Apparently Americans think a family of four NEEDS $58,000 to get by in today’s world and I think that is outrageous. Why? American’s have lost sight of what is a need versus what is a want. Granted, everyone will strive for nicer versions of needs, but those nicer versions are wants. The base model is the need. People are out of touch.
If I HAD to (and I stress had to because I wouldn’t want to, but I would) and I had a family of four I could get by on a lot less. Would life be perfect, or even partially ideal? No, but we’d survive and I’d provide a decent life for my kids until I could increase my income. So why do American’s these days think they need so much money for a family of four to get by?
Depending on where you live, housing can be really expensive. Most people want to live in a certain area and generally those areas aren’t always the cheapest. However, if I HAD to get by, I’d move to one of the cheapest places I could find that would get a roof over my family’s head that was somewhat safe.
You probably wouldn’t be able to find a safe area in New York City on a minimum wage job, and I get that. But, if that is the case, WHY ARE YOU STILL IN NEW YORK CITY?! Pick your family up and move to an area with jobs and a lower cost of living. Is it ideal? No, but I’d do it if I had to get by.
With a house you’ll likely have utility bills as well. Do everything you can to keep them as low as possible. Yes, it’d be awesome to keep your house at 72 degrees all year round, but in the sweltering Florida summers it costs a lot of money. Set your thermostat to 78 or 80 degrees or, better yet, keep the AC off all together if you can. Use fans and hang out outside in the shade to keep cool.
If you’re struggling to get by, you can’t afford to eat out. Period. I like eating out, it is a nice change of pace, but if I HAD to live on much less, we’d cut out eating out. In fact, we’d cut out some of the more expensive foods at the grocery store.
We wouldn’t be eating gourmet or even what some people consider decent meals at home either. We’d eat a well balanced diet using some of the cheaper foods such as beans, rice and on sale produce. It isn’t ideal, but we’d do what we had to to get by.
People like new clothes, and I get that. I prefer purchasing new clothes as well, but I still shop at Goodwill often when I find something I like. The problem is, when I’m struggling to get by, I’m not going to be buying things I like. I’m buying things to fulfill a need, a specific purpose. The clothes at Goodwill are normally more than enough to get by.
If there is a specific job related piece of clothing you need, do the best you can to find it used or on sale. Otherwise, why would you buy any clothing new unless it is a bargain basement price?
You’ll need to get around if you’re trying to get by. You have to get to your job after all! If I was struggling to get by, I definitely wouldn’t have a new car. If I had a car at all, it’d likely be worth less than $5,000 and be almost a decade old. I’d probably try to avoid all of the costs that come with a car, but that isn’t always possible in areas with poor public transportation.
If public transportation is an option, I’d take that. If it was unreliable, I’d try to live closer to work and ride a cheap bicycle I bought in a garage sale or walk to work. If it rains, that sucks… but I’m struggling to get by and that’s my reality.
This is where the outrage lies. People struggling to get buy shouldn’t have smartphones with data plans unless it is paid for by work or it is a requirement of your decent paying job. Smart phones are not a necessity. In fact, basic cell phones aren’t even a necessity. Prepaid cell phones? Also not a necessity. Believe it or not, people got along just fine before cell phones existed and you can too. If I was struggling to get by, a land-line or a cheaper prepaid phone would be my phone of choice.
TV and Cable
Another thing you shouldn’t have if you’re truly struggling? A flat screen HDTV. Wait… how about any TV? And there is no way you should have cable. What value does TV or cable have other than entertainment? Not much for most people. If I were struggling to get by, I wouldn’t have either one. It’d suck, but I’m struggling, not living a life of luxury and entertainment.
What about computers? If you’re using it to better you situation I could see the argument for one, but I wouldn’t be paying for a high end one. I’d get the cheapest computer possible that fulfills my need to better myself to make more money. If possible, I’d avoid paying for internet by using free WiFi at local businesses. It isn’t a long term solution, but until I’m not struggling anymore, I’d do it if I HAD to.
Giving gifts is not something you do if you’re struggling to get by. Giving gifts is a nice gesture, but many people have grown to expect them which kind of defeats the purpose. I’d love to be able to give my kids Christmas presents, but if I’m struggling to get by, that isn’t an option. Sorry kids!
If I was TRULY struggling and I absolutely HAD to, I wouldn’t get any pets and any of my current pets would find a better home. Pets are EXPENSIVE! Hopefully you’d have a relative that could keep them until things got better, but if I couldn’t afford pets I’m sure there are plenty of people that would be able to take better care of them than I could. After all, I’d be struggling and be pulling any strings possible just to get by.
Scraping By Is Not a Fun Reality
Just barely getting by would be an absolutely horrible reality and I’m lucky that I haven’t ever had to be in that situation. If I was, I’d be doing everything I could to get above just getting by. I’d be working my butt off and finding a way to learn the skills to get a better paying job and move up. However, until I started moving up, I’d be focusing on my needs while I was struggling to get by… not what American’s think they need today.
What do you think an average American family of four needs to get by. I’m not talking about the wants, I’m talking about the needs to live and provide for your family on a basic level? Do you think some of my assumptions are outrageous? If so, call me out! I want to know your opinion!