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One in four American households feel debt is causing significant stress in their lives.

Debt is stressing a lot of Americans. A new report by Mintel, a market research firm based in London, found that "one in four (American) households (25 percent) feel that the level of debt they are carrying is causing significant stress in their lives, and the same percentage (25 percent) state that the amount of debt they have impacts their day-to-day lives."

"The economic recovery is in full swing, but many households are still struggling to make ends meet and the pressure of everyday expenses is stressing them out," said Susan Menke, senior financial services analyst at Mintel. "Consumers are feeling increasingly bogged down by their debt and they don't seem to see an end in sight, as many expect to carry debt into retirement."

Only 48 percent of Americans think they will be free from debt when they retire. Seventeen percent think they will never get out of debt — about 20 million households.

But 61 percent said paying off their debt is their number one financial goal.

GoBankingRates.com created a hypothetical average American using existing average data from a variety of sources, named her "Mary Smith," and looked at how much debt average folks have.

The fictional, average Mary Smith is a 37-year-old non-Hispanic white woman living in New York who earns a median income of $40,728.

Unfortunately, Mary Smith is probably among those 25 percent that Mintel's report says are experiencing debt stress.

Adding her average credit card debt to mortgage debt to student loan and auto debt leaves Mary Smith, according to GoBankingRates.com, in debt around $225,238.

No wonder, according to a survey by Credit.com, that the new American Dream for 23 percent of Americans is to be debt free.

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