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Americans Continue Spending on Travel, Entertainment Despite $1.13 Trillion Credit Card Debt

Individuals continue to indulge in discretionary purchases despite prevailing worries about the state of the global economy and unpredictable events.
Cover Image Source: Photo by Thirdman | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Photo by Thirdman | Pexels

Despite a staggering $1.13 trillion in total credit card debt, a considerable number of Americans continue to spend impulsively. This phenomenon, termed "doom spending," underscores a paradoxical consumer behavior where individuals, especially younger generations, continue to indulge in discretionary purchases despite prevailing worries about the state of the global economy and unpredictable events.

Cover Image Source: Matt Cardy / Stringer/ Getty Images
Image Source: Photo by Matt Cardy | Getty Images

The pandemic profoundly altered both our lifestyle and economic behaviors. During the lockdown, restrictions on travel, dining out, and entertainment significantly curtailed our spending in these areas. However, as conditions improved and restrictions eased, a new trend emerged: "revenge payments."

Following a major disruption like a pandemic, individuals tend to overcompensate for lost time and missed experiences by splurging on discretionary spending. It's as if all the moments that were previously off-limits are now being eagerly seized upon to make up for lost opportunities.

Image Source: Photo by Craig Adderley | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Craig Adderley | Pexels

As per a recent Bankrate survey, over 38% of adults express readiness to increase their spending in the upcoming year, particularly for activities such as dining out, travel, and live entertainment.

The findings indicate that 27% of respondents are inclined to borrow money specifically for travel purposes, while 14% intend to utilize loans for dining out, and an additional 13% plan to borrow for activities like attending sporting events or concerts.

Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate, explained this trend, stating, "People are still eager to engage in leisure activities. Some of this enthusiasm stems from a sense of life's brevity, especially following the pandemic, while some of it is fueled by the perception of a robust economy, bolstered by indicators such as GDP growth and declining unemployment rates, which instill confidence in consumers."

Saving for the future? Here are some finance trends that Gen Z follows to manage theirs. Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska

The survey further reveals that young adults, particularly millennials and members of Generation Z, are disproportionately inclined towards accruing this new form of debt.

Research suggests that younger individuals, who have just started their careers, often exhibit a less conservative approach towards financial planning, despite grappling with the challenges posed by escalating living costs.

An Intuit survey found that 73% of individuals in Generation Z, aged between 18 and 25, prioritize accumulating more funds in their bank accounts over adopting stricter savings habits. However, a separate Bankrate study highlights that Gen Z workers constitute the largest demographic segment who do not consistently set aside savings.

Image Source: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels

"The pandemic changed how a lot of people think about money. Many are more focused on the present than thinking about the far-off future," explained Matt Schulz, who is the chief credit analyst at LendingTree and the author of "Ask Questions, Save Money, Make More."

"Every dollar you save when you're in your 20s grows over time. It is important to find a balance. Set up automatic savings from your paycheck, but also leave room for some fun in your budget. That way, you're not stuck paying high credit card interest rates," he added.