Americans Are Still Broke As F**k (And F**king PISSED)

Americans are broke as f**k. How broke? According to the January MasterCard SpendingPulse data:

  • 24.8% have $100 or less in their accounts.
  • 23.8% have $101-$500 in their accounts. (48.6% total have less than $501 saved.)
  • 7.7% have $501-$1,000 in their accounts. (56.4% total have less than $1,001 saved.)
  • 16.4% have $1,001-$5,000 in their accounts. (72.8% total have less than $5,001 saved.)
  • 27.2% have $5,001 or more in their accounts.

How broke is that in real terms? Well, that depends a lot on how you formulate the notion of “broke.” The Federal Poverty Level for a family of 4 in 2015 was $24,250. On the other hand, the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator puts the “modest family budget” requirement for a 4-person family at $49,114 in the lowest-cost area of the country. The median-cost area led to a family budget of $63,741.

If you break that down monthly, you get a monthly “poverty income” of $2,021. Or a monthly “cheapest family budget” of $4,093. Either way, it’s clear that more than half of the country couldn’t pay for a month of its own reasonable expenses should they suffer a job loss, injury, or other meaningful setback. If you run with the “median-area modest family budget,” 72.8% of the county falls into that category.

But job loss isn’t even the real demon here — the real demon, as points out, is everyday but unpredictable expenses that 63% of Americans (according to their survey) are simply unable to prepare for. If you only have $800 in your accounts, what do you do when your car breaks down and it needs a $1,200 repair? According to, the most common answers are “borrow it from family or friends,” or “pay for it by giving up something else.”

How Did We Get Here?
Pretty simply, actually — when the Great Recession hit, median household wealth in the US dropped by 40%, and median incomes dropped by 4% in 2008 and another 4% in 2009 and another 4% in 2010 and yet another 4% in 2011. Only in 2014 did median household incomes start to climb again, and only this month did we finally catch up to where we were in November of 2007.

In order to continue paying their bills, people of all but the upper class turned to credit — most out of necessity, as they drained their savings and their friends and family had no money to borrow. As of right now, the bottom 40% of all Americans own a combined net wealth of zero dollars — because their combined debt is essentially equal to their combined holdings.

The luckier Americans still haven’t built up any savings of any meaningful sort, because they’ve been paying off the debts that they accumulated over the past few years. They’re lucky, because even through their savings are low, their debts are no longer accumulating interest — they’re not getting less wealthy with every passing month like the less fortunate Americans are. But! They still can’t afford an unanticipated appliance repair, or an emergency trip to the dentist, or to fly out to Grandma’s funeral.

Not knowing how you’ll financially handle the next emergency is called “financial insecurity” — or, on the street, it’s called “being broke.” And boy Howdy, are most Americans broke.  Broke as f**k.

But We’re Also Pissed
Esquire and NBC News joined up to survey three thousand Americans, and they learned something completely unsurprising: we’re f**king ANGRY. Nearly half of all polled said they got angry more often in 2015 than they did in 2014. The most angry? The very middle of the middle class — the ones who have been diligently paying through the nose on their debts and still have f**k-all to show for it? The least angry? The very rich (duh) and also the very poor (who are too hopeless to be angry.)

  • 68% of us get pissed off at least once a day just by reading the news.
  • 52% of us are pissed because we believe the American Dream (get ahead by your own ingenuity and hard work) is dead. (Numbers, by the way, back this up: income mobility in the US has been declining since the 1920s. If you want the American Dream nowadays, try living in Denmark.)
  • 54% of us are pissed because we expected that we’d be financially better off by this point it our lives.
  • 78% of us are pissed because we know that billionaires are openly buying our political system.

Can We Do Anything About It?
A big part of being broke as f**k and pissed as f**k about it is feeling utterly f**king hopeless. We do, however, have a longshot chance at doing something about it if and only if we get pissed enough to VOTE. November is a long way off, and lots of stupid f**king s**t is going to happen between now and then that will piss you and everyone you know off and get you worried about your ‘small picture’ — that’s inevitable.

But please, don’t let it keep you from staying pissed at the big picture, too — and don’t let it keep you from voting for something at least mildly less enraging. Because seriously. F**k this s**t.


(Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay, open source.)