How Much Does the American Dream Really Cost?

I found this really interesting and eye-opening infographic about the American Dream. Not the one we think we know and strive for, but the real one. The one that’s costing the American people their hard earned money each and every day. This American Dream is what we all like to call “keeping up with the Joneses” and it’s killing us. It’s absolutely killing us. I used to be the one guy who pushed hard for the American Dream. I wanted it, I wanted all of it.  I wanted the fancy car, the huge house, the wife and kids (I have those), and all the prestige that came along with it. It’s all about image people. Unfortunately, according to this cool infographic, we aren’t actually paying for this dream, we are financing the crap out of it.

How Much the American Dream Really Costs

No matter what you think about our society, there is no denying out passion for stuff. We love to buy it, own it, and then throw it away. It’s a constant cycle pushed ahead by retailers and the media. We are constantly pounded by advertising trying to part us from our money. It appears to be working quite well. I won’t pretend that I have fallen for it. I have and I’ve done it big time. Remember my Jetski story?  The only reason why I bought that was because I thought it looked cool and I would be the envy of my friends. Oh, how wrong I was.

The infographic below shows us how bad we really are. The American Dream is costing us a lot of money. Money we don’t really have, so we have to finance it. Well, when you finance stuff, it means debt, and then you have to pay it off. The issue is too many people don’t. Remember this little tidbit, if you don’t pay cash or pay off your loan, you don’t actually own anything. You have no control over the stuff you think you own. It’s not yours. I don’t own my house. The bank does. I’m technically just a renter with a little more control over what happens in my house and my yard. The bank is just a behind-the-scenes landlord. According to this graphic, we have over $8.5 trillion in outstanding mortgages. That’s huge! The sad part is that student debt is bigger than credit card debt. Education shouldn’t have to be like that, but when you bring money in the mix, everyone wants to get more of it.

Here are some of the points in this graphic that stood out to me. While the entire graphic was a little shocking (more of a disappointment), there are a few that really push my buttons.

Stop Paying So Much for Cell Phone Service!

More than 59% of people pay over $100 a month for their cell phone coverage. 13% pay over $200! That’s a lot of dough my friends. I’m always on a quest to get a lower cell phone bill. While I use data, I’m not a data hog. I’m not crazy about my phone and I rarely use it to call or text. I use it for business purposes, like email. I understand there are others out there who love and can’t get enough of their cell phones. I’m not one of them. Stop paying so much!  There are tons of services that can reduce your cost. Hell, I just wrote about eight of them just the other day.  I don’t get why people just accept the high priced plans.

Bring Your Lunch to Work

66% of people prefer to go out to lunch, spending on average $37 per week. While I don’t mind going out a day here and there during the month, I don’t do it often. When I was in debt, I got into the habit of making my lunch and bringing it. While I’ve been out of credit card debt since 2012, I still make my lunch. I’ve been brown-bagging my way to financial independence and I’m cool with it! If you want to go out to lunch, just don’t make it a regular occurrence. Lunches out are expensive!

Can We Not Make Our Own Coffee?

I thought this number would actually be higher, but the average American spends $20 a week on coffee. Why?  Is it so much better from Starbucks or your local coffee shop? I don’t think so. I don’t even like Starbucks. I think their roast is too much and everything tastes burnt. I’m not the only one either. Too bad other’s don’t get the memo. Starbucks is expensive, but it’s also the most popular coffee destination.  I’ve found good coffee from local stores, which we buy in whole bean form. We have a grinder and make our coffee at home. Freshly ground coffee is so much better than any of the other stuff I’ve had out. I’ll keep my $20 per week, thank you very much!

Ok, that is all my friends. Take a look at the infographic and let me know what stands out to you.  Anything strike you as crazy?  What is the American Dream to you?