Senior year of high school, one of my friends convinced me to watch House of 1,000 Corpses. No one could believe I hadn’t seen it in theaters (for the three whole days it was there?), so we rented it. From Blockbuster.
I had long survived The Blair Witch Project and The Ring. Recently, I had even endured Saw, so surely this would be fine. Right?
I jumped so hard during one part, I accidentally backhanded my friend and she dropped a plate of pizza on the carpet. I truly have been this coordinated my entire life.
The only thing scarier than the fact that I actually used to waste so much time watching bad (and good!) horror films, though, is real life. Not legends and lore, but money and materialism. The actual realities that are woven into the fabric of our day-to-day lives.
If you’ve ever spent time in the personal finance world, there’s a good chance you’ve started to think we are straightening out our money situation and saying goodbye to consumerism. These stats might make you realize we still have a ways to go.
Five Scary Money Statistics
The bad news? There are some really scary money statistics related to how we save and how we shop. There is some good news too, of course. Just call me Little Miss Ray of Sunshine.
1. Our personal savings rates stink. In 2017, 2.4% was the average personal savings rate. That’s calculated based on figures using income after taxes. Woof. (In 1970, it was 12.9%.)
This is pretty bleak. I’d wager to say it’s a combination of underlying social conditions–stagnant wages, the student loan crisis–and consumerism. As a country, we value spending infinitely more than we value savings…and it shows.
2. Impulsivity is a problem. ThredUP conducted a survey and found that almost 50% of millennials report that their purchases are impulse buys.
I want to be appalled by this. But honestly? You don’t end up with over 200 pairs of shoes (not even counting boots!) by making thoughtful purchases. This is why being mindful with my money is so important to me now. It’s also why I will believe in the latte factor forever and ever amen.
3. Millennials recycle less. Almost 25% of the millennials polled for a study said that they aren’t in the habit of recycling. The reason? It’s too time consuming.
This floored me. I spent so many of my elementary school days staring at a giant mural that shouted Reduce Reuse Recycle as I gobbled down my lunch. Did no one else get this memo?
4. Credit card debt is growing. In 2017, the average credit card debt increased by 2.7%. Things get really scary if you look at how millennials are using plastic: the amount of millennial credit card debt grew by nearly 11% to an average of $4315.
Again, I think there are two ways to look at this number. Some of it is undoubtedly a response to the tricky economic conditions millenials are navigating. But I’m also not going to give a free pass to YOLO, Instagram, or self-care that is really just a shopping spree in disguise. As the former queen of retail therapy, I can promise you it’s not cheap or healthy.
5. Toys are a problem. We spend a lot of money on toys each year. In 2015, Americans spent nearly $500. Another study puts it another way: America’s population makes up 3% of the children in the world, yet 40% of the world’s toys are in toy boxes here.
Buying this many toys is a great way to make kids even more expensive than they already are. And holy plastic, Batman! Though our son is doing a lot to teach us about minimalism, we are not a toy-free house. We do, however, try to make it known that we really value second-hand items even as gifts! Especially so, in fact.
Money Statistics to Make You Smile
Now that you’ve white knuckled it through those statistics, let’s take a look at some money statistics that should help you push aside those fears and smile some.
1. Poverty is decreasing in the United States. Over the span of three years, poverty levels have decreased by 2.5% to hit a rate of 12.6% in 2017.
The fact that these numbers are dropping should be something everyone celebrates. I also worry that if we are, in fact, headed for a market dip, we could see some dramatically different numbers the next few years. What a great reminder to care about your community, get involved, and give back.
2. We’re making more money. The median income in the United States is slowly creeping up. At $61,372, this is the third year in a row that number has risen.
Heyo! This is good news. Now let’s just learn to save the increase, yeah?
3. Millennials want to be millionaires. More than half of the people surveyed indicated that they expect to become a millionaire in their lifetime. The best part? The way the question was phrased also allowed for the fact that some millennials already are millionaires.
I am so happy for my millennials buddies who are already millionaires. I don’t think I’m friends with any of them in real life (unless you count time spent at FinCon), but it makes me smile so hard to know that some of us are killing it financially. And yes, I know that we likely need much more than a million dollars, but let’s not be a total Debbie Downer, mkay?
4. Sustainability is gaining popularity. For the past few years, millennials have been using their spending power to speak volumes about sustainability. In a 2015 study, 3 out of 4 millennials said that they would pay more for a product if it was a more sustainable product.
We suck at recycling (I’m seriously not over that statistic, and I don’t think I ever will be), but we have figured out how to make retailers notice the importance of being more environmentally conscientious. Every purchase is voting with your dollars. I’m glad we understand this.
5. Smashing debt is trending. More than 75% of the people who were surveyed said they were either taking steps to reduce their consumer debt or they didn’t have any. That number is up 2%.
The vast majority of people don’t have consumer debt or are trying to do something about it. Huzzah! Is there better news to be found in the personal finance world? I think not.
So Tell Me…Did you waste time in your teens watching scary movies through your fingers? Did any of these statistics surprise you?