‘It’s nonsense for people on $100k to cry poverty’
FOR A time, in my late 20s, I learned what it was like to live hand to mouth.
I was working in a Wellington restaurant and home was a one-bedroom flat in a converted house in Wellington.
I slept in the lounge while my daughter had the bedroom when she wasn't staying with her dad.
I learned how to stretch meals with the addition of rice and oats.
I had one pair of shoes that were soled and resoled until they finally fell apart.
I didn't see a dentist for years and I ran out of petrol so many times because I could never put more than 10 bucks worth of fuel in the car.
It didn't feel so bad at the time because when it's your reality, it's what you know.
It was only afterwards, when I had moved cities to take up a job that paid twice what I was getting as a waitress, that I realised how precarious my existence was.
Having a regular income that allowed me to buy a house and to pay my bills on time didn't just bring financial security but emotional security.
That constant flutter of panic in the pit of my stomach vanished.
Taking the car in for a warrant of fitness, for example, was simply a matter of phoning the mechanic and booking a time, instead of a nerve-racking, nail biting experience that took weeks and weeks to save for.
It was a vastly different existence and - 25 years later - I still don't take for granted my change of circumstances.
And that's why I think it's nonsense for people to cry poverty when they're earning more than $100,000.
My colleague on NewstalkZB Mike Hosking was scathing this week of those earning six figures who were crying poor.
He understood people struggling to make ends meet while living on welfare. And he understood that times can be tough for people working on minimum wage.
But people who couldn't survive on $100k were simply useless with money, according to Mike. And, he said, the idea that they were living in poverty was BS - pure and simple.
I couldn't agree more. According to a news report this week, Statistics NZ data shows that more than 30,000 households with incomes more than $100,000 said they didn't have enough money to live on.
Another 116,000 said they only just had enough to live on. Is it because they are poor? No. It's because they have a level of expectation of how they should be living that exceeds the money coming into their pockets.
A financial coach was quoted as saying one example of how six figure households suffer is that home maintenance is deferred and then their properties devalue. Dear God.
The concept of home ownership is so far away from so many hard working, low paid workers that its almost insulting to read the attempts at justifying the pity party.
Anyone struggling on $100k should ask a solo mum on the DPB or a couple slaving away on the minimum wage for financial advice. People on welfare or low incomes are generally excellent budgeters because they simply don't have any other choice.
They have to account for every dollar and make it work for them.
And while those earning big money might feel aggrieved that their salaries are being eaten up by huge mortgages or children's school fees or exorbitant health insurance premiums - these are all costs that are incurred because of their lifestyle choices and they are costs that people who are genuinely struggling can only ever dream of paying.
Those on six-figure incomes are free to moan about how tough it is to pay for the kids' private school uniforms when the bill for the landscaping has just come in.
They can gripe if they wish when everybody else in their leafy street is heading off to beach resorts in the middle of winter while they're left behind to endure the cold because the shares didn't perform as well as expected this year.
But bitch to one another. Don't expect support from people who know what it's really like to struggle.
Living in an insulated bubble with an inflated sense of your own entitlement is not worthy of sympathy.
This article was originally published on the NZ Herald