This is an interesting read I came across via Marginal Revolution. It’s a fairly straightforward, non-polemical description of the challenges of being “poor-ish” in the US, with plenty of nuance and no calls for guilt or sympathy (you can make up your own mind about those):
… If you came from a family that did pretty well financially, went to college and then immediately started to do pretty well yourself, it’s hard to get any kind of context for what life is like at lower income levels. This isn’t a matter of the relatively-wealthy being dumb or insensitive; it’s just legitimately difficult to get a handle on what it’s like in a life you’ve never lived, and often being legitimately confused as to why anyone would opt to make less money instead of improving their lot with training and education.
In that spirit, I’d like to offer my services as a sort of has-been-poor guide, to fill you in on what it’s like on the other side of the tracks. In this role, I’m qualified in two ways. The first is common – we’ve never done exceptionally well financially. Things have been better in recent years as I’ve finally clawed towards the upper-end of lower-class, but Covid has reminded us how short-lived that kind of qualified success can be. We’ve had to economize in dozens of interesting ways, make hard choices here and there and sometimes/often do entirely without. It hasn’t been easy.
At the same time, I’m mostly happy. I have a wonderful wife who is very satisfying to be near, two kids who are about as custom-fit to my personality as possible, and dozens of friends online and off who would take a bullet for me, and vice versa. This is important because I want you to know I’m not trying to make you feel bad – I know and understand that everyone has a different set of problems, and that I’m not unique in living in an imperfect world. I’m not trying to exaggerate problems for political points or to try to get legislation passed. Take no guilt from this article – It’s informational, not a call to arms.Resident Contrarian – On The Experience of Being Poor-ish, For People Who Aren’t
The article is recommended; the comments and the follow-up are also worth skimming.