'$350,000 A Year And Still Struggling'? Twitter Isn't Having It
A hypothetical West Coast family earning $350,000 per year but still struggling to save money caused quite a stir on Twitter this week, after MarketWatch tweeted out what appears to many a budget filled with frivolities.
Bored Panda picked up the story and subsequently interviewed the financial expert whose article is at the heart of this mess, but before we dive into his motives for writing the piece — in which he never says the family is struggling — let’s look at Twitter’s response.
MarketWatch tweeted that a family making six figures is struggling to have it all, pulling from an article written by Financial Samurai blog founder Sam Dogen for CNBC.
After taking a glance at the fictional budget (though many social media users appeared to think the family and budget were real), criticism abounded.
“They bought a 2 million dollar house and put their kid into a $24,000 a year preschool, but millennials are irresponsible with their money for splurging on avocados,” one user wrote.
“Where’s the struggle when they can afford literally everything?” another Twitter user wondered.
The disbelief continued:
cdated on Twitter
“@saveucvalue @MarketWatch “not Gucci” 😭 The audacity of having such a large amount of discretionary funds but “struggling” because a Range Rover wasn’t in the budget. And still having a positive cash flow!”
Carly Rae Epstein on Twitter
“@cdated @saveucvalue @MarketWatch Also $4800 a year at Old Navy is an absurd amount of clothes. The average price of an item there is well under $48. You’re buying like 150-200 items of clothing per year?!?”
Dr. Jennifer Teubl on Twitter
“@Diamond_Jax @MarketWatch Who budgets for a weekly date night? These people are monsters.”
PratticusFinch on Twitter
“@AllezLesBoulez @ggooooddddoogg @MarketWatch Love that (1) only the husband had student loans, which by the way (2) only amounted to $50k and which he (3) paid off at age 30”
What does Dogen have to say?
Dogen, who authored the original article that MarketWatch pulled from, said his intention with the story was to illustrate “that living in an expensive metropolitan city can be very difficult for families who want to maintain a traditional middle-class lifestyle.”
“Based on my original article on CNBC, which MarketWatch riffed off, I really tried to be thorough and analyze all the costs and see where this household could save and could not save. I didn’t say this hypothetical couple was 'struggling,' MarketWatch did,” Dogen told Bored Panda.
The financial expert said Twitter users’ reactions were fair and “very eye-opening.”
“I understand 350,000 dollars is a top 2% household income level. Therefore, most people will thumbs down the budget,” Dogen said. “But I think we are all very lucky to live in the United States, no matter our income. I grew up overseas for 13 years in Zambia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and other emerging countries, and living in America is truly great in comparison.”
He acknowledged that the financial and political divides in the U.S. are stark, which is due, Dogen said, to a failure “to see the other side’s perspective.
“Around half the population live on the expensive coasts and in big cities such as Chicago, Honolulu, and Houston,” he said during the interview. “I thought it would be interesting to highlight how one particular family archetype lives.”
Ultimately, Dogen just wants all Americans — regardless of their income status — to be smarter with whatever financial resources they have.
He said his “goal is to encourage people to stay on top of their finances and achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later.”
Dogen added: “I also want folks to question their never-ending desire for money and status. The best way to get people to review their budgets, save more aggressively, invest more prudently, and plan for retirement is to start a discussion.”