Now, before you jump to any conclusions, I would like to provide some background information on myself. I make $39,000 ($2,700/mo less tax); I have $40,000 in student loan debt ($500/mo), $8,000 ($300/mo) in car debt, and own a 1,000 sqft home for $110,000 ($700/mo). I’d place myself in lower middle-class. I give you this information so that you understand that I am nowhere close to that 1%. No, I am not struggling to put food on the table, but I do have some insight, based on what I’ve observed since graduating, worth sharing.
With the advent of the “1%” and the recent tax cuts, I have seen a large influx of people complaining about the “system” and how it is rigged to help the elites. I do not wish to completely dismiss that. I do believe there is certainly room for improvement; however, most of the complaints/arguments that I’ve seen, recently, are nothing more than comments from the peanut gallery. It’s a lot easier to sit back and complain about everything instead of getting off your lazy a** and making some changes. In the grand scheme of things, the “well-off” people got where they are today through hard work and smart financial decisions. I know this is going to upset a lot of people, but deep down, they know they only have themselves to blame. I’m going to address a few of the “major” arguments I see, as well as, share some of my own mistakes.
I’ll start with my own mistakes so that you know that i’m not just playing the “armchair financial adviser”. Based on the financial information provided at the beginning: I should not have bought a new car, and I should not have bought a house. These were not the best decisions, given my income. So why did I make this mistake? Because I wanted to do what everyone else was doing. Sure, new cars are great and all, but in reality, it is one of the worst investments. Cars do not gain value. You have lost money the minute it drives off the lot; not to mention the full-coverage car insurance required and the interest on the financing. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes, I can think of, that plagues people’s finances. If I see you driving around in a brand new Challenger and you come to me complaining about how hard it is to make ends meet…let’s just say you won’t get any sympathy from me, and leave it at that.
One of the biggest problems is that marketing has taught you that you need everything! Latest iPhone, newest gaming system, best clothes, a nice car, your own house, the best food, etc.; however, when you are struggling to make ends meet, you have to make cuts. People are too prideful to make these cuts, however. That is a huge part of the problem. People truly do not understand the basics of managing money. I am willing to admit that it is not entirely their own fault; they don’t teach this kind of stuff in school, strangely enough.
On a final note, I was able to avoid one major financial pitfall: credit card debt. Credit card debt should be avoided at all costs. The astronomical interest rates ensure that you never escape the debt! Now, I understand that there may be absolute emergencies that may warrant this, although there are usually safer options, but that requires some effort; however, I know so many people that go into credit card debt buying the stupid sh** mentioned above. Again, you won’t get any sympathy from me.
“I’d be much better off if it wasn’t for all these taxes”
If you paid no taxes at all, you would be in the exact same situation. All that extra money would end up going towards buying more useless crap for yourself, I’m just being real. And I don’t buy the “rich people should pay more taxes”. They already pay significantly more taxes than you do, and why? Most wealthy individual busted their butts to get where they are today, and they have to pay more in taxes because lazy people are envious. Yes, there are exception, for example, the son that inherits his father’s assets, okay, but that doesn’t make up the majority. I can’t remember where I read this, my apologies, but if all the wealth was taken and distributed evenly to all people today, within 5 years, it would all be back where it was originally. This is because some people are willing to put for the effort and work hard, and also make sound financial decisions, others, not so much.
“The ‘system’ is keeping me down”
You’re keeping yourself down because you are lazy. Everyone I know, that complains about not making enough money, goes home at the end of their shift and plops down on the couch and watches TV or plays video games, and eats. Do you really think things are going to magically change for the better? This is one of the greatest things about America: you are in full control of your own destiny, for real. Don’t buy into the lie that the system prevents you from doing just that. It’s important to remember: you only get what you put into it. You need to actually put forth an effort.
“If only my boss paid me more”
This is the fun part about a free market. You can go somewhere else. If you are not getting paid what you think you should, there are two possible reasons: 1. You are a crap employee, but have somehow convinced yourself you are God’s gift to the company… 2. You’re employer sucks, so you should find a new one. If I’m an employer, and no one wants to work for me, it will clue me in that perhaps I do not pay enough for the work being done, or I just suck in general. The people that are most successful at my work are going above and beyond to help the company. How can you possibly say that, you deserve more, when you are sitting in the break room complaining how unfair it is?!
Conclusion and Concession
If you want to succeed, quit being lazy; also, do a little research on proper money management; it will go a long ways. If people followed these two simple ideas, I truly believe that we would see a significant drop in the infamous “wealth gap”. I’d love to be proven wrong, so why not try it out first before calling me an idiot. I am willing to concede this: there people out there that truly have been dealt a losing hand, and we need to do our part to help them, but I refuse to help those that are not willing to help themselves. You reap what you sow.