Author Topic: Is saving really that hard in America?  (Read 13560 times)

BTDretire

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #50 on: November 19, 2017, 04:59:17 PM »


Can anyone define "average worker" in terms of dollars and sense?
Thanks!
Quote
Average in terms of dollars? The median income in the US is around $51k.
Average in terms of sense? That's a bit more controversial.....
I've never made that amount of money in my entire life. Was probably edging up toward it in my last job, but I lost it in the recession and subsequently, 1/3 of my income. If I made $51K certain situations would be much more comfortable and I'd have more peace of mind
Note: that median, is household, not individual.
"Between 2015 and 2016, US median household income rose 3.2% from $57,230 to $59,039, according to a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday."

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #51 on: November 19, 2017, 06:20:15 PM »
Oh yes, I have those in my browser but if I'm watching Newsy via Roku we're stuck. I don't watch Newsy much anymore as a result.

I had an early version of a Roku, but never upgraded because I found it easier to just hook up my laptop to the TV with a HDMI cable and sit on the couch with a remote keyboard. Makes it easier to use every streaming option and use all our ad-blocking stuff. I haven't seen an advertisement in a really long time.

Just Joe

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #52 on: November 20, 2017, 01:27:47 PM »
Yeah, i have an old desktop computer that I use the same way when I'm motivated to do so. Runs Linux so no viruses, no performance hits with updates, etc. The computer itself was free from the WinVista era.

WootWoot

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #53 on: November 21, 2017, 08:16:26 AM »
Since this is at many levels of quotes, I'm not sure what exactly I'm replying to, BUT I should say that our household income was never that high, either.



Can anyone define "average worker" in terms of dollars and sense?
Thanks!
Quote
Average in terms of dollars? The median income in the US is around $51k.
Average in terms of sense? That's a bit more controversial.....
I've never made that amount of money in my entire life. Was probably edging up toward it in my last job, but I lost it in the recession and subsequently, 1/3 of my income. If I made $51K certain situations would be much more comfortable and I'd have more peace of mind
Note: that median, is household, not individual.
"Between 2015 and 2016, US median household income rose 3.2% from $57,230 to $59,039, according to a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday."

CNM

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #54 on: November 21, 2017, 08:30:11 AM »
My suspicion is that people who are posting comments to the article expressing the "impossibility" of saving 1x at 30 and 3x at 40 are in that age group.  The biggest hurdle to saving when you're 30 is repayment of student loans.  That sucks up a major chunk of money that would otherwise go to saving, investing, or consuming. 

I mean, my spouse and I are young Gen X/old Millennials so we weren't hit with nearly the amount of loans people in their 20s/early 30s are now, and we *still* paid almost $100,000. That's a lot of dough! 

I guess my point in commenting is that it can take people a longer time to get to saving because of student loan repayment and seeing the advice in this article would, justifiably, piss people off as out of touch.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 08:36:54 AM by CNM »

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #55 on: November 21, 2017, 09:01:00 AM »
My suspicion is that people who are posting comments to the article expressing the "impossibility" of saving 1x at 30 and 3x at 40 are in that age group.  The biggest hurdle to saving when you're 30 is repayment of student loans.  That sucks up a major chunk of money that would otherwise go to saving, investing, or consuming. 

I mean, my spouse and I are young Gen X/old Millennials so we weren't hit with nearly the amount of loans people in their 20s/early 30s are now, and we *still* paid almost $100,000. That's a lot of dough! 

I guess my point in commenting is that it can take people a longer time to get to saving because of student loan repayment and seeing the advice in this article would, justifiably, piss people off as out of touch.

Except for the very few union-type jobs where there's a relationship between pay and seniority, people don't get to their "career" earning levels as quickly or predictably as they used to. In a blue-collar job back in the 1970s and 1980s, a person's per-hour earning rate would start out low during a training phase, increase in a gradual stair-step way as they moved through an apprenticeship, and then level out at journeyman (roughly the same age as a 4-year degree graduate). So the income you'd have at, say, age 25 wouldn't be that lower than at 30 or any subsequent year. For a master certificate there'd be another bump up between age 25 and 30. But keep in mind that this is accompanied by near-zero student loan debt although the cost of tools is roughly on par. Also, the apprentice has been earning the whole time.

Now, how many people are at a "career" level of income straight out of college? It seems to me it's pretty few. The hours aren't 9-to-5 anymore since the laws about overtime don't apply. Most of us don't get even an entry-level income until our mid-20s and have to scrape together part-time jobs at minimum wage or close to it. Then, in the professions the entry-level income is generally only about half of what you can bring in after you've been there a while. Career-level income tends to hit at around age 30. Having a year's income saved up by then would mean having saved roughly 3x your starting pay, or 100% of your gross for the first three years. Taxes alone make that extremely difficult. It's mathematically possible if your savings rate is 50% to 60% of your take-home pay and you don't have any accidents, illnesses, pregnancies, divorces, bad luck, downsizings, transfers, or job losses. That's not the normal human experience. But that means a standard of living substantially lower than the college dorm standard.

There are people on this board who have done it. I'm not one of them. I'd venture to say it's pretty rare.

The advice that says to have saved a year's income by that time fits the 1980's blue collar model but not the modern white-collar model. Only with aggressive (and lucky/successful) investments can the dollars saved reach that level. That investment angle, and the fact the individula investing doesn't control the markets, is one of the things the authors don't go into.

StarBright

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #56 on: November 21, 2017, 10:04:59 AM »
My suspicion is that people who are posting comments to the article expressing the "impossibility" of saving 1x at 30 and 3x at 40 are in that age group.  The biggest hurdle to saving when you're 30 is repayment of student loans.  That sucks up a major chunk of money that would otherwise go to saving, investing, or consuming. 

I mean, my spouse and I are young Gen X/old Millennials so we weren't hit with nearly the amount of loans people in their 20s/early 30s are now, and we *still* paid almost $100,000. That's a lot of dough! 

I guess my point in commenting is that it can take people a longer time to get to saving because of student loan repayment and seeing the advice in this article would, justifiably, piss people off as out of touch.

Except for the very few union-type jobs where there's a relationship between pay and seniority, people don't get to their "career" earning levels as quickly or predictably as they used to. In a blue-collar job back in the 1970s and 1980s, a person's per-hour earning rate would start out low during a training phase, increase in a gradual stair-step way as they moved through an apprenticeship, and then level out at journeyman (roughly the same age as a 4-year degree graduate). So the income you'd have at, say, age 25 wouldn't be that lower than at 30 or any subsequent year. For a master certificate there'd be another bump up between age 25 and 30. But keep in mind that this is accompanied by near-zero student loan debt although the cost of tools is roughly on par. Also, the apprentice has been earning the whole time.

Now, how many people are at a "career" level of income straight out of college? It seems to me it's pretty few. The hours aren't 9-to-5 anymore since the laws about overtime don't apply. Most of us don't get even an entry-level income until our mid-20s and have to scrape together part-time jobs at minimum wage or close to it. Then, in the professions the entry-level income is generally only about half of what you can bring in after you've been there a while. Career-level income tends to hit at around age 30. Having a year's income saved up by then would mean having saved roughly 3x your starting pay, or 100% of your gross for the first three years. Taxes alone make that extremely difficult. It's mathematically possible if your savings rate is 50% to 60% of your take-home pay and you don't have any accidents, illnesses, pregnancies, divorces, bad luck, downsizings, transfers, or job losses. That's not the normal human experience. But that means a standard of living substantially lower than the college dorm standard.

There are people on this board who have done it. I'm not one of them. I'd venture to say it's pretty rare.

The advice that says to have saved a year's income by that time fits the 1980's blue collar model but not the modern white-collar model. Only with aggressive (and lucky/successful) investments can the dollars saved reach that level. That investment angle, and the fact the individula investing doesn't control the markets, is one of the things the authors don't go into.

These are both great comments and the part that I've bolded describes our household quite closely.  I made a little over 20k in a professional position out of grad school. My pay close to doubled the year I turned 30 and then I received another large bump when I was around 34. I almost have 2x my salary saved at age 36 but I got another bump this year that means I won't hit 2x until I'm 37. I likely will not hit 3x by 40.

The only way we've been able to accomplish that is having an almost 50% savings rate for the last couple of years. And while the actual structure of our home is much nicer than where we lived in college, most of our furniture, clothing, kitchen stuff, etc. all date to our grad school years.

Am I generally thrilled with our progress? Yes! Do I expect everyone to do it? Of course not! It is REALLY hard and often not that enjoyable.

FINate

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #57 on: November 21, 2017, 10:55:26 AM »
My suspicion is that people who are posting comments to the article expressing the "impossibility" of saving 1x at 30 and 3x at 40 are in that age group.  The biggest hurdle to saving when you're 30 is repayment of student loans.  That sucks up a major chunk of money that would otherwise go to saving, investing, or consuming. 

I mean, my spouse and I are young Gen X/old Millennials so we weren't hit with nearly the amount of loans people in their 20s/early 30s are now, and we *still* paid almost $100,000. That's a lot of dough! 

I guess my point in commenting is that it can take people a longer time to get to saving because of student loan repayment and seeing the advice in this article would, justifiably, piss people off as out of touch.

Except for the very few union-type jobs where there's a relationship between pay and seniority, people don't get to their "career" earning levels as quickly or predictably as they used to. In a blue-collar job back in the 1970s and 1980s, a person's per-hour earning rate would start out low during a training phase, increase in a gradual stair-step way as they moved through an apprenticeship, and then level out at journeyman (roughly the same age as a 4-year degree graduate). So the income you'd have at, say, age 25 wouldn't be that lower than at 30 or any subsequent year. For a master certificate there'd be another bump up between age 25 and 30. But keep in mind that this is accompanied by near-zero student loan debt although the cost of tools is roughly on par. Also, the apprentice has been earning the whole time.

Now, how many people are at a "career" level of income straight out of college? It seems to me it's pretty few. The hours aren't 9-to-5 anymore since the laws about overtime don't apply. Most of us don't get even an entry-level income until our mid-20s and have to scrape together part-time jobs at minimum wage or close to it. Then, in the professions the entry-level income is generally only about half of what you can bring in after you've been there a while. Career-level income tends to hit at around age 30. Having a year's income saved up by then would mean having saved roughly 3x your starting pay, or 100% of your gross for the first three years. Taxes alone make that extremely difficult. It's mathematically possible if your savings rate is 50% to 60% of your take-home pay and you don't have any accidents, illnesses, pregnancies, divorces, bad luck, downsizings, transfers, or job losses. That's not the normal human experience. But that means a standard of living substantially lower than the college dorm standard.

There are people on this board who have done it. I'm not one of them. I'd venture to say it's pretty rare.

The advice that says to have saved a year's income by that time fits the 1980's blue collar model but not the modern white-collar model. Only with aggressive (and lucky/successful) investments can the dollars saved reach that level. That investment angle, and the fact the individula investing doesn't control the markets, is one of the things the authors don't go into.

I would venture a guess that STEM majors have a different career trajectory from, say, lit majors. Nothing against lit, but there's relatively little demand compared to overall supply.

But assuming the comments from TGS and CNM are generally applicable, isn't this just another way of saying college doesn't always make sense financially, that sometimes the ROI isn't there? There's a huge skills gap for welders, machinists, and other tradespeople. The cost to obtain these skills is much lower, and sometimes even subsidized by employers/industries. As an added bonus, jobs are often in LCOL areas.

Living in a HCOL area with a low salary while paying off large student loans is not a recipe for financial success, let alone ER. I realize this is not useful for those already in such a predicament, and I really do feel bad for folks struggling in this way. But shouldn't this be more motivation to get the message to high schoolers that college isn't necessarily the best option? That they need to be more skeptical of the "common sense" advice to get a degree, any degree. They need some idea of what they will major in, what they can reasonably expect to earn after graduation, and how long it takes for the ROI to start paying off. In many cases it makes more sense to do vocational training, something itself that needs to stop being stigmatized by parents and teachers.

StarBright

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #58 on: November 21, 2017, 11:10:19 AM »

I would venture a guess that STEM majors have a different career trajectory from, say, lit majors. Nothing against lit, but there's relatively little demand compared to overall supply.

But assuming the comments from TGS and CNM are generally applicable, isn't this just another way of saying college doesn't always make sense financially, that sometimes the ROI isn't there? There's a huge skills gap for welders, machinists, and other tradespeople. The cost to obtain these skills is much lower, and sometimes even subsidized by employers/industries. As an added bonus, jobs are often in LCOL areas.

Living in a HCOL area with a low salary while paying off large student loans is not a recipe for financial success, let alone ER. I realize this is not useful for those already in such a predicament, and I really do feel bad for folks struggling in this way. But shouldn't this be more motivation to get the message to high schoolers that college isn't necessarily the best option? That they need to be more skeptical of the "common sense" advice to get a degree, any degree. They need some idea of what they will major in, what they can reasonably expect to earn after graduation, and how long it takes for the ROI to start paying off. In many cases it makes more sense to do vocational training, something itself that needs to stop being stigmatized by parents and teachers.

I often hear people on this site referring to the bolded info regarding trades and I'm starting to wonder if that is backed up by actual numbers or just "common knowledge." I have several machinists and welders in my extended family and they seem to have a hard time finding steady employment. It seems very cyclical unlike say accounting or nursing or teaching.


Goldielocks

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #59 on: November 21, 2017, 12:12:33 PM »
My suspicion is that people who are posting comments to the article expressing the "impossibility" of saving 1x at 30 and 3x at 40 are in that age group.  The biggest hurdle to saving when you're 30 is repayment of student loans.  That sucks up a major chunk of money that would otherwise go to saving, investing, or consuming. 

I mean, my spouse and I are young Gen X/old Millennials so we weren't hit with nearly the amount of loans people in their 20s/early 30s are now, and we *still* paid almost $100,000. That's a lot of dough! 

I guess my point in commenting is that it can take people a longer time to get to saving because of student loan repayment and seeing the advice in this article would, justifiably, piss people off as out of touch.

Ah,  but isn't that the beauty of it too?

If young person had set up a plan before starting university, to save 1x salary by the time you were 30...  OR,  to save 3x by ag 40...

Well, I think more people looking ahead would make deliberate choices about their student loan debt, then live like a mouse for a few more years after graduating with the first nice job, until that 1x salary was saved.

I like this thread because it shows the new paradigm -- instead of paying off your house mortgage early, fund your basic retirement ASAP and then leave it to grow, which will reap far more benefits to you in future.
------------------------------------------------------------

Example of someone I know in real life:

Of course it is "impossible" to save 1x salary by 30 when you are 28, about to just pay off your student loans in the next year, starting from zero, etc.   

It is also impossible when you are 29 and have spent the last  6 years since graduating at age 23:  taking a gap year or looking for employment; getting a first career job that you hate so you spend your money as you go with 10% savings and paying off small student loans; quit that job after 4 years, sell everything, and spend 4 months at an indian yogi until your money runs out, redefining what you want in life, and are just now starting your next self-employment freelance career, with a loan from your parents.

So many people think it is normal to have $0 (No savings, but no student loans) at age 30, that they plan their lives that way.  If they have savings at age 28, they spend it*.  What if we (as a society) redefine that?   Make it like a "Pay off your mortgage" type of goal?


*Spend it -- often this is "hidden" by buying a fancier property than they need and gutting their savings back to zero for age 30 and beyond, because the mortgage payments are also much higher than they need.  Choosing to be "house poor" instead of "retirement fund rich"

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #60 on: November 21, 2017, 01:03:59 PM »
I often hear people on this site referring to the bolded info regarding trades and I'm starting to wonder if that is backed up by actual numbers or just "common knowledge." I have several machinists and welders in my extended family and they seem to have a hard time finding steady employment. It seems very cyclical unlike say accounting or nursing or teaching.

The economy has changed a lot, trades-wise, since the 1980's too. Because skilled trades have been gutted due to the "kollidge fur ev'rywun" trend, the overseas migration of fabrication work overseas, and the planned obsolescence concept that makes people throw things out rather than maintain or repair them, trades aren't what they used to be either. A person who does field work (pipe, welding, rig, heavy mechanic) can make good money but they have to move around and follow the work.

Machinist work is rough. I've got a relative who's a machinist, but he's got no ticket (at age 40, that's a huge problem). There are higher-paying jobs available, IF you have a journeyman's ticket, but in Alberta at least you have to have an employer sponsor you to an apprenticeship program. That of course costs money! So employers choose, instead, to find someone with no credentials and train him to do the basic work. An apprenticeship program isn't available because they don't have a master-certified person to supervise and train. So the trainee, after a few years, won't have the depth of knowledge to go toe to toe with a real journeyman, but they can complete the work the employer needs to have done. I see that happening in HVAC and sheet metal too. The employer's incentive is to hire the least competent person possible. A few apprentice slots may be open, but they go to the "best and the brightest" (that is to say, the boss's son). So there continues to be a shortage of master-qualified tradespeople to supervise, therefore there continues to be a shortage of apprentice starts. This SNAFU won't be corrected until the trade schools start being allowed to admit apprentices who aren't sponsored by an employer and who are self-funding. The risk with that, of course, is that some of the graduates may lack practical skills.

A few people are getting ahead through government or union grants that basically pay the apprentice's wage while he or she does the hands-on portion of the training, but there aren't anywhere near enough of these to go around and the apprentice tends to be put to work doing a bunch of crap work nobody else wants: they're used as free unskilled labor instead of being trained in their craft.

Overall, it seems to me that the trades that are getting it right tend to be in the building domain. Paddedhat may be in a position to weigh in on this as well. The apprentices I've seen so far have been electricians and plumbers, and they are in fact being supervised and their work is being checked. But mechanics is a free-for-all, and anyone can open a mechanic shop with zero formal credentials and still get customers.

CNM

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #61 on: November 21, 2017, 03:25:33 PM »
  <snip>
But assuming the comments from TGS and CNM are generally applicable, isn't this just another way of saying college doesn't always make sense financially, that sometimes the ROI isn't there?

...

Responding to just this issue, for our family (myself and spouse) going to college/grad school was 100% the correct decision.  The ROI has been excellent.  However, the ROI did not happen immediately because you have to service the loan within a short time after graduation.

And, of course, it is not impossible to have that amount of money saved at a young age. Plenty of people on here, myself included, have met those benchmarks.  My only point is that student loan servicing tends to be left out of the conversation about why The Youth are so broke all the time.

FINate

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #62 on: November 21, 2017, 08:59:15 PM »

I would venture a guess that STEM majors have a different career trajectory from, say, lit majors. Nothing against lit, but there's relatively little demand compared to overall supply.

But assuming the comments from TGS and CNM are generally applicable, isn't this just another way of saying college doesn't always make sense financially, that sometimes the ROI isn't there? There's a huge skills gap for welders, machinists, and other tradespeople. The cost to obtain these skills is much lower, and sometimes even subsidized by employers/industries. As an added bonus, jobs are often in LCOL areas.

Living in a HCOL area with a low salary while paying off large student loans is not a recipe for financial success, let alone ER. I realize this is not useful for those already in such a predicament, and I really do feel bad for folks struggling in this way. But shouldn't this be more motivation to get the message to high schoolers that college isn't necessarily the best option? That they need to be more skeptical of the "common sense" advice to get a degree, any degree. They need some idea of what they will major in, what they can reasonably expect to earn after graduation, and how long it takes for the ROI to start paying off. In many cases it makes more sense to do vocational training, something itself that needs to stop being stigmatized by parents and teachers.

I often hear people on this site referring to the bolded info regarding trades and I'm starting to wonder if that is backed up by actual numbers or just "common knowledge." I have several machinists and welders in my extended family and they seem to have a hard time finding steady employment. It seems very cyclical unlike say accounting or nursing or teaching.

Every industry is cyclical. Before FIRE I navigated two tech/economic cycles. Even teachers in California go through difficult periods of layoffs. Most tech workers know that the industry is often feast or famine.  And I know of a number of folks with STEM degrees, in the SF Bay Area, who have a difficult time getting hired and have experienced extended periods of unemployment. I also know plumbers and electricians and other tradespeople who are much better off than many of their "better" educated peers.  I also know of a lot of folks with degrees in the humanities or art, with huge student loan debt, working as bartenders and slinging coffee. I even know a guy who skipped college and went to bartending school (had no idea such a thing existed) and he's killing it in the bar/restaurant scene. My point is not that college is bad, it's that college isn't the best path for everyone.

Some statistical evidence: Go to https://www.payscale.com/college-roi/major/psychology (just to pick on something other than humanities - but this is true of other majors to varying degrees). Click "See Full List" then scroll to the bottom. Down in this area you'll find School-Major combos that have negative 20 year ROI - people in these programs would have been better off skipping college altogether and going straight into the workforce. This is an aggregate statistic, so some people came out ahead and did well, but on average poeple came out negative.

For those academically inclined who like to read, write, study, and such, college is a no brainer as long as debt levels are reasonable and a sensible major is selected. But there are large segments of the population that don't fit this description. Folks who'd rather work with their hands, learn hands on skills and trades. Unfortunately, lots of these end up in college with degrees that don't really help, and with student loans they can't repay.

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #63 on: November 28, 2017, 02:52:40 PM »
Am I generally thrilled with our progress? Yes! Do I expect everyone to do it? Of course not! It is REALLY hard and often not that enjoyable.

This resonates with me. I didn't have "career-level" income until I finished graduate school at 26. My income doubled by 30. I also spent years 27-29 working a second job (12 hour shifts on Saturdays, sometimes 6 hours on Friday night or Sunday too) to save for a house down payment. We still have $35k in student loan debt, but the interest rates are low enough that I would rather keep investing the difference for now.

I had more than 1x income saved at 30 by some combination of luck and hard work. Our spending probably looks very cushy to people in our neighborhood (we make 3x the median household income in our area), and our 50% savings rate would probably sound impossibly high to our DINK friends with similar incomes in major cities. 

dougules

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #64 on: November 30, 2017, 10:52:55 AM »
I don't think saving is hard in and of itself, but there are a lot of things that make it swimming upstream. 

We are embedded in a culture of high spending.
People are barraged with ads for frivolous stuff, and those ads wouldn't be there if they didn't work. 
People don't realize the full cost of driving, and most of the US is built with only car travel in mind. 
The US is not set up to build exercise into daily life, and that's huge with high medical costs.
Stress drives a lot of retail therapy. 

There are several other soft items like this that don't exactly prevent people from saving, but make it take a concerted effort to break with what's going on around them. 

AugustBurnsRed1

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Re: Is saving really that hard in America?
« Reply #65 on: November 30, 2017, 11:47:04 AM »

I would venture a guess that STEM majors have a different career trajectory from, say, lit majors. Nothing against lit, but there's relatively little demand compared to overall supply.

But assuming the comments from TGS and CNM are generally applicable, isn't this just another way of saying college doesn't always make sense financially, that sometimes the ROI isn't there? There's a huge skills gap for welders, machinists, and other tradespeople. The cost to obtain these skills is much lower, and sometimes even subsidized by employers/industries. As an added bonus, jobs are often in LCOL areas.

Living in a HCOL area with a low salary while paying off large student loans is not a recipe for financial success, let alone ER. I realize this is not useful for those already in such a predicament, and I really do feel bad for folks struggling in this way. But shouldn't this be more motivation to get the message to high schoolers that college isn't necessarily the best option? That they need to be more skeptical of the "common sense" advice to get a degree, any degree. They need some idea of what they will major in, what they can reasonably expect to earn after graduation, and how long it takes for the ROI to start paying off. In many cases it makes more sense to do vocational training, something itself that needs to stop being stigmatized by parents and teachers.

I often hear people on this site referring to the bolded info regarding trades and I'm starting to wonder if that is backed up by actual numbers or just "common knowledge." I have several machinists and welders in my extended family and they seem to have a hard time finding steady employment. It seems very cyclical unlike say accounting or nursing or teaching.

It is only cyclical if they want it to be; part of that will come down to finding a steady local job (less pay typically) or traveling (A lot more money). For instance, in refineries, we have turnarounds/shutdowns and the plant is down for several weeks up to several months. We will work 7 days a week 12 hours a day and then move onto the next job. If guys schedule it right, they can do several TAs a year and be off for several months and make just as much as if they worked the entire year or far more. This goes for welders, pipe fitters, electricians, inspectors, QA/QC, NDE technicians, etc.