Whether you’re 25 or 20, at some point you’ve probably asked yourself – for my age and education – how much money should I have?
It’s a pretty straight forward question, but doesn’t have a very straightforward answer. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers the average starting salary for a 4-year college graduate in 2014 was $48,707. Believe it or not, this is relatively unchanged from 2008 at the height of the recession when the average starting salary was $48,515.
So what does this mean? Well, it confirms what we already knew: wages are stagnating. Wages are increasing at approximately 2% per year according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Very unfortunate for all of us millennials, cost of living is increasing at a greater percent per year. Likewise, students without degrees, or with Associates Degrees, can expect to see even smaller paychecks.
Ok thanks for depressing me, but how much money should I have?
Well, it all depends – do you consider yourself average?
If you consider yourself average here are some stats you may not be aware of…
Average Marriage Age in US: Men – 29, Women 27
Average Age First Time Home Owner in US: Married: 37, Single Male: 46, Single Female: 48
Average Age for First Child Birth in US: Women: 25.2, Men: 28
So not only is our generation doing everything much later in life, we’re doing it in a very weird order! We’re having kids, without being married, and without owning a home. Hmm. Regardless of whether you consider marriage or owning a home important, you should consider the financial costs of these milestones.
Average cost of a wedding in US: $29,858
Average cost of a home in US: $311,400 <—ha! good luck finding a house for that!
Average cost of raising a child to 18 in US: $245,000 <—this doesn’t include college!
Sure, you could probably cut corners and do some of these things for less – especially that wedding! However, let’s take these numbers for sake of argument. Starting at age 20, you would need to save…
An average of $311.02 a month for your wedding.
An average of $1,526.47 (assuming you’re married) a month for your first house.
And you’d have to be ready to spend an average of $1,134.25 a month on your child.
Looking at numbers like these, it’s easy to see why so many people find themselves in debt through loans, credit cards, and high APR mortgages.
By the time you graduate college, if you aren’t making at least $48,707 a year, you are behind. And by all means, if you want to get married, have a kid and buy a house – you should be making considerably more – try somewhere in the 100k+ range. The stats above don’t even include the biggest looming expense: retirement. We’ll focus on that in another post, but it’s important to note that with the average retirement nearing 20 years in length – you will need well over 1 million dollars saved up and invested if you have no other support.
While this may all sound rather bleak, there are things you can do. Financial stability is achieved through a combination of earning more and saving. There is a limit to how much you can save, there is no limit to how much you can earn.
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