Are you better off?

Ronald Reagan struck a nerve during his 1980 Presidential campaign against Jimmy Carter when he asked Americans: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

I was reminded of that political quote today when the Fed came out with their quarterly net worth report. Here's a portion of it:

The net worth of U.S. households climbed to a record high in the final quarter of last year, boosted mostly by gains on stocks, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

Net worth — the difference between households' total assets, such as houses and bank accounts, and their total liabilities, such as mortgages and credit card debt, totaled $55.6 trillion in the October-to-December quarter. Stocks gains helped fuel the increase in net worth, although real-estate gains played a role, too.

For all of last year, households' net worth rose by 7.4 percent, a slower pace than the 7.9 percent increase registered in 2005.

Household debt, meanwhile, grew by 8.6 percent in 2006, down from a 11.7 percent increase in the prior year. The Fed said this deceleration "was accounted for by much slower growth of home mortgage debt."

My financial situation has improved this past year-- despite all the expenses generated by my damn HVAC system-- so maybe the Fed's report has some merit. I had 4 serious financial setbacks about 6 years ago and now that they're finally all behind me things are improving. Maybe my recent weight gain is because I can finally afford food! LOL Or more likely it's due to age and laziness.

The best thing about my improved finances is that as of 10 months ago I started up a brokerage account once more. I was only able to put in $8k, and until I have my car paid off I won't be able to add any more, but at least I can play with that small amount. Stocks are so much fun and I do love to play with them!

So my question to you is are you better off this year compared to last year or is the Fed full of crap?


kenju said…
We've been poor for so long that one year looks no different than the last.
kenju said…
Michele sent me back. I should say I am not really depressed as it might seem in the comment above...LOL
rosemary said…
We are no better and have not been for a number of years....and ...thanks to State Farmm Insurance who was the carrier for the old man that hit us head on, I don't see the light at the end of the rat cage.
Becky68 said…
well, I admit, things are going pretty well for me in that I own my house (well, the mortgage co. does really- but I'm not renting anymore)Things are also 1000 times better in the nearly 7 years since my slacker ex moved out.
Truthfuly though, I am still only a serious illness or accident away from losing it all though, I have no health insurance, My paycheck is altogether gone before the next one comes in, child support is nil, my car is 6 years old & I have a 401k which is all company stock which was acrued by profit sharing from my company, as in: I can't afford to contribute to it regularly. Still, I'm a little better than last year so I guess the answer is yes.
Here from Micheles tonight.
TrueJerseyGirl said…
I am better off but I think its no thanks to the Fed - I just worked my ass off this year and got a better paying job.
utenzi said…
TJG, the Fed's not doing it, they're just describing the numbers.

Becky, you sound like you're in the place I was about 2 years ago. Things were looking up for me but I still had a ways to go. Now I could handle a year of unemployment, which eases my anxiety somewhat, and I sure hope that doesn't become necessary!

Rosemary and Judy, that doesn't sound so good for either of you.
Diane Mandy said…
I am better off, of course I am practically a kept woman now.
carli said…
The cat got sick.
Then I got sick.
Then I looked at my bank account, and the cat and I both threw up.
Carmi said…
I've been killing myself both at work and as a freelancer. I'm getting there, and it feels good to see such concrete progress coming out of hard work.

Happy sigh...
Deana said…
I think that some might feel better off but let anyone in your family get sick and see how quickly that can change. Healthcare in this country is starting to be a very scary thing and I have seen even wealthy people start living on a fixed income because of sickness. A middle class upper income family can still loose it all. So while we may be better off the cost of staying alive may cost you everything in the end. I think that needs to be a US priority.
Shephard said…
Every year, it gets better, as we learn to manage money better. I'm not sure who is responsible for that frankly, so I'll take credit. ;)

panthergirl said…
Yes. I'm always in good shape this time of the year... tax refund, refinance and bonus. But by December I'll be poor again. ;)

I'm like Ralph Kramden: "I had it and I spent it, Alice!"

Here via michele Dave!

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