You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.


I like to walk to explore my city, and last summer I walked past this house (Google Street View warning). I looked at the large home with its long lake frontage and a fountain built in the most desirable part of town and asked myself "I wonder if they worry about money." Turns out they probably do.

One thing the article didn't touch on was people renting indefinitely. I have friends who essentially intend to rent forever because they have no budget buffer to save up for a down payment, and even if they could, the cities are too expensive to buy in. So each month their money goes to the property owner, and when it comes time to move, they'll have zero equity. I think in 30 years a lot of my peers will find themselves with little retirement and little equity in anything. It'll be a problem.

I've been living well below my means for some time. Articles like this help me feel like I'm doing the right thing.

posted by kleinbl00: 982 days ago