How Do People Afford Life?
This is one of those things I think about a lot. And looking around me I’m VERY glad we haven’t had kids and don’t plan on them. This is NOT a slam on parents nor on kids. I like kids a lot, but they are fucking expensive. And I honestly don’t understand how anybody is able to get ahead in life financially if they have them unless they are wealthy.
Here are the expenses the average person/couple in the US has to deal with:
1. Health insurance (which is astronomical now. And has actually gone UP with impending Obamacare because the math really doesn’t work, but we’ll see if I’m right about that next year when it fully goes into effect. Also, most people with kids don’t feel they can afford NOT to have health insurance because those are your babies and… yeah… duh. Of course you aren’t going to take risks with them if you can help it. Also, even if your employer pays on your insurance, it’s still astronomical. I have an aunt who has a great insurance plan with her company and they pay $800 a month and she STILL pays $400 a month. That is INSANE to me. WTF???)
2. Daycare. If you have kids. If both parents work (and most people think both parents have to work now because they can’t afford not to.) But the cost of daycare is astronomical. It’s literally insane. I’ve heard people say things like they pay $1200 a month for ONE KID in daycare. How can anybody afford that???
3. Other childcare costs: Diapers, formula, clothing for the kid, school costs, medical costs (because some of them aren’t covered by insurance argle bargle!!!!), feeding them regular food when they’re off formula assuming you didn’t breastfeed, but you can’t save food costs by breastfeeding forever.
4. Transportation… usually in the form of a car. Which has gas costs (astronomical but no surprise there), maintenance, insurance (usually required by law). And a lot of people have car payments so they are paying interest and have a monthly payment.
5. Student loans. Everybody had hammered into them how important education was to get a good job to afford all this crap, so most people in their 20′s have student loans. Some of those loans very very high… to the point they can’t buy a house and maybe can’t afford kid costs. (Meanwhile they have people on their asses about how they need to have kids and buy a house because the older generation simply doesn’t fully comprehend the cost of living for THIS generation. So many are putting off or avoiding buying a house or having kids while other people call them “selfish and irresponsible” Nice.)
6. Mortgage/rent. Again, astronomical. Housing costs are kind of insane in a lot of places, and though renting is a fiscally better plan “right now” while you’re young, if you don’t have a home you own that is paid off by retirement you might be screwed on where you’re going to live. Who knows… this is a whole new trend where almost everybody is renting because nobody can afford to buy, but this is part of why so many elderly are in subsidized housing because they can’t afford rent into retirement age. But mortgage costs are crazy and then there are other costs associated with buying like insurance (again required), and maintenance costs.
7. And then you’re supposed to save for retirement. But WITH WHAT???? DUDE. It seems like retirement saving is one of those “rich people problems”. If you’re in the 1% awesome, save for retirement. But if you are barely getting by paycheck to paycheck you will never be able to “afford to retire” because saving 50 cents every month in an account that doesn’t even pay interest hardly (yeah, banks used to pay you decent interest to hold onto your money for you), good luck retiring.
8. Oh, and I forgot you have to eat. And food is… say it with me… astronomical. Inflation on food and gas over the last 10 years has been pretty much insane, but meanwhile wages haven’t risen to match this. (or anything else really.)
9. Most people have credit card debt or other things they’ve bought on credit, and so they have THOSE bills, too.
Really? How is anybody but the wealthy doing it? This is all crunching the middle class. I can see definitely two classes emerging. Poor and rich. If things continue down this path I just don’t see how it can be any other way but that for most people.
I mean there are some solutions here, but those solutions are not going to be tenable to everyone or even doable for everyone. You can choose not to have kids (which will save you a TON of money. And for some people that’s no big deal because you don’t really want to be a parent anyway, but for other people, their lives would have no meaning if they couldn’t have kids because that’s what they really really want to do, so telling someone “yeah, just don’t have kids” is a bit cruel), buy old beaters, not use credit cards, not go to college or go to really inexpensive community college and then state college on an academic scholarship if you’re smart enough or a sports scholarship if you’re talented enough. Or you can go to a trade school. Or start a business if you have a lot of good business sense. You can live in a cheaper area of the country for lower rent/mortgage and you can grow some of your own food. And if you live in an area where you can walk or ride a bike you save all the car expenses, but most people don’t live in well-planned cities… and if you do, cost of everything else is high. So it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t for most.
If everybody could do all those things it would make sense. But I hear about people all the time who have the worst situation on ALL of those things and I have no idea how they stay above water. The whole thing freaks me out.