Michelle Singletary writes an interesting column in the Washington Post called The Color of Money. I enjoy her column because she often focuses on the emotional side of financial decisions. Today she wrote an article called Too Rich To Be Poor Mouthing.
During an online discussion on November 8th a gentlemen asked the following question:
My wife and I both have “Good Gub’ment” jobs. We both earn low 6 figures. We have just under half a million in TSP. We have 2 kids in private school and one on the way. Currently 2 Maryland 529’s and will start the next one when our new addition arrives. We have a decent mortgage (bought in ’98 before the ridiculous home prices), no credit card debt and one auto loan (2 years left). BUT, we spend so much money on all of these things (Tithing (non-negotiable), 15% TSP, private school, etc.) that we don’t have a penny saved for a rainy day or life happens. Neither of us appears to be to worried about that, although we know we should start banking some. Something always seems to come up when we try. What do you recommend?
In response to that question Michelle suggested the man cut back on his retirement savings or cut back on discretionary expenses in his budget. Both reasonable suggestions, but readers berated the man for asking his question. Including comments like the ones you see below:
“Those of you ‘struggling’ on $200,000 a year just need to think about how you would make ends meet if you only had $40,000 a year. As far as I’m concerned once you get into the six figures, you’ve lost your right to complain about money unless you’ve suffered a catastrophic emergency.”
“There is no way they can’t find money for savings… Stop eating out. Stop buying stuff. At $200,000plus, you CAN live VERY luxuriously AND save for an unexpected crisis. Come on!”
“That’s $200k before taxes, tithing, retirement savings, college savings, TWO private school tuition bills, etc. : A lot from THAT list is EXTRA, not necessary. Tithing, private schools, are both personal lifestyle luxuries, not necessities. Maybe the 1st poster who is saving more on $42,000 has some advice for the poor little rich family.”
“Expecting a private school [education] for your kids when most families do not have that luxury is self-centered.”
Michelle was surprised that readers thought she was lenient on the man and shocked by the reader’s quick reaction to bash him. She notes that the man was doing the right things with his money including saving for retirement and college. She also recognizes that middle and upper income families have enough money to pay for what they need, but like everyone else they might not have the money to pay for everything they want.
I found the online discussion and subsequent article quite interesting. I’d like to provide my own opinion on the matter, but first I’d like to hold an open discussion. If anyone has comments on the article please post them.