Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday links - Budget edition aka "How to Get Rich Quick"

The Australian Government announced its 2013-2014 Budget this week, which led to the usual flood of analyses in the mainstream and social media. With inevitable spending cuts announced, there were a lot of cries of "poor me". There are certainly many Australians living under the poverty line, but the ones that cry poor the loudest always seem to be those with large incomes - large incomes but large expenses. These stories from my local paper are just two examples. (Blogger Nathan Lee has a term for these types of complainers - the "Plasma Proletariat".)

This article gives a good idea of where your income sits compared to other Australians, based on income and household size (and both families mentioned in the articles above are in the top 20%) - We Are All Dead, via @kylie_pc

We tend to live nearby and socialise with people who earn the same amount as us and, increasingly, high earners marry other high earners. This gives us a skewed perception as to what classifies as an "average" income. - Peter Martin

Want to see where your income sits on a global scale? An Australian earning $100 000 net pa is in the top 0.14% of earners in the world. An Australian earning $21 000 net is still earning more than 90% of the world's population. - Giving What We Can, Care Global Rich List

Meanwhile, some of the world's poorest people will be affected by the Australian budget. - Oxfam

Rachel Hills writes about The Privileged Poor this week - "When you're declaring social bankruptcy over drinking cleanskin wine instead of $17 cocktails... there is a little less room in your heart for those for whom poverty means having no choice at all..." "The result is a false dichotomy: either you are 'poor' and poised on the edge of bankruptcy, or you are 'comfortable' and you never have to think about money at all. But being middle-class doesn’t mean never needing to make a choice about what you spend your money on. It means having the wiggle room to choose in the first place." - The Daily Life

So, now that we've established that we're rich (based on the fact that most of the traffic to this blog comes from my Facebook page, which means we're Facebook friends, which means we probably have similar incomes and standards of living - see the Peter Martin article above) how can we feel rich?

I have a few ideas that I'm trying.

Not trying to keep up with the Joneses is a start. As Roosevelt said, "comparison is the thief of joy." If your salary increases, do not feel compelled to buy a bigger house, drive a flashier car and accumulate more gadgets (and more debt). Think of government benefits (eg the baby bonus) and tax cuts (eg private health insurance rebates) as privileges, not entitlements. Measure richness in concepts other than income, possessions and status - like friendships, health and freedom (including the freedom to make poor financial decisions). Spend time with people out of your income bracket - volunteer with newly arrived refugees, or old age pensioners.

I was reminded of this video today, the High Price of Materialism, which is relevant to this theme. - Center for a New American Dream

I hope you feel rich now.

Disclaimer: I am a rich single, employed home-owner with no dependents and I have never been poor.

1 comment:

  1. I have never felt poor, although sometimes we have to make tough decisions/choices when it comes to money. Thank you so much for this post, and for posting this video. I really enjoyed it.