A friend recently returned from Ireland with a few scary stories. He and his wife had rented a car for a few days to explore some castles. Several of the old fortresses, they were told, were haunted. But ghosts in the towers were not the cause of their hair-raising experiences. It was the country roads between the castles.
In addition to making the mental adjustment to driving on the left, our friend found the roads to be very narrow. Imagine a one-way road in America (with a foot of shoulder on each side) carrying two-way traffic. There’s barely enough room for cars to pass each other and no where near enough room to pull off if something goes wrong.
Large trucks would come barreling at our friends head-on, not slowing or seeming to get over. With no shoulder and often a rustic stone wall right next to the road, it was white knuckles and clenched teeth as the vehicles seemed to miss by inches.
This is the stress that comes from having no margin—no wiggle room in case things don’t go exactly as planned. And unfortunately, it’s an anxiety many people experience because of their finances.
In December of 2022, about 166 million people, or 64.4% of U.S. adults reported having no money left over at the end of the month. This is a year-over-year increase of 9.3 million people, and just below the pandemic-high of 65.7%.1 High earners were not immune, with more than half of those making $100,000 or more reporting that they too were living paycheck to paycheck.
Unfortunately, this has led many people to go deeper into debt. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in just the fourth quarter of 2022, total household debt increased 2.4%, resulting in a record-high $986 billion in credit card debt.2
The recent pace of debt increase is not sustainable. More than likely, many people will be facing ongoing crises with their personal finances.
The solution is mathematically simple: Spend less than you earn. But many people find this difficult to put into practice because it requires them to follow a budget. However, there’s simply no way to keep all of your monthly financial transactions in your head. Let alone track all the long-term necessities a budget makes allowance for.
Living with no financial margin is stressful. One unforeseen car repair or medical bill can seem like a semi truck coming around the corner on a narrow road. A budget can help give you greater clarity that all your money is going where it should. It can even give you permission to plan guilt-free for impractical things like that tropical vacation you’ve always dreamed of.
If you struggle in the area of budgeting, talk to your trusted financial advisor. He or she has resources and ideas for helping even the most planning-averse get started and stay on track for the long term.
If you ever have any questions about your investments or retirement plans, please feel free to give me a call at 801-545-0696.
Stonecreek Wealth Advisors, Inc., A Financial Advisor in Utah
11576 S State Street, Bldg. 1002
Draper, UT 84020
Disclosure: This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This material was prepared by Efficient Advisors, LLC (“EA’) for Mark Lund, Mark is a Financial Advisor in Utah. He is known as a Wealth Advisor, The 401k Advisor, Investor Coach, Financial Planner, Investment Advisor and author of The Effective Investor. Mark offers investment advisory services through Stonecreek Wealth Advisors, Inc. a fiduciary, independent, fee-only, Registered Investment Advisor firm providing investment management and retirement planning for individuals and 401k consulting for small businesses. Mark’s newsletter is called The Effective Investor Newsletter. Cities served in Utah are: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah County, Park City, Murray City, West Jordan City, Sandy City, Draper City, South Jordan City, Provo City, Orem City, Lehi City, Highland City, Alpine City, American Fork City. The views expressed herein are exclusively those of Efficient Advisors, LLC (‘EA’), and are not meant as investment advice and are subject to change. All charts and graphs are presented for informational and analytical purposes only. No chart or graph is intended to be used as a guide to investing. EA portfolios may contain specific securities that have been mentioned herein. EA makes no claim as to the suitability of these securities. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. Information contained herein is derived from sources we believe to be reliable, however, we do not represent that this information is complete or accurate and it should not be relied upon as such. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. This information is prepared for general information only. It does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and the particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. You should seek financial advice regarding the appropriateness of investing in any security or investment strategy discussed or recommended in this report and should understand that statements regarding future prospects may not be realized. You should note that security values may fluctuate and that each security’s price or value may rise or fall. Accordingly, investors may receive back less than originally invested. Investing in any security involves certain systematic risks including, but not limited to, market risk, interest-rate risk, inflation risk, and event risk. These risks are in addition to any unsystematic risks associated with particular investment styles or strategies.