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The middle class squeeze has become a reality for millions of workers around the globe who can’t afford to miss even one paycheck. This has been highlighted by the recent 35-day federal shutdown in the US. 800,000 largely middle class workers were not paid during that time and as a consequence the media was awash with stories of families struggling to pay their mortgages, access vital medication and feed their children. It turns out that 40% of American families cannot afford a $400 emergency expense.
Unfortunately, Americans are far from alone in this. While once upon a time a middle class family could get by comfortably with one breadwinner while running two cars, eating out once a week, holidaying every year, putting the kids through university and not having to worry about the cost of healthcare, the gradual erosion of spending power due to rising costs and static wages has resulted in a very different reality for today’s middle classes characterised by a constant state of financial discomfort and a lack of security with regard to jobs, pensions, healthcare and general finances.
This is problematic not only in the short term but also over the long term. People are so caught up in keeping the wolf from the door that they are unable to think about how they will survive when they no longer have a paycheck coming in.
However, it’s crucial that people do think ahead. As difficult as it can be, it is important to take time to think about the future and plan so that you can free yourself from a hand-to-mouth existence and put savings aside not only to get you through difficult months now but to afford you a reasonable standard of living when you retire.
One of the cornerstones of financial planning is budgeting. Keeping track of where your money goes will enable you to identify areas where you may be able to cut back. Those will most likely be expenses which afford you instant gratification but little long-term benefit – a new pair of shoes, a fancy meal with friends, a cheeky weekend away from the grind. If you’re struggling to save, those are areas where you can reduce expenditure and free up cash. First for an emergency fund so that a month without a paycheck won’t land you in hot water financially – and then towards longer term goals, prioritising your retirement. Pour as much money as you can into savings and once you have a decent sized pot, invest it wisely.
Think creatively about your financial situation. Are there ways you can improve your skills to move up the career ladder and increase your salary? Can you switch service providers and save money on insurance, utility, phone and internet bills? There are solutions to alleviate financial stress but they will require compromise and hard work. It’s worth putting in the effort to find a balance between your current lifestyle needs and the requirements for your future financial security.
If you’d like someone in your corner to help you put together a sound financial plan which will banish the day-to-day financial discomfort, a professional financial adviser can help. Infinity’s are friendly and approachable and can work with you to safeguard your financial future and beat the squeeze, whatever your personal circumstances. Get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d be happy to help you.
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