How are we doing? How are you doing?
The Federal Reserve recently released their Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015. This report reveals how our personal finances are doing as a nation.
As with any report like this, there are positives and negatives. But there are some numbers that caught my attention more than others. They stood out because they represented real people with real financial struggles.
And while not every aspect of U.S. citizens’ personal finances are bad, we have some significant challenges to address.
Here are 10 surprising numbers on the economic well-being of U.S. households:
- 31% are either “just getting by” (22%) or “finding it difficult to get by” (9%).
- 46% of adults do not have enough cash on hand to cover a $400 emergency expense. 38% of this group said they would use a credit card. 31% said their was no way to cover it.
- Of those who said they would use other non-cash means to cover a $400 emergency expense, 39% said the largest emergency expense they could cover with cash was under $100.
- 22% had a major medical expense in the past year. 46% of those who had the medical expense now have debt from it.
- 12% of those who took out a car loan signed a loan agreement with a term longer than they anticipated owning the car.
- 51% of adults under 30 who attended college have student loan debt.
- 21% of adults who have student loan debt also have education-related credit card debt.
- 39% of non-retired adults have no retirement savings.
- 49% of adults who have self-directed retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b), etc.) are either not confident or slightly confident that they can make the right decisions when it comes to investing.
- 27% of non-retired adults age 60+ have no retirement savings.
If you are one of these statistics, I know you feel the tremendous stress and weight that comes along with it.
Certainly, some challenges are caused by situations outside of our control. But sometimes, if we are honest with ourselves, it is us. It is our spending. It is our lack of planning. It is our poor stewardship.
But there is good news. It can change. Sure, it is work, but the change is worth the effort.
God has designed us to be conduits through which His generosity flows. Managing our money well is a way to catalyze our ability to be a part of His Kingdom-advancing mission.
If you are struggling with your finances, let me encourage you to take at least one step in the right direction today. Here a few suggestions:
- Give something to your local church. I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but giving is the starting point for smart money management.
- Cut back on something. Try to find any unnecessary spending. Going to Starbucks? Start brewing at home.
- Pay off something. With that money you saved by avoiding Starbucks, start paying off your credit card debt.
- Save something. You need an emergency fund. If you don’t have enough to open a savings account, open a checking account. Place the funds in there. Make your initial goal $1,000.
Whether we have much or little, we can position ourselves to where we can leverage all God has given us for His adventurous and victorious mission.
And it can start today.