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I found this article on CNN.com:
America's Money: In Their Own Words

It's nothing more than 13 examples of people or families who are "struggling" in "hard economic times." Naturally, they leave out important details. On one, 30-year-old mother laments that her "great degree from a great college" meant nothing, but they don't say what the "great degree" is in (I'm guessing not finance).

What bothers me most about this is the complaining, when each looks like they ended up in financial trouble by their own choices. One couple had to buy a house and moved away from work; now the $250 monthly commute is too expensive. 20-year old in a private college complains that she can't take an internship in DC because she has to work full time over the summer. A family with five (FIVE!) children complains that the "average American family" can't pay their bills. A 27 year old "executive" gets laid off and can no longer afford his subprime ARM.

Boo-friggin-hoo! Most these sob stories cite rising fuel prices as the cause; as if cutting gas back to $1.00/gallon would magically solve their problems.

It bothers me that these people are being held up as tragic heroes; I suppose the article editor wanted to show how "normal" families are struggling in America today, but I think they failed miserably.

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bias in the media? no way!

everyone is labeled a hero at one point or another in this sappy, emotional country!!

Yikes, those stories are actually scary. Are all of those people for real? I mean, seriously, they all have jobs that a relatively 'easy' compared to what they would have done 30-40 years ago. None of those people were in manual labor or manufacturing or any other dangerous/labor intensive work. I bet they all have a nice TV and cable along with a nice computer an internet.

The main complaint from them all is "gas is too high, it's ruining my life." If you're that helpless, you deserve to be broke. Find a work around, be creative, work closer to home, try to find better work instead of saying "my job doesn't pay enough and I don't know what to do".

I'm in college and almost all of my friends and everyone I know thinks they deserve, and will get, 60k at graduation at their first job, and if they don't get it, they'll probably just whine like these people instead of working and trying to better themselves in life.

Hmm. Maybe I can try my hand at this:

My wife and I both went to state school and graduated debt free because we only had to pay in-state tuition. We own our two 9-year-old cars outright, our house has more than doubled in value since we bought it (even with the recent decline), and our mortgage is a standard ARM at 4% APR. We will have moved by the time it resets.

We both make decent money, and our requirements are meager. I can say with a high degree of confidence that there is nothing on this earth that we actually want that we could not afford to simply purchase outright. Needless to say, we do not stress, worry, fight, or otherwise have any negative associations with money.

We have halfway-decent health, dental, and vision insurance plans. Our young children are in a fantastic daycare center. We could easily afford to send our kids to private school, but won't because our public schools are excellent.

We have no unsecured debt. We contribute the maximum to our retirement accounts. We have 529 accounts for our kids' college.
There. Do I get to be on CNN now?

Head over to credit boards if you want to puke.

lorcha said: Hmm. Maybe I can try my hand at this:

My wife and I both went to state school and graduated debt free because we only had to pay in-state tuition. We own our two 9-year-old cars outright, our house has more than doubled in value since we bought it (even with the recent decline), and our mortgage is a standard ARM at 4% APR. We will have moved by the time it resets.

We both make decent money, and our requirements are meager. I can say with a high degree of confidence that there is nothing on this earth that we actually want that we could not afford to simply purchase outright. Needless to say, we do not stress, worry, fight, or otherwise have any negative associations with money.

We have halfway-decent health, dental, and vision insurance plans. Our young children are in a fantastic daycare center. We could easily afford to send our kids to private school, but won't because our public schools are excellent.

We have no unsecured debt. We contribute the maximum to our retirement accounts. We have 529 accounts for our kids' college.
There. Do I get to be on CNN now?


They only want blood and guts on the front page. If your story was "I got a 3 year ARM a while back and had an awesome interest rate, but it RESET! Now my house has gone down and I can't refinance because all the equity is gone. WTF!? Plus I have a 60K SUV that I leased right after I bought my house and now Gas has almost TRIPLED! I can't make my payments anymore. This is American injustice!!"

Gotta love the American Dream

"A family with five (FIVE!) children complains that the "average American family" can't pay their bills. "

Out of the five cases this is the only one that I can sympathize with, assuming they are struggling on their own, not on wellfare beyond EIC and other tax breaks. It has been a long term trend in all rich countries that the non-immigrant women has less than 2 children, resulting in an ever aging and declining population. People who are raising kids responsively are doing the society a favor. We need the young people to enter workforce to pay for the retirement of the baby boomers.

lorcha said: Hmm. Maybe I can try my hand at this:
You're a super hero. "Financially Responsible Man"

kamalktk said: lorcha said: Hmm. Maybe I can try my hand at this:
You're a super hero. "Financially Responsible Man"


Sadly, Financially Responsible Man is now viewed as the super villain.

"What, you aren't spending yourself into a hole to support the economy?"

"This responsibility is unreasonable - we must tax him more to support the heroic CNN-featured families!"

Freno911 said: Sadly, Financially Responsible Man is now viewed as the super villain.

"What, you aren't spending yourself into a hole to support the economy?"

"This responsibility is unreasonable - we must tax him more to support the heroic CNN-featured families!"
That would be funny if it weren't actually being presented as valid policy by certain US leaders and aspiring leaders.

I'm sick of people complaining about gas (not in FWF but in the rest of the country). It's like people don't do math anymore! Say gas has increased by $1!! Oh no! the horror! But say your gas tank is 15 gallons, and you fill up once a week. Are you not able to afford an extra $15 a week? Is that going to send your life into a spiral? If so, end yourself now. Or you can simply eat out 1 time less per week. Take 2 more lunches to work per week instead of eating out. Visit starbucks 3 times less.

I know a lot of the hype is due to the media securing their cover story for the rest of the year.

nycll said: "A family with five (FIVE!) children complains that the "average American family" can't pay their bills. "

Out of the five cases this is the only one that I can sympathize with, assuming they are struggling on their own, not on wellfare beyond EIC and other tax breaks. It has been a long term trend in all rich countries that the non-immigrant women has less than 2 children, resulting in an ever aging and declining population. People who are raising kids responsively are doing the society a favor. We need the young people to enter workforce to pay for the retirement of the baby boomers.


It is flawed logic to believe that in anyway an increasing population will be a solution to our issues . In fact, the world right now is struggling with consumption issues (commodity prices (food, oil), pollution, etc.). It is a never ending cycle that will at some point lead to a decline in the standard of living.

We all know that we live in a country where people have a sense of entitlement. As Americans, we all deserve our large SUVs with our large yards and deserve at least a month of vacation. When I was working in the mortgage industry, I had to constantly tell people they absolutly no way could afford a place. Of course, I am sure most of these people found someone that was willing to do it. A lot of these people are the same ones asking to be bailed out and how they got tricked. Anyways, I guess our government encourages this behavior with relaxed bankruptcy laws, bailouts, etc. Then again we have a govt that thinks $600 tax rebates while we are running huge deficits is a good idea. I doubt most of these people would ever consider getting a second job, downsizing, etc. There will always be people that have excuses/complaints for why they having issues, the scary thing is these type of people seem to be the norm and not the exception anymore.

louieeG said: I'm sick of people complaining about gas (not in FWF but in the rest of the country). It's like people don't do math anymore! Say gas has increased by $1!! Oh no! the horror! But say your gas tank is 15 gallons, and you fill up once a week. Are you not able to afford an extra $15 a week? Is that going to send your life into a spiral? If so, end yourself now. Or you can simply eat out 1 time less per week. Take 2 more lunches to work per week instead of eating out. Visit starbucks 3 times less.

I know a lot of the hype is due to the media securing their cover story for the rest of the year.


I agree. But it's not just the cost of gas for your vehicle that comes into play. It's the other costs that are indirectly dependent on gas prices. The cost of manufacturing & transportation increase and this gets passed on to the consumer.

But people should look at other ways to save and cut down on expenses where they can. These days, everything is a 'need'. When you think about it, most of those 'needs' are actually 'wants'.

Some people can't afford to spend more, but the government is asking them to go and spend. Jeez.

louieeG said: I'm sick of people complaining about gas (not in FWF but in the rest of the country). It's like people don't do math anymore! Say gas has increased by $1!! Oh no! the horror! But say your gas tank is 15 gallons, and you fill up once a week. Are you not able to afford an extra $15 a week? Is that going to send your life into a spiral? If so, end yourself now. Or you can simply eat out 1 time less per week. Take 2 more lunches to work per week instead of eating out. Visit starbucks 3 times less.

I know a lot of the hype is due to the media securing their cover story for the rest of the year.


I agree with your premise, but don't agree with you reasoning.

$15 / week = $780/year
For a person at the poverty line, that is 5% of income.
Some people have already cut down to Bare Necessities. They don't buy starbucks, they don't buy lunch, and really, they can't afford $15 more per week.

In equivalent terms, this would be paying $5,000 more if you have an income of $100K. I would surely notice a 5% drop in my spending power.

On the other hand, I support a higher gas price. Gas at $2/gallon does not reflect the true cost of using the gasoline. Higher gas price would support research in alternative fuel type and encourage the use of mass transportation.

EDIT to fix math error.

tazzy531 said: Some people have already cut down to Bare Necessities. Sorry... I got stuck here. Nice link. Hope the rest of your post was good.

snafu123 said: louieeG said: I'm sick of people complaining about gas (not in FWF but in the rest of the country). It's like people don't do math anymore! Say gas has increased by $1!! Oh no! the horror! But say your gas tank is 15 gallons, and you fill up once a week. Are you not able to afford an extra $15 a week? Is that going to send your life into a spiral? If so, end yourself now. Or you can simply eat out 1 time less per week. Take 2 more lunches to work per week instead of eating out. Visit starbucks 3 times less.

I know a lot of the hype is due to the media securing their cover story for the rest of the year.


I agree. But it's not just the cost of gas for your vehicle that comes into play. It's the other costs that are indirectly dependent on gas prices. The cost of manufacturing & transportation increase and this gets passed on to the consumer.

But people should look at other ways to save and cut down on expenses where they can. These days, everything is a 'need'. When you think about it, most of those 'needs' are actually 'wants'.

Some people can't afford to spend more, but the government is asking them to go and spend. Jeez.


Good point. I forgot gas prices have an indirect effect on cost of goods.

snafu123 said: These days, everything is a 'need'. When you think about it, most of those 'needs' are actually 'wants'.

Bingo! I think that's what bothers me the most about this "news story." These people aren't living in poverty, they live lives of ease and are whining that they can't have everything they want. They should go live in poverty-stricken African for a year, then see if their stories change.

Yeah I would have rather heard a story about the desk cleric who married the account specialist (both working at bear stearns) and just lost their life savings because of all these irresponsible aforementioned people. That sucks.

gludlow said: It bothers me that these people are being held up as tragic heroes; I suppose the article editor wanted to show how "normal" families are struggling in America today, but I think they failed miserably.

Blah, don't get so bothered over this. I see an opportunity here. Hey David Martorano (guy from the article), I'll take Melissa off your hands to help you make ends meet. (In the meantime, Melissa and I will make our ends meet.)

Edit: here's the pic so you don't have to click through everyone - pic

I feel for those people, I know what it is like.

It is getting difficult to do what is our all American right to do like:

1) Drive a behomth SUV to the end of the driveway to get the mail
2) Commute 50 miles alone when the neighbor goes to the same place, but it is much preferred to be in the serenity of having the huge open space in the SUV as one drives to work
3) Never plan anything and end up making repeat trips all day long to the same places
4) Acquire a house no matter what the cost or income you have - its our right to buy things we can't afford

Haha

Its ok, being an American also means that no matter how financially stupid you are, Uncle Sam will rescue you and penalize all those that actually save money (GASP!).

"We have dramatically cut back our furniture buying, clothes shopping and going out to dinner and hope to see an end in sight soon"

I am without words.

hiroler said: Yeah I would have rather heard a story about the desk cleric who married the account specialist (both working at bear stearns) and just lost their life savings because of all these irresponsible aforementioned people. That sucks.
Bear Stearns had clerics working for them? Geeeze, you would have thought they would have been a little more conservative with their investments.

ieatbabypenguins said: Blah, don't get so bothered over this. I see an opportunity here. Hey David Martorano (guy from the article), I'll take Melissa off your hands to help you make ends meet. (In the meantime, Melissa and I will make our ends meet.)

... You had to make me click on the link, and look ...

Everyone: save yourself some time, she's a cute one, but be weary; she's in profile 11. It's not worth going through the other 15 ugly ppls

carlry said: "We have dramatically cut back our furniture buying, clothes shopping and going out to dinner and hope to see an end in sight soon"

I am without words.


That one made me wonder, too. Exactly how much "furniture buying" were they doing, and how far have they "cut back"?

I don't think I'll have to drop out of school, but that's definitely something I'm afraid of if this keeps getting worse, since we can't really afford tuition here even with the generous financial aid.

R u serious? If you can't afford tuition, then you can't afford the school. Go find a cheaper school. I forgot, this is America....where everyone is entitled to anything and everything.

Your reading comprehension needs improvement.

David Martorano is not hurting for money, as he is a doctor and his wife doesn't need to work. He rents and is waiting for the real estate market to drop because he feels the market is still over-valued. He's like a lot of FWFers who are surprised by people paying huge amounts for real estate because "it's <insert location here>, it's can't go down". Check out the last sentence in his article.

You would probably be better off putting in an offer for Billie Romero (7/16). She admits she is close to divorce.

ieatbabypenguins said: gludlow said: It bothers me that these people are being held up as tragic heroes; I suppose the article editor wanted to show how "normal" families are struggling in America today, but I think they failed miserably.

Blah, don't get so bothered over this. I see an opportunity here. Hey David Martorano (guy from the article), I'll take Melissa off your hands to help you make ends meet. (In the meantime, Melissa and I will make our ends meet.)

Someone seriouly needs to submit the FW side of the story. I have a stable job, good insurance, live within my means, and am continuing to build my savings which is now growing at a much lower rate thanks to all of you delinquent idiots defaulting on your houses and maxing out your credit cards.

jimminyc said: Someone seriouly needs to submit the FW side of the story. I have a stable job, good insurance, live within my means, and am continuing to build my savings which is now growing at a much lower rate thanks to all of you delinquent idiots defaulting on your houses and maxing out your credit cards.
Submit your story

Mcringring said: jimminyc said: Someone seriouly needs to submit the FW side of the story. I have a stable job, good insurance, live within my means, and am continuing to build my savings which is now growing at a much lower rate thanks to all of you delinquent idiots defaulting on your houses and maxing out your credit cards.
Submit your story


I did loans for anywhere between 5-10 fatwalleters. The average loan was probably about 760 credit score with 20% down and good debt to income ratio (most had no debt). It was easy to get the loans approved but they all drove hard bargains and had me explain every last detail.

Gaaahh!! I wish I hadn't opened the article. The hatred is not healthy. This is the one that really got me:

...we want the best education for our children, because not just "the rich" deserve private school.

We've put our kids through private school at tremendous personal sacrifice so I can sympathize with this except for the shameless entitlement.

They're not always better though - one child is already in a new charter school this year and the other will switch next year. This new school is far better for our kids, at least.

My parents are seriously considering selling our house, which they were planning to retire in, and living in an RV.

Is it really that much cheaper to live in an RV?

tazzy531 said: louieeG said: I'm sick of people complaining about gas (not in FWF but in the rest of the country). It's like people don't do math anymore! Say gas has increased by $1!! Oh no! the horror! But say your gas tank is 15 gallons, and you fill up once a week. Are you not able to afford an extra $15 a week? Is that going to send your life into a spiral? If so, end yourself now. Or you can simply eat out 1 time less per week. Take 2 more lunches to work per week instead of eating out. Visit starbucks 3 times less.

I know a lot of the hype is due to the media securing their cover story for the rest of the year.


I agree with your premise, but don't agree with you reasoning.

$15 / week = $780/year
For a person at the poverty line, that is 5% of income.
Some people have already cut down to Bare Necessities. They don't buy starbucks, they don't buy lunch, and really, they can't afford $15 more per week.

In equivalent terms, this would be paying $20,000 more if you have an income of $100K. I would surely notice a 5% drop in my spending power.

On the other hand, I support a higher gas price. Gas at $2/gallon does not reflect the true cost of using the gasoline. Higher gas price would support research in alternative fuel type and encourage the use of mass transportation.


I don't understand you are relating 5% of income at poverty line to 20% of income at $100K line. What basis are you using to say that's equivalent?

Or did you have a math error on 5% of 100K?

Treeloot said: My parents are seriously considering selling our house, which they were planning to retire in, and living in an RV.

Is it really that much cheaper to live in an RV?


yea that caught my eye. with an RV implying mobileness as opposed to a mobile home. hmm, with gas going up, let's get an RV that gets 3 miles/gal

Family of five? Didn;t they know kids are expensive?

bpp said: nycll said: "A family with five (FIVE!) children complains that the "average American family" can't pay their bills. "

Out of the five cases this is the only one that I can sympathize with, assuming they are struggling on their own, not on wellfare beyond EIC and other tax breaks. It has been a long term trend in all rich countries that the non-immigrant women has less than 2 children, resulting in an ever aging and declining population. People who are raising kids responsively are doing the society a favor. We need the young people to enter workforce to pay for the retirement of the baby boomers.


It is flawed logic to believe that in anyway an increasing population will be a solution to our issues . In fact, the world right now is struggling with consumption issues (commodity prices (food, oil), pollution, etc.). It is a never ending cycle that will at some point lead to a decline in the standard of living.

We all know that we live in a country where people have a sense of entitlement. As Americans, we all deserve our large SUVs with our large yards and deserve at least a month of vacation. When I was working in the mortgage industry, I had to constantly tell people they absolutly no way could afford a place. Of course, I am sure most of these people found someone that was willing to do it. A lot of these people are the same ones asking to be bailed out and how they got tricked. Anyways, I guess our government encourages this behavior with relaxed bankruptcy laws, bailouts, etc. Then again we have a govt that thinks $600 tax rebates while we are running huge deficits is a good idea. I doubt most of these people would ever consider getting a second job, downsizing, etc. There will always be people that have excuses/complaints for why they having issues, the scary thing is these type of people seem to be the norm and not the exception anymore.


An excellent article in Harvard Business Review by Peter Drucker, (the management guru):

Drucker, Peter F., "The Future That Has Already Happened," in Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct 1997, pp. 4-6

Peter F. Drucker prepares for the future by identifying major events that have already happened and have predictable effects. Drucker predicts that the dominant factor for business will be demographics: underpopulation, not overpopulation, will pose the greatest challenge to economists and businessmen in the future. Barring unforeseen changes in fertility trends, the underpopulation of developed countries is an accomplished fact, and we will all struggle with the social and economic consequences that follow.

This article is an eye-opener. I'd sympathize more with a family with 5 children trying to make ends meet than a couple with 1.2 children who don't know how to open their balance sheet.

With a fiat currency backed by nothing, there is no constraint on how much a central bank can inflate the money supply... and that's just what the Federal Reserve has been doing. In addition to creating mal-investments in the economy, it also encourages people to engage in all sorts of stupid, corrupt behavior and "shortcuts" to wealth.

nycll said: "A family with five (FIVE!) children complains that the "average American family" can't pay their bills. "

Out of the five cases this is the only one that I can sympathize with, assuming they are struggling on their own, not on wellfare beyond EIC and other tax breaks. It has been a long term trend in all rich countries that the non-immigrant women has less than 2 children, resulting in an ever aging and declining population. People who are raising kids responsively are doing the society a favor. We need the young people to enter workforce to pay for the retirement of the baby boomers.


But then those children must in turn have an even larger number of children. If people would simply go without things they cannot afford (children included) now, perhaps they would be less reliant on others paying for them later. The 'have more children' plan sounds like spending dollars now to get dimes later, though admittedly I'm no expert on the subject (but this is the internet so it doesn't matter).
Good article though. I have learned the following:
1: Don't move somewhere without having a job and/ or some money.
2: Don't move somewhere where the price of gas going up $1 means I have to quit my job
3:Simply going to college won't get me a good job
4:Apparently it is better to drop out of a top 10 school than get a low-interest loan
5: Private schools are always better than public schools
6:The Presidential candidates are responsible for getting stupid people with large families out of trouble
7:Social work doesn't pay well
8:Step 1-sell old house Step 2-Buy new house

FatWallet presents "Real Men of Genius"
(Real Men of Genius)
Today we salute you Mr. Subprime-Borrower-Living-Beyond-Your-Means
(Mr. Subprime-Borrower-Living-Beyond-Your-Means)
You make $32,000 a year as an office assistant and own a negative amortization loan on a $750K McMansion.
(Can't afford to furnish your house)
You can't afford to buy a 60" Plasma or a brand new BMW, but you do anyways using credit
(Don't forget the HELOC)
Credit score, lates, collections, and foreclosures mean nothing to you
(As long as you have your sense of entitlement)
So crack open a nice Bud-Lite, Mr. I-Want-Things-I-Can't-Afford, because in the end you can go running to the media and the government will bail you out.
(Mr. Subprime-Borrower-Living-Beyond-Your-Means)

Skipping 78 Messages...
I know this post has been full of shits and giggles, but there is a very serious issue to be considered here. That issue is best exemplified by these two links:

For Serious readers, read this article. This gallop poll shows that 84% are satisfied (59% are very satisfied!) with how their lives are going. Yet only 29% were satisfied with how things are going in the U.S. generally. As gallop said: "a vivid contrast between Americans' view of things "out there" across the country and their view of their own personal lives." Stories like the one on CNN create and reinforce this perception. Gallop itself reinforces it buy only conducting the personal satisfaction survey once a year while polling on general sentiment almost daily.

For a more lighthearted look, click here.The cops and plumbers own boats and hummers, yet think all the "other" people have it tough.

Stories like this CNN piece, Lou Dobbs's "War against the middle Class", and similar perpetrate the falsehood that the vast majority of people are falling upon hard times. Yet the Gallop poll shows that only 16% of Americans are not satisfied with their own place in life. We know from reading these articles that most of those 16% put themselves in that position by their own stupid financial decisions. And we also know that you can't fix stupid. Yet these "average Joes" are strutted out on CNN like they are the typical "middle class" person when, in fact, they are a very small minority. But talking about how 84% of Americans are satisfied must not get good ratings, or is counter to CNN's own bias.



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