Debt Payment Continues, But Car Payments a Burden

Debt Payment Continues, But Car Payments a Burden

According to the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index report by Allen Grommet, Ph.D. Sr. Economist, nearly half (46%) of Americans said that someone in their household was making at least one monthly loan or lease payment on a car. Younger respondents were more likely to be making auto payments than older households and higher income respondents were more likely than lower income households. When looking towards the next six months, 6% said they were very likely to make additional auto purchases with an additional 11% somewhat likely to buy or lease. It appears that there is still significant potential for continued auto sales and financing in coming months, despite robust sales in 2003.

Do you or does anyone in your household currently make payments on an existing car loan or car lease?

  • No 54%
  • Yes 46%
    By Region:
  • Northeast 42%
  • Midwest 42%
  • South 54%
  • West 38%
    By Income:
  • Under 25K 32%
  • 25K - 50K 48%
  • 50K - 75K 60%
  • Over 75K 58%

    A higher proportion of people living in the South finance their car while the lowest percentage of respondents living in the West finance. The higher the level of income, the more likely that a car is financed.

    What is your monthly car loan or lease payment?

  • Less than $300 32%
  • $300 but less than $500 50%
  • $500 but less than $700 10%
  • $700 or More 8%

    How much do these existing car payments prevent you from buying or spending money on other things in life (i.e. house, apartment or something else)?

  • A major burden 11%
  • A minor burden 44%
  • No burden at all 45%

    More lower-income respondents felt their car payment was a burden with a total of 66% of the under $25K group saying it was burden while only 30% of the over $75K group saying it was. Similar differences by age were apparent too with 62% of those 18 - 34 years old saying the payments were a burden while only 22% of those 65 and older feeling it was a burden.

    How likely are you to buy or lease a new car or truck in the next six months? Are you...

  • Very Likely 6%
  • Somewhat Likely 11%
  • Not Likely at all 83%

    The profile of the most likely buyer is a young person with high income and higher education. And this potential buyer is most likely to spend $300-500 per month financing his purchase, unless he/she lives in the Midwest where they will seek a cheaper car.

    "The Cambridge Consumer Index shows that consumers are increasingly optimistic about the coming holiday season since their intentions to add debt over the next month rose significantly. While some of this increase is seasonal and is to be expected, clearly consumers are feeling better about the state of the economy and are therefore more willing to take on debt to buy holiday gifts," says Jordan Goodman, spokesperson for the Index.

    For more information on the survey go here.

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