Whether the conversation is about getting in shape, saving money or learning a new language, it’s generally accepted that the best way to get to the mountain top is to have goals to hit along the way. For losing weight it may be a simple goal of losing 5 pounds this month, or going to the gym three times this week. These small achievable goals give you something nearby to shoot for on what can often be a very long trip. And in the case of personal finance or saving for retirement, the trip is most certainly very very long.
Unfortunately, most of the goals presented on personal finance site are major goals; save enough for retirement, become debt free, buy a house. How many of those can be checked off in a month? How many times can someone buy a home?
Our buddies over at GetRichSlowly, a site which I generally recommend, recently posted an on crowd funding which did not please its readership. Basically, some dude names Eric Estrada (no relation) feels his family has been doing good saving money and therefore is justified in asking strangers to help pay off his mortgage. This went over like a lead balloon in the comments section.
The article is prefaced by GRS’s hemming and hawing about whether to post Eric’s plea. I’m not sure what actually tipped the scales in favor of posting it but it was done under the guise of a discussion about crowd funding (basically asking the Internet crowd to fund whatever it is you want by getting a large number of small contributions from the group).
Every day I read some new tidbit on debt in America, but a recent study by the Urban Institute took me a bit by surprise.
“Roughly 77 million Americans, or 35 percent of adults with a credit file, have a report of debt in collections. These adults owe an average of $5,178 (median $1,349). Debt in collections involves a non-mortgage bill—such as a credit card balance, medical or utility bill—that is more than 180 days past due and has been placed in collections. “
As someone who has had more than a few accounts ‘in collections‘ in the past, I understand how easy it is to do on a personal level. But on a national level these are some pretty telling figures.
Consider that the median amount is $1,349. That means that half of those 77 million account in collections are really for a pretty small amount. This is good news in that those people aren’t in huge debt (at least in collections). But it’s very bad news that thirty some million people cannot come up with a thousand bucks to keep an account current.