Ima Rich is a classy lady. She drives a fancy car, lives in an exclusive neighborhood, and associates with upscale people. However, Ima is one of the “Broke Folks.” She lives paycheck to paycheck. Her life is filled with debts and worries. Although many people envy Ima’s luxurious lifestyle, Ima is constantly haunted by her financial fakeness.
The Financial Fact
Do your family members hound you because you’re financially sharp? Are you ridiculed because you are a saver instead of spender? Many Americans live flashy lifestyles (fancy cars and expensive houses) but lack a strong financial basis for living. In our early years of marriage, some people tried to influence our living habits. We were professionals. We needed to act the part. You live in a certain neighborhood and possess the finest things. Fortunately, we didn’t buy-in to this hype. It was all about image but no substance.
The media bombards us with lies that acquiring material things will make us happy. This falsehood confuses our children and makes us “Dream Brokers.” It appears that many Americans have bought this superfluous living. Therefore, we have created a nation of Broke Folks.
What are Broke Folks you may ask? Broke Folks relates to individuals who try to portray an upscale image but lack the financial asset to back it up. It’s not about a high paying job. There are numerous examples of professionals (lawyers, doctors, etc.) who are deep in debt but refuse to correct it because of this image. Being broke is now normal.
The Hard Core Truth
Dave Ramsey, author of Freedom Peace, constantly runs into Broke Folks on his nationally syndicated talk show. Ramsey explains, “If you are taking advice from Broke Folks then you are stupid.” The following 2004 statistics by Bankrate mark the increase of this social class:
Average per US household debt, excluding mortgage debt, is approximately $14,500.
A typical credit card purchase ends up costing 112 percent more than if cash were used.
Some 40 percent of US families annually spend more than they earn.
Approximately 60 percent of active credit card accounts are not paid off monthly.
Average credit card debt among US households is approximately $8,400.
Much of the problem with these statistics relate to not delaying personal gratification. Most Americans can handle their money better. We are no exception. However, the myth exists that rich people spend a lot of money. Stanley and Danko, authors of The Millionaire Next Door, maintain that most Americans don’t understand how to build wealth.
They explain, “Many people who live in expensive homes and drive luxury cars do not actually have much wealth…Many people who have a great deal of wealth do not even live in upscale neighborhoods. Obviously, the media promotes this urban legend of the “Rich & Famous.” To help you with building your wealth, here’s a summary of wealth building tips from the Millionaire Next Door:
Live below your means.
Allocate your time, energy, and money in ways that help build wealth.
Build good character so that high social status isn’t more important than financial stability.
Teach your children to be economically self-sufficient.
Be prepared to take advantage of any market opportunities.
Do your homework on career selection so that you find the right occupation.
Become financially sound and responsible. Financial independence is more than show. Don’t let your family and friends talk down to you because you are managing your money wisely. Don’t be discouraged because your friends are living the Glamour Life while you eat “beanie weenies” for dinner. Take the offensive by continually getting financial education and by staying away from “Broke Folks.” Build your financial portfolio. It is not too late. Start today!