debt Outlaw investigates the possibility of the average American living debt free in today’s economy. Through use of figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the author breaks down the cost of affording the bare necessities in America: namely transportation, food, clothing, internet, gas, electricity, taxes, and insurance.  From the Bureau’s estimation of an average yearly income of $42,693 per person, after subtracting these necessities the average American is afforded $15/day ($5,500/year) of savings.  The author comes to this conclusion using “fair” estimates by rounding down yearly costs. He assumes a frugal citizen would make such attempts to save. Is $15 per day sufficient enough to escape debt in America?

The author’s assertion is that it is not enough. Accepting that the majority of Americans need management and direction leads to the conclusion that the majority will expend wealth rather than generate it. For example, if the average citizen wishes to eat out with friends, or perform any other “luxury” expenditure, their $15 per day is quickly diminished. At this point, the author’s argument that $15 per day makes it impossible to escape debt may seem clearer.  In relation to IMT, however, it is necessary to consider the mindset of the average American. While $15 per day might appear to be a low figure, when considering the average American it is possible to neglect the standard of living in other parts of the world. Not everyone makes a “luxury” purchase each day, and thus living frugally one may continually save their $15 for future times. It also proves difficult to ignore the fact that $15 a day in another part of the world could make the average individual wealthy compared to their population.  The issue is therefore a product of the mentality of the average American. It is certainly possible for the average citizen to escape debt, but the inability to exert fiscal discipline may very well make it improbable.



Is Debt a Choice in America – Isaac Simpson – Outlaw – October 22, 2013 – Retrieved from

Comments (6)

  1. Nathan Madrid


    Student loans should have been included, considering the increase in Bachelors degrees in America. I’m currently paying $22,000.00 a year for my tuition, going into my third year here at ASU. Obviously $15 a day will not even come close to covering that. Actually, it would take me 6 years of saving $15 a day in order to pay off one year of my tuition, not including living expenses, transportation, food, etc.

    Americans choose to be in debt because we look at it as an investment. An investment in our future. I’m in debt now, so that I won’t ever have to worry about debt later.

  2. Teja Reddy


    I don’t really agree with this survey, here the common utilities for man like transportation, electricity, food, clothing etc were considered, but according to me the amount of money spent on these are differ from place to place. It relates to IMT concept of time and place which are the main constraints of an event. So what I say is this survey could have been more useful and informative if it has been done by area to area. $15 dollar saving per day are sufficient for individuals but not for families and even it depends upon where one lives.

  3. Alex G.


    Debt is a choice in America. The average American can live off their income debt-free. But as the article stated, the average American will have only $15 per day to spend on “luxury items”, costs outside of the cost of living. That means if a person wants to buy a new car or a house, the chances are high that they must incur debt in order to do so. If a person is fine living without these items, and other expensive items that many of us take for granted, then they can easily make the choice to live debt-free for the rest of their lives.

  4. Ethan


    American people and America as a country are far from frugal. We are a consumer nation and it reflects itself in our culture. Especially in the entertainment industry, the cars or should I say trucks we drive. We are a greedy nation and until as a people we change ourselves and stop thinking that everyone is out to get us I don’t see that trait diminishing. It is much easier for someone to apply for a credit card and max it out then to live within financial constraints for a season to save some money and get out of debt.

  5. Serb Brar


    While I agree $15 a day in luxury items ($105 a week as Caleb pointed out) could possibly be enough in order to avoid debt, I doubt $15 is the actual amount available to the average American because student debt is also not applied to the median cost established by the BLS, which the average American does have. As a result, I don’t think a surplus of $15 a day is good enough to escape debt while living in the United States as “luxury” items are also more expensive in the United States than anywhere else in the world.

  6. Caleb Vanderploeg


    I think that 15$ a day of luxury items is plenty. That is $105 a week to spend on unnecessary items. It might be that I am more of a penny pincher than most but I could definitely live and enjoy my life on that amount of extra money. However, I would have to know how much money was assumed for food as that is the main thing that I am most likely to overspend on.

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