Author Topic: Median American Savings: $0  (Read 11560 times)

randymarsh

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Median American Savings: $0
« on: May 17, 2014, 07:15:39 PM »
http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/05/14/median-american-savings-0/

Article actually isn't too bad, mentions that people need to make better decisions and stop spending all their leftover money.

CarDude

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2014, 07:29:58 PM »
Mmm, that doesn't surprise me. I liked the end of the root article: http://www.interest.com/savings/news/saving-opportunity-study-2014/

In particular...

Quote from: article
There are certain items families must have: for example, a house, car, food. But our sense that these items indicate our relative financial status has caused us to spend more on these “must haves.”

Items such as granite countertops, top-of-the-line appliances and luxury cars have come to be viewed as necessities, when cheaper alternatives exist.

The desire to keep up as led to “expenditure cascades” we can’t really afford on big-ticket items like fancier homes and cars, but feel we must have. “The end result is that these high fixed costs just don't leave much room for saving,” Serlin says.

In the early 1970s, he notes, these ‘must-haves’ were about 55% of a typical family's after-tax income, and that was with just one spouse working. “By the early 2000's this was up to about 75%, and that was with both spouses working,” Serlin says.

Travis

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2014, 05:26:30 AM »
I wanted to discuss this article last week when it came out but I lost the link.  I thought the study was interesting in that most people have money left over at the end of the month but they still find ways to throw it away.

MrsPete

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 08:02:15 AM »
I believe this.  I think the average American doesn't have a goal of being debt-free, considers that his job (and health) will continue as long as he needs/wants to work, and more money is relatively easy to get . . . but this moment, this moment's desire -- that is important NOW! 

LalsConstant

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2014, 08:12:34 AM »
A rare instance where the article isn't ridiculous or overly pessimistic even if the facts it conveys are a mixed bag.

I take this as a hopeful message though ; the problem isn't that Joe Average cannot "win" it is the consumer culture that he is programmed to follow his whole life that holds him back.  That means things can change for the better.

randymarsh

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2014, 10:41:46 AM »
I believe this.  I think the average American doesn't have a goal of being debt-free, considers that his job (and health) will continue as long as he needs/wants to work, and more money is relatively easy to get . . . but this moment, this moment's desire -- that is important NOW!

And debt's "normal", according to 90% of MSM sources. They act like most debt can't be avoided. This encourages people to not try to do any better because everyone else is just like them.

Carsafetyguy, that stat is crazy. The more I read about the increase in 2 income households and women going into the workforce, the more I'm convinced that a generation has completely wasted the main benefits of 2 workers. Families could have been saving one worker's income the entire time, getting to FIRE or at least a a secure future.

Of course we didn't do that and it presents a prisoners dilemma. It's good for me if we use my partner's income to buy a nicer house, but it's bad when other people do it because this raises the cost. The problem just gets worse as women's incomes reach relative parity with men's. Now the family who wants to have a stay at home parent can't because they're competing with 2 income families.

frugalman

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2014, 11:15:04 AM »
One of my favorite shows is Mad Men (1960s based saga of Madison Avenue advertising firms). Advertising is more powerful than you can believe, the proof of that is the billions and billions spent on advertising every year. Do NOT think you are immune - you are not. I would be very OK with no TV in my house, but my dear wife lives with me, and she would not be OK with this, so we continue to have it. Perhaps this is why I am the leading force to reduce spending and follow a YNAB budget in my household. And despite my attempts at explaining this, she tends to think I am just being CHEAP.

joleran

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2014, 12:33:00 PM »
And debt's "normal", according to 90% of MSM sources.

Debt can be extremely great to have.  If you let me borrow at 2%, I would go a million in debt immediately.  This is exactly what big financial firms do - use leverage to earn more profit than they would normally.

This message then gets crossed with consumer credit card debt and everyone gets confused.

randymarsh

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2014, 01:25:29 PM »
And debt's "normal", according to 90% of MSM sources.

Debt can be extremely great to have.  If you let me borrow at 2%, I would go a million in debt immediately.  This is exactly what big financial firms do - use leverage to earn more profit than they would normally.

This message then gets crossed with consumer credit card debt and everyone gets confused.

The same people who have tons of CC debt, cars loans, etc. also believe the US government should "run more like a household budget", "operate more like a business", and "not have debt". Which makes for a very interesting case of cognitive dissonance.

sisca

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2014, 02:06:34 PM »

Debt can be extremely great to have.  If you let me borrow at 2%, I would go a million in debt immediately.

Well, I am not so sure. I actually do qualify for a subsidized loan from my employer, and a sizeable one. And I have been agressively paying it down.

Leverage amplifies results, fair enough. But it can turn mediocre results into bad results as well. Not so good. But the horrible thing it does, to me at least, is that it changes my perspective, and makes it harder to remain calm and cool when the shit hits the fan. Mathematically you are of course correct. but I know my emotions well enough to know I can't think straight with that kind of leverage in a down market.

Emilyngh

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2014, 02:27:36 PM »
The problem just gets worse as women's incomes reach relative parity with men's. Now the family who wants to have a stay at home parent can't because they're competing with 2 income families.

Meh, we don't have a problem raising a family on one middle income salary while saving for FI (which we'll reach while I'm in my 40s).   Doubt the financial landscape will change so much as to really make this impossible in the future, unless one buys into willingly "competing" and overspending.

I also hope you're not insinuating that women having income parity with men is at all to blame for people's overspending, because the reality is that women are often the sole and/or main bread earners so income parity is critical (in addition to it being only fair).

ncornilsen

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2014, 03:01:20 PM »
And debt's "normal", according to 90% of MSM sources.

Debt can be extremely great to have.  If you let me borrow at 2%, I would go a million in debt immediately.  This is exactly what big financial firms do - use leverage to earn more profit than they would normally.

This message then gets crossed with consumer credit card debt and everyone gets confused.



The same people who have tons of CC debt, cars loans, etc. also believe the US government should "run more like a household budget", "operate more like a business", and "not have debt". Which makes for a very interesting case of cognitive dissonance.

An equal portion of those who have tons of CC debt, etc also believe the government should just handout  money and that it's everyone's fault but their own that they aren't saving for retirement. Anti-mustacianism knows no party.

Are you saying the government shouldn't operate with a budget, and with the same goal to getting the most return on their capital investments? In that way, I say they absolutely should run like a business. Calculating the ROI is a bit different, but still a quantifiable process.  And the Government can have debt, but it should be for things that A) are a one-time expense or are limited in scope and duration B) have a funded revenue stream (either through a use-tax or a definite amount set to pay it back from general revenue) and not, as it currently is used, be used as a way to cover ever-growing budget deficits to cover vote-buying entitlements to people or corporations.

randymarsh

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2014, 04:21:11 PM »
The problem just gets worse as women's incomes reach relative parity with men's. Now the family who wants to have a stay at home parent can't because they're competing with 2 income families.

Meh, we don't have a problem raising a family on one middle income salary while saving for FI (which we'll reach while I'm in my 40s).   Doubt the financial landscape will change so much as to really make this impossible in the future, unless one buys into willingly "competing" and overspending.

I also hope you're not insinuating that women having income parity with men is at all to blame for people's overspending, because the reality is that women are often the sole and/or main bread earners so income parity is critical (in addition to it being only fair).

You may not, but location plays a big role I'm sure. People want good schools for their kids and that often means living in an area with a high(er) housing cost. I know we mention on this site that many public schools are just fine and mine definitely was, but there really are areas in the US where you probably don't want to send your kids if you can avoid it.

No, I'm saying I suspect, decades ago when women started working more, they were mostly in roles that paid relatively little. So the family used that money for extras like vacations or going out to eat more often than they otherwise would. It was extra, but it wasn't money they really counted on. Today, families base decisions with the assumption of two very equal, high incomes. The house, cars, and other mostly fixed costs need both incomes or things start collapsing.

I may be making all of up, I don't really have any hard data. But I think it makes some sense?

Emilyngh

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2014, 05:40:13 PM »

No, I'm saying I suspect, decades ago when women started working more, they were mostly in roles that paid relatively little. So the family used that money for extras like vacations or going out to eat more often than they otherwise would. It was extra, but it wasn't money they really counted on. Today, families base decisions with the assumption of two very equal, high incomes. The house, cars, and other mostly fixed costs need both incomes or things start collapsing.


Well, considering that about 30% of families are headed by single parents (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/the-mysterious-and-alarming-rise-of-single-parenthood-in-america/279203/), I don't think saying "families today base decisions with the assumption of two very equal, high incomes" is a fair blanket statement to make.  I do agree that consuming is out of control; I just think that blaming it on women entering the workforce and starting to earn fair wages is a scapegoat that doesn't explain the current consumption levels.   

CarDude

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2014, 07:16:32 PM »
Carsafetyguy, that stat is crazy. The more I read about the increase in 2 income households and women going into the workforce, the more I'm convinced that a generation has completely wasted the main benefits of 2 workers. Families could have been saving one worker's income the entire time, getting to FIRE or at least a a secure future.

Keep in mind, though, that the prices of a number of societal necessities (homes, educations, and healthcare) skyrocketed in proportion to (and in excess of) the increase in household income. This wasn't accidental. It wasn't at all possible for the average family to begin saving a lot because homes suddenly became twice as expensive, college became several times as expensive over time, and healthcare is as bad as higher education in its exploitation.

I'd blame corporations and corrupt governments before I'd blame individuals here.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2014, 07:27:14 PM »
Oh please, aside from very specific locations, houses are dirt cheap in most of the United States, just ask the Australians and the Europeans on these boards. Now education and healthcare is a different story.

@thefinancialstudent, you should read "the two income trap" if you haven't already. You don't have to agree with all the premises laid out in the book, but it does a good job of explaining this phenomenon.

CarDude

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2014, 07:30:51 PM »
Oh please, aside from very specific locations, houses are dirt cheap in most of the United States,

The median home price is $189k. If you consider that dirt cheap, you don't have much in common with most of the United States.

randymarsh

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2014, 07:35:27 PM »
Oh please, aside from very specific locations, houses are dirt cheap in most of the United States, just ask the Australians and the Europeans on these boards. Now education and healthcare is a different story.

@thefinancialstudent, you should read "the two income trap" if you haven't already. You don't have to agree with all the premises laid out in the book, but it does a good job of explaining this phenomenon.

I just read it recently; that's the basis for my previous posts. That book specifically says that families started using their additional income to buy houses in better public school districts. Unless I completely missed the point of what the authors were saying? Healthcare and education have played a role too of course. I thought the book touched on all 3? 

arebelspy

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2014, 07:39:59 PM »
Keep in mind, though, that the prices of a number of societal necessities (homes, educations, and healthcare) skyrocketed in proportion to (and in excess of) the increase in household income. This wasn't accidental. It wasn't at all possible for the average family to begin saving a lot because homes suddenly became twice as expensive, college became several times as expensive over time, and healthcare is as bad as higher education in its exploitation.

The guest post I wrote for MMM argues the opposite:
www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/07/08/early-retirement-cant-work-or-id-have-heard-of-it-before/

With citations!
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CarDude

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2014, 07:43:08 PM »
You may not, but location plays a big role I'm sure. People want good schools for their kids and that often means living in an area with a high(er) housing cost. I know we mention on this site that many public schools are just fine and mine definitely was, but there really are areas in the US where you probably don't want to send your kids if you can avoid it.

This, by the way, is one of the primary issues with our public education system, and again, it is an intentional problem. In a number of civilized countries, including Finland, school funding is allocated proportionally to ensure that massive inequalities do not exist across districts. There are no "good" schools or "bad" schools, because all of the schools are "good". In the US, school funding is primarily based on property taxes, which is grossly unfair, as it means the children of the rich receive good educations, while those of the poor receive lesser ones. However, rather than change this (it really would only take a few laws at the federal level), education reform is focused on punishing poor schools by closing them and replacing them with corporate charter schools, firing teachers, destroying unions, and essentially privatizing public education.

CarDude

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2014, 07:51:49 PM »
Keep in mind, though, that the prices of a number of societal necessities (homes, educations, and healthcare) skyrocketed in proportion to (and in excess of) the increase in household income. This wasn't accidental. It wasn't at all possible for the average family to begin saving a lot because homes suddenly became twice as expensive, college became several times as expensive over time, and healthcare is as bad as higher education in its exploitation.

The guest post I wrote for MMM argues the opposite:
www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/07/08/early-retirement-cant-work-or-id-have-heard-of-it-before/

With citations!

Ha, I was thinking of your post earlier in this thread. I do agree with you that it's possible to sidestep a lot of this simply by sidestepping consumerism (e.g., getting a 1950s-sized house at 1400 sq ft vs 2300 sq feet of today). However, it's much harder to sidestep higher education and healthcare costs, which have far overtaken wages over the last several decades.

randymarsh

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2014, 07:57:22 PM »

No, I'm saying I suspect, decades ago when women started working more, they were mostly in roles that paid relatively little. So the family used that money for extras like vacations or going out to eat more often than they otherwise would. It was extra, but it wasn't money they really counted on. Today, families base decisions with the assumption of two very equal, high incomes. The house, cars, and other mostly fixed costs need both incomes or things start collapsing.


Well, considering that about 30% of families are headed by single parents (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/the-mysterious-and-alarming-rise-of-single-parenthood-in-america/279203/), I don't think saying "families today base decisions with the assumption of two very equal, high incomes" is a fair blanket statement to make.  I do agree that consuming is out of control; I just think that blaming it on women entering the workforce and starting to earn fair wages is a scapegoat that doesn't explain the current consumption levels.

I'm not talking about families with only one earner. Single parents are in competition with dual income families though, which makes thing tougher. That article didn't mention what they count as income, but child support is reasonably well enforced for millions of families today. It's still less efficient to have 2 households, but many single parents/their children are receiving additional support.

I'm not blaming anything on women. I'm just saying that families have decided to spend their additionally income on high fixed expenses instead of saving it. Part of that is the result of larger trends like the crazy cost of healthcare, the other is people wanting to consume more.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2014, 05:45:37 AM »
Oh please, aside from very specific locations, houses are dirt cheap in most of the United States,

The median home price is $189k. If you consider that dirt cheap, you don't have much in common with most of the United States.
Less than 4 times the median household income, lenders who will happily lend you the money over thirty (30!) years, and tax breaks on top of that? That's cheap in my book, and it doesn't even take into account that many people overpurchase (kid on the way? we're going to be so cramped with anything less than 3 bedrooms!). There's a TV show in the UK where couples shop for homes; every now and then they compare what a given amount of money would get them across the pond, and they cry their eyes out. It's going to take a lot of convincing and data to convince me that homeowners have it remotely hard in the US.

I just read it recently; that's the basis for my previous posts. That book specifically says that families started using their additional income to buy houses in better public school districts. Unless I completely missed the point of what the authors were saying? Healthcare and education have played a role too of course. I thought the book touched on all 3? 
It does! Personally, I disagree with the premise that couples have no choice but to buy in the best home districts, but it did an excellent job of explaining the value of having a stay at home parent that was lost and the never ending race to the top when the second parent entered the work force.

mgarl10024

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2014, 09:13:56 AM »
Oh please, aside from very specific locations, houses are dirt cheap in most of the United States,

The median home price is $189k. If you consider that dirt cheap, you don't have much in common with most of the United States.
Less than 4 times the median household income, lenders who will happily lend you the money over thirty (30!) years, and tax breaks on top of that? That's cheap in my book, and it doesn't even take into account that many people overpurchase (kid on the way? we're going to be so cramped with anything less than 3 bedrooms!). There's a TV show in the UK where couples shop for homes; every now and then they compare what a given amount of money would get them across the pond, and they cry their eyes out. It's going to take a lot of convincing and data to convince me that homeowners have it remotely hard in the US.

Median US Household Income: $29,056 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_household_income
Median UK Household Income: $25,237 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_household_income

Median US House Price: $189,000 - your quote.
Median UK House Price: $309,856 (£184,000) - http://data.gov.uk/dataset/median_house_price/resource/572e6368-ade5-4c82-8182-7b8784614ca6

Multiplier US:  6.5x
Multiplier UK:  12.3x

Unless there's a mistake in my maths, I'd agree that US housing seems much cheaper.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2014, 09:46:19 AM »
Interesting, the number usually thrown around for the United States is around 50k, but your link chooses to adjust per grown adult. It would be great if we could have a full breakdown of the types of households too, to see the effects of the rise of single parent households in recent years.

sisca

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2014, 10:40:44 AM »
Interesting, the number usually thrown around for the United States is around 50k, but your link chooses to adjust per grown adult. It would be great if we could have a full breakdown of the types of households too, to see the effects of the rise of single parent households in recent years.

It is 50k. If you play around with the numbers, add in a few kids as halflings, count hobos and unemployed etc you get 29.

Albert

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2014, 12:58:10 PM »
Why would one not count everyone? Unemployed folks, prisoners and homeless are people too…

All these numbers are difficult to reconcile with reality. In my opinion the simplest data point would be a median full time salary.

Heart of Tin

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2014, 01:15:08 PM »
Why would one not count everyone? Unemployed folks, prisoners and homeless are people too…

All these numbers are difficult to reconcile with reality. In my opinion the simplest data point would be a median full time salary.

The Buereau of Labor Statistics puts the median weekly wage or salary of a fulltime employee at $796 for the first quarter of 2014. See: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf

This corresponds, roughly and without adjustment for seasonality, to a yearly salary or wage of $41,500 .

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2014, 01:18:40 PM »
This, by the way, is one of the primary issues with our public education system, and again, it is an intentional problem. In a number of civilized countries, including Finland, school funding is allocated proportionally to ensure that massive inequalities do not exist across districts. There are no "good" schools or "bad" schools, because all of the schools are "good". In the US, school funding is primarily based on property taxes, which is grossly unfair, as it means the children of the rich receive good educations, while those of the poor receive lesser ones. However, rather than change this (it really would only take a few laws at the federal level), education reform is focused on punishing poor schools by closing them and replacing them with corporate charter schools, firing teachers, destroying unions, and essentially privatizing public education.

That's not always the case. The city I live in has a school district that is massively subsidized by the state; only about seven percent of their $900 million annual budget comes from the city's coffers. They spend far more money per-student than any of the surrounding suburban districts. There are a few really good schools, but most of them have been designated as "failing" by the state and are on the verge of being shut down entirely.

Money doesn't always make the difference.

Albert

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2014, 01:22:27 PM »
Why would one not count everyone? Unemployed folks, prisoners and homeless are people too…

All these numbers are difficult to reconcile with reality. In my opinion the simplest data point would be a median full time salary.

The Buereau of Labor Statistics puts the median weekly wage or salary of a fulltime employee at $796 for the first quarter of 2014. See: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf

This corresponds, roughly and without adjustment for seasonality, to a yearly salary or wage of $41,500 .

That seems to be about right. I'm sure there are large regional variations, though.

Cassie

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #30 on: May 20, 2014, 01:22:52 PM »
My Mom went back to work in the 1960's but they did not use that $ to buy bigger houses, cars, etc. They used it to take us out to eat on a Fri nite at an inexpensive place, buy a dishwasher, take a frugal vacation & saved the rest.  People of that generation never counted on 2 incomes.  We were a family of 5 & our house was 1200sf.

MrsPete

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2014, 05:59:48 AM »
No, I'm saying I suspect, decades ago when women started working more, they were mostly in roles that paid relatively little. So the family used that money for extras like vacations or going out to eat more often than they otherwise would. It was extra, but it wasn't money they really counted on. Today, families base decisions with the assumption of two very equal, high incomes. The house, cars, and other mostly fixed costs need both incomes or things start collapsing.

I may be making all of up, I don't really have any hard data. But I think it makes some sense?
No, I don't think the first women who began working and breaking society's norms were doing it for extra spending cash:  Rather, our society experienced a number of events that led to the acceptance of women working outside the home.  We didn't go from essentially all women at home to -- boom! -- most women work: 

Poor women have always "taken in" work -- laundry and sewing being the prime examples, but during WWII women began to work in factories in jobs that had been "traditionally male" and they began to mimic male work patterns; that is, leaving the house rather than doing the sewing with the children at their feet.  And the world didn't end, so society knew women COULD work outside the home. 

Then came the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s, and women wanted to work simply because it was their right to do so.  And at that same time, various things appeared to make it possible for women to work and still take care of their families:  Day care centers, fast food, frozen foods that actually tasted okay, affordable store-bought clothes.  Add to that the idea that divorce became socially acceptable -- in part because women could take care of themselves and weren't forced to be dependent upon a man. 

Then in the 1970s inflation hurt everyone, and people began to see that money as necessary.  Also we as a society experienced "lifestyle creep" -- houses increased in size, two cars and multiple TV sets became an expectation, eating out and vacations became more common.  And this is when we as a society began to pick up the idea that "you're always going to have debt" -- not that it was pervasive yet. 
Well, considering that about 30% of families are headed by single parents (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/the-mysterious-and-alarming-rise-of-single-parenthood-in-america/279203/), I don't think saying "families today base decisions with the assumption of two very equal, high incomes" is a fair blanket statement to make.  I do agree that consuming is out of control; I just think that blaming it on women entering the workforce and starting to earn fair wages is a scapegoat that doesn't explain the current consumption levels.
Good point, but I'd counter with two thoughts:

- Many of those one-parent households are receiving child support from a parent who doesn't live in the household; thus, the single parent isn't necessarily doing it alone. 
- If I were to read that article, I'm 100% sure that it'd make the point that children raised in single parent households are much more likely to be raised in poverty. 
I just read it recently; that's the basis for my previous posts. That book specifically says that families started using their additional income to buy houses in better public school districts. Unless I completely missed the point of what the authors were saying? Healthcare and education have played a role too of course. I thought the book touched on all 3?
I read that book about a hundred years ago, but I think the disagreement here is that some people would say that moving to a better public school district is a NECESSITY because it is better for the children's future, while others would say it's a LUXURY because the family could have continued to live in the old, less expensive neighborhood.  And the argument could be extended for many aspects of life:  Are vacations necessary?  Is saving for college necessary?  Etc., etc., etc.  So if a woman is working because she wants to provide her kids with braces, summer camp, and nicer clothes, is that necessary or luxury?  People would disagree.

 

MoneyCat

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Re: Median American Savings: $0
« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2014, 06:28:12 AM »
One of my favorite shows is Mad Men (1960s based saga of Madison Avenue advertising firms). Advertising is more powerful than you can believe, the proof of that is the billions and billions spent on advertising every year. Do NOT think you are immune - you are not. I would be very OK with no TV in my house, but my dear wife lives with me, and she would not be OK with this, so we continue to have it. Perhaps this is why I am the leading force to reduce spending and follow a YNAB budget in my household. And despite my attempts at explaining this, she tends to think I am just being CHEAP.

THIS.  A thousand times.

I never realized how much advertising influenced me until we dropped cable in favor of Netflix and switched from listening to "free" advertising-sponsored radio to a commercial-free satellite radio with lifetime membership that I purchased on eBay.  We also started using an ad-blocker plug-in on Chrome for our web surfing.  Our spending dropped by a ton.  Advertisers are so good at making people feel like they need to buy things to feel better about themselves.  They use every psychological trick in the book.