Monday, January 24, 2011

Let's Feel Sorry for the Rich Folk!

Finally, an article that explains to all those envious losers out there how hard it is to make ends meet on the paultry income of $250,000 a year. The article that is aptly titled "Down and Out on $250,000" gives a detailed explanation of how difficult it is to get by on this tiny miserable amount:
It’s not exactly easy street for our $250,000-a-year family, especially when it lives in high-tax areas on either coast. Even with an additional $3,000 in investment income, they end up in the red — after taxes, saving for retirement and their children’s education, and a middle-of-the-road cost of living . . . In reality, to make ends meet, this squeezed couple would have to cut back on discretionary expenses – take a pass on a new suit, skip an annual vacation, and drop some kids activities. Unfortunately, the family would also probably save less, at the expense of their retirement or their kids’ educations.
The goal of the article is to shame all of us greedy underachieving fellow citizens of the hard-pressed families with such an income into rethinking our insistence that they pay taxes. Imagine that! A poor individual who leads a hand-to-mouth existence on just $250,000 per year will have to take a pass on buying a new suit. And all to pay some stupid taxes that do not benefit this individual in the least. I mean, it isn't like her uses the same roads as we do, relies on the same police officers and fire-fighters, expects the same military to defend the borders of the same country. And we expect such a valuable member of soicety  who gets nothing back from that society to give something back? That's just wrong.
Thank you, Mike, for pointing me towards this article.


Meredith said...

I can't even bring myself to read the article. Your excerpt made me angry enough. How dare they?

Z said...

What's weird to me is that their expenses in a lot of areas are actually quite low.

- House Cleaning: $5,000. I have someone come in once a month and it costs $75 for a 1400 sq foot house; that's $900 a year. For one person.

- Gas and electricity: $5,000. I'm at $2,400 for gas, electricity, water, and garbage, and it would be more if I weren't somewhat careful.

- Takeout meals @ $25 per week. Well that is what a takeout meal costs, at least. I don't have them but I can see a working couple with kids doing it once a week, I don't blame them.

- Lunches at work @ $10 each. Well it is hard to find lunch for less than that. I mostly come home or take my lunch, but while $10 is a lot, it isn't extravagant compared to what many restaurant lunches cost.

Leisure Category: $15,100. I take two trips a year, on average, that cost about $2K each. Other leisure travel, movies, and so on is surely another thousand dollars. So $5K for me, one person.

And people were saying $346 was a lot for clothes and dry cleaning but they're a family. I've already spent $27 to dry clean two items this month. I've also bought socks, stockings, and hair clips, so I'm up to at least $50 in clothes and dry cleaning - and it's not even a month in which I needed a pair of shoes or something like that.

So what I didn't figure out was this: given that they are in many ways not all that extravagant, how do they go through so much ... it must be the house, the college fund, and the student loans ... so it must all have to do with the loans and the area.

I don't have student loans. I have a mortgage but it isn't much more than rent would be on an apartment. But it is said that in San Francisco, I would have to make 2.5 times what I'm making now to live the same way.

So, if this family is in a place like S.F. and were living here, their $250K would be like $100K. And that would be middle class, perfectly comfortable but not rich.

All of which is not an argument that such people shouldn't pay taxes - they should. It's just a comment on how much things really do cost now.

Lennin said...

I guess all they meant to say is the American dream life, where you live comfortably, have all the things the TV family has and does, has just broken the 250k barrier.

250k here in Western Europe, would be quite wealthy and beyond the dream family life. I'd say 100-150k euros/pounds per family would suffice here. Education is cheaper, mostly paid with taxes, but mostly the lifestyle is way less extravagant than in the USA.

On the other hand, finding 50-100k professional jobs here doesn't get as easy as in the states.

Jonathan said...

They clean their own house, they get $5,000 more in discretionary income. That's a lot of suits @300. They spend $5 on a lunch rather than 10, they cut that in half. Subway? Jimmie Johns? Leisure is discretionary by definition, so 15 grand for that means that they already have a lot of discretionary income left over: twelve-fifty a month! That's some people's mortgage payment. It's more a matter of choosing between luxuries in cases like this. These are champagne and caviar problems, problems that most other people on the planet would love to have.

dead chicken said...

I think the main thing about this is that you don't have any particular right or obligation to live in a high cost of living area; if you can't afford it, you can do as many working and middle-middle-class people have done before and slink off into cheaper towns.

Living comfortably somewhere like NYC or SF isn't a right. It's privilege you gotta be willing and able to pay for.

There's always Oklahoma!

Clarissa said...

In Oklahoma they actually offered the lowest academic salary I ever heard of. But I guess that makes sense because how much can you spend at Starbucks, really?

dead chicken said...

Housing is amazingly cheap too, and fashion expectations are low, so that saves you a ton of dough right there.

Anyway, yes, this always annoys me about the "but I live in a high COL area, so 250K isn't really that much!" argument.

Boo hoo, honey; those places have been determinedly pushing out their middle-class sorts for decades now. This is nothing new.

All that's needed are servants and masters in a place like that.