A lot of people think of wealth as how much money you make or how many assets you own.
I think of wealth in terms of "How long could I keep living like I am living if I lost my job?"
The answer for most Middle Class Americans is somewhere between 3 days and 3 weeks.
47% of Americans say they do not have enough money for a $400 emergency. I am not sure what emergency you could even come across that only costs $400. Maybe having to buy a plane ticket to go to a parent's funeral or accidently double-paying a bill so you have to wait on a refund could cost under $400. Otherwise, most emergencies I can think of are going to cost a minimum of $2,000. The transmission goes out, the hot water heater needs to be replaced, or an unexpected medical problem means accumulating some bills. If nearly half of Americans cannot cover an inconvenience, much less an emergency, it certainly says a few things about our country.
First, I do believe that the economy still sucks. Inflation is much worse than the government claims. An annual salary increase of 2-4% does not even cover inflation, much less actually raise your standard of living. In my opinion, there are no denying these challenges.
However, these statistics also show us how poorly Americans handle their money. Instead of saving, having an emergency fund of at least $1,000 (my goal is $3-4,000 but I'm not there yet), and investing their money, Americans tend to spend every dollar they can. This is why, without an income, they would only last 3 days to 3 weeks.
Don't be that person. Have a cushion. Even a small cushion of $500-$1,000 will take a load off of your shoulders. If you are in that same boat but want to have a way out, set a goal to have that emergency fund in the next 30 days. Cut down on some of your frivolous spending, have a garage sale, and offer to do some odd jobs for friends. Do what you have to do to get that emergency fund quickly. And start budgeting. Keep track of every penny for a couple of months and you will quickly see where your shortfalls are. If you find that you truly do not have enough income to make ends meet, it is time to develop some skills and look for additional and/or better employment. Making some short-term sacrifices now can pay off in your future.