There’s a good read by Bret over at Hope to Prosper titled Living on Less is the New Reality for Millions of Americans. The glass ceiling will keep rising, because no company can afford to hire ineffective executives.” I’m not 100% sure I agree with that – seems like a lot of ineffective executives fail forward. And I’m not sure people are living on less. Income inequality is becoming far greater in America; middle class wages are stagnant and actually declining when inflation and other factors are considered.
However, I’d argue that we’ve added far too many “new requireds” to our lives. I often complain that I had more disposable income when I was a young urban professional than I do now. Then again, I had dial-up internet ($15 per month) instead of high-speed cable ($60 per month). I had a landline with an answering machine instead of a smart phone. I had books from the library instead of purchased. I ate grilled cheese for lunch instead of organic turkey breast. I didn’t have amazon.com or Netflix and so on. I drank tap water instead of filtered water (and occasionally bottled water). You get the picture. “Living on less” is partially because of skyrocketing health care costs but it’s also because of poorer eating habits. It’s partially because of gas prices but also because of video games. It’s easy for the paycheck to feel tighter when you have 267 cable channels instead of rabbit ear antennas and 4 channels. I’m not saying I don’t have those things; I’m just trying to admit to myself that I have a lot of “wants” that I classify as “needs” (I’m looking at you, Blackberry).
Somewhat in the same vein, Where You Can Go To College For Free $4 Gas and Fragile Finances: Not so much for the article, but the comments – some get really out of hand. Trent’s main point is extremely valid, though: if you can’t handle a 10% increase in the price of gas, your finances are in bad, bad shape.
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