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Old 03-07-2008, 08:50   #91
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The middle class “American Dream” is a matter of perspective & scale.

Since WW2, each succeeding generation has expected to achieve a higher standard of consumption. No wonder it’s gotten more difficult to actually achieve our ever-increasing expectations.

Home ownership was at about 55% of families in 1950, rising (in each decade) to about 66% in 2000.

The Optimist says the cup is half full.
The Pessimist says the cup is half empty.
The Engineer says the cup is too small.
The Architect says the cup is too large.
The Owner wonders why he even needs a cup.
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:10   #92
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We gave up some youth for the security of a retirement fund. Our choice.

In the USA we get to make our own life, work as long and hard as we like, decide how much is enough, and make the future we desire.
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:26   #93
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To be fair, if you look back at the BB generation and before, households tended to be single-income. Today, that's not usually a viable option if you want to be in the middle class. Back in the day, a working class single earner could enter the middle class by working an appropriate amount of overtime, catching up with the professional class. Lawyers and plant workers could own houses in the same neighborhoods, their kids went to the same schools, etc... These days, professional families tend to be dual earners (doctor + lawyer for ex.) and that coupled with stagnant working class wages for the past decade, has caused the middle class to effectively split in two (professional vs working).

I'm sympathetic then, to Sean when he says that it 'seems' harder for working class people to keep up. It is, but I think it's largely a matter of perception. You had to own a lot less to be considered 'middle class' in the 60's and 70's than you do now.
This is, essentially, correct T34C, except that the stagnation in working class wages didn't just happen in the last decade. It's something that began more than 35 years ago, and it was the basis for the subsequent necessity for single-earner families to become two-earner families, and that phenomenon has manifested in unanticipated social fallout, sometimes tragically.

The greatest disappointment, in my view, is that our "leaders" have been able to so successfully paper-over this rending of the social fabric by the use of the "hidden tax," inflation. By being able to show that people are earning more and more income, nominally, while an economically-uneducated public fails to realize that their real incomes are leaving them further and further behind, these same leaders then distract a gullible public with wars on poverty, communism, terrorism and the forthcoming war on nuclear ambitions in Iran to maintain their power and comfortable lifestyles.

For a time, the second income helped to preserve their middle class status for many, perhaps most, families. But when the inflation monster ate into the middle class lifestyle yet again, there was no option available to pump up the family income equivalent to a second earner entering the workforce. Many families turned to credit to keep up, but that is always self-defeating, ultimately.

It's like adding more and more ballast to an already over-laden vessel, sitting dangerously below its LWL.

In the US, and possibly in other western democracies, as well, the coming dissolution of the middle class will make this country much like penny-ante third world dictatorships: A thin veneer of elite, wealthy, powerful patricians at the top of the food-chain and a vast underclass of common, poor, weak plebians at the bottom. They will be the worker bees of society, and they will be kept away from the elites by hired goons in the middle, believing that protecting the elite makes them better than the class they themselves derive from.

* * * * *
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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
Yup! That says it, WW.

The initial question in this thread was, "I'm just curious as to how many of you have a retirement fund, and how many of you are "winging" it, and what your thoughts on this subject are." <snip>
Here, Hud has used "winging" in the way most Americans would recognize it, meaning to make-do with what one has, to muddle through. See how important that "h" is, seafox?

TaoJones

PS: I have to smile when I think of T34C's two-earner example (a doctor and a lawyer). My dad was a maintenance of way foreman on the Union Pacific railroad, and my mother was a beautician, and I was the youngest of four sons, born at the cusp of the Baby Boom. I didn't realize until I was in college just how poor we were.

It wasn't until I watched the Cosby Show in the 80s that I first saw a doctor and a lawyer as man and wife, and I thought the idea was preposterous.
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:10   #94
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I've typed and deleted about four responses to this thread. It always comes out wrong. Life just ain't easy. Get over it.

I was going to say more too but it would just be a whine about how my money plans have not worked out too well and a spouses 4yr illness, and reduced work, and now the frikkin house market, and food and gas and , and sheesh!!!

I really don't think I will end up with more than a MacGreggor...looking around today anyway.........

Sheesh. I tore a extensor tendon on my right hand (yup, right handed) today and will have it pinned on Wed. next. Sheeiiiittttt. I use my hands every day (and night) (remember?, I am available over 300 days a year). I don't work - I don't make money!!!!!!!!!

Shheeeeiiiittttt, Dammo, Crapppoooo, farkin' Blooey!!!

SOMEONE PASS THE CHEESE PLEASE!!!!!!
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:21   #95
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I reckon most of us on this board are not hungry, we know we won't be tomorrow, we have a roof of some sort over hand, we don't fear that tomorrow we or our family may be mutilated by a political enforcer or 12 year old with a machete and a 9 year old mate with a Kalashnikov. The list goes on.
For us - life is too bloody easy yet why is it we can't appreciate it.
I developed a good appreciation that I had won the lottery of life simply by being born in the West from spending time well abroad where stuff like the above is a worry for many - even if simply "in the back of their mind". Me? I know that even if I end up penniless in Timbucktoo that I would still have to be very unlucky to starve to death.

Of course plenty of lazy fookers well abroad also - but also I have met so many many nice folk who simply lacked basic opportunities which people in the west take for granted or discount as "too much like hard work" (me included).

It's why I am not too keen on globalisation........cos' I know their are 1,000's of people who could do my job far better, with more motivation and for far less money..........and who would cut of my right arm for the chance to do so
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:33   #96
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Therapy, I'm sorry to hear about the tendon (and your spouse's illness) - you've been dealt a few bad cards lately, to be sure. In some ways it relates to the original post in this thread. Oh, I know it was written by someone who is only about to turn 27, but he was asking whether most people who are out cruising set up a retirement fund, or are just 'winging it'.

In the end result, I suspect that being comfortably 'set' for retirement/ contingencies is much less significant than most believe. In a very real way, we are all just winging it. While we like to believe that we can plan for and control our destinations, life has a way of throwing more than just obstacles in our respective paths.

I lost the love of my life to breast cancer 3 years ago and it is to my eternal regret that we had spent so much time planning and preparing for a future that she did not get to share. It was much like the decision to have a child - had it been left up to me, I suspect that I would have never felt completely 'ready', or at least comfortable in a financial sense. My son, while unplanned (and to me, unwanted) at the time, turned out to be one of the best, if not the best things that ever happened to me. He not only opened my eyes to the reality of unequivocal love, he has made me a better person.

So, I guess what I am saying is that life can and ultimately will deal out only one obstacle that is capable of stopping us in our tracks. In the interim, most of us will have to make do with less than our ultimate dreams. But when it comes to fulfilling dreams, make no mistake about it - anything is infinitely better than not at all.

Even if it is a Macgregor ( and in the current market, I have no doubt that you can do much better than that if you are committed to it) get a boat. Tania Aebi circumnavigated in a Contessa 26 that barely had sitting headroom. There are in the present market, a great many boats available for less than $20,000.00 (some significantly less) that could be safely used to cruise from Florida to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Don't give up the dream. Don't let yourself become enslaved to a lifestyle and expectations that may only end up keeping you from your ultimate goal. When things get depressing, it is time to do something for yourself. Buy a small boat (even if on credit). Sell your car and buy a smaller/cheaper one. Think about moving onboard a 30 footer and selling off your household effects. Consider that the docking fees are apt to be much less than your current mortgage payments/rent.

Go online right now and look at some inexpensive boats. As the Stones so aptly put it years ago, 'you can't always get what you want, but sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.'

Good luck mate! We'll be seeing you out there cruising sooner than later.

Brad
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:39   #97
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It's why I am not too keen on globalisation........cos' I know their are 1,000's of people who could do my job far better, with more motivation and for far less money..........and who would cut of my right arm for the chance to do so
Almost. What you really face is that there are plenty of of folks who would cut of their right arm to sit where you or I sit today and they know they would be up on the deal.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:58   #98
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Almost. What you really face is that there are plenty of of folks who would cut of their right arm to sit where you or I sit today and they know they would be up on the deal.
Arrrrr - perhaps different social circles
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Old 03-07-2008, 12:57   #99
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David I'm with ess105 on this one: those who would want to cut off your arm (aka terrorists) likely wouldn't do it in order to get your job, but rather because they hate the fact that you have a well-paying job that enables you to prosper in a 'material world' (eg, to be able to acquire a cruising boat).

Still, you are spot on about us exporting jobs to third-world states: in the new 'Gobal' economy, business will continue to export jobs to the places where the labour costs and the safety and environmental standards are the lowest. Its a good thing that slavery has been abolished worldwide or we can be certain that big business and the Neocons would now be lobbying against its abolition domestically (or at least, they would be moving production to countries where it was legal to have slave labour). China and India are merely the closest we have left to the ideal of an honest day's work for an honest day's flogging.

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Old 03-07-2008, 13:41   #100
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I've typed and deleted about four responses to this thread. It always comes out wrong. Life just ain't easy. Get over it.
I'm not complaining, I'm observing.

The next phase, after dual earners, is to go childless. It's what we're doing (so far, anyway). Anybody see Idiocracy?
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Old 03-07-2008, 13:43   #101
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Sell your car and buy a smaller/cheaper one. Think about moving onboard a 30 footer and selling off your household effects. Consider that the docking fees are apt to be much less than your current mortgage payments/rent.

Ready for that but the female still thinks owning a place "to come back to" is necessary. They can't help it really. It is natural. Maybe that is why there are not too many female cruisers. I think it would be better to have money in the bank in case we want to stop and live somewhere else. Then there is the health insurance problem. Not as worried as I was a few weeks ago though. Just don't care as much as I did............
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Old 03-07-2008, 14:56   #102
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I'm just curious as to how many of you have a retirement fund, and how many of you are "winging" it, and what your thoughts on this subject are.
I have a very small retirement fund that I set up in college. Given that I am 29, I expect that it will grow over time - but I'm sure we'll never be able to live off it.

My husband and I work on a contract-to-contract basis. Our employers provide no medical benefits, no 401K. We're trying to be as smart about our money as possible by 1) investing in a small house in a desirable area; 2) staying healthy; 3) getting rid of all debt; 4) living in a frugal manner; and 5) saving.

Ultimately, we believe in being as self-sufficient as possible, but we also don't want to spend our lives chained to our jobs. We'll do the best we can for the next 5-7 years - and at that point, we'll set sail with the resources we have.
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Old 03-07-2008, 14:59   #103
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There are numerous places in the Caribbean where one can get extremely good health care at incredibly low prices including Grenada, Trinidad and Venezuela. Think in terms of $20.00 for an ultrasound with radiologist report or for a biopsy of mole. Yes, that cheap.

The home to come back to - that certainly makes it more difficult and expensive. But if it is causing you distress (and it obviously is), maybe your partner will have a change of heart. And lets face it, while the market is soft at present, I don't think anyone expects the prices to go up significantly in the next few years. In that sense, it may be that any increase in value is going to be more than offset by the interest costs/taxes/upkeep. At the moment, cashing out and buying a used boat that has already undergone the lion's share of depreciation may not be a bad way to go. Especially if you can keep a nest egg from the proceeds of the house in case you want to pack it in.

Anyway Therapy, I am very serious - do something for YOURSELF.

Brad
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Old 03-07-2008, 17:50   #104
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Gosh! What an exciting thread - well it's more of a spool really and I have been wound up in it for what seems like hours! Oh - look at the time! It has been hours! Someone mentioned the lack of non-US responses earlier so I'm here to put my European oar in... My partner and I told someone who suggested we buy some silly piece of equipment or other that we simply couldn't afford it. He asked if we were very badly in debt and, when we said that we didn't owe anybody anything but had been obliged to spend all our capital (long story short: some European representatives of authority thought we had a boatful of drugs and ripped our schooner apart in 2000 which, apparently, they can do whenever they feel like it and walk away) and that we were living on a shoestring, he told us that we are part of the world's richest half a percent of people because we owe nothing! Wow! Rags to riches in a single instant! We keep trying to save up but it's a losing battle and maybe we'll just starve to death when we get too old to work but we all have to die of something sooner or later and a prolonged old age doesn't look all that inviting. At least we will have lived our lives as we wanted to. I'd rather that than spend my present worrying about my future...

Well, I know, I'm flying in the face of all the foregoing wisdom but somebody had to, didn't they?!
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Old 03-07-2008, 18:27   #105
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To be fair, if you look back at the BB generation and before, households tended to be single-income. Today, that's not usually a viable option if you want to be in the middle class.
This is another untrue stereotype. My brother is a single income family. He put one kid into college and the other starts next year. He owns 2 houses in SoCal and rents one out. He has pinched every penny he's got. He finally broke down last year and bought a 27 inch crt tv to replace the 15 y/o 14 incher the family had.

Someone posted a link to a video on a previous thread. It was a female lecturer talking about costs of living. The primary differences IIR was that today's family has 2 cars and a much, much bigger house.

Food, clothing and the necessities are all cheaper today than in the 70s.

Who the hell needs a hummer and a 4,000 square foot house for Pete's sake? My brother's house is 3 BR and about 1600 sq ft. The house my parents raised 7 kids was about 1500 square feet.

We had no iPods, cell phones, one BW tv, no dvd/home theatre 52 inch lcd, blah, blah, blah...

We did play monopoly, charades, etc. etc. etc.
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