Not Worried About Debt? Really?

Did you check out our Investor Spring Cleaning special report? The one focusing on debt? There's an amazing development in there.

It's our poll asking people about their biggest debt worry. Is it the mortgage? Credit cards? Student loans? You know what got the biggest answer?

"Not worried" roughly 40 percent. And we're not talking a small sample here. Over 12,000 people took the poll.


That seems to fly in the face of a lot of downer headlines about employment (better but still not great) and the economy (at best fragile) these days.

It also seems to run counter to recent findings from the National Endowment for Financial Education about what people care about money-wise these days.

NEFE found that the biggest financial goal for US adults is having enough to retire (47 percent). Student loans and early retirement each got about 5 percent of the vote. Surprisingly, well at least surprising for those who think home ownership is the be-all-end-all of the American dream, only 17 percent think owning their own home is most important.

Only 6 percent of the folks in the NEFE survey said there are are no financial goals they want to achieve.

Now the NEFE survey was a professional exercise sampling more than 2,000 people representing a cross-section of America. Our little Web poll is an unscientific, finger in the wind device. Heck, I've been known to take them down when they get too far afield.

But more than 40 percent not worried? Huh?

Well, let's keep in mind this is really the reaction of CNBC readers who chose to look at a package of stories about debt management. So the sample is already composed of folks who are at least cognizant of money issues. And our demographic isn't really a cross section of America. It's not the extreme "wealth gap" decried by many populist firebrands, but it does skew toward the "better off" side of the income curve.

So maybe our poll result is simply a reflection of votes from people in better situations and better equipped to handle money management challenges.

Or maybe it's a reflection of the myopia about credit and the consequences of over-extended debt that got us into the post-2008 pickle to begin with.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. If you are worried about your debt, start here.


Allen Wastler is managing editor of You can catch his commentary on CNBC Radio. And check out his fiction.