We all say that we want to get our finances in order and achieve financial freedom. However, what we say we want, and what we actually do, are different matters. You might talk a big game about setting aside money for retirement, or improving your credit score so that you can get a good interest rate on a loan, but are you really doing what you need to do in order to achieve financial freedom at some point?

For many people, the answer to that question is, “no.”

Too many of us aren’t following the financial principles we know are necessary in order to see success in finances. The following infographic from Great Plains Lending shares some surprising financial statistics that shed light on why so many of us are struggling — despite knowing better.

Some of the more telling statistics have to do with saving. According to the infographic, fewer works are saving for retirement now than in 2009. A large number of workers have no retirement savings at all, and 29% have less than $1,000 set aside for retirement. You can’t think you’ll ever retire at that rate, much less retire in five years. Additionally, the infographic points out that 50% of Americans have less than one month’s income saved for emergencies. An emergency fund is vital if you want to prepare yourself.

Other information on the financial infographic offers reality checks, including the fact that a college degree doesn’t guarantee a job, and that the cost of college is rising rapidly. On top of that, you can see how much more you are likely to go over budget when you use a credit card. While there’s a lot to say about taking advantage of credit card rewards, the sobering truth is that you have to be extra vigilant when you use rewards cards because you are more likely to spend more. You can help your cause by tracking all of your spending with the help of financial software, and sticking with your spending plan.

There are also stats from this financial infographic breaking down what you can save brown-bagging it, as well as information about mortgage application rejection. There’s a great wake-up call on lending money to friends and family as well. In a lot of cases, you are probably better off just offering it as a gift, since you probably won’t get it all back. The most interesting statistic, I thought, was that 42% of American workers live paycheck to paycheck — and 14% of those make six figures a year. Turns out that with certain spending habits, a six figure income isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Along with information about finances, the infographic also offers a few practical suggestions for improving your finances, and those can be helpful as you work on a plan to move forward. While the financial statistics shared in the infographic can be surprising, and even depressing, they do provide you with valuable information. Honestly evaluate your finances, and then compare them to the numbers you read in the infographic. You might see yourself reflected there, and realize that it’s time to make serious changes.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.