Are you falling behind?

siblingsMore than half of Americans—56 percent—say they’re falling behind financially, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center.

That’s not surprising, given that a recent Census Bureau study concluded that most Americans are worse off financially than they were before the recession, despite gains in the stock market and home prices.

Which is why Donna Freedman’s latest piece for Get Rich Slowly, “Why I voluntarily slashed my salary,” is a timely read.

Like the rest of us who wrote for MSN Money, Donna faced a big drop in income when the site pulled the plug on original content. Rather than try to recoup what she’d lost, though, Donna made a conscious decision to live on a lot less.

Donna’s situation is Donna’s. Yours is probably quite different. But I’m always inspired reading what she has to say about the benefits of a more frugal, conscious life.

That doesn’t mean I think that status quo is okay. The ever-widening gap between rich and poor is not okay. The huge debts young people take on to get educated is not okay.  The fact that most people’s finances can be seriously and permanently upended–by a layoff, a divorce, a death in the family–is not okay.

It’s also not okay to keep blaming individuals for what are clearly huge economic trends. Overspending on credit cards did not trigger the Great Recession.

But if you’re living with less, Job One is figuring out how to make that work, at least for now. Job Two may be pushing for change.



  1. We need T-shirts: I don’t make enough to pay less!
    That’s the story I hear every time I try to refinance. Never late, never missed a payment, but golly … I don’t earn enough to refinance so can’t pay less.
    It’s an easy cut to make and will make a HUGE difference in our ability to pay bills.
    Been turned down by HAMP and HARP and every other program out there.

  2. You forgot to mention the devastating impact of medical issues and the lack of affordable health insurance.

  3. The changes in the health care system were great, in that no one can be denied coverage, and, more health problems are covered than in the past. However, the cost every month is a budget-buster, & appears to be getting worse instead of better for the middle class.

    Also, the people I’m around work harder & longer hours, as the trend appears to be continuing of companies slashing budgets to have as few people do as much work as is humanly possible. (Think of the last time, for example, you went shopping or stopped somewhere for lunch. Did you see many people working there?) Working people to the bone is NOT loyalty to your employees. And to expect employee loyalty under those conditions is laughable, to say the least, with lower wages & fewer benefits.