A significant portion of the news lately revolves around money, be it directly or indirectly. The following numbers, courtesy of Love INC, provide some insight that helps to explain why people are so concerned about their financial situation. Consider:
- Seventy-two percent of all consumers live paycheck to paycheck. That means one missed paycheck and they have nothing to live on; they are in deep trouble.
- Ninety-two percent of US family disposable income is spent on paying debt. That is mind-boggling and hard to even fathom. Though I guess if you pay everything via credit card, then the next month it becomes debt. (I wonder if the money used to pay off balances in full each month was included. To me it’s not debt until it begins accruing interest.)
- Almost half of all Americans have saved less than $10,000 for their retirement. I don’t know about you, but my expectations for social security are zero. My plan is that I need to provide for 100% of my retirement (if I retire). Anything I happen to receive from Uncle Sam will be a bonus.
- Between 1989 and 2006 America’s total credit card purchases increased from $69 billion to $1.8 trillion. That’s a 2,500% increase (or 25 times larger) in 17 years. Although some of that is due to a convenience factor, with the balance being paid off each month, I have to believe that there are a lot of people seeking instant gratification, buying what they can’t afford.
- Thirty-seven percent of marital problems stem from financial strain and stress. Actually, this doesn’t surprise me; I would have expected a higher number. Nevertheless, it confirms a connection between money problems and marriage problems.
Much has been made, in recent months, about corporate greed, but to be honest, this seems a lot like personal greed: spending every penny, mortgaging the future for satisfaction today, ignoring future needs, and flashing the plastic way too often.
There has to be a better way.
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.