Husband and I sat down last night to watch 20/20 on ABC. I was intrigued by the topic: Life on the Edge. The show was going to highlight real people who had been greatly impacted by the recent economic downturn. The show started out with the story of a man who went from making $750,000 a year to being a pizza delivery man, making $7.25 an hour, plus tips. Talk about a pay cut! As they interviewed the man and his wife, we learned that they hadn't made a mortgage payment in 2 years, because they cannot afford it. They are so poor that they qualify for $500 a month in food stamps. The man left his job a couple of years to open his own hedge fund management business. It wasn't as successful as he had hoped. Just when we were starting to really feel for this man and his family, it is revealed that they have used up all of their savings...all $500,000 of it. Yes, that is correct. They had half a million dollars in savings, and it is completely gone. That's when Husband and I looked at each other in disbelief. Half a million dollars?? How long could a person live on that much money. Say you live on $125,000 a year, half a million dollars would last 4 years. If you live on half of that, $62,000 a year, you could live for 8 years on your savings. How many people live on less than $62,000 a year? I could go on, but I think you see my point. Instead of moving to a more affordable house, this family choose to stay in the house that they could not afford. There was no indication that the wife had tried to find employment. Both children are enrolled in a private school. (The $30,000 tuition is being paid by an anonymous person.) They stated that they have tried to keep up appearances, despite having no money. What is more important: pretending that you can afford things, or actually having things you can afford? Now, before you think I am heartless, let me say that I completely acknowledge that things are rough for thousands of people right now. The unemployment rate is high; foreclosures are happening at alarming rates; jobs are hard to find. People struggle everyday to put food on the table. But don't expect me to cry for a family that has taken no steps to adjust to the realities of their financial situation. Give me $500,000 and I'll show them how to live for 10 years on $50,000 a year. Millions of Americans live on $50,000 a year. They are not classified as "broke" or "poor". They are middle-class.
*To see the interview, go to the 20/20 website.*