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How much debt do Americans have?

Maybe you feel like you have so much debt that it's nearly overwhelming. Maybe you don't have much at all, and you think debt stories are oversold. Either way, you may be wondering how much debt Americans tend to carry.

According to a survey that looked at the most recent numbers, for 2016, the average overall debt for every household is $134,643. Now, that does include mortgages, so they tend to skew the numbers upward. If you owe $150,000 on your house -- a reasonable amount in some areas and a very low total in others -- then you're over the national average already. Those who rent then skew the numbers in the other direction a bit, since they still owe payments every month even though don't have "debt."

In any case, credit cards do contribute heavily to these numbers. The survey found that, for those who do carry debt on their cards, they end up paying around $1,300 annually. That's in interest alone, not counting fees if there are missed payments.

To break things down a bit further, the total amount of credit card debt in the country clocks in at $779 billion. That means that those who have it owe $16,748 each, on average.

Researchers did note that debt was on the rise. They said that income growth in the last 13 years has been lower than the increase in the cost of living. For example, food costs 36 percent more now, and medical costs have grown by 57 percent, but median income has only gone up by 28 percent.

As you can see, debt is only getting more common and could present serious financial problems going forward. Be sure you know your legal options.

Source: NerdWallet, "2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study," Erin El Issa, accessed March 17, 2017

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