For Sale – One American Dream

There has been some past harping on this topic in the past, but then again, new information comes to light, so I feel obligated to touch on it again. Oh, and yes, today is Independence Day in the USA, but not here in Hungary. Happy 4th to all Americans – those by birth or those by choice.

Today in USA today, an article addressed the American Dream as costing $130,000 a year. Can you afford it? I know there is no way in hell I could. Okay, to be fair, this is for a family of four, but let’s do a little breakdown with their figures.

$17,062 – Median housing expenses – Now you may say this is cheaper for one or two, but no necessarily depending on where you live. A single person living in NYC could easily spend more just living without 4 roommates. They didn’t mention taxes or housing insurance.

$12,659 – Groceries – This seems low to me. Ron and I were spending as much as this back in 2001 in the Central Valley of California. Had we lived in someplace more alluring, the cost would have doubled. We didn’t eat high on the hog either. 

$11,039 – Car expenses – Another category that strikes me as low ball. They based this on one 4 WD SUV. For a family of four, you would need at least 2 cars. In CA, your car registration is based on the value of your car. One year, my registration alone was over $2,500. Add to that gas, maintenance, highway tolls, and so on, It is adding up.

$9,144 – Healthcare – We were healthy when living in the US, but Ron did have kidney stone attacks 3 times, causing him to spend a night in the hospital more than one. He also had a sleep study done. Between us, between paying co-pays, minor prescriptions on occasion and our share of medical insurance premiums, we came up to about $9,000 without two additions.

$4,000 – Educational expense – What world do these researchers live in? After public school, there are no free rides. The average tuition for universities in the US is $33,716 a year, but then you add on other fees, books, meals, and so on. My doctorate degree started at $60,000 and the interest is pushing it to over $80,000.

$2,631 – Apparel – Perhaps 2 people could get by on this if they never bought new things, but a family of 4? Hardly!

$1,956 – Home utilities – They include gas and electric in this. When we were in CA, our electric ran $100-160.00 a month. Anyone who knows me, knows I am continually shutting off anything that is not in use. Gas ran about $100 a month for the water heater and dryer. That adds up to $2,400 a year if you use the low end of each, but doesn’t include water, sewer, or garbage.

The other sub-groups are “Extras”, “Taxes & Savings”, before finally giving you their faulty calculation of sticker shock. You can read the article here with eyes wide open.

If you choose not to read the article, know that the term The American Dream was coined in the 1931 book Epic of America by historian James Truslow Adams.