The big lie about the American Dream is the concept of upward mobility through dedicated effort to a career and a job. Statistics and surveys indicate THAT just doesn’t happen any more in America. The fact is great economic upward mobility comes from those who work not only harder, but smarter.
An article in the Seattle Times yesterday made us all aware of how bad things have gotten. “Problem With Paychecks” took much of its content from Parade Magazine’s annual “What People Earn” survey. Here are just some examples of what the story reported. The following list names the person, their location, and their annual income and descends from highest to lowest:
…11. Lorri Froid, Seattle
12. Heather Murphy
Woodinville elementary school teacher
13. Anne Fogarty, Kirkland
14. Mary Purdy, Seattle
Dietician and adjunct college professor
15. Nan Lammers, Skykomish
Forest services snowshoe ranger
16. Curtis Hodgson, Burnaby, B.C.
17. Ned Whalen, Seattle
Car sales professional
18. Cara Sullivan, Seattle
19. Betsy McPhaden, Seattle
I didn’t list the Top Ten on the actual Seattle Times list since most of us are not them; i.e. Major League baseball pitchers, NFL running backs, CEO’s of billion dollar corporations, etc.
I know the income that my wife and I earn, and I know how much we struggle to meet our bills and live in what could only be described as a middle-Middle-Class lifestyle (8-10 years ago I would have said upper-Middle-Class, but that’s another story). Nine years ago when we bought our home in the Seattle suburb of Renton, WA it’s purchase price was exactly what the King County Association of Realtors was identifying as the median-price for homes being sold in King County at that time.
Some up-grades may have pushed its price slightly above the local median price/value; but for the most part it serves as a pretty evident measuring stick for middle-Middle Class. My point is…for the people listed above…I don’t know how they make it.
The American Dream as it is defined by one on-line dictionary is as follows:
The traditional social ideals of the United States, such as equality, democracy, and material prosperity.
The term was coined in 1931 by historian James T. Adams. It’s changed over the years but basically came to represent:
Owning a home and a car or two
Raising a family, with kids that grew up to do much the same as you
Working 40 hours per week for 40-50 years in a job or career
Taking 1-2 approximately week-long vacations every year to Disneyland or the big regional beach
Retiring in comfort to regularly play golf, bingo, and visit the grandkids once in a while.
Leasing (buying) your home from the bank who charges you a low-interest rate for the right to do so; a home of 2500 square feet or more, 2-3 cars, and an RV.
Have kids raised by someone other than Mom or Dad who are too busy at the office to be home for dinner, let alone after school (whether as a family or not is optional); or raised by your 55-inch tv, or by Facebook. Pay $15,000-$20,000 per year per kid for 5-6 years for them to get drunk at college.
Work 50-70 hours per week for a wage capable of allowing you to save for retirement, or (as with the people listed above) 40 hours per week to barely scrape by and have zero retirement.
Vacation every year for 2 weeks in some exotic location, paying for all of it on your credit cards.
Retiring in your 70s with a reverse mortgage praying the 20-30% equity you’ve managed to accumulate in your primary residence is enough to maintain your lifestyle.
That’s some lifestyle. That’s a lifestyle in which children are sacrificed in favor of “stuff” and “status”.
Today working a job that keeps you from your family, or your recreations, 50-70 hours per week is something people wear like a badge of honor. Why? Wouldn’t you be better off working only 30-40 hours per week, making as much money or more, and devoting the rest of the time to your children, your wife, your husband, vacations, etc? The obvious answer is, yes. And you can do it. But the key is to get money working. Get multiple streams of income. The earlier mentioned Seattle Times article points out that median hourly income has rose only 11-percent since 1973. Additionally, in 2011, wages for males with college degrees were JUST 5 percent greater than in 1979. For men with only high-school degrees, entry-level wages were 25 percent lower than in 1979. Your single-solitary job is making you poorer and requiring you to work more hours. The 1-job, 1-career American Dream doesn’t work. You need money coming in from elsewhere.
We used a very large sales-commission check to buy our first home in 1994. Two years later being home owners allowed for us to borrow enough to move-up into a bigger house and keep the other house as a rental. We did the same thing again in 2003. My wife and I acquired nearly all our most valuable possessions, went on our most expensive vacations, and spoiled our kids during the time we had the additional income stream from owning rental property from 1996-2006. Warren Buffett, among others, is one who cites multiple streams of income as key to being successful.
The Missus and I have finally re-learned what we knew before. In our case AdvoCare is already giving us a new income stream. Based on the $20-25-thousand per month incomes our friends achieved with AdvoCare in just 3-years, we expect it to be a sizable stream, growing into a river. We’ve met many others who also are earning over $1000-per month with AdvoCare while working a mere 5-10 extra hours per week. And it’s a growing business. And it has the added benefit of paying us while we aren’t even doing anything. It has the added benefit of only paying us when we genuinely help other people. And it has the added benefit of being a continuing inheritable business and income stream, meaning should my wife and I die the income generated by our AdvoCare business becomes our children’s. Then they will have multiple income streams too.
Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.
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