Life in the Middle – The Problem With Personal Finance Blogs

first-world-middle-class-problemsSome people will probably think of this post as whiny. That’s not my purpose for writing this. I just feel like this needs to be said, and my own site is a far better outlet than Facebook or Reddit.

There is a major shortage of good advice out there for people like me.

As you can probably tell by my site, I’m a big fan of finding ways to make more money and solve problems. I am constantly reading personal finance and affiliate marketing blogs. They do have a TON of really great information.

And then I stumbled across this article on The Penny Hoarder and it made me feel kind of sick. Not because it’s a bad post…it’s pretty good, actually.  Not because it’s bad advice…it’s not.

If I had to boil it down to one thing that bothered me, it was probably this line (emphasis was added by the writer):

It was my biggest purchase to date and has been the source of endless content for my own personal-finance blog. And I bought the house as a single, 26-year-old woman making less than $40,000 a year.

First off, I noticed that I also fall into the “under $40,000 a year” category for my job, so I thought maybe that I had found a useful article that would help me learn a thing or two.

Boy did I. Here’s what I learned.

Single People Can Afford to Save

Great. As a 38-year-old married man, all of my “savings” are tied up in the First Bank of Keeping the Lights On.  So putting back $400 out of each check would leave me with (after expenses that are automatically deducted from my check) about $150 per week to work with. That covers the rent, but not food, gas, utilities, or anything else for that matter.

Some things are more valuable than a savings account. For me, that’s my family. And having a family means that sometimes you have to work hard to provide for them. Sometimes both people have to work. It sucks, but you do what you have to.

Paying Off Debt Is Great

The author says she made an effort to pay off her debts early in life. Great.

Now…where’s the fucking time machine?

Live Somewhere Cheap

I live in a major college town. There are basically three types of real estate here:

  1. Student housing – Imagine stacks and stacks of apartment buildings full of crazy college kids. It’s like Animal House, but not nearly as funny. Most apartments and houses rent by the bedroom, and it’s not unusual to find a one bedroom apartment for over $700/month. You’d think that kids’ parents were paying for this stuff…
  2. Sketchy quadplexes – This is the current situation that we’re in. Not the greatest neighborhoods, but not homeless. Still more expensive than houses (as in, two bedroom ACTUAL houses) that I’ve rented in the past.
  3. Real estate – Don’t even get me started. Houses here mostly start in the $175k and up range. Way up. You can buy half of a duplex (not even kidding) for around $125k. Who makes this stuff up?

So reading this was kind of disheartening:

I qualified for up to a $140,000 home, but I didn’t even get close to that price point. Instead, I bought a fixer-upper for $65,000.

$40,000 Per Year is Lower than Average

Wow. So then what is $35,000 salary exempt (we were going to go hourly until the recent injunction, so we’re still “salary exempt” even though we don’t qualify for the exemption…so still no overtime for me…and another 83 hours of overtime coming up this week)? I guess it’s lower than lower than average.

But the REAL issue here is this:

Personal Finance blogs seem to have LOTS of great stories that will help anyone EXCEPT those people who are actually struggling.

Of course you can buy a house, max out your 401k, and take vacations when you either 1) have no debt at all or 2) make over $100k per year.

Not everybody lives like that. In fact, most people don’t.

Not to say it wasn’t a great article though…I did enjoy it. I like reading about the success of others and seeing that these things really are possible. The problem is that it’s really a bummer when I try to compare myself to the stories of possibilities just to find out that once again, I fall short.

 

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Author: Wess Stewart

Blogger. Affiliate marketer. Systems analyst. Singer. Guitar player. Grouchy. Snarky. Easily amused. Join me as I attempt to share my knowledge with the world.

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