Saving Money Today had a link to a great article about seven things that worry the middle class. Click here to read the post.
I thought this was great and thought I'd comment on how I feel about each of these worrisome things, since I consider our family in the middle class:
- Falling Income – Last year our company gave no raises and they also cut the match to our 401(k) plan. Both of these were presented as temporary, but just how long this temporary situation lasts is anybody's guess.
- Reduced Savings / Net Worth – When we bought our home, the value had already dropped 15% or so from when the prior owners had purchased it. We thought we had swooped in at the right time. Unfortunately, the decline continued and it's lost another 20% or so, pretty much erasing our down payment. Although our net worth in non-home categories has increased, our overall net worth is lower than it was a few years ago because of the anchor that is real estate. Luckily, we don't have any plans to move nor do we consider our home an ‘asset' in the sense of borrowing against it, but it's still disheartening.
- Higher healthcare costs – These definitely worry me. One upside from our employer is that we have pretty good healthcare, and the out-of-pocket cost increase from 2009 to 2010 was minimal. Still, costs are increasing and with the new health care legislation, I can't see this trend stopping anytime soon.
- Child Care / Elder Care expenses – My wife stays home with Baby Beagle, so we don't have the child care costs yet. Still, pre-school and other costs are bound to be expensive, and that will come up quick. Our parents are in good health both medically and financially and I'm going to hold on to the thought that this will continue for a long, long time, so the elder care hasn't come into play yet.
- College costs – This is certainly something we're worried about. We have started saving for Baby Beagle's college fund, but if costs rise at the pace that they have for the last twenty years, it's going to be pretty tough to imagine being able to pay for college at the current rate of savings, especially when you consider that we'd like to have a bigger family.
- Housing costs – We're not moving so this isn't a factor. Still, you never know what might happen within a neighborhood or with a job situation, so this is something that could come up and become an issue in pretty quick time.
- False expectations – I'm well educated, motivated, and have been told that I'm good at what I do. It used to be that these things would almost assure you a job and a good wage. While I have both of those now, I know enough people and have read enough stories who have the same traits but are suffering. It seems there are fewer and fewer opportunities and more people looking for them, and this wasn' the way it used to be.
I am not so naive to think that generations before mine did not have the same concerns. I think it's natural to worry about money and finance related issues. Still, I hope that our future allows for people to avoid being crippled by these and other worries.