Seven things the Middle Class can no longer afford

shotgunner

Full time employment: Posting here.
Joined
Jun 18, 2008
Messages
538
I came across this article today. I am not sure what point the author is trying to make. Her list of 7 things the middle class can no longer afford strikes me as putting the people who can not afford such things well below middle class. Perhaps my perspective is skewed.

What she says the M/C can no longer afford:

- Vacations

- New Cars

- Paying off Debt

- Emergency Savings Account

- Retirement Accounts

- Medical Care

- Dental Care

7 Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore
 
I think this is because we've expanded the term "middle class" to include everyone - including the top 10%.

A quick google shows a median household income in the US is $51k. If we assume a household with the median income is middle class - then it starts to make sense.
If that's for a family of 4 - then I'd agree that affording all of those things at the same time is rough.... Cars would need to be used, vacations less often, etc. But at least some of those items should be budgeted for.

(At least that's the way we handled it when our income dropped.)
 
I'm not sure that median household income is the right number to look at as it will include all sorts of people who are living by themselves. Census also produces family income numbers and it's quite a bit higher. E.g. For Illinois the median income for 4 member family is 82k.

https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/Fam_Inc_SizeofFam1.xls

This is quite a bit higher, but I imagine it would still be tight to do everything on the list.


Sent from my iPad using Early Retirement Forum
 
Maybe the Middle Class chooses to spend their money on other things such as smart phones, data plans, private K-12 education, marijuana, maids, yard service, more bathrooms in the house, etc.?
 
This list doesn't match with reality as I see it. I work with a considerable manufacturing group who make no more than $45k, some of them as little as $30k. I see plenty of them taking vacations, getting reasonable medical and dental care, buying new cars and investing in our company 401k. What is the basis for asserting that middle class people can no longer afford these things.
 
What is the basis for asserting that middle class people can no longer afford these things.

Not really any basis at all. Guy just had to write a WOW! story. Middle class can't afford all these things at the same time, but plenty can afford several of these things each year.
 
Interesting methodology. Find 7 sources of research showing that the middle class has reduced spending on 7 expenses, and conclude they can't afford any/all of them anymore. Might be that the "middle class" has had to make some choices they might not have long ago, but that does not mean they've had to forego them all.

I would guess the middle class folks (who've held on to their careers/jobs) who are having the most trouble would be those who bought way too much house and leverage on same, and can't/won't let go of the house. They probably feel like they can't afford much beyond real or supposed essentials.
Not really any basis at all. Guy just had to write a WOW! story. Middle class can't afford all these things at the same time, but plenty can afford several of these things each year. The article may be worth what we paid for it...
Here's the "Guy" BTW.
 

Attachments

  • 4PBm4j42.jpeg
    4PBm4j42.jpeg
    143.7 KB · Views: 49
Last edited:
Not really any basis at all. Guy just had to write a WOW! story. Middle class can't afford all these things at the same time, but plenty can afford several of these things each year.


In my mind I have never been able to afford a new car as I have never had one. It is on my bucket list. Though I will have to be brave. The thought of paying sales tax on $30k plus, higher insurance, and first year impending personal property tax bill makes sky diving a less stressful bucket list item.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
The article ignores a lot of things in order to bolster the argument. What crap.
 
Dang, we must be upper class! We do all those things! Thanks for the promotion, random opinionated blogger girl!
 
1 - Vacations - disagree

2 - New Cars - disagree

3 - Paying off Debt - agree

4 - Emergency Savings Account - agree

5 - Retirement Accounts - agree

6 - Medical Care - disagree

7 - Dental Care disagree

The reason they can't afford 3,4, and 5 is because they piss away all their money on 1 and 2 and all the other toys they're Entitled To.

My brother is practically indigent and the Feds and California have given him magnificent medical care and perfunctory dental care, long before ObamaCare was implemented.
 
Dang, we must be upper class! We do all those things! Thanks for the promotion, random opinionated blogger girl!

+1
My grandad used to say "whenever someone is talking about 'helping the middle class', they don't mean you...they mean the people on welfare".
 
One thing that bugs me is how that article mentioned that the average price of a new car these days is around $32,000. That's because people think they *need* a $55,000 half-ton truck or a $40,000 minivan.

If you reign it in somewhat, you can get still get a decent car for not a lot of money. A base level midsized car probably wouldn't set you back more than $20-22K these days. And what's "base level" these days is pretty nice. Standard a/c, automatic, power windows, nice stereo, etc. And even with a 4-cyl engine, these cars will put most V-8's of yesteryear to shame.
 
Restoration of the Aristocracy will fix this (contains crazy)

What she says the M/C can no longer afford:

- Vacations

- New Cars

- Paying off Debt

- Emergency Savings Account

- Retirement Accounts

- Medical Care

- Dental Care

7 Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore


It's a good start.

We currently have a society with a large middle class, and smaller populations living in extreme poverty or wealth, a 'diamond-shaped' distribution. This is historically an unusual wealth vs population mix, associated with Demotist systems. Such systems are prone to crashes or failures (France 1793-1794, with their Demotist upheaval, Soviet Union 1934-1940 with the purges, or the USA 1861-1865 with the overthrow of basic property rights).

images-1.jpg


The Neoreactionary Movement seeks to correct this unstable situation and restore stability to society. (This is a real movement, popular within the 400 Families.)

Michael Anissimov wrote:
Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the “People,” such as Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems. On average, they undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources. Each dollar goes further towards improving standard of living for the average person in an aristocratic system than in a Democratic one.
In a society restored to a stable social pyramid, such items that can not be afforded by the base population may be gifted to them from time to time by those higher in the pyramid, as a reward for their efforts in supporting society, via suitable private charities.

For more exciting details on the Dark Enlightenment (caution - contains crazy): BAM! POW! OOF! - The Dark Enlightenment (The Complete Series) by Nick Land
 
Last edited:
It's a good start.

We currently have a society with a large middle class, and smaller populations living in extreme poverty or wealth, a 'diamond-shaped' distribution. This is historically an unusual wealth vs population mix, associated with Demotist systems. Such systems are prone to crashes or failures (France 1793-1794, with their Demotist upheaval, Soviet Union 1934-1940 with the purges, or the USA 1861-1865 with the overthrow of basic property rights).

images-1.jpg


The Neoreactionary Movement seeks to correct this unstable situation and restore stability to society. (This is a real movement, popular within the 400 Families.)

In a society restored to a stable social pyramid, such items that can not be afforded by the base population may be gifted to them from time to time by those higher in the pyramid, as a reward for their efforts in supporting society, via suitable private charities.

For more exciting details on the Dark Enlightenment (caution - contains crazy): BAM! POW! OOF! - The Dark Enlightenment (The Complete Series) by Nick Land
From the Bam! Pow! Oof! site above,

"Social solidarity, in precise contrast, is the parasite’s friend. By cropping out all high-frequency feedback mechanisms (such as market signals), and replacing them with sluggish, infra-red loops that pass through a centralized forum of ‘general will’, a radically democratized society insulates parasitism from what it does, transforming local, painfully dysfunctional, intolerable, and thus urgently corrected behavior patterns into global, numbed, and chronic socio-political pathologies."

Pretty hard to refute.
 
I came across this article today. I am not sure what point the author is trying to make. Her list of 7 things the middle class can no longer afford strikes me as putting the people who can not afford such things well below middle class. Perhaps my perspective is skewed.

What she says the M/C can no longer afford:

- Vacations

- New Cars

- Paying off Debt

- Emergency Savings Account

- Retirement Accounts

- Medical Care

- Dental Care

7 Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore

I heard about this "letter to a fellow zillionaire" today on NPR. Its pretty interesting.
Its a long read so I just posted the last part of it.

Dear 1%ers, many of our fellow citizens are starting to believe that capitalism itself is the problem. I disagree, and I’m sure you do too. Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies. But capitalism left unchecked tends toward concentration and collapse. It can be managed either to benefit the few in the near term or the many in the long term. The work of democracies is to bend it to the latter. That is why investments in the middle class work. And tax breaks for rich people like us don’t. Balancing the power of workers and billionaires by raising the minimum wage isn’t bad for capitalism. It’s an indispensable tool smart capitalists use to make capitalism stable and sustainable. And no one has a bigger stake in that than zillionaires like us.
The oldest and most important conflict in human societies is the battle over the concentration of wealth and power. The folks like us at the top have always told those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically, we called that divine right. Today we have trickle-down economics.
What nonsense this is. Am I really such a superior person? Do I belong at the center of the moral as well as economic universe? Do you?
My family, the Hanauers, started in Germany selling feathers and pillows. They got chased out of Germany by Hitler and ended up in Seattle owning another pillow company. Three generations later, I benefited from that. Then I got as lucky as a person could possibly get in the Internet age by having a buddy in Seattle named Bezos. I look at the average Joe on the street, and I say, “There but for the grace of Jeff go I.” Even the best of us, in the worst of circumstances, are barefoot, standing by a dirt road, selling fruit. We should never forget that, or forget that the United States of America and its middle class made us, rather than the other way around.
Or we could sit back, do nothing, enjoy our yachts. And wait for the pitchforks.
Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur.


Read more: The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats - Nick Hanauer - POLITICO Magazine
 
If you reign it in somewhat, you can get still get a decent car for not a lot of money. A base level midsized car probably wouldn't set you back more than $20-22K these days.

The new Honda Accord we bought last December was a hair over $23k out the door and that wasn't even the base model, but one up from it. We wanted the electric seat that would move more than fore & aft for DW's back issues.

We haven't been on a vacation in quite a while but apathy is the primary reason for that. Besides, I'm retired so every day is a vacation day anyway.

Paying off debt? What is this "debt" thing they speak of?

Emergency savings? Yup, I could write a check for a $50k pickup truck, but why? The 12-year-old one I have runs just fine.

Retirement accounts, medical care, dental care, done, done, and done.
 
Range of "middle" is too subjective for this kind of article to be spot on. I tend to ignore this kind of article.

One question though ....

Can average people in this forum relate to the article & where the author is coming from? Most folks in this forum seem to be multi-millionaires who can (and have been for some time) afford everything in the list.
 
What she says the M/C can no longer afford:

- Vacations

- New Cars

- Paying off Debt

- Emergency Savings Account

- Retirement Accounts

- Medical Care

- Dental Care

I'd simply say that these are hopefully not ordered in terms of her priorities. Because if you indulge in the first two wants, you'll have little left for the remaining needs.

Yes, I think the middle class is getting squeezed and real wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, but I also think there's a lot of "leakage" in a typical middle class budget. Twenty here, fifty there, and the end of the month your "how did my money go here" budget is larger than most of the others.
 
Yes, I think the middle class is getting squeezed and real wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, but I also think there's a lot of "leakage" in a typical middle class budget. Twenty here, fifty there, and the end of the month your "how did my money go here" budget is larger than most of the others.

That and there are so many things considered "necessities" now that didn't even exist when I was growing up. Cell phones, home computers, laptops, tablets, Internet access, cable TV, software (well, it existed, but none was for home use) and other stuff that causes recurring expenses that I haven't thought of.
 
While I do think the middle class is getting squeezed and expenses like healthcare are way too high, I just marvel at many of the stats I read about. The average person throws away 65 pounds of clothes a year:

Yearly Textile Waste in the USA

Used clothes are our now our 8th largest export? When saving rates are so low? I don't get that. Hundreds of millions spent on pet costumes? There do seem to be a lot of areas the middle class could cut back on.

Ezra Klein has a good blog post on the subject -

"The question Keynes set out to solve was how humanity would adapt to a world of abundance. “He saw two options,” explains Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. “One was that we could consume ever more goods. Or we could enjoy more leisure. What worried Keynes was that when you looked at how people in the British upper classes spent their leisure, he was not overly enthralled with what he saw.” By and large, we have chosen door number one."
 
Middle class can't afford, but the advertisers direct to youth. Kind of strange, when the folks with money are seniors, and most businesses don't direct their advertising to them according to this AARP article.
Why Advertisers Ignore Baby Boomers and Their Money - AARP

Selling Older Consumers Short
Boomers have the bucks, but advertisers don't seem to care
by David Wallis, AARP Bulletin, October 2014
 
I truly detest articles like this that ignore obvious economic data that doesn't fit into their bias. The basic premise of these article was their was some glorious bygone eras that existed outside of 1950s TV when the middle class could afford all this stuff.
Affordability is pretty subjective test what interests me is how much American's buy this stuff now vs the past.

Auto
Vehicles Per Thousands
1980 710
1990 773
2000 800
2007 843
2009 829

Now vehicle ownership did slip during the great recession. But 2014 is shaping up to be one of the best year for new car yeas in 20 years, so I would bet that 2014 vehicle ownership would be back near the 2009 and healthy 9% increase in a generation. Cars are kept longer, but that is in large part cause they are lot more reliable, safer, cheaper to operate, and simply last longer than 1990 era cars.

Vacations
The DOT data only goes back to 1996..
In the summer months (June, July, Aug) of 1996 and average of 52.8 million people took airline flight each month.
In the same time period in 2013/2014 69.3 million flew each month. An increase of 30% in less than 18 years.
The Average Airline fare in back in 1995 (in 2014 $) was $451 it has fallen to $381 through Q1 of 2014. So more people fire at lower price airfare, how are vacations less affordable now than in the past?
Now hotel information is harder to obtain, but the significant increase in AirBnB and VBRO seems to point to vacations being more not less affordable.

I'll leave it the medical folks on the board to gather statistic if any care to but I'd be willing to bet that there were more Doctor and dentist visits, more procedures, tests, and drugs prescribed now than there were a 20-25 years ago on a per capita basis.
 
Oh, all sorts of vendors claim to be interested in my money! Just a sampling of the delectable wares that are on offer:
  • Walk-In Bathtubs
  • Gigantic Underwear
  • Elastic Waist Slacks/Sweater Combos
  • Expensive River Cruises, with Brochures Featuring Only Gray-haired People
  • Stairway Elevator Chairs
  • Assisted Living - Live in a tiny cottage or condo for only $4,000 a month!
  • People offering to Teach Me to Use a Computer!
So maybe it is not that advertisers aren't trying to target older people. It's that they're so darn clumsy and bigoted about it. Why wouldn't they offer me beautiful clothing, gorgeous houses with all the mod-cons, and cruise ship brochures showing vital, attractive people cavorting about? :LOL:

Amethyst

Middle class can't afford, but the advertisers direct to youth. Kind of strange, when the folks with money are seniors, and most businesses don't direct their advertising to them
 
Back
Top Bottom