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Research and Statistics

Affluent consumers delaying life events, big purchases to tackle debt, study shows

More than 4 in 10 respondents are holding off on vacations, and 37 percent have deprioritized buying a car


A new Merrill Lynch survey shows 68 percent of mass affluent Americans, who have at least $20,000 in investable assets, say they are abstaining from or postponing certain events or life milestones to tackle their debt. Top among those delayed events is taking a vacation.

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Aiming to lower their debt, more than two-thirds of Americans are putting major life events and purchases on the back burner.

The findings from a new Merrill Lynch survey show 68 percent of mass affluent Americans, who have at least $20,000 in investable assets, say they are abstaining from or postponing certain events or life milestones.

Top among those delayed events is taking a vacation, with more than 4 in 10 respondents (43 percent) indicating they are holding off on travel while they work to reduce their debt.

Major purchases have also been deprioritized, with 37 percent of Americans saying their focus on debt has them postponing a new car purchase, while 30 percent have put buying a home on hold.

Building a family is also taking a hit, though to a lesser extent. About 1 in 5 say debt has them delaying having children (19 percent), and 15 percent are holding off on tying the knot.

Merrill Lynch’s Merrill Edge Report presents its findings from a nationally representative survey of 1,000 mass affluent U.S. adults, conducted online in May 2019. The report was released June 14.

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