Household debt leads to holiday stress – survey

2% of respondents said they will take out home equity to pay for gifts

Household debt leads to holiday stress – survey
American consumers are citing household and credit card debt as stressors for the holiday season, with a third of respondents in a nationwide survey saying they wish they could skip the holiday season rather than spend money on gifts, according to non-bank mortgage servicer Mr. Cooper.

The survey follows a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which found that household debt balances increased in the third quarter for the 13th consecutive quarter. Mortgage balances increased $52 billion from the second quarter to $8.74 trillion as of Sept. 30. Balances on home equity lines of credit dropped by $4 billion and stood at $448 billion.

“US consumer debt is growing by half a trillion dollars each year, and we are seeing the stress of debt take its toll on Americans. Our data confirms that the debt crisis is an ongoing issue,” said Jay Bray, chairman and CEO of Nationstar Mortgage Holdings, the holding company for the Mr. Cooper brand. “With home equity at its highest levels since before the crisis, the home has become the most important asset most consumers have. Our goal at Mr. Cooper is to help our 3 million-plus customers better manage that asset while also offering services, tools, and education that can support their personal balance sheets and financial health goals.”

The Mr. Cooper survey of 1,155 Americans found that when it comes to gift buying, 52% who purchase holiday gifts either won’t define a budget this year, or will set a budget but have trouble sticking to it. The survey further found that 32% who purchase holiday gifts will pay with credit cards, 3% by taking out personal loans, 2% will take out equity in their homes.

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