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9 months ago

Birmingham financial coach says millennials are earning more and scared of credit card debt … but are still broke as ever

American millennials are coming of age and coming into something rapper Coolio called “dollar dollar bill, y’all,” in a song released the year many millennials were born.

According to the Bureau of Labor, last year:

— Millennial-headed households averaged $65,373 in income (vs $74,664 for total households).

— Millennial-headed households spent an average of $48,576 (vs. $57,311 for total households).

Despite the increased cash and cache, a new eMarketer report analyzed the generation defined as those born between 1981 and 1997 and their 2016 spending habits and concluded that millennials are cautious spenders whose finances remain “fragile,” with debt constraining expenditures.

Alabama millennials seem more in student debt than credit card debt, said Lamar Mayton, a Birmingham-based Ramsey Solutions master financial coach and owner of Lampshade Consulting in Cahaba Heights.  

“I think millennials see what their parents had in credit card debt and they’re kind of scared of it,” Mayton said of the many millennial students he’s taught in his Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University classes.

“That’s a good thing,” said Mayton, 42. However, “they’re still spending all their money, still living paycheck to paycheck.”  

More millennial-headed households are in poverty than households headed by any other generation, according to the Pew Research Center. This is partly because more millennial heads of households are unmarried, which is “associated with higher poverty,” wrote senior researcher, Richard Fry in a 2017 report.

Dating deal-breakers

Even for millennials interested in marrying, debt holds them back. Thirty-nine percent of millennials would rather disclose they have a sexually transmitted disease to a potential partner than reveal their debt level, according to a survey conducted by student loan company SoFi.

The survey, that measured 2,000 older millennials (ages 25-35), also found that serious debt was the second biggest relationship deal-breaker. The first? Workaholism. 

Which might make millennials double-whammy romantic pariahs: Millennials overwhelmingly comprise by generation (43 percent) those who meet the “work martyr” definition — employees who prize hours worked over true productivity and feel guilty for taking breaks or vacations.

And despite the stereotypes, millennials do work. Their finances may be shaky, but unemployment is less to blame than one might think.

Even though 15 percent of older millennials are living with their parents, it isn’t necessarily because they don’t have jobs. Only 5.1 percent of this older group was unemployed in 2016, down by half from the first quarter of 2010 when it was 10.1 percent, according to Pew Research Center data.

In Alabama, the overall unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 in September, the lowest it has ever been.

Making big-ish purchases

Perhaps that’s why the generation everyone loves to blame measures as hopeful in surveys. The eMarketer report found that a majority of millennials believe their finances will be better in the future.

Which may explain why more than two-thirds of younger millennials said in a 2017 Bankrate.com survey that they are “very likely” to make a major purchase such as furniture, a smartphone, airline ticket or computer, among other choices, before the end of the year, eMarketer reports.

Maybe higher hopes and improved finances will mean a long-awaited mass entry of millennials into the housing market? Not likely, Michael Most argues in the HuffPost, considering “doing well financially” generally just means “getting to zero debt,” the new millennial definition of rich that displaces previous views of American prosperity such as buying a home.

Although more than one-third are homeowners, most millennials have nowhere near the savings it would take for a down payment.

More than 60-percent of millennials have less than $1,000 in savings this year, according to GOBankingRates.com’s annual survey that asked more than 8,000 Americans: “How much money do you have saved in your savings account?”

Death by a thousand appletinis

Mayton said such numbers are why he got into financial planning, to help people who are struggling learn to save– and because he understands what it’s like to drown in debt.

He and his wife went to Ramsey’s Nashville studio in 2011 to scream “We’re debt-free!” because they used Ramsey’s famous snowball strategy to climb out of $185,000 of debt in four years.

“We had to cut back our lifestyle,” said Mayton. “We didn’t go to the movies, we didn’t eat out at all. We cut back on the groceries and paid cash. We applied any extra money we could toward our debts and it went by pretty quick. We weren’t going out buying clothes, we weren’t buying expensive coffee, we spent on things we had to have to live.”

Such small expensive habits may be particularly hard for younger millennials to give up since more than half (54 percent) eat out at least three times a week and go to a bar (51 percent) at least once a week, according to Bankrate.

But some good news: The number of millennials who have at least $10,000 saved may be small — only 33 percent — but that number rose five percentage points from 2016 to 2017.

The bottom line: Millennials are finally earning and spending more, but they are delaying marriage and home-buying in large part because they are still in massive debt and cautious about big purchase spending (though less so about smaller big purchases).

Mayton’s advice for millennials during spending season?

“Take it easy. The stuff we buy, the presents we buy, the stuff on Amazon, you don’t have to have it. Save that money. You’ll be thankful when you look back 20 to 25 years from now.”

Or maybe sooner, Coolio might say, when millennials finally have kids:

Well if ya got kids a-then you know
The more you spend the more they grow
They go from two to four in a row
But don’t think that the growin is thru cos you’se a fool
They go from four to six and what they bear
They have you spendin all your money like a millionaire

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News and a millennial (by a hair).

13 hours ago

Gov. Ivey appoints interim finance chief — ‘Thorough search’ underway for permanent appointee

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday named longtime state employee Kelly Butler as acting Director of the Alabama Department of Finance to replace outgoing Director Clinton Carter, who resigned this summer to become the Chief Financial Officer for the University of North Carolina System.

According to a press release by the governor’s office, Butler began his career with the Alabama Department of Revenue more than thirty years ago and has since worked for the Legislative Fiscal Office and the Alabama Department of Finance as Assistant State Budget Officer, State Budget Officer and, most recently, Assistant Finance Director for Fiscal Operations.

Now, a “thorough search” is underway for a permanent Finance Director.

Outgoing State Treasurer Young Boozer has emerged as the clear favorite for the appointment, as he leaves office in January due to being term-limited. Former Congressman Jo Bonner, who recently left his role as Vice Chancellor for Economic Development at the University of Alabama System, is also on the shortlist. Another possibility that has been floating around is state Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville).

Until then, the state is in experienced hands with Butler.

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His duties as Assistant Finance Director included overseeing the State Comptroller’s Office, the State Purchasing Division, the State Debt Management Division, and the State Business Systems Division.

“Kelly Butler has more than two decades of experience working with the state’s budgets and more than three decades experience as a fiscal analyst,” Ivey said in a statement. “I know he will do an excellent job leading the Alabama Department of Finance during this interim period.

The governor added, “I appreciate him stepping up as acting director and his commitment to my administration.”

In addition to handling his new job responsibilities, Butler will continue to work on crafting the Ivey administration’s budget proposals leading up to the 2019 Legislative Session. He accepted the new role with graciousness and thanked the employees that work with him for making the department run smoothly.

“I am honored that governor Ivey has asked me to lead the Department of Finance,” Butler announced in a statement. “The department has many talented employees who work hard to provide excellent services to other state agencies and to the people of Alabama. I look forward to working with them to continue those excellent services.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Alabama’s state climatologist John Christy rebuts claims of recent fires, heat waves being caused by human activity in in-depth interview

There is one particular word that Dr. John Christy turns to frequently for describing climate science: murky.

It’s a point of view foundational to his own research, and a message underpinning each of his twenty appearances before various congressional committees.

“It’s encouraging because they wouldn’t invite you back unless your message was compelling and not only compelling, but accurate,” Christy, Alabama’s state climatologist, told Yellowhammer News in an interview.

Christy, whose day job involves doing research and teaching as the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), has gained notoriety over the years for dissenting from mainstream climate scientists and policymakers who argue that climate change is anthropogenic, or man-made, and that something must be done to stop it.

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A “working-stiff” scientist

Dissent has gained for Christy the characterization as a “climate change skeptic” or “denier,” as critics refer to him, but he himself rejects those terms.

“I’m a working-stiff atmospheric scientist,” he said, “as opposed to those who support modeling efforts, those who use data sets that other people create and analyze them, but they don’t build them themselves.”

According to Christy, the result of fewer “working-stiff” scientists contributing to the prevailing climate debate is more frequent misuses of data.

“They’re not aware of what goes into it,” Christy said, referring to the data.

“Here we have a science that’s so dominated by personalities that claim the science is settled, yet when you walk up to them and say prove it, they can’t,” he said.

Christy spoke at length about what can be proven and what cannot in his self-described “murky” field, referring often to principles of the scientific method.

“You cannot prove extra greenhouse gases have done anything to the weather,” he said, responding to claims made by many scientists that more greenhouse gases have caused extreme weather patterns to intensify.

“We do not have an experiment that we can repeat and do,” he said.

Christy outlined another problem with attempts to implicate greenhouse gases: a failure to account for things countering trapping effects.

“We know that the extra greenhouse gases should warm the planet,” he said. “The weak part of that theory though is that when you add more greenhouse gases that trap heat, things happen that let it escape as well, and so not as much is trapped as climate models show.”

Economics of climate policy

Though his scientific arguments are primary, Christy also frequently discusses in interviews and testimonies the economic consequences of proposed climate change mitigation policy via carbon reduction.

“Every single person uses energy, carbon energy, and relies on carbon-based energy,” Christy said. “None of our medical advances, none of our technological advances, none of our progress would have happened in the last hundred years without energy derived from carbon.”

Christy contrasts that reality within the modern, developed world with the world he saw working as a missionary teacher in impoverished Africa during the 1970s.

“The energy source was wood chopped from the forest, the energy transmission system was the backs of women and girls hauling wood an average of three miles each day, the energy use system was burning the wood in an open fire indoors for heat and light,” Christy told members of the House Committee on Energy in 2006.

Broad availability to affordable energy enriches countries, Christy said, praising carbon.

“It is not evil. It is the stuff of life. It is plant food,” he said.

What about the fires and heat waves?

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, fires were burning in fifteen states as of Tuesday, August 14.

Alaska reported seventeen fires, Arizona reported eleven, both Oregon and Colorado reported ten, and California reported nine.

Much of the news media’s discussion about these fires over the past few weeks has established a correlation between the many fires and anthropogenic climate change, a correlation that Dr. Christy rejects.

Christy argues that exacerbating fires out west, particularly in California, results from human mismanagement. Such states have enacted strict management practices that disallow low-level fires from burning, he said.

“If you don’t let the low-intensity fires burn, that fuel builds up year after year,” Christy said. “Now once a fire gets going and it gets going enough, it has so much fuel that we can’t put it out.”

“In that sense, you could say that fires today are more intense, but it’s because of human management practices, not because mother nature has done something,” Christy said.

Data from the Fire Center indicates that the number of wildfires have been decreasing since the 1970s overall, though acreage burned has increased significantly.

As for the heat, Christy said there’s nothing abnormal going on in the United States.

“Heat waves have always happened,” he said. “Our most serious heatwaves were in the 1930’s. We have not matched those at all.”

Christy continued, “It is only a perception that is being built by the media that these are dramatic worst-ever heat wave kind of things but when we look at the numbers, and all science is numbers, we find that there were periods that were hotter, hotter for longer periods in the past, so it’s very hard to say that this was influenced by human effects when you go back before there could have been human effects and there’s the same or worse kind of events.”

Though Christy didn’t deny that the last three years have been the hottest ever recorded globally, he doesn’t concede that the changes are attributable to anything other than climate’s usual and historical erraticism.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

14 hours ago

Alabama state Rep. Standridge on ‘In God We Trust’ legislation: ‘It’s a simple message, but I believe it’s a powerful message’

Alabama state Rep. David Standridge (R-Hayden) was interviewed Tuesday on “Fox and Friends First,” where he discussed the state’s new law that allows “In God We Trust” to be displayed in public buildings.

Standridge, who sponsored the legislation in the state legislature, explained that the idea came in part out of recent debate about school safety. He said he views displaying the national motto as a way to bring added comfort to students, teachers and staff while they are at school.

Along the way, Standridge was shocked by the number of people who were afraid to touch the subject, due to what he views as a modern-day culture of hypersensitivity and “political correctness.”

Media outlets like AL.com and the Associated Press reported that legal challenges are “expected,” but, like Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, Standridge does not see an issue with simply displaying the national motto – which he points out was passed by Congress and is featured on American currency.

“It’s a simple message, but I believe it’s a powerful message,” Standridge said on “Fox and Friends First.”

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Standridge’s wife, Danna, is a former teacher at Hayden High School in Blount County, which is being viewed as the guinea pig county for the new law.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

The media, including some in Alabama, continue endorsing aggressive action by liberals that will lead to violence

During the rise of the Tea Party, the American media pretended the group was violent and was going to get people hurt. There are multiple instances where the media disingenuously tied violent acts that were unrelated to the group or others on the American right; the facts didn’t matter.

Now, liberals are in the street punching reporters, cutting audio cables, yelling at people while they eat, showing up and screaming at town halls and throwing items at U.S. Senators like Doug Jones over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, while shouting, “You can kiss my ass if you vote yes. You can kiss my ass if you vote yes. You can kiss my ass.”

If the woman who committed this act were Republican, we would know every single thing about her and she would have been fired from her job.

But because she is fighting the liberal’s fight, the Alabama Political Reporter’s Josh Moon praised this ridiculousness:

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This comes on the heels of CNN’s Chris Cuomo endorsing violence by Antifa in a “fight between good and evil”:

The violence is going to get worse. It is being fueled by bad people for bad reasons. The cowards in the media will make excuses for these people, and they will tell those who might be considering action that they are morally right. It implies doing nothing is complicit, and that it is more important than ever that Americans resist — even if that means violence.

It is easy to see that Josh Moon and Chris Cuomo aren’t going to get out in the street and start throwing hands, but rather, they will praise violent acts from behind their keyboards and from their televisions studios as they benefit from the carnage.

16 hours ago

WATCH: University of Alabama Police Department completes lip sync battle featuring ‘Sweet Home Alabama’

Monday, The University of Alabama posted a video of their campus police department participating in a lip sync battle against Clemson University.

UAPD chose “Sweet Home Alabama” as their song and, afterward, challenged all other SEC schools to join in on the competition.

Watch the full video here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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