In this new Instagram World we live in we see the best of everyone, and rarely the worst. Unfortunately, this leads a lot of us into a feeling of inadequacy. It looks like all our friends make more than us, have more money saved than us, have nicer clothes than us, go on more trips than us. Well I’m here to tell you… they probably don’t. All you have to do is look at the national statistics to see that most people simply can’t have this much disposable income AND be in a prudent place financially.
What you’re really looking at, for the most part, are people with “good” incomes living paycheck to paycheck, buried up to their eyeballs in debt with nothing saved for an emergency… or even retirement outside of their 401K. Most of these people couldn’t survive more than a couple months if they lost their current job before losing their home, cars, boats, etc.
These people are literally just months away from bankruptcy at any given time, and we’re supposed to be jealous of them? Yeah… I don’t think so. The thing is… people post pics of their new BMW, but they don’t post pics of it getting repossessed after a layoff. People don’t make posts about how they were barely able to pay for everything this month. They don’t post about the anxiety they are constantly living in.
When you start looking at the median salaries of Americans at $47,000 a year,,, and then you start subtracting out what Americans pay for student loans ($400 a month), credit card debt ($6,000 owed at 20% interest), mortgages ($1,500+ a month), car payments ($500+ a month), boat payments (Who the hell knows?), child care at $6K-$10K a year, per child (FYI: this is often why you see stay at home moms, not because dad is so rich and mom has an awesome life where she doesn’t have to work, but because mom can only find a job that pays $30K, but daycare would eat up over half her check so it’s just not worth it) etc. (and we haven’t even got into taxes)
When you know all this you realize pretty quickly that even people with income way above the median are basically spending all of it every month in order to have all these things. So yes, if your friends didn’t have credit card debt, or student loans, or a new car every 3 years, multiple vacations a year, or that giant house, they would be very well off indeed. But the fact that they do have all those things means that there’s actually a very good chance they are broke as hell. Oh… and your neighbor in the smaller house and still driving that Toyota Camry he/she bought 10 years ago, that person is actually more likely to have money.
C.J. is the blogger behind the Vow of Practicality. “Let’s grow your wealth, increase your productivity, and maximize your happiness.”