I started looking at the topic of America’s growing debt before the coronavirus pandemic spread. Across all age groups, debt has been accelerating rapidly for the last two decades, and I’m sure it has gotten much worse now.
This chart, from a CNBC article, shows the magnitude of the debt problem, with perhaps the greatest growth happening among older Americans …
As the chart shows, all age groups are up, but debt among older Americans has grown 5-fold since the beginning of the century. Strangely, people that are now over 70 (many of whom grew up in the Great Depression and WWII) carry even more debt than people just starting out, age 18-29.
When will Americans learn that DEBT is a 4 letter word? As the pandemic sweeps the country, the evening news is full of sad stories about people who have not saved enough to even pay their most basic needs. Young people, parents with children, and older Americans seem to have saved so little, they are critically anxious for the basic $1,200 relief check from the Federal Government.
It’s not that we didn’t have enough to put money aside for a rainy day. We have enjoyed the highest standard of living in human history and up until a month ago, one of the best economies in our lifetime. Still, it seems that few had the common sense to prepare for something to go wrong.
My greatest wish for this country is that once we eradicate this devastating virus, we get hyper-focused on getting our financial lives in order (individually & as a nation) and become much better prepared for the next unexpected, but inevitable financial calamity.
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