Fare thee well, 2019! It’s that time of year when we’re inclined to look back on the year that was and reflect on how to make the next year even better - and yes, you can do that with personal finance as well. So here’s a look back at everything Rogue Waves sent your way in 2019:
Happy Labor Day! Our summer school valuation series has wrapped up, just in time for the kids to go back to actual school. So let’s talk for a second about actual school. Specifically, college...or not.
College costs have gone up by about 2.5-3% a year for the last couple decades. That’s not bad in and of itself, but that is still about 8 times more than wages have gone up in the same time period, which leads to a problem with affordability.
Maaaaaarghch. We got nothin’. Monosyllabic. Not punny. The only thing mildly related is “March of Dimes”, and that has been well taken already. So without further ado, let’s continue our 2019 series in content, if not title.
“Here” looks like different things to different people. For some people, “here” might be increasing that emergency fund to 6 or even 12 months’ expenses. Nothing wrong with that, but you know what you’re doing now, so keep at it and revisit this article when you’re happy with your emergency fund.
For others, “here” is about making your money work for you, which usually boils down to a question of which takes priority: saving/investing or paying down debt? The answer is, like so many other things, it depends on your personal predilections.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! We hope your holiday was as filled with good food, family, friends, and involuntary naps (aka food comas) as our was. We learned two things anecdotally this holiday season:
That must be a good thing, right? Yeah! It is. Probably. Increased sales mean increased revenues for companies, which can be translated into higher (or at least supported) stock prices, even as profit margins have been falling over the last couple years.
More importantly to us, however, increased sales *should* indicate something about people having more disposable income, which is categorically a good thing. We say *should* with little asterisk offsets because in this day and age one doesn’t have to have current disposable income to purchase something. They could purchase it with debt (credit cards), and essentially borrow from future disposable income.
And, in point of fact, that is exactly what has been going on for the past several years. Enjoy these charts from the NY Federal Reserve (interactive up-to-date data available here, for anyone interested):
The general trend has continued through this year - total household debt is at all time highs now, and the main drivers of this are student loan debt (up 100% since 2009) and auto loan debt (up almost 60% since 2009). This is not necessarily an issue in and of itself, given that the charts are in absolute dollars and not percentages. However, real wage growth has been mostly nonexistent for most of the population, causing us to cast a moderate amount of side eye on that Black Friday shopping.
So. What does your balance sheet look like?
This Millennial lives for today but builds her 401(k)
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