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http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-sh...
 I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.


Unfortunately it devolves into whining that the author had to send his kids to private school because the public schools weren't "very good", apparently never making any effort to explore the New York magnet school system; that he had to carry two mortgages when he decided to move to the Hamptons and his co-op board wouldn't let him sell; that he had to pay for his daughters' college educations on the other coast despite perfectly good state universities in New York (and one went into social work to boot); and that he couldn't do some tax planning regarding the book advance, or opt to realize income in later years, despite making enough money to do so. I have more sympathy for the average American who can't afford a $400 emergency if they really are stuck paying huge fixed costs (although no one ever tells them to go take the bus a few days a week to cut costs) than this guy.
 

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"Since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to 'monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.' ... The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all."  /tuphat
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the shame i feel is having read most of that article...

it still baffles me how intelligent people can make such horrendous financial decisions.

sounds like this guy was always expecting the next, bigger break to pay for his lifestyle....but it never came.

Doesn't sound like he's struggling... Just over extended...

20 years ago I had a co worker tell me his friends were struggling while the couple was making over $100k... I asked him... Where do they live? Very nice neighborhood in a 4br 2500sqft home... How many cars do they have? Of course 2 brand new luxury cars.
I told them they were struggling because they over spent..

The guy with 3 kids driving a beater to his minimum wage just is struggling...

I read this article a few days ago too. Lots of cringing, though I'm glad he had the nerve to post what sounds like a pretty complete version. It's still not clear he really understands where all the problems came from. It sounded like emptying retirement accounts to pay for a daughter's wedding was fairly recent.

I was randomly selected a year or two ago for the fed interview the article's stats are about. They offered a token payment of $20 or something - someone came to my house and spent about an hour asking questions and getting information. He was just a contractor they'd trained and had been collecting some of the regional data for a bit, but was pretty interested in my fairly light hitting FWF lifestyle. Almost no emergency fund or cash on hand, but access to tons free/cheap credit and no uncertainty about painlessly handling any of the crisis scenarios he presented. Well on track for a likely early retirement and adding lots to savings every month. No budget or spending tracking, though I had all the data he was interested in easy enough to compile on demand.

I couldn't help compare to the article. We spent a ton of money on kids' education too. But we made a couple of huge choices largely based on finances - when the first child was about a year old, we moved far away from a high cost of living area. And we've bought one car in our 25 years together. Travel is our only real luxury, though we are pretty frugal about that too. Hotels are for sleeping and showering, so we avoid overspending on that, the cheapest rental cars are fine, public transportation in big cities is fine. Anyway, everyone's interests and priorities will vary, but I think we've just put a little time into deciding what has real value to us and frugality on everything else lets us splurge on those limited things pretty much however we like.

I know a lot of financially insecure people have had real misfortune, but I couldn't find any sympathy for this author. It all seemed very voluntary in his case.

Yeah, it is mildly interesting... heard the guy on public radio (FM, not satellite ;^) while driving an old Buick.

To me, it is really about delayed gratification and keeping up with the Joneses. Keeping up means doing what pretty much everyone else does in terms of Netflix, wide screen TV, cable, etc, etc. I'm not even talking fancy cars or big houses, although these are certainly out there too.

In third world countries, it's common to walk to work, eat the same food every day, wear clothes many days without washing, etc. Those people are happy and generally live long lives (if they make it past 1 year). Folks in the US could do that too and save massive amounts of their paychecks. Instead, most tend to have the money disappear in eating out, leisure activities, banking fees, etc. Is there really any story here other than making good choices? I guess there is because SO many people make bad choices.

He uses $400 available as his measure. Hmmm... is that like four months without cable? How many meals at Denny's or Pizza Hut or Olive Garden? Waiting a few months extra to trade in that car?

The author also talked about folks who ran into trouble with medical expenses. Totally different ball game as far as I'm concerned.

I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others.
Is "dun" a verb? Is it a typo? Is this a new word? Is it a euphemism for "beg"?

solarUS said:   the shame i feel is having read most of that article...

it still baffles me how intelligent people can make such horrendous financial decisions.

sounds like this guy was always expecting the next, bigger break to pay for his lifestyle....but it never came.

  It is a long article, and the author at times seems to drone on, but I think the point of the article is valid, while the authors experience is outside the norm, mainly due to his profession, most people don't have these large advance, feast or famine existences.  He's made a number of financial mistakes over the course of his life that have compounded to put him where he stands today.  However, as the article cites, there are lots of people in similar positions of not being able to come up with the $400-2000 mentioned in the article.  

On Fatwallet, we can criticize and dismiss these situations pretty easily, i think its in posting instructions.  However, this is a significant problem and its not going to go away on its own.  

1) we have an education system which barely touches on any sort of practical financial education.  Why isn't there a high school class covering "financial consequences of being an adult"
2) the financial products are in a lot of cases marketed incorrectly and targeted to exploit the uneducated.  interest only mortgages, payday loans, check cashing etc.
3) the disclosures on most financial products are complex to an average individual.  
4) average income hasn't grown significantly    

I certainly can relate to feeling over extended.  I haven't been that close to the edge, but certainly don't feel as secure in my safety net as my parents did back when i was a kid.

rufflesinc said:   
I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others.
Is "dun" a verb? Is it a typo? Is this a new word? Is it a euphemism for "beg"?

If only there were some way to find out.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define+dun

You guys are right in calling personal accountability into question here.

However, I'd point out that there has been a long decline of the middle class.  It probably started after the 1950s or so.  Basically, to maintain "middle-class" lifestyles, the amount of work it takes has gone up massively.
We've now got two income households as a standard and our working hours have gone way overboard.  Basically, compensated by working more to retain the same lifestyle since wages haven't really scaled with the rest of the economy.

So what you might ask?
Well, as much as we might by into letting people pay 15% on their "income" when they make over $500k a year (as long term capital gains) because they "create jobs"......   The only way those jobs are sustained is by the middle class' ability to spend.  Once that dries up, everyone is going to be in trouble...

Middle class does need some fixes.  I'm not talking about redistribution of wealth. 
Part of it is lack of education.  Course, by the time my kid is in school, I'm expecting a 4-year state school to run $100k all-in.  That's going to mean that less people get educated.

Headed back my bunker now.. Where all the gold is hidden.

 

BostonOne said:   
rufflesinc said:   
I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others.
Is "dun" a verb? Is it a typo? Is this a new word? Is it a euphemism for "beg"?

If only there were some way to find out.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define+dun

  If you're going to lmgty me, at least google it yourself 
dun1dən/adjective 

  1. 1.of a dull grayish-brown color."a dun cow"
    synonyms: grayish-brown, brownish, mousymuddykhakiumber "a dun cow"


    •    


noun 

  1. 1.a dull grayish-brown color.
  2. 2.a thing that is dun in color, in particular.


dcg9381 said:   
Part of it is lack of education.  
 

  People are more educated now than in the 1950s . Higher percentage of high school graduates. Higher percentage of college graduates.

The obvious problem is the goal posts are moving. Now people have to get a masters to keep up , but still do more or less the same work.

solarUS said:   the shame i feel is having read most of that article...

it still baffles me how intelligent people can make such horrendous financial decisions.

sounds like this guy was always expecting the next, bigger break to pay for his lifestyle....but it never came.

I don't really understand this philosophy. My planning always is from the opposite direction - "What happens if I lose my job?", "Am I prepared if property values decline 20%?", "What would I do if the macro economy tanked and the market declined 30%?"

While I think a lot of folks on FWF think the same way, I guess most people don't share that approach.

rufflesinc said:   
BostonOne said:   
rufflesinc said:   
I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others.
Is "dun" a verb? Is it a typo? Is this a new word? Is it a euphemism for "beg"?

If only there were some way to find out.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define+dun

  If you're going to lmgty me, at least google it yourself 
dun1dən/adjective 

  1. 1.of a dull grayish-brown color."a dun cow"
    synonyms: grayish-brown, brownish, mousymuddykhakiumber "a dun cow"


    •    


noun 

  1. 1.a dull grayish-brown color.
  2. 2.a thing that is dun in color, in particular.



 Wow. If you had hit the down arrow on the Google result page, you would have seen the following. Sorry I made it so difficult.

dun
dən
verb

  1. 1.make persistent demands on (someone), especially for payment of a debt."they would very likely start dunning you for payment of your taxes"

debentureboy said:   
The author also talked about folks who ran into trouble with medical expenses. Totally different ball game as far as I'm concerned.

  
But he damn sure will mention it alongside his own "struggles" as if they are an equal comparison 



Oh silly people and their financial troubles that are based on their own decisions. I have BASIC cable internet at my home with no cable Tv. No Netflix. No hulu. I call my Cable internet company every 6-12 months to renegotiate the contract price. I call my Electric utility provider every 12 months to renegotiate the contract rate. I churn credit cards for a nice bonus chunk at the end of the year. I clip coupons from my newspaper and use digital coupons. I move my money into new accounts occasionally for another bonus and to get higher interest rates.... All of these are things that is just "too much work" for the average consumer. In reality, all of these tasks take me a whopping 5 minutes or less and many of them save me hundreds over the course of the year.

Either people get it, or they don't. This author is clearly still in the dark.

dcg9381 said:   
However, I'd point out that there has been a long decline of the middle class.  It probably started after the 1950s or so.  Basically, to maintain "middle-class" lifestyles, the amount of work it takes has gone up massively.
We've now got two income households as a standard and our working hours have gone way overboard.  Basically, compensated by working more to retain the same lifestyle since wages haven't really scaled with the rest of the economy.

 

  
The concept of what the "middle class" lifestyle entails has expanded considerably.

For instance, if you lived in a house of median 1950's size, the numbers for median home costs are not nearly as out-of-whack as they are made to sound. (with major exceptions in a couple of cities like SF and NYC, of course)

 

BostonOne said:   
rufflesinc said:   
BostonOne said:   
rufflesinc said:   
I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others.
Is "dun" a verb? Is it a typo? Is this a new word? Is it a euphemism for "beg"?

If only there were some way to find out.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define+dun

  If you're going to lmgty me, at least google it yourself 
dun1dən/adjective 

  1. 1.of a dull grayish-brown color."a dun cow"
    synonyms: grayish-brown, brownish, mousymuddykhakiumber "a dun cow"


    •    


noun 

  1. 1.a dull grayish-brown color.
  2. 2.a thing that is dun in color, in particular.



 Wow. If you had hit the down arrow on the Google result page, you would have seen the following. Sorry I made it so difficult.

dun
dən
verb

  1. 1.make persistent demands on (someone), especially for payment of a debt."they would very likely start dunning you for payment of your taxes"


  i did that on purpose, so you wouldn' t get away with just "lmgtfy"

btw there's no way you knew that word and definition

I actually listened to this article on radio ... on NPR .. yesterday around 6 pm ... and the way the host was asking and this person was answering....he sounded it was perfectly normal in doing everything he did and he specifically mentioned we wouldn't be we if we didn't do the things we did....... I was like wow...what a piece of crap we are listening to .... total bs .. and totally a big BS....

solarUS said:   the shame i feel is having read most of that article...

it still baffles me how intelligent people can make such horrendous financial decisions.

sounds like this guy was always expecting the next, bigger break to pay for his lifestyle....but it never came.

  
That just shows this guy is NOT intelligent. If he were he would not have made so many "horrendous financial decisions". Just another deadbeat waiting for a miracle.
 


calwatch said:   http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-sh... 
 I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.


Unfortunately it devolves into whining that the author had to send his kids to private school because the public schools weren't "very good", apparently never making any effort to explore the New York magnet school system; that he had to carry two mortgages when he decided to move to the Hamptons and his co-op board wouldn't let him sell; that he had to pay for his daughters' college educations on the other coast despite perfectly good state universities in New York (and one went into social work to boot); and that he couldn't do some tax planning regarding the book advance, or opt to realize income in later years, despite making enough money to do so. I have more sympathy for the average American who can't afford a $400 emergency if they really are stuck paying huge fixed costs (although no one ever tells them to go take the bus a few days a week to cut costs) than this guy.

  
They always choose the worst examples for these bleeding heart stories.

rufflesinc said:   
dcg9381 said:   
Part of it is lack of education.  

  People are more educated now than in the 1950s . Higher percentage of high school graduates. Higher percentage of college graduates.

The obvious problem is the goal posts are moving. Now people have to get a masters to keep up , but still do more or less the same work.

  That's not the kind of education that is lacking.  If anything, many of the people with master's degrees today have *less* of the sort of basic financial education that is needed to keep out of the issues that the author fell into. 

bluegreenturtle said:   
rufflesinc said:   
dcg9381 said:   
Part of it is lack of education.  

  People are more educated now than in the 1950s . Higher percentage of high school graduates. Higher percentage of college graduates.

The obvious problem is the goal posts are moving. Now people have to get a masters to keep up , but still do more or less the same work.

  That's not the kind of education that is lacking.  If anything, many of the people with master's degrees today have *less* of the sort of basic financial education that is needed to keep out of the issues that the author fell into. 

  I snipped most of dcg9381's post. He followed the sentence "Part of it is lack of education" with "Course, by the time my kid is in school, I'm expecting a 4-year state school to run $100k all-in.  That's going to mean that less people get educated."

So I assume dcg9381 was talking about formal education

But according to wikipedia the phrase "keeping up with the joneses" existed in the early 1900s so its not a recent phenonemon

ahcool said:   
solarUS said:   the shame i feel is having read most of that article...

it still baffles me how intelligent people can make such horrendous financial decisions.

sounds like this guy was always expecting the next, bigger break to pay for his lifestyle....but it never came.

  
That just shows this guy is NOT intelligent. If he were he would not have made so many "horrendous financial decisions". Just another deadbeat waiting for a miracle.

being terrible with money does not make someone unintelligent. I know tons of people who are bad with money who are otherwise brilliant.

Mark Twain was bad with money. Thomas Edison was, too. Unintelligent guys?

People on FWF haven't heard of a dunning letter?

If you don't know what that is, you are paying bills you could get away with not paying.

solarUS said:   
ahcool said:   
solarUS said:   the shame i feel is having read most of that article...

it still baffles me how intelligent people can make such horrendous financial decisions.

sounds like this guy was always expecting the next, bigger break to pay for his lifestyle....but it never came.

  
That just shows this guy is NOT intelligent. If he were he would not have made so many "horrendous financial decisions". Just another deadbeat waiting for a miracle.

being terrible with money does not make someone unintelligent. I know tons of people who are bad with money who are otherwise brilliant.

Mark Twain was bad with money. Thomas Edison was, too. Unintelligent guys?

  wow mark twain is so bad with money
Twain chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, though he had no legal responsibility to do so.

Chrisk327 said:   
 
1) we have an education system which barely touches on any sort of practical financial education.  Why isn't there a high school class covering "financial consequences of being an adult"
2) the financial products are in a lot of cases marketed incorrectly and targeted to exploit the uneducated.  interest only mortgages, payday loans, check cashing etc.
3) the disclosures on most financial products are complex to an average individual.  
4) average income hasn't grown significantly    


 

1.  That's assuming that it can be taught.  A huge part of personal finance is cultural as Malcolm Galdwell pointed out in his many books.
2.  Cultural again, there are some people that are constantly looking for that magical shortcut.
3.  Vanguard study had shown that the single most significant factor to net worth is % of saving, not how well someone picks investment.
4.  I agree to a point.  There are now this new "Upper-Upper-middle" as I call it, consists of dual income tech worker pulling in average of $250k and keep going higher but everyone else seems to be left stagnant.

Technology and information rewards the clever.  I see new engineering grads here that went to normal average high school, jump start over the first 2 years of college and starts $70k+ job at 19yo, lives at home and fix everything by watching youtube.  Then you see some mortgage broker type that drives a bimmer. well, you now..  this divergence of have and have not (culturally) is worrisome for sure.

While I'm sure this author made many questionable financial decisions (although let's not forget half of people or more make just as bad or worse), it is also undeniably true that middle class incomes have regressed, and health care & education costs in particular have skyrocketed. While "middle class" 40 years ago meant college degree, one parent works & lives in a house with a white picket fence & car & 2.5 kids & dog, now it means 2 parents both with advanced degrees ($100,000+ in debt) working 45+ hours a week, paying for child care and an interest-only loan on a condo, with 1 kid maybe once they turn 35 or 40.

Yes, we can always say "spend less," and there ARE many people at ALL income levels who live beyond their means, but this does not change the underlying downward trajectory of the American middle class. And many many of these people are not spending as extravagantly as we want to believe, spending on discretionary items like restaurants & clothing is down while spending on health care & education & housing is way up overall.

Now, depending on political affiliation, you think this is either because (a) all the increases in productivity have accrued to the top 0.1%, who used that money to make more rules in their favor, accelerating the trend, or (b) Mexicans hopped over the border and took all the money, or maybe it's the Chinese or gays or something, let's bomb some Muslims somewhere, I don't really know a coherent economic rationale to be honest other than advocating for more tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting middle- and lower-class services even further & "double down on trickle down" which is what was tried for the past 35 years.

calwatch said:   Here's a nice rebuttal: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-04-20/parents-are-ban...
 

And if you were raised in a social class that regards any of these things as the basics of a decent life, you will feel horrible about denying them. It’s the mother of all collective action problems: If all the parents agreed at once to stop this mad arms race, everyone could breathe easy and have a more secure life. But as long as some of the parents provide those things, everyone else’s kids will want them too … and their parents will long to deliver.

funny that the author went to great lengths to illuminate that people are just making excuses and rationalizing about their choices...but then kinda ends with a defense of that behavior.

nobody needs a brand new car, especially not a kid. nobody HAS to go to an Ivy League school or have a lavish wedding. if a parent can't swing it comfortably - just say so. what ever happened to saying "No."?
 

solarUS said:   calwatch said:   Here's a nice rebuttal: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-04-20/parents-are-ban...
 

And if you were raised in a social class that regards any of these things as the basics of a decent life, you will feel horrible about denying them. It’s the mother of all collective action problems: If all the parents agreed at once to stop this mad arms race, everyone could breathe easy and have a more secure life. But as long as some of the parents provide those things, everyone else’s kids will want them too … and their parents will long to deliver.

funny that the author went to great lengths to illuminate that people are just making excuses and rationalizing about their choices...but then kinda ends with a defense of that behavior.

nobody needs a brand new car, especially not a kid. nobody HAS to go to an Ivy League school or have a lavish wedding. if a parent can't swing it comfortably - just say so. what ever happened to saying "No."?
 

Your phrasing of "nobody needs a brand new car, especially not a kid" is ambiguous

Yes it is true nobody needs a brand new car
Yes it is also true nobody needs a kid
But I'm not sure if nobody needs a brand new kid??

It's all about the math (knowledge) and attitude (behavior). I could barely finish the article because the author really did not leave any room for positive attitude for his own sake. All the stats and comments are simply depressing.

I drive a 20-year old car, rent cheaply, and have 80+% annual saving rate based on my pre-tax income. I have a short list of things I want and most of them are on the list for more than 5 years. I have no debt and understand the importance to let my money and the compound interest to work for me rather than against me. I am also planning my life after my early retirement and am happy about my well-taken-care-of life.

The article appears to blame the environment (stale income growth rate and increasing cost of living) a lot. That is not the best attitude to solve the problem. Living intentionally and being smart about money, rather than making financial decisions based on emotions is the best approach.

It is not that people don't have ready cash in their checking or savings account. It is because people fail to do the planning and instead of saving for rainy day fund, they spend their emergency money on the wants on top of the needs. They welcome debt to be in their lives and enjoy stuff they can't afford, and end up sending their hard-earned money to the banks in interests just so they can appear to be successful (prosperous) to impress their neighbors or people they don't even like.

It is funny to see how much people worship credit scores and promote credit cards voluntarily and don't realize that they are pushing naive, poorly informed people into debt while treating the few thousand rewards points/miles their life savior, while the credit card banks are sitting there doing nothing but number crunching on how much bonus they get from people's interest payments. The whole thing is a total scam and even the smartest people fall into that trap. Just because you are principled about paying off credit card debt before the deadline everytime does not mean other people can (2016 stats ). Better think about that before you respond.

Do stupid crap, win stupid prizes. He made bad financial decision after bad financial decision. If he would have spent even 10 hours learning the basics of responsibly managing his finances, he wouldn't have made even half of the stupid choices he made.
I have no sympathy for him.

"I know what it's like","I know what it's like","I know what it's like".
Sounds to me like lost lyrics from the song Underdog by Sly Stone.

dcg9381 said:   You guys are right in calling personal accountability into question here.

However, I'd point out that there has been a long decline of the middle class.  It probably started after the 1950s or so.  Basically, to maintain "middle-class" lifestyles, the amount of work it takes has gone up massively.
We've now got two income households as a standard and our working hours have gone way overboard.  Basically, compensated by working more to retain the same lifestyle since wages haven't really scaled with the rest of the economy.

So what you might ask?
Well, as much as we might by into letting people pay 15% on their "income" when they make over $500k a year (as long term capital gains) because they "create jobs"......   The only way those jobs are sustained is by the middle class' ability to spend.  Once that dries up, everyone is going to be in trouble...

Middle class does need some fixes.  I'm not talking about redistribution of wealth. 
Part of it is lack of education.  Course, by the time my kid is in school, I'm expecting a 4-year state school to run $100k all-in.  That's going to mean that less people get educated.

Headed back my bunker now.. Where all the gold is hidden.

 

  Part of the reason is because people want more stuff.

The average house is double the size, smartphones would put 1950s-era super computers to shame, cable TV, broadband internet, cell phones, etc.

arch8ngel said:   
dcg9381 said:   
However, I'd point out that there has been a long decline of the middle class.  It probably started after the 1950s or so.  Basically, to maintain "middle-class" lifestyles, the amount of work it takes has gone up massively.
We've now got two income households as a standard and our working hours have gone way overboard.  Basically, compensated by working more to retain the same lifestyle since wages haven't really scaled with the rest of the economy.

 

  
The concept of what the "middle class" lifestyle entails has expanded considerably.

For instance, if you lived in a house of median 1950's size, the numbers for median home costs are not nearly as out-of-whack as they are made to sound. (with major exceptions in a couple of cities like SF and NYC, of course)

 

  Omg this. Redefine the American Dream as a 1000sf house, one or zero cars, and dining out only on special occasions and the burden isn't too high, But middle class spenders today would call that "poor."

TravelerMSY said:   
arch8ngel said:   
dcg9381 said:   
However, I'd point out that there has been a long decline of the middle class.  It probably started after the 1950s or so.  Basically, to maintain "middle-class" lifestyles, the amount of work it takes has gone up massively.
We've now got two income households as a standard and our working hours have gone way overboard.  Basically, compensated by working more to retain the same lifestyle since wages haven't really scaled with the rest of the economy.

 

  
The concept of what the "middle class" lifestyle entails has expanded considerably.

For instance, if you lived in a house of median 1950's size, the numbers for median home costs are not nearly as out-of-whack as they are made to sound. (with major exceptions in a couple of cities like SF and NYC, of course)

 

  Omg this. Redefine the American Dream as a 1000sf house, one or zero cars, and dining out only on special occasions and the burden isn't too high, But middle class spenders today would call that "poor."

  one or zero cars doesn't work when 1) two breadwinners are necessary 2) unstable job security means you can't expect to live close to your job to walk or bike

TravelerMSY said:   
arch8ngel said:   
dcg9381 said:   
However, I'd point out that there has been a long decline of the middle class.  It probably started after the 1950s or so.  Basically, to maintain "middle-class" lifestyles, the amount of work it takes has gone up massively.
We've now got two income households as a standard and our working hours have gone way overboard.  Basically, compensated by working more to retain the same lifestyle since wages haven't really scaled with the rest of the economy.

 

  
The concept of what the "middle class" lifestyle entails has expanded considerably.

For instance, if you lived in a house of median 1950's size, the numbers for median home costs are not nearly as out-of-whack as they are made to sound. (with major exceptions in a couple of cities like SF and NYC, of course)

 

  Omg this. Redefine the American Dream as a 1000sf house, one or zero cars, and dining out only on special occasions and the burden isn't too high, But middle class spenders today would call that "poor."

  You forgot central AC. My parents 1950s era house was not built with central AC. Most families were lucky to have more than 1 or 2 window unit which were usually reserved for mom and dad's bedroom.

solarUS said:   

Mark Twain was bad with money. Thomas Edison was, too. Unintelligent guys?


If your best-selling book is blank with no words in it, then you can afford to be bad with money. It would be like money grows on trees for you.

stanolshefski said:   TravelerMSY said:   
arch8ngel said:   
dcg9381 said:   
However, I'd point out that there has been a long decline of the middle class.  It probably started after the 1950s or so.  Basically, to maintain "middle-class" lifestyles, the amount of work it takes has gone up massively.
We've now got two income households as a standard and our working hours have gone way overboard.  Basically, compensated by working more to retain the same lifestyle since wages haven't really scaled with the rest of the economy.

 

  
The concept of what the "middle class" lifestyle entails has expanded considerably.

For instance, if you lived in a house of median 1950's size, the numbers for median home costs are not nearly as out-of-whack as they are made to sound. (with major exceptions in a couple of cities like SF and NYC, of course)

 

  Omg this. Redefine the American Dream as a 1000sf house, one or zero cars, and dining out only on special occasions and the burden isn't too high, But middle class spenders today would call that "poor."

  You forgot central AC. My parents 1950s era house was not built with central AC. Most families were lucky to have more than 1 or 2 window unit which were usually reserved for mom and dad's bedroom.

They also had to walk uphill Both ways to work

Skipping 241 Messages...
DavidScubadiver said:   I read that book in 1996 or 1997. The only thing I recall from it is not to buy a new car until the old one falls apart. Nearly killed me when I had to trade in my lemon of a new car so soon after purchasing it!

There is a better way: buy a 2-3 year old used one that doesn't have a ton of miles (say 35-60k) and keep it for ten years, go the CPO route if you want.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Cars become a money pit by the 13th year or so, and this way you avoid the worst of the old age of the car and still get to upgrade your car every ten years with total costs of ownership similar or lower than the buy new & keep forever strategy.  YMMV but this seems to be the optimal strategy for cars I'm interested in (sedans).



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