The Daily Mail does make me laugh. This article about the 'squeezed' middle classes had 'Are they serious?!' comments written all over it. Reading through the article it is certainly hard to feel sorry for someone who is spending £15k on school fees because they do not think state schools push children into sport or for a couple earning £108k a year who have no savings and cannot save for a mortgage because of having a fondness for gadgets.
This isn't an article about the middle classes being financially squeezed because food and energy prices have increased, that article may have accrued a bit more sympathy - it is an article about people not having savings, having debt and (excuse me while I cry) having to 'vacay' in the UK because they have been trying to keep up with the Joneses. Actually, it is a rather unlikely Daily Mail article given the wry sarcasm in the article.
Keeping up with the Joneses is an easy trap. I am guilty of it. Despite my desperation to clear my debt only the other day I was looking at buying some sandals online after seeking an instagram 'friend' showing of her (beautiful) shoes before coming to my senses and remembering my goal of paying off debt. But if you don't have a financial goal, being lured into keeping up with friends is easy.
Reading through this article also makes me suspect that lifestyle inflation is a factor. This is certainly something that has resulted in my debt. At times I think I was financially better off just after I left university. I was only earning £10k a year but only owed about £1k on my credit card (and £13k student loan). As my salary has increased so has my debt. I have bought more expensive clothes, more expensive holidays and gadgets because I thought I should be able to afford them since I was a lawyer earning a decent salary. Here I am now at 32 with no savings, a tiny pension and just under £10k of credit card debt. I was always living beyond my means.
I had my awakening and am now trying to do something about it. I am not perfect and I am still wasting money but I am trying. Sadly, those in the article seem to either have their heads buried in the sand or are completely ignorant of what it is really like to be squeezed (I grew up with unemployed parents on benefits missing meals - that is squeezed). I hope the comments on the article will wake them up and make them realise that they need to change.
Are you sympathetic for these people? What do you think they should do?
* photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net