Americans pay interest on a number of loans. The most well known among these are student debt, car loans, credit cards and mortgages. According to a new study, the average American will pay $130,462 in interest over a lifetime.
To peg the lifetime interest number, Self looked at FICO scores, 30-year mortgages, mortgage size, interest rates on car loans (assuming people own six cars over the course of their lives), credit card debt per state and student loan debt over a 20-year period based on an interest rate of 6%. It is a messy methodology but directionally makes some sense.
Figures obviously vary widely by income, the debt people actually carry at any time and the fact that some people take very few loans, if any, over the course of their lives.
The spread by state for lifetime interest payments was unusually wide. Hawaii topped the list at $272,326. California was next at $234,337. Iowa was at the bottom of the list with a figure of $93,416, followed by Indiana at $94,090.
The interest figures do not appear to be tethered to household income by state. Maryland has the highest household income by state. It ranks eighth in interest payments over a lifetime. Ohio ranks 36th among all states for median household income but is near the bottom based on interest paid over the course of a lifetime.
Are there any lessons from the study? Perhaps the most obvious, and unlikely, is that people carry no debt at all if possible. Since most Americans have at least a car loan and a mortgage, this won’t happen in most cases. Have a strong credit score to get better interest rates? Due to income in many cases, some people may never reach the high end of credit scores at all.
However, people can shop for loans with lower interest rates. With a modest amount of work, they can bring down their lifetime interest payment numbers.