Chuck Bentley: Good Stewardship Through Generations

Dear Chuck,

I’m concerned about young couples I know who rely heavily upon credit cards. They appear to have no concern for the future. I don’t sense a desire to be good stewards in their approach to finances.

Concerned Boomer

Dear Concerned Boomer,

It is not only a perceived concern but a real one and not just for millennials, but for millions of Americans across the board regarding poor financial management habits.

Experian released research on our nation’s consumer credit card debt in May 2019. It reveals a link between a perceived healthy economy/low unemployment rate and Americans’ confidence in spending. Total credit card debt has increased 29% over the past five years, reaching $807 billion for first quarter 2019. Debt levels increased 6% in the past year alone.

An article in USA Today reveals concerns as well. Consider the following facts from their recent exclusive report, based on a survey by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

The economy appears to be booming.

· We’re a month short of the longest economic expansion ever

· Unemployment is at 50-year low

· Stocks hit the longest bull market last year and are nearing new highs

· Home values hit a record high in first quarter 2019

It’s not all bad news.

· Only 1 in 5 had a decrease in income

· Half can comfortably pay their monthly bills

Yet, Americans are financially stressed.

· Only 58% have a retirement account

· 1 in 4 have past-due medical bills

· 37% say they have too much debt

· Half wish they’d gone to a cheaper college, didn’t understand how much they would owe, worry they won’t ever be able to pay off their loans.

· Nearly half have not set aside money to cover expenses for 3 months

Gerry Walsh, president of FINRA, was quoted in the same USA Today article:

I give our nation’s financial capability a solid C, leaning toward a C-minus. While some Americans feel better about their finances now compared with 10 years ago, too many face obstacles that will likely keep us as a nation from acing financial capability any time soon.

Regardless of how well an economy is doing, true financial freedom is a journey that takes some people longer than others. It’s a condition of the heart, not just the condition of the finances.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Chuck Bentley