Having spent my life outside of the “world of the wealthy,” I pay attention to what people at my level can do to not have money worries, or too many money worries, as the days go by.
Don’t get the wrong idea. I’ve never gone hungry or not had clothes or shelter. But I feel wildly out of place in Rarity Bay or Tellico Village. Not that I inhabit those places too often.
What income makes a person rich will vary depending on what you believe. I don’t think $70,000 a year makes you rich. Comfortable, unless you’re just horrible at managing money, but not rich.
If you make $100,000 or more, I think you’re rich and I won’t give you any sympathy about anything. If you somehow can’t make it on $100,000 or more a year, then you’re a special kind of moron.
And the super rich, a million or more a year, should never have a single money problem for every moment they live. But somehow they do. Pro sports players who make $300 million over a career and end up broke are the most visible examples of this.
Your average person just shakes their head and says, “How?”
I thought about all this when I read a thing that said if the minimum wage had kept up with the rate of inflation, just since 2009, the last time it was raised, it would be $9.37 an hour instead of $7.25. And if it had kept pace since 1969, it’d be around $30 an hour. But that’s a realm of fantasy the super rich will never allow to happen.
But you can live a decent life on $12-$15 an hour. It’s not a life that will give you a new car every two years or a brick house on the lake. But you can get a nice car, maybe even a new one, and living quarters that won’t embarrass you.
At least some people can. There are some who can make $14 an hour and are just a couple of missed payments away from living under a bridge and walking everywhere.
And let’s not forget having a second income in a household. If the main breadwinner makes $14 an hour and a second person make $9-$10 an hour, there’s no reason that life shouldn’t at least be comfortable. Around here, anyway. If you live in a big city somewhere, you’ll need to adjust these numbers some.
A lot of people have the problem of living paycheck to paycheck. For whatever reason, they just can’t get ahead. The rule of thumb is that you should have three months of living expenses set aside. I guess because the average job search takes three months?
But according to one study, 63% of those living in cities don’t have any money set aside and, in rural areas, the number is better at 39% but still high.
I’m not sure what somebody stuck in the paycheck to paycheck cycle could do to get out of it. The way you build even the tiniest bit of wealth (three months of living expenses) is through saving money. Unless you invent something everybody wants, the odds of that are slim.
Being unable to save money usually means you’ve got too much debt. If some of that debt is a car payment or credit card debt, those will eventually go away (if you don’t keep adding to the credit cards). Once they go away, keep paying that money to yourself.
You’re used to paying that amount, so just stick it in a savings account or a money market account every month.
If your car payment and credit card bills add up to $600 a month, that’s $7,200 a year. Considering your car loan was probably at least six years, if you saved $7,200 a year for six years, that’s right at $43,000.
Yeah, I know, six years is a long time (not really), but those years are going to go by. Might as well have $43,000 waiting for you at the end of them.
And while you’ll never live in Rarity Bay or have a new car every two years, let’s be honest. Having $43,000 all at once, for most of us, feels like being rich.