Tuesday, July 31, 2012
One thing that drives me crazy is when I hear people complain about how they don't have any money when everyone else knows that is not the case. I knew a guy in college who claimed that his family was poor, but they drove a new car (ok, maybe it was 3-4 years old), owned a $200k+ house, and he had a ridiculous collection of pricey apparel. I know a guy now who mentions sometimes that he lacks lots of disposable income but doesn't go quite as far out of his way to let you know that he's strapped for cash. He eats out about 5 times or more per week by my estimates. He also drives and uses gas when he is a perfectly capable cyclist with 2 bikes. In addition to my case studies above, there are also categories of people who do this. Orange farmers and gas station owners love to tell you that "there's no money in citrus" or "there's no money in gas" but you see them driving new $50k automobiles and at least the farmers have lots of land.
I think I understand the latter strategy: They're trying to keep other people from entering the market and diluting their market share even further...anything to keep away competition. I don't think I can grasp the former type of complaining. In fact, the guy from college has since realized that life is pretty good for him even if he can't live like a rock star. The fast food kid does drive an older car and doesn't buy new watches all the time, but does have a nice computer and an iPhone and other things that truly strapped-for-cash people don't have.
One more category of "poor" people is college students. College students used to be poor, but now they are coming from families with above average incomes and will themselves earn above average incomes if they can manage to graduate. Maybe graduate students might be poor still, but I don't know any (the econ department treats us well). I will overhear kids with iPads discussing their poverty over a $5 pint at the bar. I KNOW that there are A FEW poor college students, but I'm talking about the average college student. There are also plenty of trust fund babies in college.
I know that I take things for granted, and my financial status might sometimes be one of them. However, I never get so bad as to complain. I can save tons of money if I want by modifying my lifestyle. Maybe I realize how well off I am because I've seen people who are truly poor when I was in Ecuador. I know that I don't have to do my laundry by hand and I have 4 walls and a roof to protect me from the elements. I have shoes and everything else I need. I occasionally feel like a spoiled brat for having a laptop and a smart phone, a car and 4 bicycles, a room of my own, and gadgets. If I had trouble making payments on everything I consume then I would cut back on my extravagant lifestyle. Definitely dump the TV plan and make internet a bit slower. I could eat cheaper and not spend money on entertainment...even then I'd still be very well off. Odds are that if you are reading this post then you too are one of the more fortunate souls on this globe. I hope you can appreciate that status.