“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”
From Sen. John McCain’s farewell statement
Before you get excited or depressed, I’m not going to talk politics. Rather, I want to apply these thoughts to the finances of our fellow Americans.
There are a lot of statistics I could (and have) cite to illustrate our current struggles with money, but this next one really sticks out for me.
According to a recent article, 52.1% of Kids Live in Households Getting Means-Tested Government Assistance.
“Today, they are Americans under 18 years of age growing up in a country where the majority of their peers live in households that take “means-tested assistance” from the government.
In 2016, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau, there were approximately 73,586,000 people under 18 in the United States, and 38,365,000 of them — or 52.1 percent — resided in households in which one or more persons received benefits from a means-tested government program.
These included the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Medicaid, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the National School Lunch Program.”
Like me, everyone I’ve shared that with has been shocked. So, what’s to be done? How can this problem be solved? Like most major problems, the way out is the same as the way in; incrementally.
If you’re in debt, odds are, poor spending choices over time are responsible. And the most effective way to get out of debt is to make a commitment and to pay it off over time.
In social science, agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. One’s agency is one’s independent capability or ability to act on one’s will.
It’s through our agency as Americans that we’ll begin moving in the right direction financially. I think Senator McCain’s thoughts are applicable here.
Short deadlines and high expectations
Procrastination messes with each of us, I know I’ve been lulled to sleep by the lack of a deadline. If you give yourself 365 days to get something done, odds are you’ll put it off for several months before you get serious about it. What if you had 30 days instead? Would you be able to get it done? I bet you would, and that’s the power of a deadline.
As for high expectations, I say “why not?” If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re a high-performing person, capable of doing great things.
The time to act is now. The time to make tough decisions is now. The time to make make necessary changes is now. You can do this!