Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Middle Class ~ My Ass

Normally, one would be glad that you moved up into a higher income bracket. A little more money is always good. However with increasing fuel costs, and higher food prices, and our mortgage and other payments that are due each month, we’re feeling the pain—not the expected relief more money would provide.

We had significant tax deductions thanks to the major interest we’re paying for our mortgage and such, and we confidently went to our tax preparer in hopes of getting that little windfall that would allow us to breathe easy for a month or two, and to do some projects we’ve been waiting to do, or fix a car.

Unfortunately, we’d made too much money last year.

We went up a tax-bracket; by very little, just about a thousand dollars. But that alone was enough to give us a whopping tax refund of $200; which should just about cover our tax preparer’s bill. Our family members say in that patronizing tone: "Oh it could be worse... at least you don't owe anything." True to some degree, but STFU; it doesn't make our situation any better because we don't owe the IRS. We will eventually, the way things are going.

We are a childless couple. Of course, that means we don’t get any extra deductions, and we have a heavier tax burden.

Meanwhile, we have a couple of bills doubled-up… and we have to pick and choose who we can afford to pay monthly. We’ve turned off our cell-phones, gone down to basic cable, gone off 'green energy' with the electric company because it's too expensive. Even with vehicles that are fully paid off and a reasonable mortgage, we are still barely scraping by, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

We’re in our mid-thirties and we have nothing saved up, it is impossible to do so; something always comes along to gobble up anything we have. We can’t even find money to make home improvements, and we had to take out a credit line of $1,000 to make ends meet last month.

Hubby had to borrow against his 401K recently, and I’m thinking about shutting all my own benefits down so my paycheck is more substantial. How is this an acceptable fate for ‘middle class’ people? This is ridiculous. It’s not as if we’re living out of our means or living irresponsibly on credit alone like some of our younger relatives… We just can’t keep up with the $600 a month in fuel costs (which is always growing), not to mention the added expenses and inflating cost of basic goods; all along suffering with what are essentially, stagnant incomes (the yearly 2% raise we both get isn’t going to put filet-mignon on the table, that’s for sure—not when living expenses are going up, up and away). We have a 800 square foot home, and we pay $300 a month in winter for propane heating. There's something completely wrong with that.

We can’t even afford the down payment to get a new, more fuel efficient vehicle. Our option would be to get gouge-you-up-the-butt financing and another monthly bill we can’t afford!

We have to commute nearly seventy miles *each* on a daily basis to work, because jobs that are well-paid are scarce in our immediate vicinity. So here we are, scrabbling to keep our telephone paid up enough so we actually have one, and the IRS comes bumbling along and gobbles up something like 30% of our income. How is that okay? Meanwhile, people making incomes in the millions (usually our employers) have less of a tax burden than I do proportionately? What the hell? And to add insult to injury; all that money we're paying into social security now may not be matched for us when we get old and we have hardly any savings. I won't even touch on the money being spent on the war...

And Dubya’s solution to our reduced spending due to the rising cost of living? Send us a check that is in all essence a loan against the following year’s tax refund. In our cse... what refund? We will have to save up money just to pay back the ‘recession relief money’ that our government thinks will fix this shitty economy, and we can't even save money for ourselves! Does this mean we’re going to owe taxes for 2009? This just doesn’t make sense!

I’m sick of this! We’re supposed to be doing *better* than our parents. What’s gone wrong here? Someone please explain. Please.

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