CNN has an ongoing series that profiles American families and how they're reacting to our slowing economy (i.e., the recession). It's called 'America's Money: In their own words' Today's profile caught my eye, because it's written by a man who is working a second job, to "pay the bills", just as I am.
I really wish these profiles were a little longer and more in-depth, because I'd love to know several things about this person: for example, just how much (or little) does a Vice President make? Is he truly living a "lower middle class" existence? Does the wife work? Do they have overwhelming student loans or other debt? A giant house? Is he driving a gas guzzler, since his gas bill is $170 a week (mine is $30 a month)?
I'm trying hard not to automatically judge this person and make assumptions about how his family is living. I look at my own situation (also working two jobs) and realize that everything is relative, after all. I have access to great public transportation (hence the lower gas bill) and make use of it. I have a wonderful public library where I can stock up on books, read magazines, and study in a warm and inviting atmosphere. I live in a tiny house, although with an admittedly too-large mortgage compared to my income. My car is old, but efficient and reliable. I have access to great health benefits, retirement plans, and tuition remission through my employment. Yes, I'm working two jobs, but I feel like I'm squarely middle-class.
It's interesting to read about how others are handling their own financial struggles, if only to help me realize that I'm not doing all that badly. . .
Vice president of information technology, 32, Denver, Colo.
We purchased a home last year and I'm proud to see my children live in a decent neighborhood close to a good public school and have a backyard to play in.
However, since moving, unexpected expenses and rising costs have created a situation of struggle. I do have a fixed-rate mortgage, but everything else is getting so expensive. Last week I spent $170 on gas alone. I've taken on a second job, and I know as long as our economy hangs in there and doesn't collapse, we'll be okay.
My biggest frustration is I work very hard to maintain a lower middle-class income and lifestyle. We don't go on vacations, or rent movies. We just hang out and do free or cheap stuff. But I still work a second job and I miss out on school events and struggle to feel okay explaining this to my son.