Debt-Free or Skinny? Survey Answers Which We'd Rather Be

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Americans are notoriously body-conscious. We're also money-conscious. But does our obsession with weight and looks trump our concern about our personal finances? A new survey by Credit Karma, a financial tracking and educational site, and Harris Interactive found that yes, Americans are more concerned about their waistlines than our bottom lines.

The most startling fact to come out of the June 2013 survey is that 72 percent of the 2,021 respondents said they would rather live with their current debt than gain 25 pounds and be completely debt-free. Only 28 percent said they would be willing to gain that much weight to get out of debt.

In a similar vein, 43 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement: "How much I weigh is more important than how much debt I have."
And if you think that it's women care more than men about their weight, you'll be surprised to learn that men were more likely to agree with that statement (49 percent) than women (38 percent).

Among those surveyed, 74 percent said they have some debt and 46 percent said they have credit card debt. The mean amount of credit card debt for the group was $5,900.

Some of the other findings of the survey include:
  • 64 percent of those surveyed think about their physical appearance more than their debt.
  • 35 percent worry more about how they look than the debt they're in.
  • 70 percent said they care more about their physical health than their financial health.
But interestingly, when the cases got more extreme, the positions flipped. Given the choice between being obese and debt-free or their ideal weight but facing bankruptcy, 62 percent chose the option of being obese, while 38 percent would rather face bankruptcy.

The financial experts at Credit Karma think the focus on weight isn't necessarily about vanity, but more of a reaction to education surrounding the importance of being physically fit. Their goal is to get Americans equally educated about the benefits of financial fitness.

If you had to choose, which would you rather be: thin and debt-ridden, or fat and debt-free?

Michele Lerner is a contributing writer to The Motley Fool.


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16 Comments

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Shelley

What about when you are in debt from health issues and the debt keeps rising? What does America do for those of us with serious chronic illness!>? There is no debt relief! I am soooooooo sick of every darn penny goings towards treatments, medications, doctors, hospitals! And NO! I do NOT support the health bill. By that, we will end up in bankruptcy! This administration is taking us to the pit of disparity!

August 12 2013 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ectullis

With what we have in the White House we will be in debt up to our ears and skinny.

August 06 2013 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kscatko

When you have high debt, you are skinny, because you can't afford to eat!

August 06 2013 at 7:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Poopsie Pie

Horse ****..............

August 06 2013 at 6:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
heavenhelpus2222

Who cares ????

August 06 2013 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tfarmerestates

It's important to stay healthy by watching what you eat (no test tube beef) , exercise , positive thinking and you will happy and very rich!!

August 05 2013 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
talari

OK, they wish for money or a good body or both...... What are they doing to attain either?? Besides nothing, I mean?

August 05 2013 at 9:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hillchas

That's because Americans are shallow and stupid.....

August 05 2013 at 9:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
alanwahlstrom

If you have resposnible spending and eating practices in your life, then this article is worthless.. lol. Too bad so many Americans don't have both.. or either.

August 05 2013 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ccdae5

I'm both!

August 05 2013 at 8:11 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply