with stampedes at dept stores etc with a struggling economy and unemployment at somewhere around nine percent at the time that all of the 75 billion plus spent or charged was for essentials only.
    What it means is, we're simply not thinking or just don't care what happens to us around the next financial corner. Or maybe Jack, we've simply given up.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  61. Karen, Idaho

    It means that we have become a society of self-indulgent people who MUST have the latest i-phone, i-pad, 70 inch TV, etc, etc, etc. We cannot be satisfied with what we want and the only way to GET IT ALL is to charge it. Did you see the mad rush for the new $225 dollar sneakers that went on sale this weekend. All of the people rushing the store were wearing perfectly good shoes–no one was barefoot–so why did they need those particular shoes? We have too much of everything and cannot seem to make do with less. Our proud forefathers and mothers who worked hard to be self sufficient would be ashamed of us.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  62. Karen Adkins, Grants Pass Oregon

    Remember the song with the line "I owe my soul to the company store"? Todays company store is the line of credit that allows many US citizens to exist thanks to the game the politicans play. We work, pay into Social Security and Medicare and Congress calls it a benefit. What happened to that line of credit?

    February 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  63. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: When the banks are hoarding money--what other choices do we have? Buy now----pay later--the central dogma of America.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  64. Cy Gardner

    It sounds like wages are too low or prices are too high. Why is it so hard to fathom that the American working and consuming public is getting royally screwed. We went from one man supporting a family to a man and a woman working to support a family to two wage earners and a pocketful of credit cards to support a family. What's next? Cannibalism. cy from arlington, va

    February 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  65. Terri from Blountville, Tn

    It means different things for different people. Some have no choice but to use credit cards to simply survive. Others believe that they should have everything they want, regardless of needs , so they use credit to buy these things.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  66. barbara in nc

    Our children are not taught (in school or at home) how to save and WHY they should save.

    I'd say it speaks louder to the lack of eduation than anything else. Most people don't even know how to educate themselves, but they can sure get on their PCs and criticize everything someone else does.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  67. Paulette from Dallas,PA

    It says that the American people have more problems with the economy to look forward to.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  68. DT - Saint Paul, MN

    It means I know which bubble to short in the stock market next!

    February 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  69. Sand

    "it means too many kids are able to obtain them, without adults permission?? I have one Visa, and I pay it off in the same month I purchase anything over the net (only time I use it). People need to be screened more!".

    February 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  70. Sam in CT

    It means that the banks are very wealthy. It also means that the banking industry is highly reliant upon the success of the economy. When it worsens, then people charge more as their incomes decrease. If thee was even a 15% default on credit card debt, then I think that it would send the market into a free fall.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  71. Gigi Oregon

    It just shows me Capitalism isn't working for Mr. & Mrs. John Doe and their grown children who make less than $70,000. It's seems if any countries government adopts a plan with the last 3 letters ending ...ism. Somebody is going to be unhappy. Capitalism, Communism or Socialism etc. It seems with the 99% capitalism (or as some call it the trickle down theory) has become a dirty word. In the United States, 99% have been in a drought for the past dozen years. To have corporate America sending jobs over seas and giving poor people in other countries your job. But it's their company/business , and remember that is called capitalism and there is nothing illegal about it..

    February 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  72. Mitoosense

    It means they have no savings

    February 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  73. Karl in Flint, MI

    Here in Flint, MI, I don't think, contrary to some, it is buying little overpriced trinkets that we can't afford and don't need. It's charging the rest of the food needed to feed the family for the rest of the week or month, going to the doctor or drug store when absolutely necessary and keeping a roof over their heads, the lights on and water bill paid. The Bush disaster is no where near over and the GOP congress that caused it can't see some of us are suffering, though they aren't.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  74. Tyrone

    We might as well Join forces to become to big to fail so we can be bailed out.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  75. H.....Illinois

    It means they are poor managers of their money. I don't charge anything that I can't pay off each month. i decided that when I got the card many years ago.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  76. barbara in nc

    I just looked into (and bought) life insurance. It has "Graded" payouts.

    If I die within 2 years, my family will get all my payments back - PLUS 5% per year. Limit 2 years. (More than savings accounts or even IRAs). If I die in an accident in that 2 years, they get the aforementioned PLUS the $10,000 face value.

    At the end of 2 years, the payment will be a flat $10,000.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  77. Charles - San Antonio

    It means that we live in a country where individuals have freedom to manage thier personal financial situation as they see fit. Nobody put and gun to thier head and said "open this credit card account and run up the balance". And no one put a gun to the head of the company that issued the credit card. Our economic system allows for periods of expansion and periods of retraction. At some point the credit card bubble will pop, and the companies that issue credit cards as well as the individuals with large credit card debts will suffer. I just hope the tax revenue generated from the individuals who refrained from running up huge credit card balances is not used to bail out anybody.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  78. Ed from MD

    It means getting things is becoming more important than worrying about not having things.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  79. Russ, Turners Falls, MA

    It means people are not thinking. One should NEVER owe more to credit card companies than one has in savings. That used to be common sense. When I was in high school, it was taught in economics 101. Guess we all behave like governments, now.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  80. American in Indiana

    Who has emergency savings? Wages have been flat since Nixon. Only Wall Street has money for emergency savings or giving $1 million cash to their kids that magically increases to $10 million in a few years. We're broke out here. What's a credit card?

    February 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  81. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Basically Regan's ideology was to abolish labor unions, weaken the labor laws, make right to work States the model for low pay and few benefits to workers, and thus provide more capital to the very rich.

    Well here we are today, pretty much witnessing the success of this Republican ideology. The only thing the new found wealth is providing the rich is the opportunity to tinkle (yes tinkle not trickle) down upon the poor as no longer is there a substantive middle class to allow the poor an opportunity.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  82. Duane North Dakota

    It means that I am not part of the 1%

    February 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  83. Jennifer M in Winnipeg

    It means they are taking a lesson from the goverment, Jack. Government is all about reckless spending with no contingency plan to fall back on. So the average American is living the moment ... one day at a time. And the banks are no help ... they send out invitations the the "Householder" or "Current Occupant" offering them a credit card from five to 10 thousand dollar limits. The people leap at the offer with no thought of paying it back ... remember, these people are 'in the moment'. It's all part of the economic downfall and, sadly, the people are drowing.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  84. Jack - Toledo

    Jack, It simply means that the income tax rate for the wealthiest Americans must be too high. Cut the rate for the top earners, increase the rates for the working poor and middle class, then implement a national sales tax on baby products. That just may bankrupt most of us; and from the ashes of the likely revolution a fair and balanced nation may emerge.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  85. Kevin, Chester Springs, PA

    It means they'll be working until they're 75 to pay off their debts when their Social Security payments finally kick in.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  86. marybeth, massachusetts

    It means that the cost of living has gone up up up and away while wages have stagnated (at best) or gone down. It means that for many people, including me, that when I'm done paying my rent, my insurance, gas, and groceries, I don't have anything left in my month's wages. There's nothing left to save. For others, they come up short every month and it means they turn to credit cards to make ends meet. That's why so many don't have an emergency savings.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm |