We have a confession to make. We live in a bubble.
As our readers know, we’ve spent the bulk of our professional careers in financial services. Most of our experiences have been investment and money management related. We think we have a good understanding of the economy, economic news and the stock market. If nothing else, we at least pay close attention to these things, as anyone can see from our weekly #MoneyConscious Mash Ups.
All of this is to say that we feel as though we have our fingers on the economic pulse of the country. We must admit that, though we report and analyze today’s sluggish economic news and try to rally Middle America to push companies to be better corporate citizens through increased wages and a focus on employees, we personally have not felt the brunt of the negativity that has permeated most of the economy since 2008.
We read about the high unemployment and low participation rates. We report our analysis of and offer our advice on the stagnant wages of America’s middle-class. We understand that the country’s fastest growing sector is the service sector that offers low wages and minimal benefits, if they offer benefits at all. But, we haven’t experienced these effects personally.
We’ve done quite well, both professionally and personally. Our household income has steadily increased since 2008. Our benefits, specifically healthcare, have not been as brutally impacted as many others have. We haven’t been at risk a mortgage default or a late credit card payment due to a job loss, decreased wages or work hours. Although we’re conservative with how we spend our money, when we do go out to eat or to shop, everywhere we go is packed with other diners and shoppers. We and the people in our lives have not lived the harsher side of most statistics.
I’ll acknowledge that much of our personal financial comfort is due to the choices and sacrifices we’ve made, but we admit that we live in a bubble. We volunteer for Project Angel Heart (PAH) in Denver. Denver’s PAH provides nutritious meals at no cost to people fighting life-threatening illness. PAH provides illness-specific, nutrient dense food for up to a week for each client. In 2014, PAH will deliver almost 530,000 meals to 2,300 Coloradans.
Recently our role with helping PAH has been to deliver Saturday meals. We deliver meals to anywhere from four to twelve clients on our route. We’ve found that many clients live in low-income or financially challenged neighborhoods. These meal deliveries caused us to drive outside of our bubble.
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When we drive our delivery routes, we see the real-life effects of high unemployment and low participation rates. We see unreliable cars and worn down housing. We meet those who struggle to put just one meal a day on their table. These deliveries are an eye-opener for two “educated” people who “understand” America’s economy.
We understand the statistics and see the effects on paper, but we don’t live them. We live in a bubble. We think it’s a safe bet to say that most personal finance bloggers, gurus and experts online and on TV probably haven’t truly experienced the struggles of this economy. For most of us, it’s theory. We can’t forget that for millions it’s reality.
We’re inspired to help people with their personal finances. We’re inspired to help people to stop being indebted to banks and breaking the cycle of government subsistence.
For those fortunate enough to be educated about one economy and live in another, we want to share that people are struggling. These are not the welfare leeches talked about in conservative media or pandered to in liberal media. These are hard working mothers and fathers who work 40, 50 and even more hours a week and continue to fall further behind. Times are tough for many, though they may not be tough for all. For those who struggle to live the life we only “understand”, we believe the Debt Free Guys’ message is, also, for you and the goal of financial independence is possible.