The Myth of the Fixed Income

This evening I was watching financial guru Suze Orman on NBC’s Nightly News. She and Brian Williams mentioned how the current economic crunch times are especially tough on those with “fixed incomes.”

Most people define “fixed incomes” as the retirement incomes of folks in their 60s and older.

Excuse me. I would be happy to exchange economic seats with many of those “fixed income” folks. I say this because a lot of those incomes are fixed pretty high.

Most of us — especially the working poor – are on fixed incomes. Many companies pay as little as possible when it comes to salaries for those on the lower end of the social ladder. Companies of all sizes also freeze wages…sometimes for several years…fixing incomes of workers.

What about single parents working at the local Wal-Mart store? Don’t you think their income is “fixed” for the most part? And all of those small businesses Wal-Mart is blamed for putting out of business….many of them paid pretty low wages with lousy or no health insurance or other benefits.

I personally know a lot of people in their 40s and 50s who are making the same — or less — than they did 10 years ago. Things happen. Businesses close, companies merge, people are laid off. You don’t have to look very far to find middle-age folks starting over on a career due to down-sizing, age discrimination, health challenges…all kinds of reasons. Many of these people are still raising kids and or taking care of elderly parents. It’s hard to fix incomes high enough to cover all of these financial challenges.

For many people, it’s a myth that your salary will continue to rise throughout your working career…and the use of the word career is stretching it when describing many of the jobs that keep the economy pumping while many families live paycheck to paycheck.

There are many financially flush people who enjoy their senior discount, while younger minimum-age workers don’t get the much-needed price break.

If you are retired, you don’t have to fill up your car with high priced gasoline every week to drive to work. Retired people can stay home more to save money when times are tough.

The real Larry the Cable Guys of this world are lucky if they make twelve bucks an hour. And they have plenty of company in that salary range. It’s not hard to find ads for jobs in offices with bookkeeping responsibilities paying just 9 or 10 bucks an hour. With no benefits.

And, to get some of these not-so-lucrative jobs….a lot of employers make you sign away all of your privacy regarding your credit, legal liability…even your HIPPA rights so they can make sure you are physically fit to work for low wages. Some firms also want you to take a personality test before they hire you. How about if you show me your score, then I’ll show you mine.

“Living on a fixed income” is a very misleading phrase. It really doesn’t tell you the whole story.

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2 Responses to “The Myth of the Fixed Income”

  1. Jayne Zimmer

    I watched Suze’s interview as well, and she makes a valid point; one that more and more people caught in the financial crunch of today’s work and real estate markets are finally realizing! There are people all over the nation taking part in a program that allows you to pay off your home in a fraction of the time – on a paycheck! – (usually 1/3 to 1/2 the time) WITHOUT having to refinance, change monthly mortgage payments or change their lifestyle (if you go out for dinner now, you don’t have to go to eating top ramen).
    Check out the interview with NBC!
    Go to http://financialempowerment.designingfutures.tv and immediately click on “As Seen on T.V.” – lower left hand corner of page), stopping the commercial that automatically starts playing when you logon. Share this info with everyone you care about. It’s about time we learn how to make our hard-earned money work for us, instead of the banks!!!

  2. alan baer

    Thank you for saying what I’ve been trying to put into words, that the phrase ‘fixed income’ is obsolete, misleading, and unjust.

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