If you're like many American families, you're having trouble making ends meet.
You're not alone, either. One recent study showed that seventy percent of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck.
A generation ago, a typical family had about 5 percent of its annual income pledged to non-mortgage bills, such a personal loans, credit cards or car payments.
Today, it is about 35 percent.
This year, more children will live through their parents' bankruptcy than their parents' divorce. From September 2003 to September 2004, 1.6 million families filed for bankruptcy protection.
That is roughly double the number that filed for bankruptcy in 1994 and five times higher than 1984. Nearly half of families with credit cards say they can make only the minimum monthly payments on outstanding balances.
How is your credit card debt?
In their book, "The Two Income Trap: Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke", Elizabeth and Amelia Warren found that "In the 1970s, families saved 11 percent of their annual income and carried credit card debt equal to about 3 percent of income. Today, families put away 1.4 percent of their income, and carry credit card debt equal to about 13 percent of their income."
Does it seem that your income just doesn't stretch far enough?
Are your credit card balances growing larger and larger? If your family is typical, your credit card balances are getting bigger and bigger.
"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."--Woody Allen
According to a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll, almost one in five people with credit cards say they have charge balances of $5,000 or more. That group includes 10% of those responding to the poll that say they have credit card balances of $10,000 or more. Another 1 in 10 say they aren't sure how much they owe.
I hope that isn't you.
About one in six of those with cards, or 16 percent, say they don't trust themselves--at least to some extent--to handle their credit card debts. Young adults and those who make less than $25,000 a year were most likely to voice these doubts.
About one-third of those with credit cards say they have three or more credit cards, either personally or with a spouse or partner. That includes 10% who say they have more than five credit cards."
Credit card debt is a real killer because it means that, in effect, you're borrowing from future earnings just to live today.
Are you one of the lucky Americans?
How about the cost of car and health insurance? If you're one of those families where your employer pays for all or most of the cost of your health insurance, consider yourself very fortunate.
There are 55 million Americans out there who have no health insurance at all, let alone insurance provided totally, or in part, by their employer.
Your auto expenses are also probably getting bigger. Who would have ever thought we would have to pay as much as $3.00 a gallon for gas?
Here's what this translates into:
If you put just 12,000 miles a year on your car and it averages 20 miles to the gallon, an increase in the price of gasoline from $1.80 to $2.00 will cost you at least an extra $600.00.
And, that's for just one year.
The cost of car insurance keeps rising and so does the cost of car repairs. All these car expenses can be tough on the family, especially if one or more of you has a long commute to work.
Things get worse when it is time to buy a new car. A compact car today can easily cost $12,000 to $15,000. If your family needs a mini-van or S.U.V., figure on spending $18,000 or more.
Plus, of course, there are all the finance charges, taxes, license fees and increased insurance costs.
8 Ways this Book can Help You Live Better
No matter how bad things feel and how stressed out you feel, take heart. You can slash your living costs, reduce your credit card debt and quit worrying yourself to death.
You should even be able to start a savings or investment account.
It's not easy, but we will teach you how to:
$ Forget the myth of fixed costs $ Stretch your paycheck $Dramatically lower your gro$ Fight rising energy costs $ Slash credit card debt $ Lower your cable bill $ Shrink your telephone costs $ Cut the cost of auto and life insurance And, I'll help you also costs such as entertainment, auto maintenance, school supplies a