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Visual Capitalist Takes On Personal Finance With New Project

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There’s no doubt that financial decisions have a crucial impact on our lives.

Everyone should have access to knowledge on how to save money, buy a home, make smart purchases, and build a robust portfolio of investments. This information can be dry at times, but it can also be the difference between being living month-to-month and achieving financial independence.

Yet statistics show that only about 16.4% of high school grads were required to take a course on personal finance, and problems go far deeper than that. Right now, financial literacy is dropping around the globe – and even worse, a record-high amount of debt is weighing younger generations down.

Introducing Wealth 101

Today we’re proud to announce our partnership with U.S. non-profit Next Gen Personal Finance, which specializes in offering free personal finance resources for teachers and students.

Together, we’ve created Wealth 101, an educational resource that will feature regular infographics on how to make responsible financial decisions:

About Wealth 101

Wealth 101 is the personal finance course you’ve always deserved. Using powerful infographics and data visualizations, it will be updated regularly to build out a compelling base of lessons for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Wealth 101 infographics can all be accessed at http://wealth.visualcapitalist.com

(These infographics will also be posted on the regular Visual Capitalist site, as well.)

To start, here are our first two infographics for the project.

The first deals with the problem of financial literacy, while the other showcases the financial concepts that we’ll be addressing as we build out Wealth 101.

The Financial Literacy Problem

Financial literacy has been dropping for years. This giant infographic shows why that’s a problem, and what we can do to make future generations more prepared:

The Personal Finance Landscape

This personal finance wheel covers the most important concepts you need to know in order to gain financial independence:

Click on the above previews to see the full infographics.

Lastly, we appreciate your support as we continue to build out this resource!

Founding Partners

Next Gen Personal Finance

NGPF is a free high-school personal finance curriculum and professional development partner helping teachers deliver essential money understanding in an easy-to-grasp, engaging way.

Visual Capitalist

Visual Capitalist is a leading financial media site that creates and curates enriched visual content focused on emerging trends in business and investing.

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Money

How Americans Make and Spend Their Money

These charts break down how Americans get their income, as well as where that money goes, based on different income groups.

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How do you spend your hard-earned money?

Whether you are extremely frugal, or you’re known to indulge in the finer things in life, how you allocate your spending is partially a function of how much cash you have coming in the door.

Simply put, the more income a household generates, the higher the portion that can be spent on items other than the usual necessities (housing, food, clothing, etc), and the more that can be saved or invested for the future.

Earning and Spending, by Income Group

Today’s visuals come to us from Engaging Data, and they use Sankey diagrams to display data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that helps to paint a picture of how different household income groups make and spend their money.

We’ll show you three charts below for the following income groups:

  1. The Average American
  2. The Lowest Income Quintile (Bottom 20%)
  3. The Highest Income Quintile (Highest 20%)

Let’s start by taking a look at the flows of the average American household:

The Average American Household – $53,708 in spending (73% of total income)

The average U.S. household has 2.5 people (1.3 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.4 seniors)
Average American Household Earnings and Saving

As you can see above the average household generates $73,574 of total inflows, with 84.4% of that coming from salary, and smaller portions coming from social security (11.3%), dividends and property (2.6%), and other income (1.7%).

In terms of money going out, the highest allocation goes to housing (22.1% of spending), while gas and insurance (9.0%), household (7.7%), and vehicles (7.5%) make up the next largest categories.

Interestingly, the average U.S. household also says it is saving just short of $10,000 per year.

The Bottom 20% – $25,525 in spending (100% of total income)

These contain an average of 1.6 people (0.5 income earners, 0.3 children, and 0.4 seniors)

How do the inflows and outflows of the average American household compare to the lowest income quintile?

Here, the top-level statistic tells much of the story, as the poorest income group in America must spend 100% of money coming in to make ends meet. Further, cash comes in from many different sources, showing that there are fewer dependable sources of income for families to rely on.

For expenditures, this group spends the most on housing (24.8% of spending), while other top costs of living include food at home (10.1%), gas and insurance (7.9%), health insurance (6.9%), and household costs (6.9%).

The Highest 20% – $99,639 in spending (53% of total income)

These contain an average of 3.1 people (2.1 income earners, 0.8 children, and 0.2 seniors)

The wealthiest household segment brings in $188,102 in total income on average, with salaries (92.1%) being the top source of inflows.

This group spends just over half of its income, with top expenses being housing (21.6%), vehicles (8.3%), household costs (8.2%), gas and insurance (8.2%), and entertainment (6.9%).

The highest quintile pays just short of $40,000 in federal, state, and local taxes per year, and is also able to contribute roughly $50,000 to savings each year.

Spending Over Time

For a fascinating look at how household spending has changed over time, don’t forget to check out our previous post that charts 75 years of data on how Americans spend money.

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Markets

Stock Market Returns Over Different Time Periods (1872-2018)

In any given year, the stock market can be a crapshoot – but over long periods of time, the U.S. market has consistently performed for investors.

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Putting hard-earned money in the stock market can make some people nervous.

It’s well known that a correction can occur at any time, and the fear of market crashes can make even the most seasoned investors to make questionable decisions.

While it’s true that putting your money on the line is never easy, the historical record of the stock market is virtually irrefutable: U.S. markets have consistently performed over long holding periods, even going back to the 19th century.

Market Performance (1872-2018)

Today’s animation comes to us from The Measure of a Plan, and it shows the performance of the U.S. market over different rolling time horizons using annualized returns.

Note: The animation uses real total returns from the S&P Composite Index from 1872 to 1957, and then the S&P 500 Index from 1957 onwards. Data has been adjusted for reinvestment of dividends as well as inflation.

Animation: Stock Market Returns Over Different Time Periods (1872-2018)

Using just one-year intervals of time, the market can be a crapshoot. Unfortunately, if you were to just choose a one-year period at random, there would be a significant chance of losing money.

However, as the timeframes get longer – the animation goes to 5-year, 10-year, and then 20-year rolling periods – the frequency of losses rapidly decreases. By the time you get to the 20-year windows, there isn’t a single instance in which the market had a negative return.

Why Time Matters

Over 146 years of data, the chance of seeing negative returns for any given year is about 31%.

That fact in itself is quite alarming, but even more important to note is the distribution of returns in those down years. As you can see in the following chart also from The Measure of a Plan, it’s not uncommon for a down year to skew in the high negatives, just as it did during the crisis of 2008:

1 year stock market return distributions

According to the data, there have been 10 individual years where the market has lost upwards of 20% – and while those off years are greatly outnumbered by the years with positive returns, it makes it clear that timeframe matters.

Past performance obviously doesn’t guarantee future results, but the historical track record in this case is quite robust.

Long-term investors can see that as long as their time horizon is measured in the decades, you can take the odds of making money in the stock market to the bank.

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