Nine out of ten Americans believe the biggest roadblock to achieving financial independence is paying off credit card debt. By the same token, seven in ten Americans believe that being debt-free is an essential component to financial independence. Only 22% believe they’ve achieved independence themselves.
A recent survey from Consolidated Credit found the next biggest roadblock to achieving financial independence is student loan debt with 21% stating that it was holding them back.
For most people, financial independence is closely tied to indebtedness. The emotional and mental burden of debt holds you back from real independence.
“Waking up each morning to a new day with a spirit that feels free and light. No burdens of wondering where my money is going or worry if I will have enough to live a normal, carefree life.”
“I also believe I should be able to assist others, by participating in the meals ministry, giving above the Tithe, and being able to provide support without the emotional burden of debt.”
“I equate financial independence with a feeling of freedom. It feels great to pay your debts and still have money left to do whatever you want for you and your family.”
People also believe that savings is key to long-term financial independence. That includes savings for emergencies now and long-term savings for retirement.
“For me it’s taking an honest part in our household finances, being honest with my husband and being able to retire in a couple of years.”
“Financial independence means owing less than I make, but also putting money in savings and not having to touch it. It’s being able to deal with emergencies without debt.”
For the most part, people believe the American Dream still exists and that you can achieve it. The dream most people define still involves elements of the classic American Dream defined in the past:
“The American Dream is available to anyone willing to put forth the effort to get it. You can own a home, attend school and get a good education. Jobs are plentiful if you don’t mind working from the bottom up.”
“The American Dream is having a roof over your head, good health and happiness. I believe I have achieved it.”
“It’s having a home, family, savings for retirement, and still having some left over to enjoy life.”
However, people often point to debt as the most significant challenge standing between them and achieving the American Dream:
“It’s living somewhat comfortably and not stressing day to day, week to week, paycheck to paycheck. It mean haves a good roof over your head, something to drive, a decent job and friends and family to enjoy time with. Debt stress keeps one from achieving the dream.”
“I am working in the position I have always dreamed of having. We have our house almost paid for, with 2 of 4 kids through college so far. This is living happily. I do, however, have huge student loans.”
“The American Dream is achieving your goals in life, after years or honest hard work. I don’t think I’m there yet, but I’m trying to develop the financial discipline to achieve it.”
“The dream is to be debt free and be able to set money aside. I’m still in the process of achieving it. I’m getting my debts down so I can look into buying a home.”
Still others believe the American Dream hinges on a higher education and the right job:
“It means I’m able to live a financially stable lifestyle without worry that if something happens I could lose everything. I feel like the American Dream is still to be able to own your own home and car and not have to worry about finances. I haven’t achieve this yet, but I’m working towards it every day. I start an RN program I a new and once I’m done I’ll be one step closer.”
“It’s about being debt free and earning more than I spend and get taxed. I’m trying to build my business in order to clear my debt. Then I’ll have it.”