As I write this much of the federal government is shutdown, which is embarrassing to me as a tax paying American citizen. But perhaps even more troubling is a statistic I recently read that comes from the Federal Reserve Board and estimates that 40% of Americans would have trouble covering a $400 emergency.
Now, I empathize with the furloughed workers, realizing they get back pay when the government reopens, as well as other struggling Americans, but with the exception of a couple years when my wife and I attended school full time and worked part time, I think we have always had an extra $400 available for unplanned expenditures.
And contrary to all the griping about how federal employees make much less than private sector ones, I read a report that the average “public servant” makes in the neighborhood of six figures when benefits are included, which is more than my family makes. And I’ve got a college degree from one of the best business schools in America.
I know savings accounts pay a paltry amount of interest and the stock market is a type of legalized gambling, but it seems to me that many of my fellow citizens need to learn to live within their means. From crowdfunding scams to lottery mania, it looks like more and more people are seeking a quick fix for their lack of funds. But I’ve got a newsflash America: spending less than one earns results in funds left over.
Again, I get that in a nation like ours when corporate chiefs earn more than 350 times the average worker’s income of $35,000 our system is royally mixed up. But suffice it to say that when about 80% of Americans own smartphones, at an average price of $600, there is a good deal of discretionary spending.
As you all know, my wife and I enjoy our fancy (and pricey) electronic gadgets as much as anyone, but I must say we usually buy the computers refurbished and the entry level tablets and phones instead of the more expensive ones. And we intentionally design the rest of our lifestyle to be as cost effective as possible while allowing for savings in the process.
So, what I am trying to convey here is that voluntary simplicity is one proven way to not only make ends meet but also to afford a saner lifestyle for the practitioner, with reserve funds available for the so called “rainy days” that we all experience. And trust me, if my family can live large with less, so can anyone else’s.