I recently read an article stating that 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. What's worse, 21% of them don't even have a savings account!
Supposedly, Americans have been saving more since the global recession, but the stat above doesn't seem to bear that out.
One of the most discussed topics on this forum is consumer behavior, as my background is in psychology and marketing.
It's imperative that Americans -- and people throughout the world, for that matter -- practice saving responsibly. The best way to save money is by living below one's means.
Spending hundreds of dollars on clothing and food every week doesn't help your pocketbook in any way, especially if you have the tendency to run up your credit card bills and pay late.
I'm not saying you can't treat yourself to a good meal here and there, but spending -- just like eating amd drinking -- should be done in moderation.
As I tell many of my cash-strapped friends, sometimes the best things in life don't require you to shell out a dime -- taking a leisurely stroll around the park, visiting a museum, staying in with your partner and popping in a DVD.
Unfortunately, we live in a world that revolves around material possessions and consumerism. Advertising is partly to blame for driving people -- especially impressionable teenagers -- to the stores to purchase things they might not need with money they don't have. Still, those ads don't force us to go and spend -- we have the free will to flip the channel or turn the page of the magazine and not pay these advertising appeals any mind.
That over 60% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved up is stunning. I think students should be required to take personal finance courses as early as high school. I think it's partly an education problem whereby people aren't taught early on to save a percentage of their earnings -- say, 40% of each paycheck -- and instead blow all their money on trips, clothes, and so on.
And the fact that 21% of Americans have no savings account to speak of is part of the problem. Students should open a savings account at 18 and putting their cash -- whether it's scholarship money or birthday gifts -- into it right away so that it may begin accruing interest.
Being a responsible consumer paves the way for a more stable life. You'll not only have more money for important life events like weddings and buying a new car, but a flush emergency fund at your disposal should something unexpected crop up.
How diligent are you when it comes to saving money? How often do you splurge on things you might not need?