Our collective relationship with finance is broken.
Far too many individuals can't control their finances.
On the contrary, their finances seem to control them.
Although finance serves as a technology and a language designed to enable the creative, the problem solving, and the various causes of our human spirit. Finance has also turned into a force to suppress individuals and perpetuate a status - quo of unnecessary suffering.
A basic and common financial understanding and contextual alignment is essentially non-existent in most all people's lives, i.e. people are playing a game, but they do not understand the rules. This has lead to the rise of an extremely noisy marketplace for financial information, which continues to perpetuate confusion and hype, placing the burden of finding a clear path to a simple personal financial approach on the ever confused and exhausted individual.
Personal Finance is a shackle for far too many people, even people who are generating lots of income. The shear confusion from financial noise, “guru recipes”, and nonsense financial "advice" has generated the perpetuation of this suffering. More notably the confusion and overwhelm have set a limitation on our human potential in expressing itself.
Further perpetuating this paradigm are corporations who emphasize returns over the quality and fiduciary they owe their customers, resulting in a long list of poorly designed product & service options for the individual.
Let’s zoom out for a moment, and look at the bigger picture. Illustrating the economic reality we all live in are the following facts:
U.S. companies raked in a record $2.3 trillion in corporate profits last year (2018), while the country's total wealth increased by $6 trillion to $98.2 trillion.
56% of Americans say money is their #1 source of stress (ranking higher than health, family, and work).
An estimated 1/2 of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
Two-Thirds of Americans would struggle to come up with $1,000 in a general emergency.
44% of Americans don’t have enough cash on hand to cover a $400 auto- related repair.
44,000,000 Americans (13%) have student loans. That’s 1 in 7.5.
Americans as a whole owe more than $1.5 trillion in educational debt.
43% of student loan borrowers are not making regular payments.
Almost half of student loan holders express concern about their ability to pay off their student debt.
38% of U.S. households have credit card debt.
There are 1.9 billion open credit cards in the U.S.
About 77 million Americans, or 35 percent of adults with a credit file, have debt in collections reported in their credit files.
Household debt currently stands at 14 Trillion (mtg yes, but cc and auto debt is growing and so are delinquencies).
Just 46% of Americans lack a “rainy day fund”.
33% of American adults have $0 saved for retirement = 1 in 3 Americans has $0 saved for retirement!
28% of people over 55 have $0 retirement savings.
Only 18% of Americans actively contribute to an IRA.
54% of American households are “invested” in the stock market. Out of this total, over 50% is invested through retirement accounts, pensions and mutual funds, which 90% are fundamentally miss-aligned with the individuals they are supposed to serve - Read The US Retirement Joke.
The gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” continues to grow with no end/ solution in sight. Estimates show that the top 0.1% of taxpayers—about 170,000 families in a country of 330 million people—control more than 20% of America’s wealth, the highest share since 1929. The top 1% control 39% of U.S. wealth, and the bottom 90% have only 26%. The bottom 80% have only 8%-10%. The bottom half of Americans combined have a negative net worth. Over 15% of Americans live below the poverty line.
Here is the story of wealth in America since the 1950’s:
Here is how the wealth has been distributed:
This is what wealth inequality in America looks like:
We can also ignore the wealth measure, and simply look at income:
Why is this happening?
Yes, there are systemic inefficiencies. Yes, the Fed and QE are a major problem. Yes, the government can do more (or at least borrow less and/or spend less). Yes, corporations can behave more responsibly. Yes, employers can do more. But, what is happening on the individual level? Why is there a total collapse of personal financial management? Why are so many people, in the wealthiest country in the world, financially handicapped? Why are people that are generating good incomes still so stuck? What is happening on the individual level of financial management?
Personal Finance thinking is medieval. There is an epidemic failure within the system and throughout society in understanding what is really happening, and how to address the actual problem. This leads people to completely misjudge their financial decisions and behaviors.
There are alarmingly low-level financial literacy throughout our culture: Two-thirds of Americans can’t even pass a five-question financial literacy test, according to FINRA.
People have no idea what their current position is, what their financial vitals are, how to make sense of where they stand financially. So is it really any surprise they cannot navigate their way to a desired destination?
At the “top levels” of thinking on our topic, we are also lost. Check this out:
“The economics profession has been abysmal in analyzing this”