Oy. You fucking people. Let's do this math so I can stop talking about it.
Hector is my favorite non-existent dishwasher. He makes $8 an hour, which his boss either doesn't consider, does consider and feels bad, but oh well, I've got a mortgage, or thinks Hector's salary is just fine because he knows a guy who only pays his dishwashers $5.
Hector works 2 jobs a day that are 7.5 hours each so that his employers can avoid paying his insurance which means 15 x 8, or $120. After taxes, and assuming Hector has a nice wife and two lovely children, we'll consider it to be an even $100 that Hector brings home per day. Do that 25 days a month (we'll pretend he also has a few hours of OT) and look at that huge pile of cash he made. All $2500 of it. That means Hector is a median-income earner in America.
Hector's wife stays home with the kids because childcare tends to be at least $8hr. if not more, and this is a better choice for them both.
They live with her sister and her family in a 2-bedroom townhouse and their share of the rent is $750. It's not really that cheap, because there is no townhouse in any major city that is 2 bedrooms and only $1500, but I don't want to argue, so let's say after $750, Hector still has a whopping $1750 left, and his family has a WHOLE ENTIRE BEDROOM TO THEMSELVES.
Hector and his wife have a used mini-van. They live in a part of the city where there is no reliable public transportation, and with no real credit and a minimal down payment, the car costs $400. Some of you will find it impossible that a used Caravan can cost the same as a Mercedes payment, I assure you that it's true. So now we're at $1350. Good thing Hector works sun-up to sundown or he might notice how screwed he gets on things like this.
Take that $1350 and subtract car insurance and the very minimum health plan offered, because you made that $10,000 emergency room mistake once, and you're at an even $1k. It's time to feed and clothe the fam damily.
If you go to discount stores, and outlets, buy bulk, and cook every meal at home (mostly vegetarian) you can do three meals a day for a family of four for about $150. That's providing you have those stores, and know how to cook healthy meals, but Irma (Hector's imaginary wife) is very resourceful and does it. 21 meals divided by $150, no snacks, is $7.14, divided by four, giving them a very generous $1.78 per meal. Good thing Hector earns the median. Can you imagine what the lowest end of that sliding scale have to spend on food. Or people who aren't lucky enough to have TWO JOBS like Hector?
Now that we've subtracted $600 for food because $1.78 per meal isn't starving for fuck sake, you can figure out how to leisurely spend that last $400 on clothes and other fun stuff. Oh. Wait. I forgot gas for Hector to get from Job A to Job B. Something is always getting forgotten. Now that it's back up to $2.50 a gallon, it costs $60 to fill, and he uses a tank and a half per week so that's $90 x 4 and we have $40 for whatever the children need. Or dental work. or a used couch. Again, good thing Hector is never home, or he might notice how the TV doesn't come in on certain channels anymore.
Now Hector is broke, even though he worked all day, every day. Hector doesn't qualify for any social services. Hector would love to participate in all these exciting things the commercials show like paddle-boarding and $4 cupcakes, but he can't. The worst part is how we act like he's doing okay and should be out there in the 'Bu with the rest of us except NOBODY IS IN THE 'BU but the McConaughey and he probably owes someone a fuckload of money too.
It's a lie we tell, we don't want to break it down like I just did or we'd have to admit we're all kind of fucked when takeout for a family of four, from the taqueria Hector works at part of his day, costs $40, which is almost half his daily take home. We don't want to admit that this game of LIFE is running out of the white money and promissory notes are all that's left.
Life is cheap, living is expensive.
It's really as simple as 3rd. grade math.