This week, Fast Company released a sobering article for anyone drunk on debt or worried about an economy that’s become a tipsy house of (credit) cards. Stephanie Vozza shares her family’s saga about getting spanked in arrears—and then launching into a bold recovery program and emerging debt-free. Her relief is palpable.
Equally evident is that choking sensation happening to the millions who are deeply underwater.
Some pop shrinks say it’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others. But in this case, please do. If you can’t—because you don’t know your own numbers—you may be in the camp of the clueless and hopeless who are worse off than these “average” folks.
According to Nerdwallet, here are 5 debt amounts of the average American…
~ $15K Credit card
~ $26K Auto
~ $165K Mortgage
~ $47K Student loans (for the many who got ‘em)
~ $6+K Annual debt service (9% of HHI)
You’ve heard the phrase, “Too big to fail.” That’s about the mega-banks with gazillions; the government tends to regulate them po-lightly and bail them out whenever they “spend” too much. In comparison, the crush of debtors crashing on tapped-out households looks more like a Soprano’s shakedown. Little mercy exists for the chronically strapped or bankrupt.
So it’s no wonder that the article lists a litany of disorders and conditions from which the in-debt individual often suffers: stress; anxiety; depression; desperation; obesity; accelerated aging; risky behavior; heart attacks. Can you guess the favored therapy for treating these problems? Yep, spending. Now always one click away.
At some point, most broke folk fall into a what-the-hell downward spiral. What will happen if millions of families run out of get-out-of-debt cards at once? Stay tuned.
Despite the debt, Americans are traveling—more than ever. Alleluia! Postponing joy rarely helps. And a spring BreakAway investment to sun and sand might inspire the revelation that experiences matter more than materialistic expenditures.
After all, could there be a better reward for getting out of the red and into the black than flying off to the adventure of a lifetime and a future of balanced priorities and checkbooks?
Start with these simple 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness. Then calculate all your debt and savings and attempt a realistic strategy to break even. Then go for a walk. Meditate. Call your mom. Ditch the digitalia. And try spending time on things that cost little but mean much.