The following is a staff writer post from MikeS. He is a married father of 2. So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house. He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.
When it comes to financial articles, I usually fall for click-bait. Such was the case when I came across this article a while back. The article discusses seven things that the middle class can no longer afford. I consider myself middle class. I am probably upper-middle class with and annual income around $100K. So, naturally I was curious about the things I was supposedly unable to afford.
This first item listed is vacations. This is not something that I have given up. Granted I don’t take an expensive vacation every year, but my wife and I still get away for a few days. I am saving for two big vacations. One is a family vacation to Disney World. I am expecting the cost to be about $10,000. The trip is planned for roughly 3 years from now. I have been saving for it for the last couple years and should easily have the money when we need it. The second vacation is the second honeymoon I am going to surprise my wife with. That trip is going to cost in the neighborhood of $6,000. That trip is also budgeted and won’t be an issue financially. I think for middle class earners, a little planning can keep vacations easily accessible.
I think the issue with cars, is that people buy too much car, much like they buy too much house. They then compound the problem by not driving the car for a long time. My wife and I have two cars, one is 3-years old and the other is 13-years old. Neither one of the cars is top of the line nor have all of the features you could buy. By being sensible about what we buy and only buying what we need, we can still afford to buy a new car.
To Pay off Debt
Do I have debt? Yes, a car loan and a mortgage. I could pay the car loan off, but with an interest rate less than 2%, it is not my priority. I do not have any credit card debt, nor do we have student loans anymore. We paid all of that off within the last few years. Sure, we could have used that money for other things, but paying off those debts was a higher priority. I think that’s the issue most people have, prioritizing where they want their money to go.
My emergency savings aren’t quite where I want them to be yet. I have about $15,000 dedicated for emergency savings and another $10,000 that I could use if it was a true emergency. Establishing the emergency fund was one of my top priorities when I was digging out of my hole. When life’s unexpected expenses would pop up, it would put me back in the hole. The cushion allows me to absorb life’s expenses without having to go into debt.
This one is simply people not prioritizing the future. I currently set aside 7% of my gross pay and my company contributes another 8%. When people say they can’t afford to set aside any money, they are simply not prioritizing their retirement savings. Instead, they are going out to eat, buying a new TV, or buying the latest iPhone. Sure, all of those things are nice, but not having to work the rest of your life is nicer in my opinion.
Medical and Dental Care
The article listed these two separately, but they are essentially the same to me. I’ve experienced both this year, first with my root canal and then with surgery for my little guy. I was able to handle the expense for both because of my HSA. I had been saving the money throughout the year in the HSA and used it when the expenses came up. Once again by planning ahead, I was able to handle the expenses when the unexpected happened.
In my opinion, the middle class can afford all of these things with a little planning. Since their income is limited, the middle class just needs to prioritize where their money goes. They may not be able to take a vacation every year or a buy a new car every 3 years, but it doesn’t mean they can’t have them at all. By setting a little bit of money aside each paycheck, all of this is possible.