Debt keeps rising in the United States, especially in certain age brackets. Recent data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances shows that while total household debt dipped during the Great Recession, it has been going up ever since. According to the New York Fed, our country’s debt hit a new high of $13 trillion last year.

Debt tends to soar during people’s peak earning years, with individuals between the ages of 45 and 54 reporting the highest levels of debt and those in the 35-44 age bracket coming in second. As long as earnings keep coming, people usually can afford to carry this debt load. However, sometimes the unexpected happens – layoffs, accidents, divorce, unforeseen high medical bills – and people find themselves faced with payments they cannot meet.

The skilled and seasoned Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that even the most well-intentioned people can find themselves in a financial hole.  We offer a free consultation to evaluate your financial situation.  We can help by looking at your debts, your income, and your goals and coming up with a debt-relief plan that’s best for you.

Call one of our conveniently located office branches or email to set up your free consultation.

What Americans Owe

Here’s what Americans owe, on average, broken down by age group:

Under 35: $67,400
35–44: $133,100
45–54: $134,600
55–64: $108,300
65–74: $66,000
75 and up: $34,500

The reason for these age-related differences is that people tend to take on most debt due to family needs in middle age – buying larger homes and cars for their children, and paying college tuition. Also, these years are when people are most likely to be established in their careers and making more money, so they feel comfortable taking on higher debt.

The type of debt changes according to age as well.  For the under-35 group, the largest burden is education debt, with the average millennial household owing $14,800 in student loans. And since younger people are taking on debt at a higher rate and generally paying it off at a lower rate, the picture for their future seems to be one of increasing debt.

Those aged 65-74 owe a similar amount of debt, $66,000. However, their education loans have dropped over the years, and a large source of older people’s debt is from real estate that is not a primary residence, like vacation homes or investment properties.

Debt levels drop off for those 75 and older, to less than $35,000, and this is usually from a mortgage. However, this is still a large amount for those in retirement and who have increasing health issues.

Areas of Debt

Some areas of debt are less likely to vary by age. Education loans, vehicle loans and credit card balances remain relatively consistent across all ages.

Education — Average balances for education loans stay fairly consistent among those under 75, ranging from $32,900 to $37,000. However, fewer people have education loans as time goes on. About 45% of people under 35 have student loans, but the percentage drops steadily, and those over age 75 have almost no student loans.

Ohio residents owe slightly more than the national average for student loans. Two-thirds of all students have student-loan debt, and 8 percent of Ohio‘s residents age 50 and older still have student loans.

Credit Card Debt — Millennials and individuals over 74 years old have the least amount of credit card debt, $5,808 and $5,638 respectively, but these groups are also among the least likely to have a credit card. The highest amount of credit card debt belongs to the age group between 45 and 54 years old – $9,096.

Average credit card debt also varies widely by state or region.  In Ohio, the average credit card debt is $4,823.

Medical Debt – Nearly one in five American households has medical debt in collections, with a median amount of $681. Medical debt can hit at any age and is the most common cause of people filing for bankruptcy in Ohio.  While older individuals are most likely to be hit with an expensive illness, people over 65 benefit from being covered for most expenses through Medicare.

Mortgage Debt — According to a survey by, the top source of debt for people in Ohio is mortgage debt, with an average of $125,359 in mortgage debt at the end of the first half of 2016. While less than 10% across all age groups carry debt on a non-primary residence, these mortgages can be substantial.

Dealing with Debt

In general, all generations show a greater comfort level with debt in all forms and have become more comfortable with financing. However, increasing debt means increasing risk that you will not be able to meet payments.

If you have gotten to the point that your debts have become overwhelming, you may want to consider the fresh start available by filing for bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy is a legal way to have many debts forgiven and get a fresh financial start. The most common types are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.  Chapter 7 is a full liquidation of all assets, while Chapter 13 may allow you to keep property, such as a mortgaged house, while you complete a three- to five-year payment plan to have debts forgiven.

Contact Us For Help

If your debts are mounting out of control, we can provide a helping hand. The experienced and compassionate Ohio debt relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer offer a free consultation to evaluate your entire financial situation. We will examine your income, your debts and your goals and discuss the best fit for you.  We will make sure you are aware of all your options and help you decide on the path to a brighter future that makes sense in your individual case.  We understand what you are going through and will handle every phase of the process.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call the Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer today.  Call one of our conveniently located office branches in Columbus, Dayton, or Cincinnati, or email for your free consultation so we can determine what debt-relief solutions will work best for you.

Attorney Tom Fesenmyer

Attorney Thomas M. Fesenmyer (Tom) is dedicated to helping his clients solve their financial issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. Tom has personally filed several thousand cases and has the expertise to achieve immediate results for his clients, including stopping Foreclosures, Repossessions, Wage Garnishments, Law Suits, Utility Shut-offs, Creditor Harassment, Bank Attachments, and Pay-Day Loans. Tom’s goal for all of his clients is asset protection and debt elimination.[ Attorney Bio ]



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