Bits & Pieces 128

by Fig on July 23, 2014

  • Happy hump day!
  • Real post coming soon, but today I just can’t wrap my head around it. #bloggerfail
  • My want to buy list has already expanded since I posted it. It seems I’m pretty locked in to wanting to spend but not spending and just making a list instead.
  • Saving over spending!! Saving to build up my emergency fund is more important than ever because my job is really unstable and insecure right now. That money is more important than ever.
  • I also should go back to blogging and freelancing on the side. I gave that up for the most part when I took this job and now I regret the decision. Job insecurity is the worst feeling! A bigger side income would make me feel safer.
  • Do you know the cost to live the American Dream?
  • My boss is headed out on vacation and I’m dreaming of one too. Maybe my next one down the road will be a cruise. Michelle at Making Sense of Cents should you how to do it on the super cheap.
  • Need a laugh? Budgets Are Sexy got jokes.

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The idea of the American Dream is still a dream for many of us. Even as my generation moves away from the American dream we all still want to reach aspects of it – pursuing our own destiny, achieving success, leaving the world better off for children or those that follow us.

USA Today recently looked at the traditional American Dream and calculated what it would cost to achieve that dream today.

what it costs to live the american dream - the essentials

what it costs to live the american dream - the extras what it costs to live the american dream - taxes and savings  what it costs to live the american dream - total

They covered the “essentials”, extras, taxes, and savings to come up with a total of $130,357 per year. Of course this is a generalized number that depending on where in the country you live would be more than enough or barely enough. However, it’s an interesting number and idea.

The article made a few great points about the idea of the American Dream:

Historian John Truslow Adams, who coined the term, called it “the greatest contribution we have made to the thought and welfare of the world.” It has inspired millions of people from every corner of the globe to come here in search of liberty and opportunity.But the financial crisis, housing bust and Great Recession have caused more of us to worry that the American dream is out of reach.

For the vast majority of Americans, there is a sense that achieving the American dream is becoming more difficult,” wrote Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl and Kirk A. Foster in a new book, Chasing The American Dream.

In fact, three-quarters of Americans polled by the Brookings Institution in 2008 said the dream was harder to attain.

They’re right to worry. An analysis by USA TODAY shows that living the American dream would cost the average family of four about $130,000 a year. Only 16 million U.S. households — around 1 in 8 — earned that much in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

I know many people who feel like the American Dream is either unachievable for them personally. I’ve heard people I know say things like this not just about becoming rich but about living the kind of lifestyle they grew up with that was simply comfortable.

The American Dream isn’t just about money though:

In their book, the authors write that besides economic security, the American dream includes “finding and pursuing a rewarding career, leading a healthy and personally fulfilling life, and being able to retire in comfort.”

These things have almost taken more importance for people I know because it’s easier to control. I know personally that living a healthy and personally fulfilling life is very important to me.

This number doesn’t mean much for me since in my city the cost of living is much lower and therefore the number overall would be lower. For example, they used a median home price of $275,000 whereas it would be closer to $100,000. Additionally all other areas would cost slightly less in my city. the article does address this at the end by saying, “There are big regional variations, too. It costs a lot less to live the American dream in, say, Indianapolis or Tulsa than it does in metro areas like New York and San Francisco, where housing prices and taxes are sky high.”

Ultimately the article was created to sound pessimistic and create fear in people. It ends on a depressing note:

Nonetheless, it’s clear that though the American dream is still alive, fewer and fewer of us can afford to live it.

Sigh.

It made me feel the same way I feel every time I have a conversation with someone who talks about all the things they can’t afford while they are driving a leased car and drinking a $6 Starbucks drink. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a car payment and buy Starbucks weekly, but I also understand that my choices in the overall picture of my finances. I don’t have cable, I don’t take massive vacations, and I don’t think the “extras” are necessities in my own American Dream. Just because we were born in this country doesn’t mean we are owed a perfect lifestyle. We have to make choices and accept what we have and can have instead of complaining. At least that’s how I see it. Being grateful for what I have and my own little current American Dream makes me pretty happy.

My favorite comment on the article sums up some of my own feelings toward the idea. Paul said:

The difference is between the dream and the reality. We dream of what we one day want, but we deal with the reality that it must take some time and effort on our part to attain that dream. Nothing worthwhile is ever obtained easily.

The true American dream is to work toward the dream. The American dream is to feel that nothing is beyond our reach if we are willing to make the effort to obtain that dream. It comes with sacrifice, money management, education, and developing the feeling of doing things on our own and taking pride in the little accomplishments of our lives.

The dream is living free, caring about our communities, our schools, and helping our neighbors. The dream is setting an example for others to follow. It is made of respect for others, for their dreams, and for their rights to be free of want and worry.

The dream is how we approach our lives. We can surrender to the forces that would keep us down, or we can rise above the fray through our individual efforts. It is having confidence in our country, our way of life, and in ourselves.

We are Americans, and that is the greatest dream of all.

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Bits & Pieces 127

by Fig on July 14, 2014

Bits & Pieces!

  • I just spent $6.45 at Starbucks so I could be happy and have a place to write this post. Bad personal finance blogger, bad!
  • For some reason my want to buy list has grown even more since I shared it. Bad personal finance blogger, bad?
  • On the bright side of things, my emergency fund grew towards my $5,000 emergency fund goal.
  • I’ve been invited to yet another baby shower, but luckily I know the best baby gift to buy. Also lucky? I didn’t have to go to two baby showers on Sunday like some friends did.
  • Today’s entertainment for me: The Dave Ramsey Show podcast.

Award Time!

The Spunky Banker nominated me for a Liebster award and I’m supposed to answer some questions, so here we go!

1. Why did you start your blog?  

I started my blog because I’d read personal finance blogs for a few years and realized I could do it too! I thought it would be a good way to stay accountable to my goal of bettering myself financially.

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is so tough and something I am trying to figure out now. Ultimately I hope for a couple things in the next five years including buying a house and starting a family. I’ve planted roots finally in the place I want to live so I just need to figure out the details. As for work? Not sure. As for this blog? I definitely want to still be around in five years!

3. If you didn’t blog about money, what would you blog about?

I’d blog about fashion. I love reading fashion blogs and wish I was cute enough to pull one off. They are super fun… and a lot of fashion bloggers make pretty good bank since it’s all based around buying things! Saving money isn’t as sexy, even if it’s smarter!

4. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you meet and why?

Tough question! I’d probably say the president, whoever it is at the time of meeting, just because it’s a fascinating position and I’d love to meet a president. I’m not big on celebrities.

5. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Fun, sweet, adventurous.

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