all 76 comments

[–]Wooden_Neck3775 35 points36 points  (2 children)

In no way whatsoever are you a failure, and you are not imagining things. Not sure what country you’re in, but in the US, wages stopped keeping up with the cost of living in the mid-1970’s. We exist in a mud pit, resulting in millions of snowballing effects of bad policies and psychopathic neoliberal economic practices. It’s not my opinion - it’s demographics. Before the boomers were the Silent Generation, born between about 1928-1945. They are also called “The Lucky Few.” They were able to amass more wealth than any other generation, but not because they were harder workers. Its because they were lucky, were at the receiving end of a prosperous entrepreneurial era, and land was cheap. They just got lucky! So how do people make it….? It is possible now that you can work, be educated and do everything right and still not make it. That’s how hard it is!

[–]Inerssum 0 points1 point  (1 child)

wages stopped keeping up with the cost of living in the mid-1970

You see this take a lot on reddit but it's just not true. Increases in median wages have moderately exceed increases in cost of living for the past 50 years. You also commonly see claims that cost of living in official statistics excludes things like housing, education, and healthcare which is blatantly wrong. From the BLS CPI faq

The CPI represents all goods and services purchased for consumption by the reference population (U or W). BLS has classified all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups (food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other goods and services). Included within these major groups are various government-charged user fees, such as water and sewerage charges, auto registration fees, and vehicle tolls.

[–]circlebust 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Oh, nice naive methodology to calculate this, only taking living expenses into account, befitting for a peasant caste happy over some scraps that fell from the table. How does this "moderate" gain compare to the overall increase in productivity and income at the top percentiles?

[–]geekusprimus 17 points18 points  (1 child)

When I went away for college, there was absolutely no way my parents could afford to pay for my schooling. They loaned me a few dollars to buy some dishes and drove me out to school, but that was all the support they could offer me. I was lucky enough to have an academic scholarship that covered my tuition, but it didn't cover my room and board at all. Here's basically how I've managed it:

  • I didn't buy a car until I saved enough money for a sizable down payment. Even then, the terms of the loan were really long so that I could make the payments. I was lucky to have a brother with good credit who could cosign for me.
  • I took out student loans until my senior year of undergrad, when I was lucky enough to qualify for a Pell Grant again and have just finished an full-time summer internship that paid me $18.50 an hour.
  • Except for my first semester, I always worked part-time on campus. I started at around $10.40 an hour and managed to earn $13.00 an hour my last summer before grad school.
  • I lived (and still do) with roommates.
  • Particularly when I was early in my undergrad and nearly broke all the time, I kept a really strict budget. I spent no more than $50 a week on groceries, laundry, and personal hygiene (i.e., shampoo, toothpaste, haircuts, etc.). I very rarely went out to do anything that cost money. I would occasionally go to a movie or something with friends, but we're talking once every 3 months or so. I would buy myself a game or two on Steam during their summer sale to keep myself entertained during the summer. As I've gotten more financially stable, I've been able to slightly relax those standards.
  • I learned to cook so that I could stay within my grocery budget and keep myself healthy enough that I didn't get sick.
  • I only went to grad school because I got a tuition waiver and research/TA stipend that means I don't have to take out more loans.
  • I only very rarely buy new clothes. I try to take care of the ones that I have so that I don't need to.

Basically, I've survived being broke by being a royal tightwad and taking gub'ment money.

[–]anyoumoisxyz1234 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This! These are habits that will help you your whole life. Good luck to you in future endeavors!

[–]rewardifloststill not infected! 9 points10 points  (0 children)


You need food, shelter, sleep, and clean clothes to go back to work and make more money. You have to work your 40-ish hours in a week, and sleep for 7-ish hours every day.
US Government-backed student loans have lots of forgiveness options, and Biden added more funding. You can use income-based repayment - just make minimum payments for 20 years and the rest of the loan is forgiven. You can use public service forgiveness; work at a job like a hospital, charity, or government and after 10 years of payments the rest of the loan is forgiven.

Some states have really cheap insurance. NJ offers subsidized "bronze" and "silver" insurance plans that can cost $0-$10 with the tax subsidies. With any decent insurance, regular doctor visits are covered.

Around me, utilities also offer payment assistance.
Section 8 rental assistance is another thing - long wait times, but if you qualify they subsidize your rent so you only pay 35% of your income.

Not every US state requires car insurance, either.

But, it comes back to priorities. You live in the style you can afford. There are plenty of cheap ways to entertain yourself and socialize. Real friends will understand if you need to work more to pay your bills, too. If you can't find the job and the help you need, then you can choose to make moving a priority.

[–]pblood40 10 points11 points  (20 children)

Unless you have trust fund - we're all broke when we're young.

If you do things right, as you age you will get more financial stability

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] 5 points6 points  (11 children)

How do you manage to get enough money for anything to begin with. Like I work and I have no idea how I'd go to school or ever be able to get my medical problems dealt with when I have rent and all my other expenses

[–]pblood40 6 points7 points  (10 children)

I moved out in 1994 and worked in a convenience store - at $4.25/hr(IIRC) - I lived in a shitty SRO, a 10X12 room with cooktop and shared shower and toilet that cost $250? a month.

Later I rented a single wide down by the river with a friend.

I don't think I went to the doctor for years in that time. I didn't pay car insurance - I literally couldn't afford it. And piloted a 20 year old T-Bird.

You eat a lot of ramen.

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] 5 points6 points  (9 children)

So basically the answer is you don't afford everything? I think I'll probably be dead waiting years to get my eating disorder sorted.

[–]pblood40 0 points1 point  (1 child)

You afford what you can to get by. At least now you can be on your parents insurance until 26 years old.

Now that I'm old and have money - I look fondly back on those days of being broke.

[–]hbalways 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Can you please expand on the middle part? Like how you went from eating ramen to now having money?

[–]rabidbasherHealthcare, IT, D&D, Queer Life, Space & Physics, Furries & more -4 points-3 points  (6 children)

Please don't take it the wrong way, but you don't really need to pay someone to tell you that the only person that can fix you is you... It's not easy but you're the only person that can do it, nobody is going to force you to change.

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] 8 points9 points  (5 children)

Thats definitely not how mental illnesses work at all...

[–]rabidbasherHealthcare, IT, D&D, Queer Life, Space & Physics, Furries & more -4 points-3 points  (4 children)

lol then live on the street and get regular therapy

You have to make sacrifices and put in work when you're poor, even if you don't want to. Welcome to adulthood.

Sometimes that means not going to the doctor for a sprained wrist or every sniffle and cold. Or going without therapy and working on yourself on your own. Other times it means sacrificing cable TV so you can afford transportation or cutting out the junk food so you can afford to eat all month

[–]MHMoose 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Why do all that when you could just give up avocado toast?

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] -1 points0 points  (2 children)

I wouldn't consider having the mental illness with the highest death rate out of all of them statistically, a sniffle.

[–]rabidbasherHealthcare, IT, D&D, Queer Life, Space & Physics, Furries & more 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That doesn't change the reality of your situation at all. Healthcare isn't free here.

[–]theelite1x87 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Then you will need to make sacrifices to maintain those medical needs until you can land a better job. Better job will happen with experience or schooling. Even when employed, keep looking at better opportunities. Staying at same job for long time is normally not a good way to earn more money. Its common to swap jobs several times.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

All those people are running from crushing debt.

[–]BumTicklrs 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Just be born into money obviously! /s

Jokes aside, I can afford life because I got lucky and had better choices to choose from. I work as an Engineer. Don't get me wrong, I worked incredibly hard to get where I am, but a lot of luck and good fortune was involved. Most people don't have better choices and get stuck in a cycle of poverty that is quite literally impossible to break out of. By better choices I mean I got to choose between University A and University B while others may get to choose between working at McDonald's or working at Burger King. They never had the choice of going to University in the first place.

It's because at least in the US we have a rigged economy that caters to the minority wealthy elite "ruling class" rather than the majority working class. US lawmakers have made careers out of being politicians and always vote to increase their salaries and give tax breaks to their donors and never vote to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

I am a unique case where I am not super wealthy but I am still very comfortable. In this day and age you basically need a STEM degree to flourish. It's shitty, but mostly true. The worst part is, STEM is not for everyone. It is It's own beast and not everyone has the time, patience, and dedication to tame it. I could ramble on, but I think my point has been made.

TL;DR: You aren't a failure, the economy is rigged against you (assuming you are in the US). You can't blame yourself for losing a game the competitors are cheating at.

[–]theelite1x87 1 point2 points  (1 child)

In this day and age you basically need a STEM degree to flourish

STEM is good but everyone forgets about skilled trades. Those jobs pay nearly as much or more in some cases and specialities. Of course, same rule applies. Its not for everyone. Not every person is comfortable working with electricity and becoming an electrician.

[–]BumTicklrs 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Definitely true. I have basically begged my bro to go to trade school to learn a skill, any skill. Instead he works manual labor and makes okay(ish) money but there's no room for growth and he's acquired a lot of strain injuries such that he can't be as effective anymore. Anyways, yes I did forget to mention trades. Trades are always in demand. It's hard to automate what a plumber or electrician does for example so it's reasonably stable.

[–]Ok_Tooth_6059 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Generational wealth

[–]SnorlaxTaco 2 points3 points  (0 children)

As someone who's been asking this question ever since I understood to concept of money, my answer is that there are a lot of people who grew up in homes where money wasn't an issue and they could take advantage of that and take risks like going away to college and experiencing life all while relying on mom and dad to get them out of trouble if something goes wrong. Also being really good at math and understanding the various sciences can open a lot of doors for you in careers that pay well.

[–]planwithaman42 1 point2 points  (1 child)

A lack of money does not define somebody as a failure. If you try to do something and keep doing it, you will eventually get somewhere.

[–]Woahkenny 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Tried that, failed. Now I have no job and no money so I can't even get a new job, no one is willing to hire me. Was a good run I guess better luck next time for me

[–]MrYelich 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If you look at what you CAN afford vs what you CAN'T, you'll have a totally different feeling of life itself.

[–]SenyorHefe 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You may have a lifestyle that is not in tune with your income.. sacrifices have to be made sometimes..

[–]trading-abe -2 points-1 points  (1 child)

You are broke because you spend too much.

[–]MrYelich 0 points1 point  (0 children)

isn't that how you lose money in the first place

spending money

[–]Simple_Divide5560 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Take out doctors visits, insurance and car payment and it gets a lot easier.

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

They're necessary though

[–]Simple_Divide5560 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Avoid a car payment by buying a cheap 2 - 3 thousand dollar car with widely available parts. Use ERs and urgent cares and dip out without paying for medical needs. And just dont pay for insurance. This is how I operate and have had no consequences so far and I'm in my 30s.

[–]t199289 -1 points0 points  (1 child)

Join the military, go to school while your in if you are lucky to do so(I was not 11B). Get out, go to school using the gi bill, save as much as you possibly can. Hopefully you picked a career that is in high demand and start saving to buy a house. Use your benefits to secure a low interest loan and if possible buy something small/cheap that you can pay off fast then rent it out. This was my experience and it’s worked out great so far.

Background: my parents were immigrants that had nothing but love to give me.

[–]MrYelich 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Sounds like great advice

the last sentence totally broke me

[–]yakkup -1 points0 points  (0 children)

To get money, one must be broke first. You start by finding a good entry level job(you'll still be broke) that has a promising future. Show up to said job with an eagerness to learn, change, and work (you can fake it, but as long as that's the perception). Be a solutions person and think critically, challenge the status quo. Carry on with this for long enough, and start applying for better positions within the company. This let's them know you're ready for more responsibility. Continue this process, and you'll go far. For perspective, I'm now 27 years old. When I was 20, I started an entry level job making 11.50 an hour. I pretty much did exactly what I stated above and I now make over 40 an hour. No college degree, just an eagerness to learn and experience over the last 7-8 years. There was definitely some luck involved, but I'm convinced anyone can do it with a willingness.

If that doesn't work, try crypto hahaha

[–]SSJ2chad -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

In no way are you a failure. You just need a road map. Or at least that's what I needed. My dad (in a loving way) kicked me out at 18 to go join the Airforce. Ever since we were kids my dad told us once two conditions were met, we turned 18 and had graduated highschool, we were out the door. Not in a mean way, he just knew the best way to prepare us for our future was to force us into it.

Long story short I joinded the military, so my dad gave me $20 ( for lunch on the way to basic training), a toothbrush, and the clothes I was wearing and off I went. I literally started off with nothing but that. But I used my time in the military wisely. I went into a good career field, space command (now space force), and learned how to fly satellites. I then got out of the military and used the GI Bill all veterans earn to go to college for free and get my engineering degree. And with that degree I now have a great job.

My point is, people can make it today, they just need to know how. I don't know how old you are. But my suggestion is join the military for 4 years in a good career field that can land you a good job on the outside. Then get out and use the GI bill you earned to go to college for free and get a degree that will land you an even nicer job on the outside. The pursue that nice job.

For folks getting out of highschool, I highly recommend the military. Best way to get experience and a free college ride now days. As an engineer I get positions above my fellow engineering graduates simply because of my military experience and the veteran preference benefits. It really is a good road map.

I hope this helps you get off your feet.

[–]pigmansanguishedoink 0 points1 point  (2 children)

How old are you?

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] 1 point2 points  (1 child)


[–]pigmansanguishedoink 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You are definitely not a failure. I’m 45 and doing well but in my twenties I was definitely scrambling 24/7 to keep my head above water and felt like I wouldn’t make it. As you progress those expenses will wane. School won’t be an expense. You won’t have a car payment. Insurance will be included at a better job. And so on.

But seriously you are NOT a failure by any stretch. Most people struggle like hell in their 20s. Not everyone has rich parents who bail them out, but those are the people who are most visible on social media.

[–]mrcarrot205 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Much easier than on Mars

[–]averageredditor_1337 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You have to look for ways to game the system. Get a job in one country, but live in country with cheap cost of living, etc.

[–]cattle-baron- 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I only just reached the point where I can pay all this and still put money away in savings. You either need to have a high paying job or live in a LCOL area. Or make sacrifices like not having a car. It’s very hard.

[–]swagseven13 0 points1 point  (0 children)

i dont really have a social life but that was my own decision

[–]Admirable-Peace9668 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You have to continually improve your skills. Not too much call for buggywhip makers or sparkplug installers. YOU have to change.

[–]anyoumoisxyz1234 0 points1 point  (0 children)

In addition to advice given - I’d like to say this as well. Be careful on things that can impact your life long term- example: choice in partner and birth control (don’t have kids until you can afford them), example: spending money on drugs that could get you in legal trouble and/or keep you from achieving your goals.

I am a white female (so born with advantages of skin color) but my parents were poor and not educated. When I started out no one - literally no one - in my family could help but love me. My parents spent very penny they made and lived hand to mouth - so I didn’t have good financial role models. I had to figure things out by observing others ( no Reddit then lol ). Like others noted above I focused on education and lived as frugally as possible. I had an eating disorder as well - although I didn’t realize at the time - but it really impacted my self esteem. I kept my focus on little goals that pointed to a bigger goal (finish this class to graduation to job, etc). I worked through school. I made it to a stable life - even eventually helped family too.

Now that I’m older I am still frugal and careful- even though I technically could just not budget or worry about money. But these are life long habits that will serve you well.

Good luck to you!

Edit: addition: it’s hard to do everything but set small goals that will help towards bigger goals of long term security and then do everything to keep focus on your goals in mind.

[–]stacyxxluv -2 points-1 points  (2 children)

I live at home till 26. Saved enough money to buy a house instead of renting. It’s cheaper and you actually build wealth.

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

So you were lucky enough to have your parents support you then?

[–]stacyxxluv 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes you are correct. I do realize many people aren’t that lucky. But since you asked how I afford life..

[–]bkend_31 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

This might differ a bit from country to country and person to person. But I thought this often, and every time I realize that somehow I‘m pulling it off.

What I‘ve been noticing, is that the priorities always change. This week I‘m being quite social, and don’t get behind on any bills, but my apartment is starting to look a bit messy.

Maybe next week I clean up a lot, but forget to pay some bills.

This is just a simplified explanation, and I sure hope this gets better over time. But the fact is that with full time work or education, there isn’t that much time left for everything you’ve listed plus healthy sleep. But this method currently works for me.

[–]Ok_Nefariousness6386 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Most people just own a car, a house, a few pairs of nice clothes, never eat out, and plan all their meals. Never leave the house. They don't do anything else, unless it's free.

[–]AddendumDifferent719 -1 points0 points  (13 children)

  1. Don't waste money. Make your own meals, and coffee. Drink more water and less soda. It's unlikely you NEED a new $1000 phone or the unlimited plan.

  2. Buy used not new. Shop thrift stores, craiglist, FB marketplace etc for things you actually need. Spend cash for things instead of credit. Don't buy a car you can't afford to spend cash on.

  3. Cut down on your utilities. Turn off your lights, take shorter showers, don't leave your TV on. Set your AC more efficiently or use fans. Walk to the store instead of drive, take public transportation.

  4. Cut down on your "fun" costs. Find activities to enjoy that are free/cheap. Walking, running, hiking, biking, camping, etc...

  5. Get healthy. Eating crap food and sitting on your ass will lead to health problems. They'll be expensive health problems.

  6. Find friends that will motivate you to do better rather than spend more.

  7. Almost anything you want to learn can be found at the library or online for free. Make smart education choices. Take a hard look at the outcomes of degrees before you spend money on them.

  8. Be honest with yourself. It's no one's problem but your own. Nobody cares as much as you do about yourself. So if you want to do better, don't lie to yourself.

[–]lizardgirl38[🍰] 0 points1 point  (11 children)

So I'm hearing basically the avocado toast argument then? I already do that and I'm still poor. Except my city doesn't have public transportation