Friday, October 24, 2008

Economics from the Coffee Shop

The other day I went with a couple of colleagues to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks - actually, they went to grab some coffee and I tagged along - for one thing I am not a big fan of coffee, for another $4 coffee seems even less tasty to me - but I digress. I didn't know this, but apparently Starbucks is now in the publishing business and they had a little free hand-out titled "Good - The Economy", which offered a whole bunch of factoids about the economy. I figured it would be fun to bring up a few of those factoids and comment on them a bit, so here goes:

"In 2000, the median American family made about $61,000. In 2007 it made $60,500 (both numbers in inflation adjusted 2007 Dollars)" - this brings up a couple of interesting points. First, the George W. Bush years have been really grand for the typical American haven't they? Note that the statistic is talking about the median, not the average. I have no doubt that on average we are better off, it's just that the economically weaker members of society have been getting a real lousy bargain from the current administration.

"In 2007, the median annual income for Americans aged 65 and older was $16,770." - do you need a better reason to start planning for retirement?

"43% of Americans households spend more than they earn annually" - wow! Surprisingly, this statistics is very well correlated with the fact that 43% of American households are complete financial morons... before you judge me harshly, I am sure that there are some folks who have it really rough, and that due to circumstances beyond their control must move deeper and deeper into debt to survive. But 43%?! Most of these folks simply feel that they deserve a richer lifestyle than they can afford. It's those Venti Lattes and fancy cars. Here's a thought: if you don't have it, don't spend it...

"The average American household has $8,565 in credit card debt, which is 15% higher than it was in 2000" - the really scary thing about this statistic is that there are many of us responsible adults who do not carry a credit card balance at all, so those that do carry a balance have, on average, an even bigger debt load that they are serving.

"Approximately 42% of American households lack enough liquid assets to support themselves for three months" - I have a feeling that the current downturn is making many people re-visit their lack of financial preparedness. Let's hope that they are able to get themselves in financial shape before economic disaster strikes.

I don't know about you, but I find these statistics to be really discouraging. It seems like folks either don't know what they are doing, don't care about consequences or are simply unable to get themselves in shape. I believe that ignorance is the most probable culprit, but I am not sure most people even realize that their financial situation is a problem. Read personal finance blogs people!

5 comments:

Ren said...

I must admit that I'm actually surprised that more than half have three months of cash reserve....

Shadox said...

Actually, now that you point it out... so am I... hope for the American nation? Or are we setting our expectations ridiculously low...?

Traciatim said...

Are you certain that the average American holds over 8K in credit card debt? I thought that stat was actually twisted out of the fact that the average credit card debt holder's debt was > 8000.

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/CreditCardSmarts/TheBigLieAboutCreditCardDebt.aspx

Shadox said...

well - to be honest, I haven't done any research on this I quoted directly from the Starbucks pamphlet. It is possible that economic data that is provided with coffee is less than immaculate I suppose... :-)

retiredebtfree01 said...
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