It’s easy to place the blame of tight budgets on the individual and their personal moral failings. It’s certainly easier than pointing out the systematic problem that leads to an epidemic of tight budgets. Even if someone was to cut out all their personal and self-indulgent expenses, it wouldn’t solve the problem of high rent, expensive insurance, and low pay. Cutting out indulgences is a scapegoat for the real problem.
Needing Systematic Solutions
When an issue stems from high fixed costs and low income, it can feel reasonable and logical to look at a budget and tinker with it until it’s considered “fixed.” However, if a full-time job isn’t enough to pay for basic amenities or basic amenities have become too expensive, ignoring the small pleasures of life aren’t going to fix things. Not permanently.
What Happens When There’s Nothing Left to Trim
Consider this scenario: you’re unable to pay rent this month because your landlord has increased your rent in compliance with local and state laws regarding rent hikes. Your budget starts to get tight and you’re unable to save as much as before. Time to find things to cut back on. Maybe there’s a few subscriptions you don’t need anymore, and you can probably stop buying the kind of dessert you like. You’re not really contributing the same amount to your savings, but it’s not as bad as it could be. Then your car breaks down, and it’s an expense to either fix your car or get a bus pass. As the cost of living continues to get higher and wages stay the same, the method of cutting back won’t save you. Eventually, you’ll consist on rice and beans, be walking to work, and something else will still come up to take the leftovers of your paycheck or the dusting remains of your savings.
Indulgences as a Scapegoat
The problem the majority of retail and service employees face isn’t one about self-control or self-indulgence, a lack of a “pulled up by their bootstraps” mentality or work ethic, or even a matter of ambition and drive. The problem is too big to be solved by individual choices. Though workers can keep cutting back and cutting back, it doesn’t fix anything. In fact, it could prove to hurt the economy when the majority of workers are forced to only purchase the bare necessities. Many businesses rely on the self-indulgence of their customers to want to buy their services and products, from fancy coffee to movie tickets to streaming subscriptions.
Why Coffee Was Never the Problem
To actually, permanently fix your budget, you need to address the root of the problem. If cutting out fancy coffee fixes your budget, you never had a budget problem to begin with.