Why you’re broke (and probably always will be)

There’s a reason why finance and money fights are the number one cause of divorce in the U.S. It’s not fun being broke. It isn’t pleasant to not be able to afford your kid’s back-to-school clothes or not know if you can afford this month’s rent.

In fact, a 2010 study from Princeton showed that money really can buy happiness.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to be happy. You also don’t need to be a genius to become a millionaire. There isn’t a secret Illuminati club that one must join. Eighty percent of millionaires today are “first-generation” rich.

If you learn anything from your four years here at ASU, let it be that you can win with money and at this game called life if you’re willing to do whatever is necessary. Here are just a few reasons why you’re not winning.

As financial advisor Dave Ramsey says, “You buy things you can’t afford, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like.”

Let’s be honest: Too many people spend money like they’re in Congress. The truth is, unless you’re General Motors Co. or a bank that’s “too big to fail,” you or I won’t be getting a bailout anytime soon.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average U.S. household’s credit card debt is more than $15,000 and the average debt carried by undergraduate college students is $3,173. The quick and easy solution?

Cut up your cards and use cash — research shows you will spend 40 percent less if you operate solely on a cash basis.

You may ask, “But what about my credit score I wont be able to get a mortgage?”

The truth of the matter is when buying a home if you put down a deposit like you should, in most cases you can use a mortgage company that manually underwrites.

Another reason you’ll always be poor: You finance cars that depreciate 70 percent in value after just four short years

Why anyone in their right mind would buy a brand new car at sticker price is beyond me, especially if they are still in school or have recently graduated. What if I told you your new car fetish will cost you more than $5,000,000 in potential lifetime earnings?

You may have chosen the wrong college major and paid too much for it.

The amount of outstanding student loan debt in this country is $1.1 trillion.

If you went to a private university and racked up $100,000 in student loans with a degree in Greek polka or puppeteering, that’s on you. Not all degrees are created equal.

Even though I love Greek philosophy and economics, I am an accounting major who spent two years at a community college to ensure that I would have no student loans when I graduate.

I believe that you should follow your bliss, but that doesn’t always mean it has to be your vocation. Working a relatively boring job and reviewing Excel files all day doesn’t seem as bad when you’re able to go on an annual vacation and afford any hobby you want.

I am aware that there are outliers, but the simple truth of the matter is that not everyone is going to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, and borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for a degree that does not add any value or transferable skills is one of the worst investments you can make in your lifetime.

 

Reach the columnist at jgonza65@asu.edu or follow him at @_joshgonzalez