A recent article detailing what was called the “secret shame” of the American middle class pointed out that a surprising number of those occupying what is often portrayed as an entirely secure financial class of American society would be largely unable to come up with $400 in the event of an emergency. There are many reasons why this is the case, notes Darren Pawski, as many are saddled with many different kinds of debt or have simply overextended themselves financially for something such as higher education, which they value so deeply that it is perceived as worthy of the subsequent financial instability.
Perhaps there is something noble about a family moving to an overly expensive area or neighborhood in order to provide their children with access to a better school system, and there are indications that in many cases this is an entirely reasonable investment in a child’s future. Pawksi wonders, however, if these kinds of circumstances would be necessary if these middle-class Americans were more committed to long-term financial planning.
It simply should not be the case that a homeowner is unable to have a plumbing issue corrected by a professional — or has to go deeper into debt to do so — when they are making up to six figures per year. With adequate and advance financial planning, being debt-free and having cash on hand for any emergency is an entirely reasonable outcome.