Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Keeping My Head Above Water

This weekend I attended a conference where I was quoted some alarming statistics. First, I was told that the average per capita income for an individual in the United States if $45,000 annually. Second, I was informed that in the area in which I live, the average per capita income is $60,000 annually.

Why am I alarmed? Because I am apparently living well beyond my means, as my average income is well below that for the U.S., much less that for the area in which I reside. It is no wonder that I am struggling to keep my head above water.

I am a single mother of two daughters who are both now technically grown. One is living on her own and the other is graduating high school this year and will be attending college in the fall. The one going off to college has received substantial scholarships to continue her education, for which I am extremely grateful. However, I am still struggling to find a way to pay for the portion that is my responsibility. She has been offered subsidized student loans, which we are accepting; however, I am still coming up short in paying for the remainder. Additionally, I actually had to pay income taxes this year. There is a huge difference in how the numbers fall upon the page when your child is no longer considered to be a tax credit! Yes, she is still a dependent, but that has little effect on the end results. Between juggling my tax payments to the IRS and her college tuition payments, it appears that I may have to give up the family home and move to an apartment in order to maintain a budget that is workable.

With the increasing price of gasoline, food, etc. (because everything is going to continue to rise in price), I find it laughable that so many companies and government agencies are refusing to initiate even "cost of living" salary increases. How is the average individual supposed to survive? Why is anyone surprised at the recent increase in mortgage foreclosures? And how can anyone still debate whether or not we are in a recession?

Ah, the American dream...I will let you know whether drowning in a dream is actually possible.

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