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Plastic People

One hundred spenders surveyed in Union Square.

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How many credit cards do you have?
None...17
1... 24
2...27
3...13
4...9
5+...2

About how much do you charge each month?
$0–$100...44
$100–$500...24
$500–$1,000...13
$1,000–$2,000...8
$2,000 or more...7

How much credit-card debt do you have?
None/I pay it off every month... 47
$1–$1,000...15
$1,000–$5,000...20
$5,000–$10,000...7
$10,000–$25,000...6
$25,000+...0

Is your debt increasing or decreasing?
Increasing...35
Decreasing...53

What’s the priciest thing you’ve ever charged?
“$81 MetroCard.” “Foo Fighters tix, $400.” “$1,500 rent.” “$2,000 flight to Thailand.” “$2,400 mattress.” “$2,900 shoes.” “$4,500 doors for my house.” “A wood stove, $5,000-plus.” “$7,000 watch.” “$10,000 TV.” “$500 haircut.”

How would you describe credit-card companies?
They’re predators...20
They’re legitimate—any trouble I get in is my fault...16
I don’t have a problem with the concept, but their advertising practices and fee rules are shady and deceptive...59

Have you ever consolidated debt, either with a loan or onto different cards?
Yes...20
No...78

What sources have you consulted about managing your finances? Circle all that apply:
None...35
Parents/family...48
Friends...23
Professional accountant or money manager...17
Suze Orman...9
“Mutual Funds for Dummies.”
“A twelve-step program.”

How long until you think you’ll be debt-free?
In a few months...10
Within a year...15
Within five years...31
My debt is a tunnel with no light, a chasm with no bottom, a nightmare with no waking...21

Which of the following other debts do you have? Circle all that apply:
Car loan...9
Home loan...14
Student loan...44
Loan from a family member...5

How much do you pay monthly in non-credit-card debt, not counting your mortgage?
$0–$100...48
$100–$500...29
$500–$1,000...9
$1,000+ ...4

What would you have to cut down on to live within your means? Circle all that apply:
Rent...18
Utilities...9
Groceries...23
Gym membership...29
Medical expenses...11
Restaurants...69
Clothes...50
Going out ...61
Cab rides...35
Travel...37

Do you know your credit score?
Yes...39
No...60

Have you ever cut up one of your credit cards?
Yes...40
No...59

What was your most unnecessary purchase last year?
“iPhone.” “Scrapbook paper.” “A tattoo.” “A decorative Moroccan teapot.” “Porno.” “A Murakami print.” “$400 boots (black, flat, gorgeous!).” “Lotto tickets.” “A flat-screen TV.” “A Mercedes-Benz.” “Christian books.” “Rollerblades.” “An Xbox Live membership.” “Trip to Cancún.” “An $800 leather jacket.” “Grad school.” “Socks.” “Stock.” “Psychic readings.”

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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