The American Dream – Midweek Infographic

As Americans, we’re used to a much higher standard of living than the rest of the world. By the age of 30, many of us expect to graduate from college, buy a car, get married and then buy a house with our new bride. Everybody should strive and hopefully achieve this American Dream, but what is it costing us along the way?

Today’s infographic takes a look at the amount we are spending and taking on as debt to achieve this dream of ours.

infographic debt by age 30

The infographic doesn’t specify this, but the debt at each age is the cumulative amount by age 30. Notice how the amount does not increase and is abnormally high at some ages – most people don’t have $10,000 of credit card at age 18. That aside, the timeline and total debt by age 30 is very accurate. During the 10 – 12 years after graduating high school, we will accrue most of the debt in our lifetime. Is it smart to spend/borrow so much money in such a short amount of time while we are making the least we will ever make (hopefully)?

I for one, took a slightly different route. By the time that this infographic says that most people are buying homes, I owned a few. However, I purchased one less than a year before the housing crash. Obviously, I wish I would have purchased this home at a different time consulted my financial planner with a tax llm. I also think that on average, people are waiting longer to get married. With unemployment so high for recent college graduates, it’s tough to justify that big wedding that so many women dream of. We may also see the average homeowner age increase as banks are once again requiring buyers to put money down. Gone are the days of 0% down and that’s a good thing.

READERS:  What has been your path to the American Dream (or any other country for that matter)? Are you happy with the outcome? Would you do anything differently?


  1. “It’s tough to justify that big wedding that so many women dream of”

    That may be, but getting married/having a wedding is still a very emotional experience. I think there seems to be a point where the wallet and reason must collide, which I think is your point.

  2. I think elaborate, expensive weddings will always be desired by some – they may just occur at a later age than what we’ve been used to. This goes for weddings in general though. In my opinion, this is a good thing because it helps spread out some of the financial burden we incur in our twenties.

  3. Your point is well taken about accumulating debt in order to buy consumer products.

    However, I also think that it is justifiable to take on some debt if it is for something that will generate more income.

    Credit is tight, but I have gotten loans to purchase real estate. Now is a good time to buy investment properties. It’s a buyers market, but it won’t be for long.

    • I agree completely Terry. Most of my other posts reflect that the debt you take on is relative to what you invest in. I too have taken on debt to purchase real estate. It’s hard not to borrow when rates are so low right now.

      The main purpose of this post is to emphasize the amount of debt incurred before the age of 30. A lot of people these days want what their parents have in half the amount of time.

  4. Nice infographic! It’s no wonder so many people get sucked into the rat race for life, slaving away for years to pay off heavy debt. I skipped one step by forgoing the car financing after college. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to use leveraging to help me gain positive cash flow on properties. Instead of focusing on buying a dream house that would take me 30 years to pay off, I opted instead to buy a rental, and use the additional cash to buy stocks. Could you provide some insights on how you were able to own multiple properties at such an early age?

    • Right after college, I was able to buy my first home with zero down. Obviously this can’t be done today – for good reasons. A few years later, I was able to pickup another property that was foreclosed on. I received a great deal, so it didn’t take much to come up with the down payment. I took advantage of a similar opportunity when the housing market crashed. I live in one of the properties but plan on renting it out soon if I can find another great deal on a home.

      I’ve found that real estate is not much different that other investments. You still want to be diversified when it comes to types of properties and areas of ownership such as cities and states.

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