One of the frustrating things about reading about personal finance, is it seems that most authors assume that most people in America that are in debt, are 1) making $50,000 or more; 2) leading high-consumption lifestyles; and 3) buy wants before needs.
1) I personally do not make $50k a year. I don’t even know if Alann and I together do. I can’t go off of last year’s figures because everything is so screwy (me changing jobs, working 2 jobs, Alann working full time, then part time, then 2 jobs, etc). And I can’t figure it out based on what we make now because I just got a raise, and Alann works such screwy hours, one week he is full-time, the next week he works 10 hours again. It is rather frustrating. I think when I see how much we made last year, I will flip out. I don’t anticipate making as much as we did last year because I don’t really want a second job and Alann probably wont work full-time at all this year. I just picked the number 50K. But it does seem that they expect most people to be totally unrealistic about their budget and what they spend their money on. That just isn’t us.
2) We do not lead a high-consumption lifestyle. What does this mean? We don’t buy a new car every other year, we don’t eat out 4 or 5 times a week, we don’t even eat out once a week. We went to Sonic last night for some ice cream. (Disappointing by the way.) That was a “treat” for us. We don’t do the “latte” thing, or eat lunch out every day. We don’t smoke or drink. Basically, there is nothing we do every day that we could stop doing in order to save money. Most authors assume that there is something you can cut out.
3) We do not satisfy wants instead of needs. I would LOVE to have internet at my house. It would make both of our lives much easier. I am used to needing a recipe or something, and just looking it up. Alann needs the internet for school assignments sometimes. We miss cable (sometimes, not all the time). I make sure that I pay my mortgage and my bills before we spend any other money, and what’s left usually goes to debt. We both have (small) monthly allowances for whatever. Alann’s brother is getting married in May and I have no idea where we are going to get the airfare. (Maybe my “tax loan”, I mean rebate from Bush.) There is basically nothing left once we pay the bills.
Sometimes I feel, I know, that I complain too much. We are fed. They may be simple meals, I might not buy meat every time I go shopping, but we eat, and we do not go hungry. Honestly, some of my new favorite meals are meatless, like the black bean pumpkin soup that I found trying to find a use for canned pumpkin. (It's VERY delicious. I will email you the recipe if you want.) But Alann is a meat-eater through and through. I wouldn't mind going meatless several days a week, but that isn't even worth considering for Alann. We can pay our bills, we can pay down our debt, we pay for our house. Life is good.
Basically, I just wish someone wrote more for someone like me. I wish there was more useful advice for people who already seem to do everything "right". Someone who buys generic groceries, cuts corners whenever possible, doesn’t eat out, doesn’t have any luxuries, etc. I guess I could sell my car, but I am not doing the one-car thing again. We are going to sell some stuff on craigslist, if I ever get the pictures taken. Some days it just seems so hopeless, so far-away, like we are never going to be free from debt. And some days I am ecstatic. I paid my CC down to less than $1000. It is now within reach of my third paycheck. That is exciting.