The pitfalls of financial choices in life
Even at your local, relatively inexpensive, Washburn University, the estimated cost-of-attendance (tuition, fees, books, room and board) comes in at $15,700 per year.
How much do you have in your child’s college fund? The Project on Student Debt reports that in Kansas, 72 percent of 2013 graduates had student loans averaging $25,750. Overall, U.S. student loan debt now exceeds $1.13 trillion. With an interest rate of five percent and a decade-long repayment plan, the average monthly payment needed to discharge the debt is $273. This may be easier to do if your first job is as an accountant making $60,000 per year. But what if you are a preschool teacher, or a social worker, grossing less than half that amount? What if you incur the debt, but don’t finish your degree? And, don’t forget, student loan debt can’t be jettisoned in bankruptcy.
According to aptly named Nerdwallet.com, U.S. consumers have racked up credit card debt totaling $883 billion. Slightly less than half of all households have credit card debt, with an average indebtedness of $15,611. Paying off this debt on a 21 percent APR credit card in five years’ time requires a monthly payment of $422. Throw in other forms of consumer debt—auto loans, installment plans—and robbing Peter to pay Paul each month becomes an albatross for many families.
The time when the usual worker has a defined benefit retirement plan is passing us by. Instead, 401(K), 403(b) and other tax-advantaged retirement programs are now the way folks will fund retirement. Unfortunately, according to USA Today, 36 percent of adults have saved zero, nil, nada, for retirement, including 26 percent in the age-50 to 64 bracket, and 33 percent in the 30 to 49-year-old group. Many don’t even take advantage of cash-matching offered by their employers. Yes, most folks will draw Social Security, but we also know that the program “trust fund” doesn’t really exist. You have no contractual rights to your promised benefits, and in case you haven’t noticed, the Federal government is $18 trillion in debt itself.