Seven Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore

This was an article originally published in USA Today last week. Two are medical and dental that don’t apply very much here in Canada, but how many of these are accurate, or apply to you and me in the middle class?

Vacations: Most middle-class families just can’t afford an expensive vacation without sacrificing something else. A Statista survey found that 54% of people had to sacrifice another big purchase to be able to afford a vacation. We’re not talking about a camping trip here, but anything that involves an airline flight is expensive. Add meals and hotels and you’re over $3,000 to $4,000 pretty quickly.

A new vehicle: With an average price over $32,000 it’s just not something most people can afford – either because there’s no chance they have that kind of money saved, or because they couldn’t afford the payments no matter how long the term is stretched.

To pay off debts: Debt loads are rising way faster than incomes. So every  month, finances get worse and not better. Living pretty close to spending every dime of income on bills, necessities, and minimum payments makes it really difficult to make a dent in their debts. That makes it more critical not to get into debt in the first place. Because,  once you’re in, you’re trapped for decades. How do families get into debt in the first place? Vehicles they can’t afford, houses with little down payment and high monthly payments and that subconscious refusal to acknowledge they can’t afford something.

Emergency savings: We’ve talked about this before. Basic emergency savings are one week of net pay. Then pay off your debts smallest to largest and step three is to have a three-month emergency fund in place. But almost 50% of people couldn’t miss one week of pay. Why? See number one two and three.

Retirement savings: When you’re barely able to keep your head above water today, it leaves nothing to save for tomorrow. That’s just the reality of what’s coming in versus going out. That’s why you need to pay yourself first. If it comes off your pay or out of your chequing account every month you can’t spend what you don’t have. It’s pretty much the only way to save for retirement. In a recent study, 17% of Canadians plan to use the proceeds of their house sale to fund retirement….but don’t they need to live somewhere? After all, you can’t eat your house! That’s a terrible strategy, right up there with winning the lottery to fund retirement.

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