In between the insults, disinformation and obfuscation during the presidential election process, occasionally an issue is accidentally discussed.
As we get nearer to the general election, where both sides need to reach out to all beliefs, one issue that is important to everyone, on the left or right, making a ton of money or none at all, is financial well-being.
For a lot of people, that definition simply means being able to pay this month’s bills. For quite a few more it’s figuring out a way to pay for last month’s (or more).
For an increasing amount, it means not even thinking about tomorrow and that’s just plain wrong.
The obvious rebuttal is, “How can I worry about tomorrow when I can’t even afford today?”
Most of us have been there. I had plenty of Tuna Helper, PB&J and 4/$1 mac & cheese boxes when I was just getting out of college. I spent a lot of weeks hoping my pay check would clear before the checks I wrote to pay my bills (no direct deposit back then).
There are people today way worse off than I was back then. The recent increase in some companies’ pay to $10/hour still means less than $20,000 take home per year for a full-time employee.
I might have been taking home almost half that, but my little rent was only $400 per month; good luck finding anything better than a cardboard box at that price now.
And yet, it’s still wrong not to plan for the future. What’s the purpose of simply living to pay today’s bills if you’re not hoping for a brighter tomorrow?
For all the talk about lifting people up economically and making America great, neither side seems to understand there is more to the problem than simply giving people more money (which I fully support…feel free to drop a bag outside my door).
The bigger problem is no one is taught what to do with money once we get it. To this day, there are still no classes, at any level of “required” education, that helps people understand the key important concepts about money.
The most critical ages, high school, have no curriculum explaining the basics of budgeting, negotiating, time value of money, savings and investing. We send kids out there without a grasp of how critical restraint is in securing their future.
Consumer debt in the country is beyond immense. The satisfaction of wants is seduced by easy access to credit cards. The lifelong imprisonment to payments begins at an early age and is much more widespread in its fatal addiction than any drug produced by man.
The examples are so numerous, yet often so subtle.
A teenager throws a thousand dollar exhaust system on their new car, not realizing that money, if invested, would have doubled by the time he got out of college (or be worth nearly 20 times as much by the time he retired).
Phones, tablets, laptops get flipped as soon as the new ones are out. Same for many clothing and accessory items. It’s cool, it’s trendy and it’s a guarantee that those kids will be the same ones paying interest on credit card balances for a long, long time.
Sacrifice is not a fun word. It’s not something you’re going to hear a lot about in this peer-comparison driven market. But it’s something that’s needed if you want things later in life. Things like peace of mind, security and fun.
These are themes that parents try to teach their kids (those that understand the concepts themselves), but also need to be reinforced in the educational system.
What good does it do to create a more financially rewarding America if too few people know what to do with their newfound prosperity? How do you plan to manage that added wealth to secure your future?
What’s in your wallet?