21 Ways To End The Phrase ‘Americans Are So Broke…’


By Michael Snyder

Did you know that 77 million Americans have unpaid debts that are “in collections” and that Congress is actually thinking about letting post offices offer payday loans?  We live in a country where almost everyone is drowning in debt and where most people are either flat broke or very close to flat broke.

Years ago, “your Mama is so broke” jokes were all the rage, and at the rate we are going they could make a big comeback.  Some of my favorites were “your Mama is so broke she went to McDonald’s and put a milkshake on layaway” and “your Mama is so broke your family ate cereal with a fork to save milk”.

Unfortunately, the facts that I am about to share with you are not funny at all.  In fact, they are quite sobering.  Yes, things are going fairly well for the elitists that live in the good areas of New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco right now, but most of the country is deeply struggling as our economic fundamentals continue to crumble.

Please share these numbers with as many people as you can, because we need people to understand that there has not been an “economic recovery” for most of America.  In fact, in many ways things just continue to get even worse.  The following are 21 ways to end the phrase “Americans are so broke”…

1. Americans are so broke that about a third of them have debt collectors on their heels.  One recent study discovered that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.  That is a total of 77 million people.  In other words, the debt collection business in America is absolutely booming.

2. Americans are so broke that Congress is now actually considering allowing post offices to provide payday loans and check cashing services.

3. Americans are so broke that they are keeping their vehicles longer than ever.  The average age of vehicles on America’s roads recently set a new all-time high of 11.4 years.

4. Americans are so broke that car dealers are having to go to extreme lengths to get new customers.  Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.

5. Americans are so broke that 52 percent of them cannot even afford the homes that they are living in right now.

6. Americans are so broke that they are falling farther behind on their student loans than ever.  The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. has now reached a whopping 1.2 trillion dollars, and approximately seven million Americans are in default on their student loans at this point.

7. Young Americans are so broke that half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.

8. Young Americans are so broke that only 36 percent of American adults under the age of 35 currently own a home.  That is the lowest level that has ever been recorded.

9. Americans are so broke that many of them can’t even afford to shop at Wal-Mart and dollar stores anymore

Discount stores are slowly dying.

Yesterday, Dollar Tree announced it would buy Family Dollar, a chain that is in the process of closing hundreds of stores and firing workers.

Other discount stores have been struggling as well, writes Heidi Moore at The Guardian. Fashion discounter Loehmann’s filed for bankruptcy, while Wal-Mart’s sales have declined for the past five quarters.

“There’s just not enough money deployed by American families to keep all the discount chains in business,” Moore writes.

10. Americans are so broke that they are running up record levels of debt.  Overall, U.S. households are 11.68 trillion dollars in debt right now.

11. Americans are so broke that the wealth of the “typical American household” has fallen by 36 percent over the past decade.

12. Americans are so broke that one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

13. Americans are so broke that more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

14. Americans are so broke that there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

15. Americans are so broke that the number of people on food stamps has increased by about 14 million while Obama has been in the White House.  Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

16. Americans are so broke that the U.S. government has had to spend an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

17. Americans are so broke that more than 20 percent of all children in the U.S. are living in poverty.

18. Americans are so broke that we have a record number of kids sleeping in the streets.  In fact, we have more than a million public school children that are homeless at this point.

19. Americans are so broke that 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

20. Americans are so broke that 26 percent of Americans have absolutely no emergency savings whatsoever.

21. Americans are so broke that approximately two-thirds of all Americans do not have enough money saved up to cover six months of expenses if an emergency arose.

If things are this bad now, during the so-called “economic recovery”, how bad will things get during the next major economic downturn?

Unfortunately, most Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security.  The financial crisis of 2008 seems like ancient history to most of them now, and most people appear to believe that our leaders have “fixed” whatever was wrong the last time.

Of course that is not the case at all.  In fact, our long-term problems have just continued to grow since then.

The truth is that what we are experiencing right now is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy.  When the next crisis arrives, all of the numbers in the list above are going to rapidly get a lot worse.

So enjoy the rest of this “bubble” while you still can.  It certainly will not last for too much longer.


  1. Nemoseto says:

    ok, one inaccurate thing, family dollar isn’t a dollar store, a dollar store is run with everything at a set 1 dollar price (or 2 for a dollar, 3, etc). everything is 1 dollar, dollar tree is a true dollar store, family dollar may have dollar in the name and people think it is, but most of their merchandise is more than a dollar (I saw stuff priced at $50 last time I was there), saying americans can’t afford to shop at dollar stores and citing family dollar as the example is misleading.

    • You should reread it. The author called Family Dollar a discount chain… and wrote that Americans cannot afford to keep discount chains in business anymore.

  2. NJGunGUy says:

    Did I miss something here? The titled states “21 Ways To End The Phrase ‘Americans Are So Broke…’”

    But the twenty one points are examples of the problems not any solutions.

    • userError says:

      The title is saying “21 ways to end the sentence ‘Americans are so broke…”; not ways to end Americans actually being broke. It would be like a humor piece saying “15 ways to end phrase “Your momma is so fat…”, you wouldn’t expect diet and nutrition advice, but 15 different “Your momma” endings.

  3. mom of three says:

    This is a sad state we do live in credit, is way to easy to get and the credit card companies, are sending applications to 17 year olds now. I had to shred all applications they were sending my step son, he never knew because I got the mail.
    We all can live with in our means but because most don’t this is why our country, is this way. Not a day goes by that my daughter, bugs us to get her an I phone. Why? Because everyone else has one. Good standby answer from a 14 year old. Every year I tally up what we spend on house payment, gas, electric, water, cable, phone those our just the basics to live in a house. Then you tally up clothing, food, taxes, car payments, insurances, and a host of other things to keep us in comfort. Just in house payments we pay $1,6800.00 per year yikes! 1400.00 just to have a roof over our heads.
    I want to change so badly, I hope soon we can loosen up our load and not just help us financially, but to lessen the stress.
    Now I have a $150.00 a month for the next 12 months to pay on a refrigerator, that I was not budgeting in but because our old one died. That $150.00 was supposed to go to pay my credit card each month and by October, my job might be
    gone. Yes, we will have to tighten our belts even tighter can we do it I hope we can.

    • Yikes, I cringed when I read your comment. My house payment is a little over $500 per mo. And we have no car/truck payment because we own all our vehicles. Of course, the newest is a 2007 model. And we don’t have cable, just internet, which allows us to watch what we want, and converse with the world. I don’t think I could handle the stress you’re under, I wish you the very best.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      (Now I have a $150.00 a month for the next 12 months to pay on a refrigerator, that I was not budgeting in but because our old one died. That $150.00 was supposed to go to pay my credit card each month and by October, my job might be

      Why did you buy an $1,800 refrigerator if you have so much debt and may loose a job?

      I would have spent $200.00 for a used one, paid cash and used it. In fact I did this (Paid $75.00 at a used appliance store)15-years ago and it’s still running great today.

      You need to rethink your spending if you think you must buy a $1,800 refrigerator when you have so much debt.

      • OldSoldat says:

        I suspect a big interest payment is in there but your point is good.

      • mom of three says:

        Because I was not told by my boss, that they may be closing because they want to retire, and if I would have known I would not have spent that much. The new refrigerator, matches the rest of our appliances that was the reason. We have bought dent and scrach appliances, in the past and their track record has not been the best plus I have a five year warranty that if anything goes wrong it will be fixed. Plus each region, is different with prices we live in a pricy state, believe me we pinch our pennies, to the nubs. This is another reason we want to move further out.

        • momofthree
          We do not walk in your shoes, but I understand where you are coming from on the fridge. It would have been nice if your boss had given you a heads up so you could of weighed your options.
          Did a check, you are right butter is $10.59 for the 4pk at the local Costco($2.65 per lb).

        • Repair Mama says:

          mom of 3,
          Better look at that ref warranty again unless you purchased an extended warranty. Most new appliances only have a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer and 5 years on just the sealed system (freon lines, and compressor)
          Just look over your paperwork so you will know what you have.
          good luck

      • You can get a NEW fridge for much less than $1800. American fridges are TWICE the size of those in Europe on average. Americans have been living high on the hog for decades by spending money they haven’t earned yet. The party is ending. Most of will find out we can live OK without fleecing a new car every three years and having 130 TV channels (while only watching maybe five or ten).

  4. axelsteve says:

    Many of these condition are caused by tdl. How in the heck can we have asound econemy when 30 hours is the new work week.

  5. axelsteve says:

    And how stupid are the morons who voted for that? No wonder the word dumacrap comes up.

  6. A few years back before I retired I was by choice living below my means. I was spending about $12,000 for all expenses and about $18,000 for taxes including SS. My point is for most working Americans the taxes are what keeps us poor. Taxes are the biggest barrier to getting into the middle class. Excessive taxation by the government is our biggest economic problem.

    • mom of three says:

      Our taxes went up by $1000.00 dollars last year, to $2600.00. We have lived in our city for the last 16 year’s, and in the last four year’s everything has gone up. Our water / sewer bill for every two month’s was $100.50 in 1997, in 2014 it’s $175.00 it’s mind boggling how much everything has gone up. They are going to meter our water and I’m super concerned because a friends water bill went up by $50.00, and they are not doing anything different.. We live in a very very liberal town, since our last election everything has changed. BELIEVE ME WE WANT TO MOVE! It’s just our city, is very popular and living next to the water it’s pricier and getting pricier by the year. Yes one day they will price out the average Joe, and all that will be left is the the wealthy. I hope this clears up confusion, we are not rich, or spend thrifts.

    • With you on the tax’s. I just received a letter from the IRS stating that I now owe another 3000.00 in tax’s from 2012 because they reevaluated how much we paid on a SS payment my wife received. They were nice enough to give me till the 29th of this month to send them a check LOL

    • When most Americans think of taxes, they think of federal income tax, and think our tax rates are lower than in most countries. Once you add state, local, property tax, driver’s license fees dog licenses?, gasoline exice tax, etc (forever), American taxes don’t seem so low.

      The average American spends more on taxes than food and shelter combined. It should be noted that this figure doesn’t include the burgeoning moocher class.

      The SS laws entitles you to NOTHING.

  7. Exile1981 says:

    I was put on collections by UPS. Someone shipped something from Montreal, Quebec to Moncton, NB and charged it to me in a prairie province. I fought that collection for a good six months before UPS agreed to drop it and call off the collection agency and remove it from the credit rating.

    I have read that as much as 5% o all collections are filed fraudulently or in error like mine; so I would question the 1/3 have open collections stat. It’s likely closer to 1/4.

  8. Curley Bull says:

    I’ve be saying for over 10 years that if the economy is so good, why are there so many pawn shops and “cash-for-title” shops? In a city of 25,000 with good economy there would be maybe 2 pawnshops. Today in Marshall there are 8 pawnshops and a cash-for-title/payday-loan shop every 3 to 4 blocks in any direction. I hate to be a “gloom & doom” pessimist, but I have to go by what I see.

    The price of everything is going up while wages are not. I watch good, honest, willing to work young people struggle daily trying to make ends meet and have what we had at that age. We’re in such bad shape at this point that I don’t think it will matter who goes into the “White House” next.

  9. OldSoldat says:

    There are people on Government assistance that have more than I do yet I haven’t had a mortgage in 15 years; 41 0r 42 years of age was the last time except when I moved from Richmond, VA from a home that was well over 300K and no mortgage to a new different home while waiting on the old one to sell. I paid cash for my cars. I had both of the two I just got rid of for 14 and 9 years respectively. I only have cable for internet which is an old MacBook. I do not own a smart phone or an Ipad and my sofa has a rip in the cushion lol. My wife does have a smart phone though. Comes in handy when traveling, etc

    My fridge is a standard cheap whatever although I have another in the garage which does not even make ice. Both cost less than 1800.00 together. I could go on but suffice it to say you would not think I had a pot to pee in. I could pay cash for another decent home if I wanted too even. I like it like that just as I never mention to ANYONE that I prep. I wouldn’t even mention my situation here if y’all knew me. I have no other family really other than my wife. I grew up dirt stank poor and I just didn’t need much until I started to prep a few years ago. The point is I just can’t believe what people go into deep debt over or what they think they must have. Addiction to new shiny things. SMH

  10. Hunker-Down says:

    I’m so broke that both of the Abe Lincolns in my pocket have a sore throat from squeaking.

  11. I know people are in dire straits and I feel great concern for many of them. BUT, there are a lot that have gotten to that point because of their own lack of discipline and a desire to spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need.

    We are not poor and share a car that is more than 15 years old so I had to laugh at #3 about people driving old cars. They SHOULD be driving old cars – it saves money which is what everyone needs to do.

    Many Americans are so deeply in debt because before the recession they were taking out home equity loans and buying boats, new furniture, expensive vacations and other useless, unnecessary material goods. They “felt” rich living in a house that seemed to be going up in value everyday when in reality the prices were being pushed up by the crowd who bought into the fairy tale that the housing market was going straight up! Buy, buy, buy!

    Lots of people with good jobs and decent income who lost a lot when the recession hit became homeless because they hadn’t even considered saving money and being frugal. Too busy keeping up with the neighbors to be concerned about the future. Now their children are suffering because mom and dad had no discipline or foresight.

    I would also guess that all those people who can’t afford the house they’re living in right now probably could NOT afford that house before the recession. Very young people didn’t own homes until they started with “no money down” in the early ’80s. When that was no longer allowed the lawyers came up with a way to read the law so the lender gave them a loan for the down payment and a mortgage as well. If you don’t even have the money for a 20% down payment, you can’t afford all the other expenses that come with home ownership. Period.

    I work with someone who has bill collectors after them. But this person still has an iphone, bought an expensive dog (and wash shocked at all the other costs that went along with that purchase), always has new clothes and shoes on and chats about the restaurants they’ve eaten at lately! WTH?

    This country is in a bad place and if the American people don’t get tough they’ll perish. The internet is a vast university full of all the information you’ll ever need. Do your research, ignore the Joneses, start DIY-ing your way through life and learn to live on less and with less. Stop being a consumer. Do it for the children if not for yourself.

  12. LittleAnniePrepper says:

    “If you don’t even have the money for a 20% down payment, you can’t afford all the other expenses that come with home ownership. Period.” Boy, isn’t that the truth. It took me many years of doing without to save 20% down payment in the 80’s. Years later I knew someone who was spending every penny she had (partying, clothes, etc.) and got an FHA loan and only had to have 2% down. I was like WTH? When I bought the house my utility bills were bigger, then I had a yard to mow, etc. I got a 2nd part time job for 3 years to make some extra money so my house wasn’t empty. Now people have car payments as large as my first and only house payment. Scary stuff.

  13. Prices are going up, but not my income. Taxes are going way up, over the last 50 years almost all of the economy has been taken control of by the federal government they need more and more of your money to operate, they know much better how to spend your money,.
    Having someone do a job for you is not always a bad thing, just that now small businesses are disappearing, so that money you pay isn’t going to the local business owner, its going to the government or to huge corporations that don’t pay ‘the little guy’ enough. And a larger chunk of that money you pay is going to taxes, fees, and mandatory programs, not where it belongs.

  14. tommy2rs says:

    Americans are so broke they can’t buy a clue as to what’s wrong with their lifestyle

    No credit cards, no mortgage, no cable/satellite, no smartphones, no car payments here. Everything is paid off. The pantry stays full from what the land and the woods provide us. Everything we get is paid for cash or we don’t get it. Our big expenditures, like fixing, re-insulating and wrapping the ducts in hardware cloth or the new doors are based on saving us money in the long run. Car is a 2001 with 150,000 miles, truck is a ’94 with over 300,000 miles. We invest in maintenance on those. Only bills are utilities, insurance and property tax. The one indulgence is the $35 landline The Boss insists on keeping since the number has been in her family for three generations. No long distance, no call waiting, no star 69, no voice mail, just a plain local line. We don’t go town but once a month, if that. Everything we need is right here, can’t buy a better show than the one nature gives us; the night sky away from city lights, the view off the bluff on the backside of our land in any season but mostly when the valley is filled with fog and just the tops of the trees are visible, the wildflowers dancing on the hill in the spring, an outdoor wood fire while the cardinals flit around the bird feeder against the snowy backdrop of winter or looking up through the pattern the leaves of the black walnut trees make from our deck in summer.

  15. loclyokel says:

    ‘Americans Are So Broke…’ because many in this country, unfortunately, have no morals, no conscience, and no God.
    On top of that comes gov’t & nanny-state-mindedness to make sure nobody under their care ever develops a moral outlook or a conscience, and never questions why they are in the shape they are, or tries to fix their dilemma.

  16. Sometimes we carry a burden we did not earn. I have great sympathy for those who are married to difficult spouses.
    I have been terribly broke due to bad decisions made by my husband. I have always worked full time and made a good living, but he is a spender.
    When he quit his long term job and had 7 jobs in a one year and kept spending…it got bad.
    Glad to say that is behind us and we got through his recent time off due to back surgery pretty easily, mostly due to better decisions and stored food.
    We are no longer “so broke” and when we recently needed a dryer and a 2nd freezer, we bought used and paid cash. My 2001, and 2000 vehicles work just fine and the minor repairs are much cheaper than a new car.

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