There are many things where I want it to be “normal.” I want to be a “normal” weight, which means I have to lose a few pounds (well more like 50). I want to have a “normal” family, which means having children. I want to own a home, which is normal. I want to go on a family vacation to Disney World, etc. However, when it comes to finances being a normal American for lack of a better word SUCKS!
Here are some fun factoids of normal Americans.
- 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. And those people who live paycheck to paycheck aren’t just minimum wage workers. About 25% of people who make over 100k live paycheck to paycheck. We live paycheck to paycheck. It SUCKS!!!
- More than 1/2 of all Americans have less than $1000 in the bank. (We luckily have a bit more than that).
- The average American in my age group has about 63k saved for retirement. And only about 172k by the time they reach 60. Recommendations vary but you should have about 10-12 times, if not more, of your salary saved by the time you retire.
- There is over 1.3 trillion dollars in student loan debt America and the average debt is $30,100. We have WAY more than than that and it SUCKS!
- The average household in America has over $132,000 in debt (that includes mortgage debt by the way). We have double that and IT SUCKS!
- The average person that carries a balance on their credit cards has $16,048 in debt. That sucks (luckily we don’t have this problem).
- People spend about 5 hours researching cars and vacations. 1/3 of people spent less than an hour on researching for retirement.
- The average American has saved about $16,000 for college. That isn’t bad, but will only pay for about 2 years of in-state tuition at a public university. And won’t even cover the cost of a semester at a private college.
- The expanding economy has driven up the amount of car loans to 1.07 trillion dollars. Most of those new loans are SUBPRIME! In other words the interest rates are outrageous and people pay through the nose for a new car. That is not my car buying philosophy.
- The average credit score in America is 673. That is considered to be “FAIR” by credit reporting agencies.
- The average house has grown in size by over 1000 square feet since the 1970s. Now I know we have an obesity epidemic crisis in this country, but we haven’t grown that big. Do we really need that much stuff? Seriously? We own a home that is 1348 square feet. I would like a house that has a better use of its space, but I am ok with having a house that has less than 2000 square feet.
I am sure there are many other factoids that I can include regarding finances on the average cost of a wedding (now 50k), the average cost to raise a kid (yes we still want one…or two).
But if you are looking at those factoids and think we are a bit crazy and by “we” I mean Americans then you have come to the right place and are right on.
So what is the moral of this story?
DON’T BE NORMAL FINANCIALLY!
I am somewhat of a fan of Dave Ramsey but I do think he is right when he says “Live like no one else so you can later live like no one else.”
That is why I can’t understand when people read news stories of people who have retired early and shit upon them. Shouldn’t we cheering them? Shouldn’t we be learning best practices to be like them? Shouldn’t we take a look at our own lives?
I know I try to. I am certainly not as frugal as I can be or want to be.
But at least I am trying. I think about it. I try to read and research about it.
I am saving for retirement more than most.
I am paying off debt at a clip of about 10% a year.
I am trying to investigate new ways of getting out of student loan debt (e.g. debt forgiveness),
And I am going to continue to help people with personal finance.
In other words, I don’t want to be NORMAL financially.
I want you to take a different financial pledge:
I pledge to do research and lay out a financial plan for myself and my family.
I pledge that I will try to get out of debt.
I pledge to save for emergencies.
I pledge to save for retirement.
I pledge to NOT be normal financially.
WILL YOU TAKE THE PLEDGE?