Spent time these past weeks reading news stories about people who have lots of things in their lives, but can’t necessarily pay their rent, buy food or pay needed bills. Depending on family, friends or public assistance to help pay for the necessities is hard when you work, and you think you should be able to afford to live in a decent place, and put food on your table for yourself and your family.
How did we get here? How did we get to where paying your rent and utilities and buying food is harder than purchasing a new TV or a new smartphone?
It shouldn’t be this way. Really, there’s a major disconnect between the necessary costs of life and the wants that pop up because of our monetized advertised capitalist world. It boggles my mind when I go to the grocery store and see that fresh greens for a salad cost more than potato chips or soda. Or I look at the internet connection bill and wonder where all my monthly fees are going. Do you ever look at the find print on bills? The legalese sometimes makes my head hurt.
Most people need to work to support themselves. But today’s economy leaves very little room to move and change things. If you want to pay one bill you might have to put off paying another, or pay it partially. Or you want to do something – like go to the movies – which is fun, relaxing and enjoyable – but then you don’t have money for decent food so you buy junk to eat. Or no food at all.
You might have a decent job, but nearby housing is expensive – too much for your budget, so you take a place further away. This adds commute time, commuting costs and sometimes costs you needed rest time. And the commuting time takes away from time you should spend with your family, doing things like eating a decent dinner and helping with homework and house chores.
None of the ways I look at the costs of living are adding up. Food costs are soaring, housing costs are high in areas that are closer to good jobs. Commuting costs are going up because infrastructure maintenance has to be done and costs are passed onto commuters. Yet even good jobs are paying less than the costs of living, and not taking into account all the costs we carry long term – college tuition, car loans, medical payments. We pay and pay, and necessities wait until we get a little ahead, whereupon we are immediately thrown back into scrambling.
I am looking at my monthly bills today. And my stomach hurts.