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Old 05-14-2009, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,574,557 times
Reputation: 35869

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The typical middle class American household spends about a quarter of its income on what it needs and 3/4 n what it wants. As a result, the aggregate earning power of the household is about 4 times what it needs to be. The husband and wife both have a full-time job and one of them has a part time job.

This is voluntary. The people choose to waste away their entire lives and neglect their children, becausse they have committed themselves to fulfilling their wants instead of their needs.

Every family in American could have everything it needs for a reasonably secure and healthy and comfortable lifestyle, with about a quarter of our present productivity, and with about a quarter of the man-hours of labor. We weould, economically, be exactly where we are now, except that the toys would be in much lesser abundance. Our labor force would still produce the food, shelter, and simple comforts of life.

A Hummer costs about 4,000 hours of work, not to mention maybe 500 more hours of commuting time getting to and from that work. The Hummer is not a useful tool that yields any needed benefit---it is a conspicuous toy for which Americans are willing to get up in the morning and spend a day at a workplace 500 times in order to pay for it. How much benefit could your dhildren get from that 4,000 hours of quality time with you and your family?

Instead of buying a Hummer, for the same cost you could take off the entire summer and take your whole family on a 3-month backpacking trip around-the world, giving your children an education that they would not get in years of school. The only downside is that your kids would have to be seen being dropped off at school in a '95 Camry, instead of a yellow Hummer.

But these are our priorities, and we have not yet begun to see how dearly we will pay for them.
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:28 AM
 
5,748 posts, read 10,505,876 times
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Careful, your bias is showing. The typical middle class household does NOT own a Hummer. In fact, I think if you spent some time looking in our garages, you'd find a whole lot of older Hondas & Toyotas.
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,574,557 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
Careful, your bias is showing. The typical middle class household does NOT own a Hummer.

I didn't say they did. Those were two separate paragraphs. But there are many middle-income households who own extravagant cars, approaching the Hummer in price range.
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:29 AM
 
5,748 posts, read 10,505,876 times
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I apologize for being flippant. I agree wholeheartedly with you about the importance of time over things, particularly when it comes to children. Where we potentially disagree is whether or not financial hardship is the result of materials wants like extravagant cars. No doubt, a $60k SUV would be a serious burden for a middle-class household; however, I think the real challenge to our budgets comes from the rising cost of healthcare insurance & treatment, housing in areas with good schools (I don't know of any middle-class family for whom this is not a major consideration), & childcare. Becoming a "non-spender" doesn't do away with these financial obligations.

There's a wonderful book called The Two-Income Trap that addresses this issue. I highly recommend it!
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Old 05-14-2009, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,574,557 times
Reputation: 35869
Not directly related to the issue, but I think people need to ger over this fixation on "good schools".. Any family that cares whether the schools are good or not, has already shown that they will give the education of their child the proper concern. Any child can learn in any school, and the important element is the home support and the motivation to learn and acquiring good intellectual habits and curiosity.
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Old 05-14-2009, 10:43 AM
 
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I don't want to get too off-topic here, but that was always my impression, too, until we moved cross-country and rented a house in an area with a well-regarded elementary school while we looked for house to purchase. By the end of the first year, we noticed that our daughter was struggling, and it was more than adjusting to a new environment. When we spoke to her teacher, she disregarded our concerns, so we spoke to the administration, which was equally unresponsive. We hired a tutor, spent hours doing enrichment exercises each week, and amped up our house search. We eventually bought in a neighborhood with one of the top elementary schools in the metro area. The difference was extraordinary! Our daughter got the extra help she needed through the school, catching up quickly, and we no longer had the expense of an independent tutor. Additionally, because we were no longer sitting at the dining room table for hours every night re-teaching her the concepts she should have learned & practiced in school, we finally had time to do fun things together. Honestly, the school made all the difference for our family. As an aside, our previous elementary school also recommended that we start our young son on Ritalin because he couldn't sit still in class. We resisted. He's now thriving in the new elementary.

So, in essence, I disagree with your opinion that any child can learn in any school. Our experience just doesn't bear that out, so I can understand the drive middle-class parents have to push the limits of their budgets to get the best possible education for their children. And, once those mortgage papers are signed, it's a long-term commitment that creates vulnerability to financial difficulties. Four-dollar coffees are easily excised from the budget, but a $3k or more mortgage payment isn't so easy to discard.
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Old 05-14-2009, 10:52 AM
 
Location: U.S.
1,581 posts, read 4,770,568 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Not directly related to the issue, but I think people need to ger over this fixation on "good schools".. Any family that cares whether the schools are good or not, has already shown that they will give the education of their child the proper concern. Any child can learn in any school, and the important element is the home support and the motivation to learn and acquiring good intellectual habits and curiosity.
Finally someone who gets it!!
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:00 AM
 
5,748 posts, read 10,505,876 times
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I think the combination of a great school and attentive, involved parents is the best possible situation. Parents cannot necessarily make up for a sub-par school, no matter how motivated they may be. In our district, many of the kids go to school at 9:00 a.m. and come home at 4:00. Add in an after-school activity or just outside play time, and even with a stay-at-home parent, there aren't enough hours in the day to compensate for a school that's not meeting a child's educational needs.

Middle-class parents are caught between a rock and hard place. It's our dream to see our children live just a little better than we do, and education is the key to that end. We don't have enough money to say, "the heck with it!" but we also don't want to see our children drop down a few or more rungs on the ladder. Perhaps it's a crazy way to live, but it's generally the way we see things.

Last edited by formercalifornian; 05-14-2009 at 11:14 AM..
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:13 AM
 
3,566 posts, read 4,491,960 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crystalblue View Post
Are we permanent penny pinchers now? - Top Stocks Blog - MSN Money

so, if we stop spending, what do we become?

Well, for a good portion of us, we weren't spending all that. So, I'm pretty sure for a good portion of us, we are just going to tread water the same as before.

I was looking at my retirement fund and a good majority of people that I work with lost over half of what they had been saving for through investments. I cannot afford to take those kind of risks so, I refuse to invest it. I suspect that a good many may just stop investing and just save it. Detrimental? You bet. But when you watch the market take a dive because of a fear of swine flu, you have to ask yourself, who the hell is running this show?

I think for a very long time the products that we have before us are pretty shoddy for entirely too much. What this might do, although I doubt it in my heart of hearts, is force the competition of the products beyond advertisements and into actual worth. Perhaps, they will be of better quality and with better access to repairs.

Ok, never mind, I must have been dreaming.
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,574,557 times
Reputation: 35869
It is quite possible that a family could find a home in a neighborhood where the mortgage is 1500 lower, give up a 1500 a month job, and home school. Moneywise, a wash, and a lot healthier for the kids.

Not every kid is right for home schooling, and not every parent is right. But in general, families that home school for academic intellectual reasons seem to be successful in an overhwelming majority of cases.
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