Survey: Americans Would Rather Be Skinny Than Debt-Free

When given the choice between either gaining a significant amount of weight or losing all of your debt, what would you choose?

That question was posed to more than 2,000 Americans by personal finance company, Credit Karma, and the results may surprise you. The survey found that a whopping 72 percent of respondents would rather keep their debt than be debt free and gain 25 pounds.

We’d understand if the given debt was a couple thousand dollars but according to Bethy Hardeman, a spokesperson for Credit Karma, the average respondents had about $6,000 in credit card debt, $111,000 in mortgage debt, and more than $11,000 in auto debt. That isn’t exactly pocket change.

So why choose looks over cash? Daniel Packer, a personal finance blogger, suggests the following possible reasons: Since many of us earn our own debt, getting rid of it all at once without paying for it might inspire guilt. Another reason could be that 25 pounds can be a life-changing amount of weight to put on, suggest Packer. Additionally, he says everyone can see your weight, whereas only a few people are aware of your debt balance, which might have something to do with the survey’s results.

Hardeman also says it might have something to do with exposure:

“One of the things you do every day is you look in the mirror,” she said. “I don’t necessarily think you log into your bank account every day and see how much money you have. You’re not confronted with that every day. It’s kind of easy to ignore.”

It’s important to note the survey didn’t focus exclusively on physical appearances and found 70 percent of respondents regarded their health as more important than their finances. Another interesting stat is the how men and female’s responses differed. While 49 percent of men would rather stay at their current weight than be debt free, only 38 percent of women would do the same.

For more on the survey, click here.