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The new American Dream: Not live paycheck to paycheck

(EDITORIAL) While the American Dream of a two-story home with a white picket fence sounds dreamy, so does not living paycheck to paycheck.

american dream white picket fence

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… there was a dream.

It was the American Dream of a white picket fence nuclear family where everyone eventually went off to college and got awesome jobs.

These days are a little different and I mean for everyone, not just for the millennials who like to remind each other how much harder it is economically (than Baby Boomers) via memes. It’s not only a class issue of those living paycheck to paycheck, but I think we can all agree that this is the new American Dream: not living paycheck to paycheck.

So how does this new dream become obtainable? Are coding schools the answer for someone who is searching for a lucrative career path? Do we work side jobs? Do we donate plasma regularly?

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There are all kinds of personal finance information out there with varying sorts of the likelihood of possibility, or impossibility, even. Some will tell you to squirrel away at least 10% of your income or to become a committed saver. Or how about the Rule of 72? And let’s not forget nest eggs.

These are all nice ideas.

Planning for retirement, it’s the highest bit of advice that we can get yet it’s not even on the radar. We’re trying to make it through today, and hopefully tomorrow, too, speaking from someone who is also in this group.

Many Americans believe we are on the brink of a financial crisis versus thinking the current economy is strong. What’s most unfortunate about these kinds of statistics is that fear isn’t a motivator for saving.

“Sometimes in the face of uncertainty, people tend to freeze and not take any action at all”

I can’t blame anyone with the mindset of, “I need this money now.” Because that’s how life works.

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From someone who is also in this boat all I can say is save what you can. Do you really need to spend $30+ at the theater or can you wait for Redbox? Can you get up a little earlier to pack a lunch with what you’ve got?

I can’t tell you how often I’ve spent money eating out someplace only to walk away feeling frustratingly unsatisfied; you know that accompanying guilt of having bought food someplace only to have it felt not at all worth it.

So what’s a person to do in this crazy world we call now?

It’s an eye-roll worthy response, but the answer is really to save save save.

Whatever you get, pocket a bit into a savings account or a piggy bank, and don’t touch it. Maybe we don’t need that extra shot of espresso or that Pop! figure of Eleven with Eggos. That $5-$10 can be deposited somewhere, especially if it comes with some kind of interest.

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It does add up.

So really, it all boils down to saving what you can and not spending the extra cash on things that are fun or not really necessary. I mean did I really need the 4k UHD version of Baby Driver? No, but these are the sort of decisions you have to be prepared to make if you’re budgeting.

And the other obvious? If you work at a company that has a 401K plan, especially if it matches, jump on it! It may at first seem like money being deposited into a black hole, but future you will thank you.

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Written By

Ashe Segovia is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Southwestern University. A huge film nerd with a passion for acting and 80's movies and synthpop; the pop-cultural references are never-ending.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Claire Glassford

    April 26, 2022 at 5:26 am

    This is so true. Everything is so uncertain nowadays. More than survival, I want to live. REALLY LIVE LIFE.

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