Why Are You Broke?

Oct 20, 2015 by

American DreamAnyone who doesn’t get all of their information from Fox News knows that most of us except the super rich Donald Trump types are economically worse off and facing bigger money challenges than our peers of, say, 10, 20, and 30 years ago. “The American Dream” as traditionally defined—life in a comfortable, single-family home on a nice lot, two cars in the garage, money in the bank, a steadily growing retirement fund, secure jobs, and money for an annual vacation and gifts under the tree—seems mostly out of reach for millions of Americans.

Why? I think the answer is simple: median household income in the U.S. has been dropping since the late 1990s, and now is at the same level as about 25 years ago.

U.S. median household income

The middle class and even some in the upper economic class who live in high cost-of-living regions can no longer afford The American Dream lifestyle, at least not without taking on loads of debt, which many stubborn dreamers have willingly, if not eagerly, done.

Are You Broke Because of ‘the Economy’?

We can argue all day about the reasons for the decline of middle class income, but that’s not going to help any of us achieve a comfortable, secure retirement. Whatever the cause, the new reality is that, for most Americans, pursuing the traditional American Dream is inconsistent with achieving financial independence and saving enough money for a comfortable retirement.

I’d suggest that widespread American Dream lifestyles are also inconsistent with sustainable ecology, but that’s a topic for someone else’s blog. 🙂

We Need a New Dream

If you’re struggling to save as much as you should be, take a hard look in the mirror.

Are you locked into pursuit of the traditional American Dream? If so, please seriously consider this question: Why?

Who are you trying to impress?

What’s so great exactly about the traditional American Dream lifestyle?

What’s wrong with pursuing a new paradigm: a wonderfully rewarding lifestyle that also makes money sense?

Why not pursue a New Dream?

You Have Choices

Yep, the times, they have a-changed.

Given today’s, and likely tomorrow’s, new reality, you’ve got two fundamental choices:

  1. Live in denial of the fact that things aren’t what they used to be in America and continue working yourself to death while saving little and depriving your family of your time and engagement, all to prop up what is fundamentally an unsustainable lifestyle, OR
  2. Choose a new lifestyle of your own making that makes sense for your family because it supports your long-term financial and other goals.

Why Be “Normal”?

Go ahead: Be the oddball among your peers, stop trying to keep up with the (also broke) Joneses, and choose  option 2. You’ll be very glad you did.

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