Keeping Up With The Jonses Is Expensive

From $100,000 and up is not enough – even the 'rich' live paycheck to paycheck

The trend of Americans earning six-figure paychecks living from paycheck to paycheck grew during the 2008 recession from 21% to 30% in 2009, according to a CareerBuilder.com survey. A recent survey by SunTrust found that things had not improved much by 2015. About 25% of those making over $100,000 a year still live paycheck to paycheck.

When I was a kid, my parents mostly lived paycheck to paycheck and they weren't making anywhere near the kind of money this Guardian articles is talking about. They were the "poor" version of this.

Back then, it never occurred to me that "rich" people might live paycheck to paycheck. Today, I see it all around me. They have fancy cars, every cable channel known to man, fancy furniture and dishes, $200/month cell phone bills with new smartphones each year. This includes their kids.

Me? I've got a nice house, but I still use folding tables for the desk in my office. I drive a 12 year old car that's paid for, my wife drives a 3 year old car that's also paid for. I have Internet, but basic cable TV service. Work pays for my mobile phone, the family is on prepaid service. Only person with the newest smartphone is me, which I buy every other year. The wife just got a used iPhone, my son just got her old iPhone. My daughter doesn't even have a smartphone (though that may change).

What I do have that the paycheck to paycheck folks don't? Savings that we use sparingly and restock regularly. Retirement accounts that I won't touch until I use them for retirement. What I don't have? Debt. Other than my house, everything is paid for. Money isn't spent unless we actually have it to spend. That sometimes means delaying purchases on things you need—or want.

Bottom line: I don't even try to keep up with my neighbors. That said, I live a comfortable lifestyle I can afford today and, with a lot more saving, will be able to afford when I retire.