Author Topic: Why Americans Feel so Poor  (Read 3844 times)

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3426
Why Americans Feel so Poor
« on: January 23, 2023, 06:54:23 PM »
Life insurance premiums for a child?
$240/mo for phones?
~$1600/mo for two cars?

Imma just drop this here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCQiywN7pH4


valsecito

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 115
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2023, 05:07:38 AM »
The black lady actually stated $280 for phones, and $60 for internet. She also mentions nice effiency apartments across the street from work at $2400 being completely unaffordable. Her current suburb townhouse is $1700.

I don't know her exact circumstances, but at first sight, it looks as if an easy solution is available to bridge the $700 gap. Dumping one of the vehicles frees up 600$/month. Getting slightly less expensive phones frees up another 100$.

ixtap

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4069
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2023, 09:05:43 AM »
The black lady actually stated $280 for phones, and $60 for internet. She also mentions nice effiency apartments across the street from work at $2400 being completely unaffordable. Her current suburb townhouse is $1700.

I don't know her exact circumstances, but at first sight, it looks as if an easy solution is available to bridge the $700 gap. Dumping one of the vehicles frees up 600$/month. Getting slightly less expensive phones frees up another 100$.

The markets I have been in for the last several years have charged a premium for studios. They are at least as much as a one bedroom and I have even seen them for slightly more than a one bedroom in the same complex.

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3426
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2023, 09:34:46 AM »
Yes, where I am as well the cost difference between and one bedroom and a 2 or 3 bedroom is also pretty thin. She definitely was cherry picking her complaint there.

A quick search shows that the average rent for a 2-bedroom apt in Plano is $2K. 2 bedrooms is realistically a nice, luxurious pad for a family with one child! And that middle of the road, $2K rent apt complex probably has a pool, and maybe even a gym! No one expects her to live in a roach motel, but Plano is only 72 square miles, so about 7 miles by 10 miles! Difficult to believe that none of those reasonably nice $2K/mo apartments are very near to where she works. They make six figures . . . despite her version of events, they have lots of money left for wants after meeting true needs.

This whole documentary was just hard for me to watch. There's the "we don't have it as good as our parents" theme of the middle class getting squeezed out running through the narration, but then they show graphs with inflation adjusted average wages staying constant. So people are being paid roughly the same. I get that some things have had huge inflation (most notably attending college, and healthcare if you are American), but other things just keep getting more and more affordable.

Like a bottle of Coca cola is way more affordable relative to average wages than it was for my grandparents, despite the recent hand wringing about food inflation. High speed computers are much more affordable over time. Heck, having phone service is more affordable than ever if you aren't stupid about it, and now that phone service includes free long distance calls and it is a supercomputer too! Most people in US/Canada can be "live via satellite" now in video conversations with friends if you think about it. Insanely luxurious.

Relative to inflation, clothes are cheaper than ever, furniture is cheaper than ever. Believe it or not, the inflation adjusted price of gasoline is flat if you look at a graph of the last 100 years. Thus more and more people have not just one, but two cars . . . so they can complain about the short term rising prices of gasoline. It's a huge list!

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 21161
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2023, 10:16:09 AM »
It shouldn't cost anywhere near 240$ a month for a voip phone.  They're available for 10$ a month around here and Canada is not exactly known for good phone rates.

Life insurance for a kid is bizarre.  As a parent I don't think I need any additional motivation to murder my child.

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1512
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2023, 10:31:46 AM »
My husband still has a whole-life policy that his parents took out for him when he was an infant. I believe their idea was that when he was small, it would pay for his funeral if, God forbid, he should die while they were still starting out and didn't have the cash for a big expense. Then later it would become an "investment" (I use the term loosely). He looked into cashing it out but it was kind of a hassle, so he just changed the beneficiary to me.

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3426
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2023, 11:11:34 AM »
^Imma guess the business model on that is that parents take out the life insurance for baby, promptly either forget they have it or it gets lost in their piles of paperwork, parents die before child and no one else ever finds out that the policy still exists. Easy money.

ATtiny85

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 412
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2023, 11:21:40 AM »
Ah yes, the popular "plant policy." Just enough to cover you in dirt. My parents had one on me, and I believe the finally turned it in to "their guy." No idea what the final disposition was.

tygertygertyger

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 549
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2023, 12:10:20 PM »
^Imma guess the business model on that is that parents take out the life insurance for baby, promptly either forget they have it or it gets lost in their piles of paperwork, parents die before child and no one else ever finds out that the policy still exists. Easy money.

My parents took of these out for me. (I am very middle-aged now). Several years back, my mom decided it was on me to take over the annual payments. It's like $60 a year. I think the payout would be like 5k.

I asked the guy who handles it once about the investment part of it, and he spoke very quickly and I got nothing from his speech other than him urging me to definitely keep it.

I've honestly just been too uninterested to cash it out, though I believe my siblings did a long time ago.

Michael in ABQ

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2157
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2023, 01:08:35 PM »
I think I have $10k of coverage on each of my kids along with a $100k policy for my wife. This is through the Army, so I think the kids policies are free with the $7/month for my wife's policy. Those are just term policies. Basically enough to cover funeral expenses. When I leave the Army I definitely wouldn't pay for a policy for my kids - and absolutely not whole life "insurance".

snic

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 125
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2023, 04:53:12 PM »
I've always found it bizarre to take out life insurance on a child. If my kid died, the absolute last thing on my mind would be money for a funeral. I think if I had to pay my entire life savings for it I wouldn't care at all.

My FIL did take out whole life policies on all his family members years ago, and they did provide nice low-6-figure death benefits when he and my MIL died. And my wife's policy is still in effect (and the dividends now pay the entire premium cost). But I suspect that if my FIL had simply invested the premiums in the stock market, the value of these policies would actually be more at this point.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2023, 06:16:43 PM »
I suspect the reason we feel poor is because we borrow a bunch of money to pretend we're rich and compound interest is a bitch...

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

Just do a little math using their there numbers:

Any type of debt*   $165,388   $16.51 trillion   +7.65%
* This debt can include mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, credit cards, student loans and other household debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

165k @ 7.65% means the average American is paying about 12.5k a year in interest alone or 1k per month. That's nearly 1/5th of the median income and each of us not contributing to that debt number but adding to the income number is someone else is paying even more.

There are good reasons to borrow money, but it seems pretty clear the average American doesn't know the difference between good reason and bad reasons.

LD_TAndK

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2023, 05:46:45 AM »
165k @ 7.65% means the average American is paying about 12.5k a year in interest alone or 1k per month

Note that 7.65% number is the increase from 2021 to 2022 of overall debt, not APR. Which is still shocking, Americans are rapidly taking on more debt. I guess that is in line with inflation? Even more shocking is credit card debt increased 28.73% year over year!

No idea what the actual average APR for all US debt is, mortgages make up 70% of the total debt so hopefully it's far less than 7.65% APR

sonofsven

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1296
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2023, 07:39:36 AM »
165k @ 7.65% means the average American is paying about 12.5k a year in interest alone or 1k per month

Note that 7.65% number is the increase from 2021 to 2022 of overall debt, not APR. Which is still shocking, Americans are rapidly taking on more debt. I guess that is in line with inflation? Even more shocking is credit card debt increased 28.73% year over year!

No idea what the actual average APR for all US debt is, mortgages make up 70% of the total debt so hopefully it's far less than 7.65% APR
Doubtful! I get mailers consistently advertising debt consolidation/lines of credit (because I churn cc's and sometimes get turned down for new ones they think I'm desperate?) and the interest rates are generally 7.99% and up.
And cc's are often 23-29% (gulp).

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2494
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2023, 08:51:12 AM »
165k @ 7.65% means the average American is paying about 12.5k a year in interest alone or 1k per month

Note that 7.65% number is the increase from 2021 to 2022 of overall debt, not APR. Which is still shocking, Americans are rapidly taking on more debt. I guess that is in line with inflation? Even more shocking is credit card debt increased 28.73% year over year!

No idea what the actual average APR for all US debt is, mortgages make up 70% of the total debt so hopefully it's far less than 7.65% APR

The thing about all this additional debt is that it's not uniformly distributed across the population. Suppose there's a national personal debt increase of USD$332M over some time period. With the US population of roughly 332 million, that's an additional USD$1 for every man, woman, and child. That's really no big deal, *if* the debt is distributed uniformly. But we all know it's not. The debt is concentrated in mortgages, student loans, vehicle loans, credit cards, and-- for some-- medical debt. But there are families that don't carry debt at all, whose homes are paid for, who pay cash for everything. Not all of them live high on the hog, but there are people who aren't in debt and who aren't taking on any more. There are also people who make use of leverage for investment purposes to generate cash flow that is net positive. But there are far more people who are basically debt-slaves.

In a truly free market economy, when the cost to exchange decreases money and resources distribute in more of a Zipf fashion than a standard-normal bell curve. That may be mathematically optimal, but it's not socially optimal because starving people eventually revolt and take what they need. In the US the majority of the financial and legal system happens to benefit investors as opposed to workers, lenders as opposed to borrowers, and financially independent people as opposed to debt slaves. Trouble is, this economy *does* require at least some debt-slavery for us to get our grease. This is part of the reason why the myth of "good debt" has survived as long as it has, and why people are willing to borrow six figures for an advanced degree in underwater basket weaving without having independent means and without any possibility of leveraging that degree to find work that will pay for the debt acquired to obtain it.

Student loan debt tends to be heavier in three clusters of people. The first group is the people who have borrowed big for extremely lucrative degrees (medicine comes to mind), who do in fact obtain those degrees, and who can pay them off without what any of us would consider serious financial stress. Nobody needs to worry about them because they have the situation under control. The same can be said of most graduates of a journeyman program or community college. The amount of debt they graduate with is manageable given their earning potential.

The second group of student loan debtors is the group of people who borrow heavily proportionately to their earning potential. Private colleges and trade schools charge tens of thousands of dollars more than equivalent public schools, and they market aggressively to women and minorities from disadvantaged backgrounds, who either didn't take the usual aptitude tests or who didn't graduate from high school and obtained an online degree or a GED. In exchange for waiving the usual entrance requirements such as the remedial math, English, and other training necessary to ensure their academic readiness, the student obtains a very structured experience which, if they pass and complete the degree, will produce a marketable credential. But the debt to earning ratio is quite low for these graduates, who will struggle to live independently even if they obtain employment. They do best when they cooperate with, and are significantly supported by, somebody else. Luckily most of them come from the kind of background where relying on other people is a reasonable thing to do. Their children tend to be raised with more opportunity. But unfortunately this group of people tends to have the kind of short-term gratification mentality that makes them good debt slaves. They tend to have vices such as tobacco, alcohol, and compulsive shopping. It's the same value system that kept them from finishing high school and taking a more professional-class route through education.

The final group of student loan debtors, which I fear is where most of the debt may be concentrated, is the people who don't end up with a credential that will generate enough income to pay off the debt while providing a non-starvation standard of living. This includes people who drop out and never graduate, people who graduate with a credential that doesn't generate the income necessary for it to pay for itself, and people who graduate with a credential for which the market is over-saturated to the point where they can't obtain employment in their field or market their skills well enough as entrepreneurs. These people tend to burn out. They tend to lack support systems and to end up in a never-ending grind where they struggle so constantly to keep up. They are the most vulnerable to conspicuous consumption culture, and they are more likely to have untreated mental health problems or addictions.

In our financial system, people volunteer to be debt slaves. Conspicuous consumption is trendy and large numbers of people subscribe to the "treat yo'self" mentality of emphasizing short-term thrills at the expense of long-term financial stability or even of paying their bills. It's trendy and cool to be evicted for not paying rent, or to apply for food stamps because there's no money for food after the professional armpit-waxing and gargantuan cell phone bills have been paid. Debt slaves aren't afraid to rack up debt because they truly believe that if things get bad enough and they bibble-babble hard enough, someone will swoop down in a golden chariot, rescue them from the predictable consequences of their own actions, wipe their butts, and set them free to go out and repeat the exact same mistakes. This belief invariably has some basis in fact.

I don't think that we have the wherewithal to dethrone conspicuous consumption, but Mustachians do have the ability to spread the word that THERE WILL BE NO RESCUE.

Sibley

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6758
  • Location: Northwest Indiana
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2023, 08:48:50 PM »
Well, I feel poor because the heat bill and grocery bill have gone up enough that its causing cash flow issues. Not because I don't have the cash but because I'm shoving it into savings, haven't adjusted that amount, and inflation is enough that the slack I was leaving in the checking account has been pulled tight. And the timing of all the payments mean the first half of the month I run out of cash in the checking account.

I have a car loan (interest rate under 2%), mortgage (interest rate 2%), and I pay on the parent's student loan (taken out for my education). None of that has changed. I don't carry credit card balances. It's all the rest that's gone up. And I don't want to deplete my available cash savings to pay something off for cash flow purposes because I'm going to be spending a bunch on a family trip in May. Nor do I want to change the amount going into savings every pay period. So, I just feel poor. And stubborn.

It is an excellent way to not buy stupid stuff at the grocery store though.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2023, 02:31:28 PM »
165k @ 7.65% means the average American is paying about 12.5k a year in interest alone or 1k per month

Note that 7.65% number is the increase from 2021 to 2022 of overall debt, not APR. Which is still shocking, Americans are rapidly taking on more debt. I guess that is in line with inflation? Even more shocking is credit card debt increased 28.73% year over year!

No idea what the actual average APR for all US debt is, mortgages make up 70% of the total debt so hopefully it's far less than 7.65% APR
Oops, I completely misread that!

The increase is less alarming that 20% of incoming going to debt... though I supposed it could be even worse than that.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2023, 02:43:27 PM »
I don't think that we have the wherewithal to dethrone conspicuous consumption, but Mustachians do have the ability to spread the word that THERE WILL BE NO RESCUE.

I spend three hours yesterday introducing about a dozen friends and friends of friends to the concepts of reducing consumption when it doesn't enrich life and how to make their money work for them. I have 7 topics outlined to cover with them over the next couple of months. I think this is the fifth time doing this with different groups now. It's getting a little more streamlined and polished each time. I can't fix the whole system, but I'm hopeful of having a bunch of friends who have worked their way to FI over the next decade...

stoaX

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 892
  • Location: South Carolina
  • 'tis nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2023, 10:07:05 AM »
About 13 minutes in, the chart showing wage growth as stagnant from 1972 to present was accompanied by commentary on how much more expensive things are now, with the conclusion that our standard of living has decreased.

I remember middle class North America in 1972.   Our household had 1 car, 1 TV (with 3 stations!), 1 telephone, 1200 square feet of living space, no AC, obviously no computers or cell phones,and restaurant meals were a rarity. 

It doesn't seem to me that living standards have decreased. I'm not even sure how you compare living standards from 50 years ago today.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 21161
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2023, 10:23:08 AM »
About 13 minutes in, the chart showing wage growth as stagnant from 1972 to present was accompanied by commentary on how much more expensive things are now, with the conclusion that our standard of living has decreased.

I remember middle class North America in 1972.   Our household had 1 car, 1 TV (with 3 stations!), 1 telephone, 1200 square feet of living space, no AC, obviously no computers or cell phones,and restaurant meals were a rarity. 

It doesn't seem to me that living standards have decreased. I'm not even sure how you compare living standards from 50 years ago today.

Cell phones, cable TV, and restaurant meals are a significant decrease to quality of life.  :P

zolotiyeruki

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5152
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2023, 11:33:11 AM »
I don't think that we have the wherewithal to dethrone conspicuous consumption, but Mustachians do have the ability to spread the word that THERE WILL BE NO RESCUE.

I spend three hours yesterday introducing about a dozen friends and friends of friends to the concepts of reducing consumption when it doesn't enrich life and how to make their money work for them. I have 7 topics outlined to cover with them over the next couple of months. I think this is the fifth time doing this with different groups now. It's getting a little more streamlined and polished each time. I can't fix the whole system, but I'm hopeful of having a bunch of friends who have worked their way to FI over the next decade...
What form is your presentation?  powerpoint/google slides?  Is it something you can share?

stoaX

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 892
  • Location: South Carolina
  • 'tis nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2023, 02:44:05 PM »
About 13 minutes in, the chart showing wage growth as stagnant from 1972 to present was accompanied by commentary on how much more expensive things are now, with the conclusion that our standard of living has decreased.

I remember middle class North America in 1972.   Our household had 1 car, 1 TV (with 3 stations!), 1 telephone, 1200 square feet of living space, no AC, obviously no computers or cell phones,and restaurant meals were a rarity. 

It doesn't seem to me that living standards have decreased. I'm not even sure how you compare living standards from 50 years ago today.

Cell phones, cable TV, and restaurant meals are a significant decrease to quality of life.  :P

I can't disagree!

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2023, 04:24:47 PM »
I don't think that we have the wherewithal to dethrone conspicuous consumption, but Mustachians do have the ability to spread the word that THERE WILL BE NO RESCUE.

I spend three hours yesterday introducing about a dozen friends and friends of friends to the concepts of reducing consumption when it doesn't enrich life and how to make their money work for them. I have 7 topics outlined to cover with them over the next couple of months. I think this is the fifth time doing this with different groups now. It's getting a little more streamlined and polished each time. I can't fix the whole system, but I'm hopeful of having a bunch of friends who have worked their way to FI over the next decade...
What form is your presentation?  powerpoint/google slides?  Is it something you can share?

It's just word documents with screen grabs of graphs and a few other data points grabbed for various places. Mostly I use it as a reference to keep myself from wandering too far into the weeds. It's definitely not polished or particularly well done material. I could probably share it though if you wanted to see it. If I recall the topics correctly there is an Intro with some general questions to get people thinking about money more. The second one is spending plans because I still don't like the word budget... I just don't spend money on crap i don't need. There's one on investing as a concept, one on taxes and retirement plans, and one on houses and how to evaluate if buying is right for them in a given phase of life or if they'd be better of investing the money.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2023, 04:41:07 PM »
About 13 minutes in, the chart showing wage growth as stagnant from 1972 to present was accompanied by commentary on how much more expensive things are now, with the conclusion that our standard of living has decreased.

I remember middle class North America in 1972.   Our household had 1 car, 1 TV (with 3 stations!), 1 telephone, 1200 square feet of living space, no AC, obviously no computers or cell phones,and restaurant meals were a rarity.

It doesn't seem to me that living standards have decreased. I'm not even sure how you compare living standards from 50 years ago today.


This is something that always bothers me when people start comparing the "cost of living" over the decades. It seems like there is never any attempt to account for how much the baseline for "middle class", "working poor" or "rich" has gone up.

I grew up about as poor as North America got in the 80's. We didn't have electricity until I was 7 or tv until i was 10 and that was one channel. But even the richest kids in my class didn't have near the luxuries I have today living below the median income. Classmates were so excited when their parents got satellite tv and they could watch a movie on demand. A selection of movies that someone else chose to broadcast to them... Can we still even imagine not being able to chose between more than a few different movies? The rich kids went on maybe one trip out of state a year. We go on two or three most years...  There were three options for Apples and about 7-10 for all kinds of fruit combined except during peak season, now I have 7-10 options for apples at Costco alone. My rebuilt title pickup is nicer than any car I could have dreamed up in high school.

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3426
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2023, 05:49:43 PM »
I know, right? My Prius positively floats along sipping a tiny bit of gasoline now and then.

Things like on demand entertainment subscriptions and phones (aka more entertainment) are absolutely eating people's money away. This site was such a blessing when I found it an IP's phone thread. Never looking back.

And don't even get me started on food delivery! Was there any food delivery in the 50's in most places? Besides the milkman? I remember my parents being excited about getting pizza delivery on special occasions back when the pizza places only had pizza. No wings. No breadsticks. Just pizza. My brother lives in a rural area and still can't get a pizza delivered to his house. But for people living in suburbs or cities?

Forget eating out these days, there are people who pay $10 extra to have their one Chipotle bowl driven to their doorstep . . . every. . . .single . . . day . . . even when they live in the apt complex right next to the Chipotle. Keeping a DoorDash delivery driver company on his "route" one evening, we delivered one guy a single cup of coffee (for $20, he tossed in a $6 tip) and someone else had two pieces of cheesecake delivered as the entirety of their order. Doordash has branched out to drugstores, so we delivered four "movie theater" style boxes of candy from CVS to someone else. That completed their order. A little bag of candy. Coffee guy at least appeared pretty loaded, although who really know. Cheesecake people seemed broker than broke and not the money generating kind of broker. My companion driver seemed kind of disgusted with people and I quipped "Well, you never really know why people are getting four boxes of sour patch kids and swedish fish delivered. Maybe they just had double knee surgery and they need a treat and can't walk?" Trying to give everyone the benefit of the doubt here, but it is hard to do a job like that for even a few nights and then hear people complain that there is no middle class anymore.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2023, 06:16:12 PM by Zamboni »

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2023, 06:00:50 PM »
...we delivered one guy a single cup of coffee (for $20, he tossed in a $6 tip) and someone else had two pieces of cheesecake delivered as the entirety of their order....

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where I would be comfortable doing this? $26 for a cup of coffee? That's almost exactly what I pay for a 5 lb bag of locally roasted beans at Costco... Besides, even if I were a billionaire, it has to take almost as long to order a cup, pay for it and tip as it would take to make it? And that's not even including waiting time...

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3426
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2023, 06:22:32 PM »
And I'd be shocked if it was suitably warm by the time we got it to him. . .
                                                    a boatload of cash for a lukewarm fancy coffee.

That was the worst one, to be honest. But he actually gave off a loaded workaholic vibe. The cheesecake people and some of the places where we delivered MacDonald's were more concerning to me.

I stand by my conjecture that the little sack of candy people had just had bilateral knee surgery.

I honestly had the urge to order wing delivery tonight. And then I remember that the wings will probably arrive cold. And then I thought I'd order online and drive to the wings place for takeout, but it seemed awfully expensive. So I thought about cooking the frozen wings in my freezer and ended up going with some of the frozen shrimp with Palak Paneer. Completely delicious.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2023, 08:22:36 PM »
I just heated up some left over boiled potatoes with cheese and bacon... It's like a loaded baked potato, but with smaller more delicious home grown potatoes for 1/10 the price.

To be fair this is probably why we both have trouble imagining using uber eats...

Michael in ABQ

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2157
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2023, 09:07:44 PM »
...we delivered one guy a single cup of coffee (for $20, he tossed in a $6 tip) and someone else had two pieces of cheesecake delivered as the entirety of their order....

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where I would be comfortable doing this? $26 for a cup of coffee? That's almost exactly what I pay for a 5 lb bag of locally roasted beans at Costco... Besides, even if I were a billionaire, it has to take almost as long to order a cup, pay for it and tip as it would take to make it? And that's not even including waiting time...

I've never used a meal delivery service - other than having pizza delivered and even that is maybe once a year. It's hard to spend $35 to have a couple of pizzas delivered when I can pick up a pizza from Costco for $10 that will feed the whole family. I just can't fathom spending $10-15 to get a $10-15 meal (for 1-2 people) delivered.

Dave1442397

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1511
  • Location: NJ
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2023, 05:50:06 AM »
Last time I used Uber was in Montreal in 2016. I still get junk email trying to get me to sign up for Uber Eats with a CAD$30 coupon.

I can't imagine spending crazy amounts of money to have food delivered, especially when it's probably going to arrive cold anyway. I ordered food for pickup at a local pizza place a few weeks ago, and they use an app called Slice for ordering. I created an order, and then saw that Slice charged $0.95 for using the app, so I just called to place my order instead, for free.

Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2023, 07:29:24 AM »
And I'd be shocked if it was suitably warm by the time we got it to him. . .
                                                    a boatload of cash for a lukewarm fancy coffee.

That was the worst one, to be honest. But he actually gave off a loaded workaholic vibe. The cheesecake people and some of the places where we delivered MacDonald's were more concerning to me.

I stand by my conjecture that the little sack of candy people had just had bilateral knee surgery.

I honestly had the urge to order wing delivery tonight. And then I remember that the wings will probably arrive cold. And then I thought I'd order online and drive to the wings place for takeout, but it seemed awfully expensive. So I thought about cooking the frozen wings in my freezer and ended up going with some of the frozen shrimp with Palak Paneer. Completely delicious.

My building has a lot of students in it and they are constantly having McDonald's or equivalent fast food delivered. And what's worse is that it's constantly being forgotten and left in the lobby.

So that like $35+ for a single serving of McDonalds and it's just being forgotten. Constantly. This happens several times a week.

economista

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 956
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Colorado
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #31 on: February 02, 2023, 07:31:25 AM »
Sometimes there is a good reason to have food delivered. My husband and I have "date night" once per month. We do not have a reliable babysitter so instead we order a fancy dinner to be delivered at bedtime through uber eats. It's usually sushi or bonefish grill. The cost of delivery is less than the cost of a babysitter, and it is much more enjoyable to sit in our pajamas and watch a movie while we eat yummy food without a toddler crawling all over us.

Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2023, 07:44:44 AM »
Sometimes there is a good reason to have food delivered. My husband and I have "date night" once per month. We do not have a reliable babysitter so instead we order a fancy dinner to be delivered at bedtime through uber eats. It's usually sushi or bonefish grill. The cost of delivery is less than the cost of a babysitter, and it is much more enjoyable to sit in our pajamas and watch a movie while we eat yummy food without a toddler crawling all over us.

Sure, and I like to order delivery when I'm horribly sick. Of course there are exceptions. But the fact that there are some cases for a service doesn't detract at all from the fact that the vast majority of use of said service is wasteful and downright crazy.

I mean, we have an active thread *right now* here on a frugality forum of someone asking for advice on what to cook when they're feeling lazy so they they can stop ordering restaurant delivery so regularly.

It's become such a normal cultural thing to practically live on delivered food that tv characters now regularly are portrayed as almost exclusively living on Postmates.

It's fucking insane.

economista

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 956
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Colorado
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #33 on: February 02, 2023, 07:54:06 AM »
Sometimes there is a good reason to have food delivered. My husband and I have "date night" once per month. We do not have a reliable babysitter so instead we order a fancy dinner to be delivered at bedtime through uber eats. It's usually sushi or bonefish grill. The cost of delivery is less than the cost of a babysitter, and it is much more enjoyable to sit in our pajamas and watch a movie while we eat yummy food without a toddler crawling all over us.

Sure, and I like to order delivery when I'm horribly sick. Of course there are exceptions. But the fact that there are some cases for a service doesn't detract at all from the fact that the vast majority of use of said service is wasteful and downright crazy.

I mean, we have an active thread *right now* here on a frugality forum of someone asking for advice on what to cook when they're feeling lazy so they they can stop ordering restaurant delivery so regularly.

It's become such a normal cultural thing to practically live on delivered food that tv characters now regularly are portrayed as almost exclusively living on Postmates.

It's fucking insane.

This is true and I agree with you. I just feel like sometimes on this forum everyone continues to pile on and it trends toward all or nothing thinking. I was just pointing out that sometimes there are ways to use a service like this in a reasonable manner.

Fomerly known as something

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1458
  • Location: CA
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #34 on: February 02, 2023, 08:14:37 AM »
...we delivered one guy a single cup of coffee (for $20, he tossed in a $6 tip) and someone else had two pieces of cheesecake delivered as the entirety of their order....

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where I would be comfortable doing this? $26 for a cup of coffee? That's almost exactly what I pay for a 5 lb bag of locally roasted beans at Costco... Besides, even if I were a billionaire, it has to take almost as long to order a cup, pay for it and tip as it would take to make it? And that's not even including waiting time...

I can see exactly when Id get it.  It would be traveling for work either early morning or late at night.  But Id likely be chipping in for the whole crew to buy a box of coffee delivered from somewhere vs one cups.

Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2023, 08:56:42 AM »
Sometimes there is a good reason to have food delivered. My husband and I have "date night" once per month. We do not have a reliable babysitter so instead we order a fancy dinner to be delivered at bedtime through uber eats. It's usually sushi or bonefish grill. The cost of delivery is less than the cost of a babysitter, and it is much more enjoyable to sit in our pajamas and watch a movie while we eat yummy food without a toddler crawling all over us.

Sure, and I like to order delivery when I'm horribly sick. Of course there are exceptions. But the fact that there are some cases for a service doesn't detract at all from the fact that the vast majority of use of said service is wasteful and downright crazy.

I mean, we have an active thread *right now* here on a frugality forum of someone asking for advice on what to cook when they're feeling lazy so they they can stop ordering restaurant delivery so regularly.

It's become such a normal cultural thing to practically live on delivered food that tv characters now regularly are portrayed as almost exclusively living on Postmates.

It's fucking insane.

This is true and I agree with you. I just feel like sometimes on this forum everyone continues to pile on and it trends toward all or nothing thinking. I was just pointing out that sometimes there are ways to use a service like this in a reasonable manner.

Huh, in my decade here I haven't found that. I actually find this forum tends to lean very far into the pattern of discussing all of the exceptions and justifications for various spending choices.

Many, many years ago a mentioning a $600 blender would get you a face punch, but for the last 5 years it will mostly get a pile-on of how you just can't get sauces smooth enough in a regular blender.

A post about seeing Hamilton 4 times turned into a Hamilton appreciation thread.

Plenty of our members have not one but multiple expensive sports cars, multiple unnecessary homes, and engage in frequent international travel.

The only consistent thing we have here about frugality is that we're wildly inconsistent about what it means, and extremely individual in terms of what it means to each of us specifically.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #36 on: February 02, 2023, 11:13:20 AM »

The only consistent thing we have here about frugality is that we're wildly inconsistent about what it means, and extremely individual in terms of what it means to each of us specifically.

I suspect this is the result of trying to optimize spending for the things that are important to each of us. I once met up with a fellow Mustachian in person and initially we were both mildly embarrassed by our own particular indulgence despite both of us having achieved FI that year. After we laughed about it for a bit we had a really fascinating conversation.


Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #37 on: February 02, 2023, 11:17:00 AM »
...we delivered one guy a single cup of coffee (for $20, he tossed in a $6 tip) and someone else had two pieces of cheesecake delivered as the entirety of their order....

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where I would be comfortable doing this? $26 for a cup of coffee? That's almost exactly what I pay for a 5 lb bag of locally roasted beans at Costco... Besides, even if I were a billionaire, it has to take almost as long to order a cup, pay for it and tip as it would take to make it? And that's not even including waiting time...

I can see exactly when Id get it.  It would be traveling for work either early morning or late at night.  But Id likely be chipping in for the whole crew to buy a box of coffee delivered from somewhere vs one cups.

Okay, I can see having coffee delivered for a team of people, especially if it were one the company or clients dime... though I'd have to be really mad at my employer to rack up $26 a cup for a whole team of people :) Like maybe if I were in DW's position right now... see the epic FU money thread.

Fomerly known as something

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1458
  • Location: CA
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #38 on: February 02, 2023, 11:45:02 AM »
...we delivered one guy a single cup of coffee (for $20, he tossed in a $6 tip) and someone else had two pieces of cheesecake delivered as the entirety of their order....

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where I would be comfortable doing this? $26 for a cup of coffee? That's almost exactly what I pay for a 5 lb bag of locally roasted beans at Costco... Besides, even if I were a billionaire, it has to take almost as long to order a cup, pay for it and tip as it would take to make it? And that's not even including waiting time...

I can see exactly when Id get it.  It would be traveling for work either early morning or late at night.  But Id likely be chipping in for the whole crew to buy a box of coffee delivered from somewhere vs one cups.

Okay, I can see having coffee delivered for a team of people, especially if it were one the company or clients dime... though I'd have to be really mad at my employer to rack up $26 a cup for a whole team of people :) Like maybe if I were in DW's position right now... see the epic FU money thread.

I did say can.  Id have to be pretty desperate to need coffee that badly and have no other alternative.  But I can see circumstances where I could do so.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #39 on: February 02, 2023, 12:03:19 PM »
...we delivered one guy a single cup of coffee (for $20, he tossed in a $6 tip) and someone else had two pieces of cheesecake delivered as the entirety of their order....

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where I would be comfortable doing this? $26 for a cup of coffee? That's almost exactly what I pay for a 5 lb bag of locally roasted beans at Costco... Besides, even if I were a billionaire, it has to take almost as long to order a cup, pay for it and tip as it would take to make it? And that's not even including waiting time...

I can see exactly when Id get it.  It would be traveling for work either early morning or late at night.  But Id likely be chipping in for the whole crew to buy a box of coffee delivered from somewhere vs one cups.

Okay, I can see having coffee delivered for a team of people, especially if it were one the company or clients dime... though I'd have to be really mad at my employer to rack up $26 a cup for a whole team of people :) Like maybe if I were in DW's position right now... see the epic FU money thread.

I did say can.  Id have to be pretty desperate to need coffee that badly and have no other alternative.  But I can see circumstances where I could do so.
That level of desperation is why I usually carry some no doze when i travel :)

Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #40 on: February 02, 2023, 02:09:10 PM »

The only consistent thing we have here about frugality is that we're wildly inconsistent about what it means, and extremely individual in terms of what it means to each of us specifically.

I suspect this is the result of trying to optimize spending for the things that are important to each of us. I once met up with a fellow Mustachian in person and initially we were both mildly embarrassed by our own particular indulgence despite both of us having achieved FI that year. After we laughed about it for a bit we had a really fascinating conversation.

Yup. I consider myself frugal, but my BFF likes to laugh at me because I impulse bought an entire second house for no real reason other than the fact that it's in a pretty location.

That's why I find it kind of funny when people think this community is black-and-white and dogmatic about anything. When I think of the vast majority of prominent posters, most have some pretty high spend, luxury lifestyle features, just like me, but different.

Some have clown houses, some have luxury cars, as I already mentioned, some travel extensively internationally, etc, etc. And yet are all cornerstone members of this evidently "frugal" community.

Especially since so many have been here for so long that they've not only hit FI, but also then OMY'd themselves into a level of wealth that they would have a hard time spending down even if they tried, to a point that an extra house or supercar here and there has zero impact on their financial security.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 21161
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #41 on: February 02, 2023, 02:10:48 PM »
I don't have a guitar problem, YOU have a guitar problem!

Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #42 on: February 02, 2023, 02:32:01 PM »
I don't have a guitar problem, YOU have a guitar problem!

I literally almost wrote about your guitars but then edited it out in favour of more generic examples! That's too funny!

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 21161
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #43 on: February 02, 2023, 02:41:30 PM »
I don't have a guitar problem, YOU have a guitar problem!

I literally almost wrote about your guitars but then edited it out in favour of more generic examples! That's too funny!

It has been weighing on my mind as a source of guilt.

Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #44 on: February 02, 2023, 03:14:19 PM »
I don't have a guitar problem, YOU have a guitar problem!

I literally almost wrote about your guitars but then edited it out in favour of more generic examples! That's too funny!

It has been weighing on my mind as a source of guilt.

That's why I didn't single you out, lol.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #45 on: February 02, 2023, 03:49:08 PM »
My former self would mock my current self for his complete lack of frugality. My current self mostly thanks my former self for his hard work, planning, and foresight, but occasionally thinks he maybe should have loosened up just a little.

Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #46 on: February 02, 2023, 04:01:11 PM »
My former self would mock my current self for his complete lack of frugality. My current self mostly thanks my former self for his hard work, planning, and foresight, but occasionally thinks he maybe should have loosened up just a little.

My former self would be super impressed that I bought such an amazing house in such an amazing location for so little. They would high five me for pulling off what they would consider a truly mustachian version of owning a second home: finding a weird version of what everyone else does that costs a tenth of the price and in many ways is actually superior.

I joke that I bought it for the change I found in the sofa.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #47 on: February 03, 2023, 10:01:51 AM »
My former self would mock my current self for his complete lack of frugality. My current self mostly thanks my former self for his hard work, planning, and foresight, but occasionally thinks he maybe should have loosened up just a little.

My former self would be super impressed that I bought such an amazing house in such an amazing location for so little. They would high five me for pulling off what they would consider a truly mustachian version of owning a second home: finding a weird version of what everyone else does that costs a tenth of the price and in many ways is actually superior.

I joke that I bought it for the change I found in the sofa.

That's awesome! Congratulations!

My second home is a tent... It's really common up here to buy a little cabin on a lake or bluff that you can't access by car to retreat to. Part of me would like one of those, but then I'd feel obligated to go to just that one single place.


Metalcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12263
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #48 on: February 03, 2023, 10:14:12 AM »
My former self would mock my current self for his complete lack of frugality. My current self mostly thanks my former self for his hard work, planning, and foresight, but occasionally thinks he maybe should have loosened up just a little.

My former self would be super impressed that I bought such an amazing house in such an amazing location for so little. They would high five me for pulling off what they would consider a truly mustachian version of owning a second home: finding a weird version of what everyone else does that costs a tenth of the price and in many ways is actually superior.

I joke that I bought it for the change I found in the sofa.

That's awesome! Congratulations!

My second home is a tent... It's really common up here to buy a little cabin on a lake or bluff that you can't access by car to retreat to. Part of me would like one of those, but then I'd feel obligated to go to just that one single place.

Yeah, if I was able-bodied I would be an adventure camper for sure. But I'm very, very much not. Lol.

I also spend months there and am part of the community. Eventually I'll start renting out the main residence when I go there and it will actually lower my overall housing costs making it legitimately a mustachian move.

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1281
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Why Americans Feel so Poor
« Reply #49 on: February 03, 2023, 10:59:43 AM »
Yeah, if I was able-bodied I would be an adventure camper for sure. But I'm very, very much not. Lol.

I also spend months there and am part of the community. Eventually I'll start renting out the main residence when I go there and it will actually lower my overall housing costs making it legitimately a mustachian move.

Fair enough! That's an excellent reason to have a fixed base somewhere you like a lot!