As if we don’t have enough to worry about. A recession seems to be on the way, lasting through most of 2023. Inflation and interest rates remain high, and an increasing number of Americans are in grave financial problems.
But according to financial TikTok star Ryan Halbert, it’s just going to become a lot worse. If you’re making less than $25 an hour, in fact, he adds “you should be terrified.”
Halbert broke out the average cost of living in America in a video that rapidly went viral. And that is absolutely frightening. After factoring in all of the usual costs, such as rent, groceries, gas, and water, the average monthly cost came to $3,285.37.
Broken down to a 40-hour work week, it implies you need to be making a minimum of $20.50 per hour.
What isn’t included is tax, which Halbert goes on to explain and show in a spreadsheet. When you include in tax, you’d need to earn $25 per hour simply to break even on the $3,285 range.
“So this gives you very limited options,” Halbert says.
“You either have to kill yourself working way, way too many hours, or you’ve gotta figure out a way to make a ton of money. And also keep in mind these expenses are factoring in doing nothing. No free time, no going out to eat, no extra miles on the car, nothing.”
Experts don’t agree on how to handle it
Halbert’s video sparked an important debate among viewers, who promptly shared it, and it now has over 1.4 million views. Halbert describes some of the answers, such as making cuts to try to keep costs under control. This might include streaming services, cable, internet, cell phones, and other high-cost recurrent expenses.
But Halbert goes on to suggest this isn’t a viable answer. And he adds that “that will never increase, so you have to increase your income. It’s a must.”
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the issue appears to be worsening. According to current employment figures for November 2022, real hourly wages fell 1.9% from November 2021.
Working side hustles, according to Halbert, will not provide enough cash, especially if you want to retire eventually. Instead, he claims that investing is the only path forward.
But if you ask the people behind the YouTube channel The Ramsey Show, it’s certainly not the only method.
“This is absolute nonsense,” Ken Coleman, a career coach with The Ramsey Show, commented.
This path doesn’t have to be permanent
They did admit some points to Halbert, notably the fact that Americans continue to send over their “hard-earned cash” to lenders.
“They think, ‘Well, this is the path, this is how I get financial freedom, this is what success looks like.’ But we teach no debt. Pay for things with cash, and get reasonable used cars. So this is a big part of the picture of why there’s no margin in this person’s budget,” said George Kamel.
But where the two truly had an issue was that the only answer was to “kill yourself working,” or accept this fate. That’s because what Halbert doesn’t include in his videos are actual cost-cutting options. For example, the couple thinks you should not pay $1,659 in rent as a single person.
Finally, Coleman claims that these are typically just stages of life that you must pass through on your way to financial freedom.
“This isn’t a sentence. This is a season of your life, but it’s not a life sentence.”