I recently read some disturbing statistics that suggest 7 out of 10 Americans have less than a 1000 dollars on hand. I think that’s really true, I see it reflected all around me. There is no rainy day fund anymore, because it’s been pouring cats and dogs for at least a decade now.
This article from Business Insider expands on the idea, but with the usual finger wagging tone about how we’re all just being negligent with our finances. I’m sure some are, but that completely ignores the truth and reality of so many people’s lives in the country today.
I get frustrated sometimes because these economic changes are not being duly noted, so many well-meaning people just scratch their heads, as if to say, I don’t know what’s wrong with those people, they just aren’t applying themselves like I did in my day.
Many people don’t recognize the huge increase in the cost of goods and the stagnant wages. The other day my husband needed a car battery, so he went and got 30 dollars. I laughed outright, knowing perfectly well we’re looking at something closer to two hundred dollars. My husband lives about a two decades ago, so last time he bought a car battery is was about 30 bucks. Yes, well times have changed.
Today we were talking about one of the area’s best employers, a much desired job in these parts with benefits, all true, and yet still a wage that has been deemed about 2 dollars an hour less than a livable wage for this area. Who actually earns a livable wage? Very few anymore.
We have some grown kids making a nice living and yet people don’t see the vast difference between gross pay and net take home pay these days. I nearly pass out every time I really look at it. Let’s just start with 30% going to taxes and another two grand going to medical insurance. A low-income, modest mortgage these days where I live is about 1200. If you earn 5200 a month, it is quite possible to only net and take home about 900 dollars a month……for groceries, gas, and utilities. Sure, you got a roof over your head and medical insurance, but you have little else, certainly no money for savings.
In fact, people living off of government benefits are going to be living just about as well as you are, a roof, food, and medical, but little else.
When 7 out of ten Americans can’t save any money, you don’t blame the Americans. Business Insider says, “It’s like being on a cruise ship full of wonderful people that’s slowly sinking into the ocean.” Yes precisely, but we aren’t the one’s running the ship, we’re just collateral damage on the cruise.
I grow weary of all the financial advisors, so repetitive and so not helpful, “Live within your means.” Well, many people now are, under freeway overpasses and in their cars.
I remain optimistic, I believe this sinking ship is going to right itself, but no thanks to economists and financial advisors who seem unable to do anything but constantly point fingers at the wrong people.