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Research and Statistics

Boomers have bigger financial fish to fry than their debt, study shows

37% of baby boomers have nonmortgage debt, but less than half with debt say paying it down is a top priority

Summary

Survey data from Ameriprise Financial Services shows that among all baby boomers (age 54-69), 37% reported having nonmortgage debt. When these boomers with debt were asked about their top financial priorities, however, debt reduction didn’t come close to cracking their top three.

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After removing mortgages from the equation, about a third of baby boomers are carrying some other debt. Yet among them, less than half are placing a top priority on paying it down.

Survey data from Ameriprise Financial Services shows that among all baby boomers (age 54-69), 37% reported having nonmortgage debt. And among the baby boomers who are retired, 31% still carried at least one debt other than a home loan.

When these boomers with debt were asked about their top financial priorities, however, debt reduction didn’t come close to cracking their top three. Saving for retirement was ranked as the highest priority, making the top three for 67% of boomers with debt, while protecting accumulated wealth and managing day-to-day expenses tied for second at 57% each.

See related:  Baby boomers big on credit cards for holiday shopping, study shows

A distant fourth was paying down debt, which was only ranked in the top three by 47% of baby boomers with nonmortgage debt. Working boomers were slightly more likely to rank debt reduction a top priority, at 49%, while just 44% of retired boomers ranked it in their top three.

The generation’s apparently lax attitude toward paying down debt falls in line with another finding of the survey: Close to half of baby boomers (45%) said that having debt in retirement is becoming more acceptable. Younger generations were less forgiving, with only 40% of Generation Xers and 37% of millennials saying retirement debt has become more accepted.

Ameriprise’s survey was conducted online by Artemis Strategy Group in December 2018 among a national sample of 3,009 U.S. adults who had at least $100,000 in investable assets, with findings published Nov. 26.

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