More families are struggling to make ends meet more than ever—something has to give

Talk to any average American family—as in Middle America and the working class—and you’ll often hear a version of the same stressed-out sentiment over and over: “We’re making the most money we’ve ever made, yet we’re the poorest we’ve ever been.”

Why are so many families struggling to make ends meet in 2024? When will we get a break?

According to our 2024 State of Motherhood Survey, a majority of mothers reported struggling with living expenses and school debt. In fact, over a quarter of all moms (27%) reported receiving regular financial support from their parents, increasing to 49% for moms under 30. And that number only counts those who are privileged enough to be able to rely on their extended families for help. Many parents out there can’t do that.

Even though middle-class wage growth is considered to be high by historical standards, it isn’t keeping up with the increased cost of living, according to to a September 2023 report by the Congressional Budget Office. Because the cost of living in 2023 was up 6.5% from 2022, with most Americans’ salaries remaining stagnant. It’s basically impossible to live the same lifestyle previous middle-class generations used to live when we can’t even live the same lifestyle we were living just two years ago.

What qualifies a family as middle class?

The Pew Research Center defines middle class as “those earning between two-thirds and twice the median American household income,” which was $70,784 in 2021, according to Census Bureau data. Technically, American households earning as little as $47,189 and up to $141,568 can be considered “middle class,” though the median income is about $90,000.

While the top 1% of Americans continue to amass more wealth, the middle class is shrinking. The Pew research shows that just 50% or less of the population falls into this economic group, down from 61% 50 years earlier.

How are families getting by in 2024?

The 2023 State of Motherhood survey shows that 55% of survey respondents claim they never receive financial support from their extended families, though this year that number decreased to 48%.

A recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states Americans are dipping into their savings accounts and racking up credit card debt to get by as spending habits haven’t changed despite the radical increase of the cost of living.

Because while the average annual food-at-home prices were 5% higher in 2023 than in 2022, we all still need to feed our families.

A majority of Americans say they’re now living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2024 CNBC survey. These are the biggest financial stressors for American families living paycheck to paycheck:

  • 69% cite inflation
  • 59% cite lack of savings
  • 28% cite rising interest rates
  • 33% cite credit card debt
  • 28% cite medical or healthcare bills
  • 21% cite layoffs or loss of income
  • 15% cite student loans

Where do we go from here?

With so many families in the same financial boat, shaming them for spending not only doesn’t work—it’s a cruel thing to do. While it may seem logical to simply “reduce spending” and voilà, problem solved, real life doesn’t work that way for people who aren’t making enough money to live—let alone save.

When a government is unable to protect and care for its citizens, many people leap to placing blame on individuals instead of focusing on the common good. But American Individualism means seeing the country as comprised of unrelated autonomous individuals instead of a society—and thus the myth of American meritocracy is born. As Americans, we tend to honor personal achievements and assume that success is directly correlated to people who work harder than others. This legitimizes social inequality and blatantly ignores inherent privileges that help people become financially successful in this country.

With all of that in mind, it’s also an election year. A new Gallup poll reports that 41% of Americans say inflation and the high cost of living as the most important financial problems their families currently face. While recession fears have faded, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to the collective financial struggle.

Families are struggling to buy homes and pay mortgages, weekly grocery bills have practically doubled, the childcare crisis wages on, and the number of moms sharing these same worries in our algorithms has dramatically increased. While it certainly helps to know that no one is alone in this financial crisis, it’s hard not to feel completely abandoned thanks to those with political power and extreme wealth that comes income tax-free.

The current financial crisis isn’t the fault of Middle America or the working class, and it can’t be solved by not getting manicures and Starbucks lattes. Families everywhere are reaching their breaking point—financially and mentally—over issues we’re practically powerless to control.

Something has simply got to give, and soon.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top