Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Financial Woes

I expect I'm not too uncommon these days in that I live pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck. When I do manage to put some money into a savings account (separate from my retirement savings, I'm thankful to say!), I usually end up dipping into it a month or two later to make up for a shortfall that month, leaving me back to where I started.

This morning, during an online chat with my brother, I got to thinking about where my dad was at my age. Just around the time I was born, my dad got a job working for a major engineering company. Although this company did cause the constant moving from state to state I've described earlier, it also enabled him to buy a house by the time he was 24 (maybe even 22 or 23, but I'm not clear on the timeline at this point, as I was still a toddler). By the time he was my age (31), he had quit his job at that engineering company, and we were beginning to settle down in Louisville, KY. Although that period of time was an uncertain one for my family, I have an awareness now (that I couldn't have had as a kid) that Dad was pretty lucky to have found such a financially (if not geographically) stable job at such a young age, and selling that first house enabled him to have enough money to buy a much larger house that was our main base in Louisville, ready for when we finally made that our permanent home (although he no doubt could have done even better if he could have held on to that first place, which was in the Bay Area of California, timing dictated that he pretty much had to sell that place when he did).

By comparison, at age 31, I have no family to take care of (unless you count my wife, who also has a job of her own, although she also has educational expenses that we tackle together), and do not have to pay mortgage costs on a house, but continue to live paycheck-to-paycheck. It's very frustrating. Although I know that some of my situation is due to the choices I've made (such as pursuing a career in the church, rather than the generally-much-more-lucrative area of engineering; living in California rather than moving to the much-less-expensive Midwest; and not choosing to pay the price of moving from state to state for several years, a choice for which my dad was no doubt compensated by his employers), and while I do not regret any of those choices, it's still frustrating to have to struggle so hard. Perhaps that's why I've made some fairly strong statements calling for a raise in the minimum wage. I'm actually paid well enough that such an increase would not directly benefit me at all. But if I'm struggling so hard to make ends meet, any full-time worker at minimum wage has no chance at all!

I've often heard it said that this is the first generation in a while not to be better off than the generation before it. Although I won't suggest that this statement holds true throughout all of history, I have to say that it certainly does ring true for me.

1 comment:

  1. what a vicious cycle of finances we live out! educational loans, credit card "patching"... cell phone, netflix, and other monthly drains. it's like if only I could skip one month of bills I could start to build a cushion. sigh. (seminary )puts out a lot of debt-laden individuals!

    -r

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