Today we’ll discuss some of the most important issues raised in the report, we’ll analyze what they mean for you, and then we’ll tell you how to overcome them.
Household debt as a whole has risen
Source: Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers
According to the Consumer Report, household debt – the combined debt of all people in a household (including consumer debt and mortgages) – is the highest it’s ever been. And it’s still rising.
In a few particular areas, it has risen significantly. Those include shelter, pension and insurance costs, and healthcare costs.
Luckily, in a few other areas, spending has gone down. Those areas include: food, entertainment, and apparel.
Healthcare and insurance
We all complain about healthcare costs, and it turns out we’re right to do so! According to the report, consumers are now paying more than their employers, and deductibles have gone up significantly.
The amount of people who now pay more than a $2,000 deductible is at 22 percent, rather than seven percent in 1999.
What to do: Find the right health insurance for you
Many young people can only afford catastrophic insurance, but there are a ton of plans to choose from.
First, you’ll need to understand all those complex health insurance terms. Next, check out Policy Genius—they’ll help you find the best plan for you based on your budget, insurance needs, and location.
The cost of shelter has risen for a host of reasons. Now that we’re recovering from a recession, real estate prices are at a high since there is more demand for homes.
While the market is on the rise—there’s one group that’s buying less. You guessed it, it’s mostly millennials. That means that more and more young people are renting longer. This adds up to a lot of money, since many major cities across the U.S. have seen much higher rents in the past few years.
Our food costs are going down, not just because people have learned how to budget better, but because the way be buy groceries is changing. That’s all thanks to technology.
Big block stores like Walmart have utilized tech to help them keep prices low. According to the Consumer Report: “By using technology to reduce inventory, expenses & shrinkage, [Walmart] can create lower prices…”
Not only that, but many people simply shop for groceries online and have them delivered. Amazon is a prime example of an online retailer that has a whole marketplace for food now.
Entertainment and apparel
Not only do we shop for food differently, but we shop for pretty much everything differently. Since 1999, entertainment costs have decreased by one percent and are continuing to drop. The same goes for apparel, with a two percent drop.
E-commerce is more readily used, and many people avoid brick and mortar stores all together. So, it’s much easier for folks to shop for lower prices quickly.
What to do: Cut living expenses
There’s a lot you can do to cut general expenses, especially when it comes to shelter, food, and entertainment.
You can ditch your car and take public transportation, eat out less (seriously, it will save you a fortune), find free events, switch to a less expensive phone plan. Check out this article on how to save money fast – there’s an entire section devoted to cutting costs!
Personal savings rates are falling
Source: Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers
While household debt is going up, personal savings rates are going down. The average savings rate, as of 2018 is just three percent, while it was 12 percent fifty years ago. That’s a significant drop.
It’s easy to see why savings rates are going down as prices on essential goods rise. Rent is high, education is much more expensive, and sometimes contributing to retirement accounts or high-yield savings accounts just doesn’t seem worth it.
But, as any good personal finance site will tell you—of course it’s worth it!
In light of this report, here are a few tips to help make sure you’re not one of the nearly half of all Americans who don’t save.
What to do: Start a small emergency fund
Even if you just put a few dollars a month into a jar, starting an emergency fund can help cushion the blow of a financial emergency.
You can set up an automatic transfer each month, so you’re not even seeing the money you’re saving reach your paycheck. If you use a high-yield savings account with a good interest rate, you can save even more.
When you come into extra cash (aka, windfalls), put it into savings
Trust me, I know how hard it can be to not blow a holiday bonus on something you really want (and probably don’t need), but you’ll be patting yourself on the back when you can use that money to pay for a car repair rather than that new pair of shoes.
Have a goal in mind
If you think you’ll never use your savings for anything, think of something you really need (or even want), and figure out how much it will be.
Start putting aside a small amount of money towards that goal. When you have a goal, saving becomes much easier, because you know it will go towards a good cause.
Americans’ spending as a whole is up, and saving rates are down. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a part of that statistic. Follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to saving more and spending less in no time.
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