Worrying about debt costs you an average of three and a half hours a day

Worrying about debt wastes an average of three and a half hours a dayAmericans in debt are worried. And not just a little worried, but a lot of worried. In fact, they're spending 3.5 hours a day worrying about their financial troubles.

While it isn't surprising to find that debt and concern go hand-in-hand, the number of hours the average in-debt American is actually spending worrying about their financial woes is compelling. Thanks to a survey sponsored by DebtPlan.com, an online paid membership service (seven day trial period, then $14.95 a month) that's designed to help people pay down their debts, now we can see just how much time we waste worrying about money. The survey, released in June, was conducted by Survey Sampling International.

As someone who spent much of his 20s worried about money -- and most of his 30s panicked and consumed by debt -- I have to admit I found the results of the survey pretty interesting.

The survey interviewed 1,000 people, ranging in age from 18 to over 55. Assuming that's representative of American society in general, then 45% of all Americans consider themselves in debt. Of that number, 25% spend practically no time worrying about their debts, which probably means they either must feel like it's under control ... or they're deadbeats.

As for those who do worry, here's how the numbers stack up:
  • Fifty-four percent of those in debt say they worry about their debt at least one to three hours each day.
  • Eleven percent are consumed by their debt woes for four to 10 hours a day.
  • And 10% say they spend 10 hours or more a day worrying about their debts.
There were some other interesting findings, too. Younger folks (ages 18 to 34) are least likely to consider themselves in debt (37% of those surveyed said they were in debt). Middle-aged folks are the most in debt (51%), and those over 55 are still pretty deep in debt (45% say they're in debt).

If you look at debt from an education standpoint, the people who are most in debt are those with some college. Thirty-nine percent of those with a high school education or less said that they were in debt; 43% of college graduates copped to having college debt. But more than half of those with some college education (51% to be exact) are in debt. I'm guessing that's because the jobs they have aren't quite as high paying as those of college graduates but they're nonetheless saddled with student loans, not to mention credit card debt and other loans.

Not everything the survey turned over was a revelation. People with lower incomes ($35,000 and under) tend to have more debt than those with higher incomes ($75,000 and over). Heck, my pet turtle could have told you that.

Geoff Williams is a regular contributor to WalletPop. He is also the co-author of the book Living Well with Bad Credit.

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