Let's face it. I'm middle class, very middle-middle class, teetering at times on the brink of lower-middle class. There is no shame in one's station in life; it is what it is. What concerns me is how we all, as Americans, pretend to have more than we do by purchasing things we cannot afford. This trend has infiltrated all areas of consumerism: housing, clothing, cars, electronics, schools, vacations, and even WATER. Part of this is due to our American Dream mentality and our perpetual desire to be on "equal" footing with our fellow man. I could delve into how in a monarch based society people were born in to a station in life that was passed onto the next generation, etc. but I want to focus more on how we like to live above our means, our motives behind it, and what fuels it, at least where I'm concerned.
- The average size of the American home has risen sharply from the 1950 typical 983 square foot bungalow to the palatial 2300+ square foot home today and not because we're having more children.
- The average American summer vacation in 2012 cost $1,180...per PERSON!
- In 2011, cable TV bills averaged $86 per month or $1032 per year.
- In 2010, Americans spent around $2,000 per household on clothing.
- In 2011, the standard American utility bill was $104 per month with groceries coming in at $944 per month.
- The typical American carries credit card debt exceeding $15,500. That's not counting mortgages, student loans, or car loans!
....you get the idea. What fuels our over spending is the old adage of "keeping up with the Jones'." The trouble is that with cable TV, Internet, magazines, etc. that the Jones' are no longer our physical neighbors. Imagine how much more content I would be with what I have if I never saw HGTV or joined Pinterest. Now, everyone take a deep breath because I'm not suggesting anyone give those things up. (Good thing, huh?!) What I am suggesting is that perhaps I need to think about being middle class and tailoring my spending according to that level and not basing it on House Hunters International or my favorite Pinterest boards. I need to see those things more as grown up unfinished fairy tales that haven't revealed the moral of the story yet. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this, but for now, it's back to cleaning for me :)