The New Middle Class: Drowning, Not Waving

Ten-dollar bill obverse/reverse
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Here’s another grim report on what’s happening to the middle class in the U.S. — sliding beneath the waves.

From the New York Post:

She’s $16,000 in debt to credit card companies. One of her local grocers, who once let her buy food on a running tab, now has a bill collector after her. She has her résumé up online, but when headhunters call and ask her age, “suddenly they never call me back,” she says. “I’m depressed. None of my friends are able to find jobs. I am living day-to-day.”

Anne’s biggest fear is that her daughter finds out how dire the situation is.

“She’ll say to me, ‘Are we poor?’ And I keep lying,” Anne says. “I think it’s a very traumatic thing for a child. I don’t want her to feel like she’s the only one, or a victim.”

When the recession does ease up, Anne fears that she will emerge as a permanent member of the lower class.

“The world kind of betrayed us,” she says. “The salary I was making — I don’t think I’ll ever make it again.”

There are several women like Anne in my book,”Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” (Portfolio/Penguin), now gone to press, which looks at the single largest source of new jobs in the United States — retail. Most of those jobs pay $7-12 an hour, poverty level wages. No commission, no bonuses, no raises. A dead-end job for a whole new set of workers, people who once believed they had vocational choices.
The American Dream of upward mobility is dead, if not dying, for millions of educated, hard-working people, many of them workers over the age of 40, most certainly those over 50. People who have kids or grandkids who need their financial help to complete their college educations.
Who’s got an extra$20,000 to $30,000+ to head back to school full-time to get a shiny new career and start all over again at…55? 60? 47?
That’s not how it’s supposed to work. By your 40s or 50s, life, as it once was for many of us, was supposed to be a little calmer — your home bought and maybe paid off; your kids launched into financial independence, retirement a mere decade or so away.
No longer. Millions of us have lost good jobs,  can’t even get an interview for the next one, can no longer imagine when or how things might ever get better, when we might feel safe or calm or happy about our economic situation.
Are you feeling financially secure these days?
If not, what would it take to get you there?

Pre-Nups Gaining Favor With British Women

Favor Cake for wedding, with 40 carton boxes a...
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For better or worse — forever?

Women in Britain are starting to see the value of pre-nuptial agreements, reports the Guardian. The subject was sufficiently explosive to make the paper shut down comments after 64 readers weighed in, including one man’s sad tale:

Ten years ago I got married and I signed a pre-nup.

A little over a year later, I was dumped and forced to walk away from our marriage with very little except bitter / sweet memories and considerable heartache. (Faults on both sides, mine especially, but even so, I am not a cheat, a liar or a wifebeater – I thought marriage was supposed to be for life, not just a season?)

So, anyway, no children involved, and my missus kept her two houses and substantial savings. Within a year I lost my job (stress) and went into a spiral of depression and debt that I’ve not yet fully recovered from (esp’ the debt).

Okay, I entered the marriage with bugger-all finances wise, so the pre-nup was in many respects quite fair. But, if anything, my position worsened after marriage, while her finances were largely unaffected. Financially and emotionally I was devasted – nearly fucking ruined, in heart and in wallet. Yet my missus carried blythely-on and shacked up with someone else fairly soon after. And then stopped communicating with me at all.

I don’t want her cash. It was never about the money. But there were times when I was seriously, seriously fearful about where the money would come from for my rent or groceries, y’know seriosuly confronting homelessness and proper poverty, that I thought to myself, surely this just isn’t bloody right?

When you stand in a kirk and say that you will be with someone for richer, for poorer, til death do you part, then dump that person and levae them in mired in depression and penury, then just what the fuck do those words mean? What then, is a pre-nup? A device for cutting someone out of your life and abandoning them? Seems so to me.

While some people consider pre-nups a death blow to the sweet romance of marriage, others argue in their favor. Here’s a list of reasons to consider one. Continue reading “Pre-Nups Gaining Favor With British Women”