Strive to Be Abnormal, Not Normal, in the New Year

by Kevin on December 27, 2012

Everyone always wants to be normal, but what does that even mean?

When people say they want to be normal, do they really mean they want to fit in with the rest of society? To be average, to be similar to everyone else?

I tell you what: I don’t want to be normal.

Here’s why.

The Downfall of Being Normal

In America, all of these things are normal:

  • According to Dave Ramsey, 7 out of 10 houses on your street are living paycheck to paycheck. That means if those families lost their jobs today, they would either have to rely on credit cards the next week to pay their bills or do without. They have no room for error.
  • Household debt as a percentage of disposable income rose from 68% in 1980 to 112% in 2011. That means households, on average, are more in debt than their disposable income is for an entire year.
  • Car loans are normal. Everyone has a car payment, right? And when you get done paying for your car, you sell it and buy the newer shiny one immediately.
  • Everyone in America has a credit card balance that they’re paying down, right? That sounds normal. And paying only the minimum balance is normal too since we can’t afford to actually pay down the debt.
  • Student loans are normal. We all want higher education, but paying for it is another problem. No worries, I’ll pay on it for the next 10 years at a 6.8% interest rate. Oh, and it’s normal to take out more in loans than you need so you have something to live off of while you are in college.
  • In America, relying on the government for your retirement income is normal. Social Security is there for a reason so why save any extra money? I’m sure it will be there when I retire.
  • 50% of marriages end in divorce in the United States. Does that make marriage or divorce normal? Or both, whatever happens?

Like I said… normal isn’t as great as it seems. I’d rather be abnormal than normal.

How to Be Abnormal in America

Here’s how to be weird or abnorma:

  • Don’t spend more than you earn. All other financial success is based on this premise. You must earn more money than you spend or spend less than you make. Either way, you must have money left over at the end of the month after all of your expenses are paid.
  • Pay off debt ASAP. Holding on to debt makes no sense. You are being charged interest for every day that goes by that you don’t pay off the balance.
  • Don’t rely on the government for retirement. I really, really hope Social Security is around when I get to retirement. It will be a nice extra layer of icing on my retirement cake. But it won’t be the cake. I’m baking that myself.
  • Don’t buy anything you can’t pay cash for, except for a home. Can’t afford to buy that car for cash outright? Don’t buy it with a loan. You’re adding interest on top of every purchase when you do this. The only exception is a home simply because there are a bunch of other benefits (and admittedly, costs) to home ownership that make purchasing it with a solid 20% downpayment a smart decision.

Embace your abnormality! Earn more income than your peers, save more than your neighbors, and don’t go into necessary debt this year. It’s a lot better to be weird than normal when it comes to money in America.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

dana December 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Great article! The headline has some issues, but I’m planning to link to it in my links of the week roundup on Friday. Cheers!

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Kevin December 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Good catch :) Just changed it and the URL — thanks!

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Golfing Girl December 28, 2012 at 7:52 am

I’m such a cynic I assume when I see people with really nice cars or gadgets that they must be in debt. We have no debt except a 15 year mortgage..we are REALLY werid! That’s what is making building our dreamhouse with 20 percent down a reality. Sacrifice isn’t fun or easy TV still work? Yes. Will we keep it till it dies? Yes.

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Fred@Foxy Finance January 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm

In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” Enjoyed the article!

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