Personal Finance Addict

Personal Finance Addict: April 2015

Apr 11, 2015

The New Middle Class

I'm feeling a little down lately because we've had some bumps in the road and are getting nowhere with our financial goals.  In fact, things have only gotten worse.  Today is the day for me to let loose and voice my frustrations with today's society.  I am a supervisor at a large company where I earn $45,000 annually.  I have two children.  I currently receive $700 monthly in child support, but that will be cut in half in a few months due to my oldest child graduating high school.  My oldest child will continue to live at home and go to a local respectable college.  She will work full time this summer, but most likely will not be able to work much while in school.  Fortunately, she has received lots of scholarship money and grants and will cost us very little out of pocket, but she will graduate with $10,000 - $20,000 in student loans.

I am married and my husband has three adult children of his own as well as one grandchild.  It is just the four of us in our household, myself, my husband, and my two children.  My youngest child is 14.  My husband lost his job over a year ago.  Hubby will be starting a new job in a few days.  It is a sales position that is paid based on commission only so that makes it difficult to plan ahead, which frustrates me to no end.  He has always had variable income in his previous jobs as well.  One would think that a couple like us would make enough money to live comfortably, have a decent house, decent cars, and take a vacation or two a year.  Unfortunately, that is far from the case.  We live in a small 3 bedroom apartment in an ok neighborhood, have two old cars that we are constantly putting money into (although not more than car payments would be), and the only vacation we have taken in several years is our free trip to Phoenix that we won (which I am very thankful for).  This was the case even before he lost his job over a year ago.  

How can this be?  We have no credit cards, no car payments, and the only debt we have is student loans and medical debt.  Neither one of us have a degree.  Hubby went to college after high school, but dropped out halfway through due to the birth of his first child.  I had my first child at 18, but have taken classes off and on over the years.  I have not been able to finish yet due to being stuck in my salary job working long hours and not getting paid overtime for it.  Ironically, the company offers tuition reimbursement, but they are not allowing me to take advantage of it.  The department I run cannot continue to function on the amount of people we have due to the recent drastic growth in business.  However, they will not allow me to hire more people so I am stuck working endless hours trying to keep up with the work.  I would love to find a new job, but am having no luck finding anything paying anywhere close to what I'm making now since I have no degree.  

I am not going to knock anyone with a degree because I truly believe everyone should continue to educate themselves always.  I am constantly reading and researching things to educate myself.  However, I see the company I work for continue to hire fresh out of college students who have been spoon fed their whole lives and accomplish practically nothing and when you bring an error to their attention they shrug it off even though you just told them it took you 30 minutes to correct the mess they made.  What happened to hard workers who care about the work they do and how it affects the company?  Since when did a piece of paper replace years of actual experience?  

So how do we spend our money?  Rent, food, electricity, gasoline, cell phones, internet, school fees, etc.  I do smoke, but I roll my own cigarettes and save a ton of money doing this.  I only spend roughly $60/month on cigarettes.  We don't drink or have any other bad habits.  We don't go to the movies, mall, bowling, or any other extra curricular activity that costs money.  We sit at home and watch Hulu and Netflix.  I spend my spare time surfing the web, mostly searching for more ways to save money.  We rarely buy clothes and when we do, we try thrift shops first.  

What does it take to be able to earn enough money to enjoy life once in a while?  I started this blog as a way to try to help others with their personal finances, a topic that I absolutely love and have read so much on.  But when I can't even keep my own finances in order, how am I supposed to help others?  The cost of everything is increasing at a staggering rate, but yet we continue to only receive 3% cost of living raises.  I'm starting to think I should just give up and go on welfare because I will be living the same lifestyle and not have to work my butt off in the process.  During this last year while my husband was out of work, I checked to see what the limits are for free and reduced school lunches.  Our annual income was just $200 too much to qualify for reduced lunches.  We make way too much to qualify for low income housing, which by the way is way larger than an apartment or house that we can afford otherwise.  There is a low income housing community 1/4 of a mile down the road from us.  Their monthly rent is way cheaper than ours and the apartments are larger.  There are even large 4 bedroom houses that are still cheaper than we pay in rent.  .  

Meanwhile, our apartment complex is under new management.  They keep increasing our rent even though they haven't made a single improvement to our apartment other than the trim color on the exterior.  But they have completely remodeled the rental office and work out room that I never get to see since it's only open during office hours and I am always at work.  I try to look for other places to live, but since we paid our rent 20 days late one time, they sent it to court the day after we paid it anyway and now we have an eviction on our record even though we weren't really evicted and paid it the day before the court date.  No one else will rent to us with that on our record.  

Don't get me started on healthcare either!  Fortunately my kids are covered on their father's insurance.  I have insurance for myself through work, which costs me $200 per month for a high deductible plan.  I also contribute $186 per month into my HSA account.  We cannot afford to insure my husband because my company only offers two plans: single and family.  The family plan costs $700 per month.  Soon he will be able to get insurance cheaper through his new job.  

I am convinced that the middle class is now the poorest class.  We pay the highest taxes, we get 0 breaks, pay 100% inflation, and get 3% pay raises.  Am I the only one feeling this way?  I try to do everything right.  I try to educate myself more.  I try different approaches with everything.  I know the definition of insanity is doing the same things expecting different results.  So now I'm begging for help.  Any help.  How do we change this?  How can the middle class get some help?  How can we really lower living expenses?  Will my family ever get a break?  How can I improve my credit score if I can't afford to pay our normal monthly expenses, let alone our student loans, and medical debt?