Posted on: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Written By:"The Elemental Economist" Jim Purnell
Authored by Erika Rawes, The Cheat Sheet; originally posted at USA Today,
[Though there is some debate over the exact income a middle class household brings in, we do have an idea of who the middle class are — most working class people. Today's bourgeoisie is composed of laborers and skilled workers, white collar and blue collar workers, many of whom face financial challenges. Bill Maher reminded us a few months back that 50 years ago, the largest employer was General Motors, where workers earned an equivalent of $50 per hour (in today's money). Today, the largest employer — Wal-Mart — pays around $8 per hour.
The middle class has certainly changed. We've ranked a list of things the middle class can no longer really afford. We're not talking about lavish luxuries, like private jets and yachts. The items on this list are a bit more basic, and some of them are even necessities. The ranking of this list is based on affordability and necessity. Therefore, items that are necessity ranked higher, as did items that a larger percentage of people have trouble paying for.
Vacations * A vacation is an extra expense that many middle-earners cannot afford without sacrificing something else. A Statista survey found that this year 54% of people gave up purchasing big ticket items like TVs or electronics so they can go on a vacation. Others made sacrifices like reducing or eliminating their trips to the movies (47%), reducing or eliminating trips out to restaurants (43%), or avoiding purchasing small ticket items like new clothing (43%).
New vehicles * Very few people who earn the median income can afford to buy a new car or truck. Interest.com recently analyzed the prices of new cars and trucks, as well as the median incomes across more than two dozen major cities, and found that new cars and trucks were simply not affordable to most middle-earners.
"Median-income families in only one major city [Washington DC] can afford the average price Americans are paying for new cars and trucks nowadays." As of 2013, new cars are priced at $32,086, according to the study. Mike Sante, Interest.com's managing editor reminds us, "just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn't mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up all such a huge share of your paycheck."
To pay off debt * These debt statistics come from Debt.org: "More than 160 million Americans have credit cards." "The average credit card holder has at least three cards." "On average, each household with a credit card carries more than $15,000 in credit card debt."
Not only do we have large amounts of credit card debt, we also have student loans, mortgages, cars, and medical debts. Our debt is growing faster than our income, and many middle class workers have trouble staying afloat. Money-Zine evaluated debt growth and income growth over the past few decades and found that "back in 1980, the consumer credit per person was $1,540, which was 7.3% of the average household income of $21,100. In 2013, consumer debt was $9,800 per person, which was 13.4% of the average household income of $72,600. This means debt increased 70% faster than income from 1980 through 2013."
Emergency savings * To provide ourselves with a degree of financial security, we are supposed to have emergency savings to protect ourselves in the event of job loss, illness, or some other catastrophe. Most members of the middle class don't have at least six months of emergency savings, however, and some working people have no such savings.
A Bankrate survey found that only around one out of four households have six months of emergency money saved, and many of them are in the higher income groups. Another one-fourth have no emergency savings at all, and the remaining household have a small to moderate amount of savings, but not enough to cover six months of expenses.
Retirement savings * If you reach the retirement age with little or no money saved, Social Security is probably not going to be enough to cover your basic needs. Even if you want to work for your entire life, you have no way of knowing whether or not you will be physically capable of doing so.
Although having a lack of a retirement savings is a risky move, so many people bet on double zero, just hoping that things will work out in their favor. While some members of the middle class neglect this aspect of financial planning because they are procrastinating, there are also some workers who cannot afford to set this money aside. Nearly half of those who don't save for retirement say it's because they simply don't have the money.
As of late, around 20% of people near 65 have not saved anything for retirement at all, and the majority of people — 59% — worry that they don't have enough money saved for retirement, according to a Gallup Poll.
Medical care * Medical care is a basic necessity and something we'd think would be affordable for someone earning a middle income. A Forbes article published data indicating that workers in large companies — many of whom are members of the middle class — "face nearly $5,000 in premiums, co-payments, deductibles and other forms of co-insurance."
During the past few years, these costs have had a large impact on working Americans. A report by Feeding America found that a shocking 66% of households say they've had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care — 31% say they have to make that choice each and every month.
Dental work * According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "the U.S. spends about $64 billion each year on oral health care — just 4% is paid by Government programs." About 108 million people in the U.S. have no dental coverage and even those who are covered may have trouble getting the care they need, the department reports.
Oftentimes, people will purchase medical coverage and forgo dental because it's so expensive. Plus, dental insurance may cover only 50% of the more expensive procedures, like crowns and bridges. This leaves those who have insurance with large co-payments.
In many cases, middle-earners will delay or even forego some of these procedures in efforts to save on costs. According to the CDC, nearly one in four adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have untreated dental caries (like cavities or infections).
If only they had listened to Janet Yellen and found rich parents or bought businesses....! ]
When I was young, I remember everyone took vacations in America. Some went to Colorado on ski trips while the other end of the spectrum would take a week long camping trip, but everyone went on family vacations. This was a huge learning experience as a young person thanks to seeing other parts of the country, meeting new people, saving your allowance to buy keep sakes & existing in small spaces with others on long car rides. All important in developing your character as a young person growing up, but today the idea of taking a vacation is something that wealthy people do & you see on reality TV. Kids now get their culture from TV programs & video games which in no way shape or form are valid alternatives to real life experiences.
The nation today is convinced that the recovery is in full effect & yet they are failing to notice that the “American Dream” isn’t even a day dream anymore as the cost of living slips out of reach for many millions of people. Obamacare has ravaged the employment market because employers cant afford to cover medical expenses now for their people & have been forced into part time employment which only further makes financial independence an impossibility. By the way, just wait till January when the final half of Obamacare comes into effect & see what happens when employers are backed into a corner & jobs in this nation magically turn into part time only opportunities. What happens then?
Wake up and realize just because the current US foreign policy is to crush oil prices to stop Russia from breaking petro dollar apart doesn’t mean you can afford your life that you had just 7 short years ago. This will only be a slight boost to potential consumer spending, but how much does saving $2.50-4.00 every time you fill up your car between now & Christmas increase your gift budget? Maybe $25 to $40? Does that get you a holiday vacation? It wont even buy a video game for your kid! Wake up to the shrinking dream & think ahead at how it will effect markets as this cause & effect scenario will surely send ripples through the economy that will build into bigger shock waves. Get your plan B insurance policy in gold & silver bullion before the reversal of fortune comes as we enter the new year.
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