We mark time with cataclysmic events. In finance we often site the great receession and market crashes that occurred within the last decades, as many of us were directly affected by it. It wasn’t a story we read in an old history book, it was our lives, and for many it was completely devastating.
We are all resilient- more then we give ourselves credit. We are creative when we need to be and stronger then we can ever imagine. So since then we picked up and pulled it together, but now not even 10 years later there is a sort of deja-vu in the market.
Did you know that household debt is at the peak of $12 trillion? This level mirrors the debt levels of 2008, a final marker of the great recession. Instead of home loans, auto and student loans are now the prime sources of debt.
That’s not all that is devastating though, because even today many of us are extremely vulnerable to financial disaster. One sickness or illness can shatter a single person or family with medical bills and seemingly life long repayments. Even middle earners have times in their life when they dip into poverty levels.
The truth is this: Earnings are barely increasing, incomes are fluctuating substantially, and less then half of Americans have a month’s worth of income available in cash for emergency situations.
There is some good news though. The economy is much stronger then it was in 2008, and the unemployment rate dropped from 7.8% in 2009, down to 4.5% just months ago.
Perhaps the American Dream is not as lavish as the Great Gatsby once believed. Instead of making more and moving up ladders, Americans are shifting towards just finding stability.
When you live paycheck to paycheck a lot investment or finance advice goes out the window. You can use an hourly paycheck calculator in the hope that your employer missed out a couple hours, because those hours make the difference between what does and doesn’t make it on the table for dinner.
Some days its ramen noodles and canned foods, because the alternative is just too expensive. At some point it comes down to survival- budgeting down to the line item at the grocery store, or seeing how long you can hold out.
But even then credit card debt is soaring.