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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:32 AM
Original message
Is anyone else here keeping way LESS than ever?
What I mean is that, despite increases in salary (not REAL increases in terms of cost of living and inflation, just the 3% bones they throw us), we have less and less money at the end of the bills every YEAR.

For those who write this dilemma off as a "budgeting" problem, that's the thing: we DO budget. 93% of the past six month's entries have either been necessities or emergencies, but most of them are necessities. There's literally not one PENNY that can be earmarked for independent saving or investment.

It isn't a case of "we blow our money" - we don't (read: can't) take vacations, we don't eat out, we live in a $722/month 55-year-old home that's in need of repair almost bi-monthly, we only have one child who attends public school and we haven't bought a new appliance/piece of furniture/computer since the Clinton Administration (ironically, the last time we lived comfortably :think: ), save a $55 microwave. We pay day-care because both of us HAVE to work, there IS no choice in the matter on this one.

For instance, we had to make the choice last month of keeping the wife's POS 1992 Nissan on life support for $200/month (sorry, no amount of rebuilding could save that thing; we've already put way more into repair than what the car is actually worth) or sucking it up and getting a 2003 Corolla for $285/month. Needless to say, we had to go with the Corolla, since it will be easier to pay off, more reliable and a car that can be owned for a long period of time. She's a social worker who lives out of her car/transports children and can't be without a reliable vehicle. I don't have a car payment having owned the same Cavalier since 1997, and I take buses and trains to combat the gas prices.

Yesterday, our sewer main was clogged and the cracked cast-iron pipe (the one that came with the house) sprayed water all over my basement. Replacement for that was $375, plus the long-term expense of getting the rest of the cast-iron plumbing replaced and the basement cleaned looms.

Groceries, gas, turnpike, taxes, mortgage, school expenses, etc; pretty much everything seems like it's more expensive than our wages can keep up with and it gets worse every year.

It's pretty damned depressing every time I do this checkbook, and we haven't even reached WINTER yet (anyone from Ohio can attest to how bad and cold winters get here), with the astronomical gas prices about to eat the last bit of remaining income we have left. I don't want to think that I'm turning into a statistic that's indicative of the middle/working class getting their goalposts moved on them, but without any strong opposition party, the rich vs middle/working class income gap increasing yearly . . . is it becoming not worth it to SHOOT for anything like retirement any longer and just work until we die and accept it?

I just want to know if I'm alone or not?
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shockingelk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:39 AM
Original message
I've saved $0 for retirement
Since 2002.

A combination of skyrocketing premiums and less $ caused me to drop my health insurance in Summer 2004.

Thankfully, I have an 1987 beater car that has served me well with approx. $500 in maintenance/year.

Have been carrying a balance on the credit card more and more the last feqw years.

You're not alone!
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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
8. Me too-ten years ago I had $80,000 in retirement savings
(pretty good for a 30 year old), then came the surgery bills that my insurance wouldn't pay, a year of unemployment, and I had to lower my fees because of competition and huge unemployment in my chosen I'll need to sell my home and downsize just to pay off my debts!
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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:39 AM
Response to Original message
1. You're not alone.
I drive a 1985 Honda Accord with 211000 miles. I'm making half what I made four years ago. We have one kid in public school. My wife is a government employee who is making the same pay for three years running. Her pension will be what we will live on in retirement, and the right wing loonies in this state are spending every waking moment trying to get their hands on it.
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StellaBlue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:40 AM
Response to Original message
2. No - you're not alone
Edited on Mon Oct-03-05 09:43 AM by StellaBlue
I am only 26 and childless and cannot save a dime. I am so sick of people telling me 'you should save at least 10% of your income every month - and do it FIRST, before you spend anything else - think of it as another bill, but one that you are paying to yourself, for your retirement.'

HAHAHAHAHAHA - If I saved 10% of my income each month, I would have to choose between eating the last week or buying gas to get to work or paying the electricity bill - what is WRONG with people?

Like you, I cannot remember the last time I bought anything new, and I have not been on a vacation since August 2002.

Edited to add: I don't have a car now, but I did have a '96 Vauxhall Astra in the UK, where I lived for four years. I upgraded from a '91 Peugeot XS. I thought the '96 model was VERY MODERN in comparison. Having a car made post-2000 is only a dream... a dream...
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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #2
10. Oh, that is SO lame when people say that.
As if you have 300 bucks in spare cash just LYING around willy nilly burning a hole in your pocket. There's no problem, just cut out a few luxuries like FOOD for your child or THE GAS BILL!

Pollyannas are in all parts of the world, apparently.
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Seansky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
3. there is absolutelly no doubt that you aren't alone. I also know of
elderly people who can't even work, but their health care bills are more than what they made in their entire lives, and which of course, they'll never pay.

Imagine a family with more than one child. I keep wondering how they have to manage, but I know it isn't easy at all.
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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:51 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Precisely why I'm never having another one.
Truthfully, I never had one in the first place - the little one's from a previous marriage. Oh, and that's another thing - we no longer get child support because his dad skipped town. We don't have an address yet and he doesn't have a job. This isn't by accident either - he just chooses not to get one, despite having a newborn AND his fiance's OTHER child to support. Nice, huh?

Everyone's like "you can't go by the cost. Children are children, they're so precious, worth every penny" PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT! Yes they are, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be working until I'm in my late 70s because someone else doesn't think having one child in this already overpopulated Earth is enough.

No offense to those who already have 2 or more kids. I don't see how you do it. I can't do it with one. I don't even want to THINK about what it'd be like with 2.
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CountAllVotes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #4
20. I recently lost a "friend" over this issue
I was telling this person that I was very pro-choice. She has 5 children and has "disowned" two of them (the two that don't "help" her out with her finances). It makes me rather sick.

I never wanted any children myself for the reasons we are seeing today. What a life for them eh? I told her this and she told me that she "felt sorry for me" being I have no children and that I should adopt one from somebody. I told her I did not want any children. They are a huge responsibility FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. She did not like hearing this one bit.

The two kids of her's that she has "dumped" - one is a schizophrenic and the other one - a daughter who is disgusted by her.

So she has the three others and the son pays for her DSL service (something I don't have myself), one daughter waits on her hands and foot and the other daughter got into a fancy university being her mother is so "poor".

Last time I heard from her she was very angry with me and said, "I'll call you tomorrow." Haven't heard a word from her since. Did I really lose a "friend"? Seems she is pro-life I think as she was sending me all of this email re: Terry Schiavo when that whole thing was going on. I just *deleted* it rather than read any of it. *sigh*


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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
5. It is distressing and depressing.
My dad predicted a year ago that we shall see the return of poor houses under this admin. The passing of the new bankruptcy bill doesn't help either, for those with major medical issues, and for the victims of Katrina who lost homes, jobs, everything.
I honestly think this admin is trying to erase the middle class, and they're doing a hell of a job of it.
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skids Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
6. Well, my housemates are getting more and more in debt with me.
...but they have fat to cut from their budget. And considering they are both employed and I'm currently not they are going to get read the riot act real soon now.

When I was working I was earning much higher than average but also excercised a lot of restraint. I have plenty of savings, but it is dwindling away steadily, and I'll have to cut into the retirement portion after I get through what was supposed to be a down payment for a house. I wouldn't even want to think of having a family to support right now, even if I got back on the job, unless the wife was also working full time. And what kind of family life is that, really?

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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:58 AM
Response to Original message
7. You and millions of others....
are reaching the breaking point. The high gas prices, heating oil this winter, the cost of food, have grown beyond the reach of aerage working people like yourself. These are the folks the Democratic Party has to speak up for. Otherwise, we will slip through the cracks...
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
9. The basic problem is that
everything goes up (except the mortgage payment, I hope) while your take-home pay has stagnated, if I read you correctly.

Here's one thing to look at: Is there any chance that the cost of childcare is actually the same, or only slightly less than your wife's take-home pay? If that's the case, you might want to give serious thought to her staying home for a while.

Keep in mind that the second, lessor income, is taxed at your highest marginal rate. Then there's the cost of the second car, and maybe convenience food or take-out because who feels like cooking a dinner from scratch when you've worked all day?

When our kids were little my husband sometimes complained that I didn't work, because every single person he worked with both spouses were employed. But I'd have made minimum wage, every penny of which would have gone into childcare. And the expenses don't go down a whole lot when your kid starts public school, because you'll need after-school care until a parent can pick up the kid at 5pm or whenever, and then there's all the school holidays and teacher in-service days and so on.

Anyway, this is not a popular stand, I know, but you might really want to look at it. I realize your wife may be someone who truly loves her job and would truly hate staying home. But sometimes a very hard look needs to be taken at the reality of two spouses working when they have kids who require all day childcare.
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sadiesworld Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:19 AM
Response to Original message
11. Yes, we're saving very little and, no, you're not alone.
Edited on Mon Oct-03-05 10:20 AM by sadiesworld
Our situation is not dire at this point (probably good compared to many), but I am having an increasingly difficult time finding places to cut the fat. We gave up dinners out, new vehicles, real vacations, etc. some time ago. I try buying cheaper on necessary items but that often just seems to cost more in the long run when I have to rebuy sooner.

My husband's raises and bonuses have been small to non-existent in the past few years and I'm not working currently.

We're trying to fix up our house to sell and move into something smaller and cheaper. But it makes me a little crazy sometimes to continue to pour money into it in the hopes of saving money later with a smaller mortgage.

Honestly, if we're having trouble (given my husband's decent salary + no kids), I can't imagine how others are making it.

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Love Bug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
12. You're not alone
I'm lucky enough to be able to live below my income, but the gap narrows more and more each year with expenses going up and teeny raises (when I even get one). I've experienced living hand-to-mouth and have all sympathy for those who do.
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triguy46 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
13. Don't have all the data...
You didn't give your income, but don't think that what you are asking for is financial advice. All things equal, wages and salaries have not kept up with inflation over the past 20 years.
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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #13
17. Oh, I've read just about every book,
and I also work in the area of finance. I'm just saying that since 2001, there seems to be less and less money to do what you want with, and if there is, count on some unforseen triple-digit expense to suck it right the hell up! The argument here is that wages simply aren't keeping up with the cost of living.
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
14. you're not alone -- i'm still saving but at a much
smaller rate than in the past 5 years.

it's really pissing me -- that's also my get away money -- and if i can't get away, i'm really unhappy.

it's expenses like gas -- stuff like that is blowing a hole in my budgets.
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truebrit71 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:36 AM
Response to Original message
15. You are most definitely NOT alone...
Edited on Mon Oct-03-05 10:39 AM by truebrit71
..just recently thinks have started to tighten up around my household too....

...and isn't it always the way, that juuuuuust when you think you've got both nostrils above water...along comes another $400 problem that has to be fixed....

Sod's Law, that...

Keep your chin up.

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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:36 AM
Response to Original message
16. You are not alone
the middle class is methodically being destroyed.

Add several years of chronic unemployment to your mix and that's where many of us find ourselves.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 11:44 AM
Response to Original message
18. You me and millions of others are all experiencing the same thing.
I'm talking to my lawyer today to see if we got my BK filing in in time. They have been lying for @ least 8 years about inflation. Prices and profits are way up, salaries are stagnant @ best, and benefits have been reduced or cut out.
Welcome to the Un-united Serfs of Amerika.
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spinbaby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 11:53 AM
Response to Original message
19. I hear ya
By rights, DH and I should be better off than most--we've both got "good" jobs with benefits and have been steadily employed. But neither of us has had a raise since 2000 and expenses are getting outrageous. What was a comfortable living at the end of the Clinton era is getting to feel very tight.

This morning on the Lynn Cullen show, a minister said that homelessness in Pittsburgh has DOUBLED since June. I believe it.

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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #19
23. That's just it . ..
the other day, my wife said "why don't you get a second job"? I mean, we're about 20 years away from even looking at the word "comfortable", but Jesus, we aren't exactly earning a pauper's wage either. During Clinton, if we had made comparatively this much, we would be sitting pretty. Now I have to get a second JOB to simply pay BILLS, even though both of our salaries went up a little?

It's just that I always thought that once we got more money things would be better, but they're pretty much going from being the exact same as 4 years ago (when I got a new job after being unemployed for 5 months - another gem of the Bush-ministration that many have experienced already) to getting worse.
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KurtNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 12:00 PM
Response to Original message
21. And credit card debt is exploding
since many people put their gasoline on credit.
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newportdadde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
22. Your not alone it is the damn gas and food.
Edited on Mon Oct-03-05 12:02 PM by newportdadde
No inflation my ass. I did a monthly calculation of my gas bill. We take two 120 mile round trips a month along with my daily commute of 26 miles round trip and my wife short trips. Doing the math I'm taking an extra 100 bucks a month hit on gas cost compare to 3 years ago. That wipes out my raise/cola for last year.

At the same time my insurance premiums went up 50% which takes out another decent sized chunk, about half of a cola.

We are still better off then many, I'm still saving 10%, but I've cut everything else. No new computer every 3 years etc. Hell I've even setup auto bill pay to save stamp costs and switched to cash back credit cards which I charge everything too including medical, car insurance etc to get the 1%/5% back then pay off at the end of the month.

I have one suggestion, I do not know how much your wife makes, she is a social worker so I figure thats comparitive to my wife who was a teacher. My wife is staying home because she took home 1800 a month and daycare just didn't make that cost effective. Since we are a 20 month old and are excepting twins in Feb there is no way she could work(2300 a month daycare approx). Just thought I would throw that out there.

So no your not alone, frankly there isn't a whole hell of a lot left for me to cut, which is pretty sad. No movies, eating out etc my 'personal luxury' is a 23 buck a month online game rental and just one bill(new brakes) wacks down our savings for a good while.
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Kaylee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
24. Definitely not alone, we are hurting....
Although we make more, after paying for our mortgage, daycare, gas, food etc. There is nothing left.

Like you say it is not mis-management, it is that the price of everything has gone up.
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