America is unique in the world as a nation with a culture of super consumerism. I sometimes can’t believe the lengths people will go through to get what they want. The savings rate in the US is laughable. Compared to other countries, the US boasts one of the lowest savings rates in the world. This combined with the fact that debt and credit are out of control is a recipe for disaster.
The next decade will be one of tremendous change, not out of willingness but out of necessity. Americans can no longer be reckless spenders and macro economic fundamentals will force them to change. At some point you have to ask yourself why you need two large flat screen HDTV’s, a laptop, desktop computer and tablet, an Acura and the largest house you can afford on your salary. In addition, the pressure to maintain this lifestyle can cause tremendous stress which can affect your health and even shorten your life. Why do people find it necessary to look like everybody else and have what they have? We’re teaching our children that owning 2 or 3 iPods because they want different colors to match their outfits is OK. Young women grow up and want expensive engagement rings, expensive weddings and are terrified if their date uses a coupon at a fancy restaurant because it’s seen as a sign of being cheap and not being able to provide for her. This is insanity! Being rich and financially free isn’t about having more or better stuff than another person, it’s about not having to worry about personal finances. Living a life of competition with others over salary, cars, houses and things will not get you there but will instead lead you down the path of debt and depression. Instead, learn to live without. This doesn’t mean not having any of these things but it does require you to be smart with your money. Buy a Chevy or Ford instead of a luxury car. Buy a smaller house and leave some room in your budget for piece of mind. Own one computer and find a way to share it with others. Use coupons and buy items on sale or used. Contrary to the marketing we see everyday; happiness is not a result of what you own.
In the next decade two types of Americans will emerge. One will spend the rest of their life trying to dig out of a hole and barely scrape by, probably never retiring. The other will have savings, own assets (gold, real estate, antiques) and buy lots of stuff on discount from people in the first group. Which group will you be part of? The choice to change is up to you and only you can change yourself but for those that become part of the second group, the future is bright and the path to financial freedom a reality.