The author makes an argument that when we complain about being broke or poor, we are actually not REALLY broke or poor.
“I’ve seen women here on LearnVest and in my daily life complain about making $40,000 a year, saying that’s not enough to support themselves (to which I would add: “in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed”).”
She goes on to say:
There are middle class people who say they just can’t live in D.C. or New York City on $40,000 a year, but there are also people in those same places living on minimum wage. Take a look at the invisible people around you who make your life tick–your cleaners, the person making your drinks, your interns–and imagine how they make ends meet.
It’s a choice that you make to feel disadvantaged. If you make $33,000 a year, the truth is, you are actually in the top 50% of wage-earners.
Basically, the gist is that you really aren’t that broke. That 40k a year in an expensive city does make a broke girl not.
I sort of get what she is trying to say. Yes, there are people in much worse situations, and that it’s a good idea to keep your own reality in perceptive, but as humans we are much more complicated than that, and you can’t just say someone making a pretty crappy salary in an expensive city should just be OK with that. Everyone has their own definition of broke.
Let’s take my situation. I made around 72k at my last full time job and live in LA. I was very comfortable with the life that salary provided me. I had benefits, saved for a rainy day, and participated in my company’s 401k plan.
Last year I brought home 46k in freelance work, and that was double what I made in my first year of freelancing. Ouch. No wonder I blew through my emergency fund.
Did I make stupid financial mistakes during that time? Absolutely! Nothing I can do about it now though except learn from my mistakes. Should I be satisfied and content with 46k, hell no! Sorry, but no. Not in this city!
Because to me my definition of being broke has to do with my life choices. I’ve learned to live with a lot less and appreciate more of what I do have, but I want more out of life than money can currently provide. Is that wrong?
I want a car (used, slightly beat up, old-don’t care as long as it runs), a safe and comfortable place to live, some decent clothes and beauty routines, hobbies I enjoy, traveling, and the occasional splurge on a massage. I’m not asking for a mansion in Beverly Hills.
Maybe it was my comfortable middle-class upbringing that I have to blame for making me so entitled. I’m not sure, but what money represents to me is freedom to make choices of how I want to live.
I’m sure the author of the article would also frown upon the fact that I consider myself to be “broke” even though I have between 100 and 200k in investments for retirement. But to me, that money is off limits for either retirement, or possibly buying property someday. And I’m nowhere near close to being happy that at 41. I really should have more in that account.
So again, am I one day away or one paycheck away from living on the streets? No, of course not. But I’m not going to lie and say I’m going to be happy with what I’m currently making either. It’s what motivates me to push ahead and keep trying until I do reach a level of satisfaction. And in the meantime I will do my damnedest to always make the best of my situation.
How do you define being broke or poor in your own life?