Nearly half of Americans plan for post-pandemic debt, but that may be a positive sign, study says

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A recent study found that nearly half of all Americans plan on, or are somewhat likely to go into debt following the COVID-19 pandemic. But that may be a positive sign.

You read that correctly — 47% of Americans are planning on some form of post-pandemic debt and that may be signaling a positive change according to a study from LendingTree.

“Oddly enough, it may be a sign of confidence,” said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree. “Credit card debt can climb in good economic times because people are confident that they’ll be able to pay it off.”

He says since people were cooped up inside for the past year, they might have accumulated some extra cash and are now itching to start traveling and spending.

“They might be planning a post-vaccination splurge trip and might just overdo it a bit to help make up for how crummy the past year has been,” Schulz added. “It’s being called revenge spending, and it’s probably going to be pretty common.”

The survey of more than 2,000 Americans found that 61% of Gen Z and Millennials were most likely to incur debt, followed by Gen X at 51% and Baby boomer at 17%.

But where is all the money going?

LendingTree found that the three biggest categories were travel, clothing and restaurants.

That’s not too surprising. Since COVID positivity rates continue to fall and vaccination numbers continue to climb, workers are making their return back into the office.

Throw in some new clothes, a new pair of shoes, a few other accessories and you’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag — $747 on average.

But before you go and empty your bank account, Schulz says “it is understandable, and it is even OK in certain circumstances. People just need to do it carefully.”

Now is a really good time to revisit your priorities. They may have changed during the pandemic.

“Now, for many, they may be shifting back again or going in a whole new direction. Knowing that, take the time to give your budget a once-over. They’re meant to be living documents, especially in challenging economic times.”

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