I just got a job, for the first time, with a salary that isn’t embarrassing to say out loud in public – I’m not going to say it here, but I’d use the words “decent money”.
I have friends – good, intelligent people, God bless them – who hear my salary and think “You did it! You’re set!” because they haven’t “made it” yet. They’re still searching for that first full time job that’s finally going to be somewhat respectable to talk about in public. So they hear what I make and their response is “That’s amazing! Your money problems are finally over!”
The money I make is not crazy high. Heck, in NJ, it’s probably just touching middle class, MAYBE. But to them it’s more money than they’ve ever seen in their lives. It’s a crazy high amount of money that would solve all of their problems.
It isn’t and it doesn’t. It helps, a lot, but I still would be in trouble if I suddenly racked up big emergency expenses, and I still have loans to pay, and who knows if I’ll have this job next year, but to them all of this feels academic, alien. I make nearly triple what they make per year – how can that possibly not be enough?!?
I think this is our problem when we see disputes like the one going on in baseball right now, and classify it as “millionaires arguing with billionaires”. There’s a difference, a big one, between millionaires and billionaires but it’s very hard for people who are SO FAR below that level like most of us to grasp it.
This is where you get tone-deaf comments from the mega-rich who say silly things like “If you just gave up your one Starbucks latte a day, we’d have solved world hunger by now.” Such comments could only be made by someone who does not understand what it means to be middle class.
It’s a start. No idea what you’re making and what it means in NJ, but it’s also something where you have to plan for the future expenses of wife and children. With low debt in rural Midwest, 55k would let us save and make investments with 2 children, and I started being self employed after the second year of that level of salary. It meant a pay cut, and we got about 30-35k last year with 4 children, but in rural settings where you can do a good bit of cost savings and with a business where there’s a lot of write offs…. it can work. I don’t want to do it again, and I hope to hit 50k+ again this year, with a 3-5 year goal of 150k a year in 2020 dollars, but it’s all about game plans. And I always tell people that, where I’m at, a large Catholic family should plan on that kind of income if they want to survive long term