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I see it all over the place.  On TV.  On blogs.  In news articles.  It doesn't matter.

When talking about debt, mortgages seem to get glossed over.  The focus always seems to be on ‘non-mortgage debt'.

While this is good, the fact remains that you still owe on your mortgage.  It's still debt.  And, chances are, for most that have a mortgage, it's the biggest debt and/or the biggest monthly payment that you have associated with debt.

So, why might mortgages get ‘left out' of the debt discussion?  Just speculating here:

  • Backed by an asset – Up until the last few years, it was a pretty safe bet that most mortgages had an asset behind them, so you could kinda sorta see how it wouldn't get looked at as the same type of debt as other things that aren't asset based.  Most people (and banks too) figured that the house could always be sold and that could make the debt go away.  With so many people underwater these days, that's really not the case anymore, but the old mentality seems to have stuck.
  • It would make a BIG BIG number even BIGGER – We talk about the debt in America in the trillions.  It's already an overwhelming number.  To add in the collective mortgage balance would make it an astronomical number.

Personally, when I look at our debt, the mortgage is included.  Why?  Because it's a debt!  Plain and simple, it's a loan that we took out and have to pay back, and if that's not the way to define a debt, then I need a new dictionary!

How do you look at mortgage debt in the ‘how much debt do I have' discussion, and what other reasons might there be for not including it in the debt totals other than what I've listed above?