Posts Tagged ‘income’

$30,000 Is Not Enough

I’ve been reading a blog about a woman who, along with her husband and five children, has become financially independent. Like many such bloggers, she publishes her annual spending, and it’s around $25-$30,000 per year. In the comments section of one annual update, a commenter said something along the lines of “This is why I think people who need to make more than $30,000 per year are being greedy.”

I need to explain why he is wrong.

Yes, there are people in this country that are being greedy with their income. There are people at many income levels that are making financial decisions we don’t agree with. However, living on $30,000 a year, or less, by choice is not the same thing as doing it out of necessity. It’s a different mindset and you make different choices because you’re presented with different options.

One can do the beans and rice diet, drive a hooptie, and live in a sketchy apartment by choice. It’s something that one can do for whatever one believes is an acceptable amount of time until one has the money to break free and live a life worth living as defined by the one living it. However, there are more than a few places in this country where $30,000 a year will only just cover beans, rice, a hooptie, and a sketchy apartment. Under those circumstances, one cannot save for that future life worth living. One can barely get by from week to week in the life they have, and if something goes wrong, it may all come crashing down.

Let’s talk about things going wrong. This blogger drives a hooptie these days by choice. She’s used to it, and can’t see any reason to spend the money on an upgrade. If the car breaks, though, she has money in the bank to fix it or replace it. She also has a husband who bought a car to restore for fun, so one can assume he’s got the skills to keep the hooptie away from the mechanic under most circumstances. I, on the other hand, lost my 12-year-old car (RIP, Io, you were one tough cookie) because when she died I didn’t have the skills to fix her and the repair bills past the one I was facing were only going to get worse. That left me with a choice. Do I purchase something I can get for cash, I don’t think I had more than $1,000 that I could get my hands on at the time, or do I get something a little nicer for a loan? A $1,000 car will probably require immediate repairs of some sort. New tires, if nothing else. But is a $1,000 car going to last long enough for an investment in tires to be worth it? A loan, even a favorable one, means I must have the cash income to cover that amount every month, no matter what, until the end of the loan. Neither is a great option. What I’m spending each month on loans and/or repairs, is money that I’m not saving toward the purchase of my next vehicle. My 2017 vehicle expenses which were spent mostly on my work commute including gas, tires, insurance, and $175 per month car loan totaled $6715.81, or 22.4% of a $30,000 income.

Speaking of cash every month, let’s talk housing. This blogger owns her house outright. If things really, really go sideways, all she has to come up with is money to cover the taxes to keep a roof over her head. For the brief period I owned a home outright, I still had to pay $500 a month to stay in the RV park. (RIP, Desert Rose, you were a good home, even without plumbing.) The average cost for for a one-bedroom apartment in the US is around $1,240 plus $150 in utilities. Assuming the $30,000 income is after-tax (ha!), rent is 49.6% of the income ($14,880 annually), plus 0.06% ($1,800 annually) in utilities. If you’re spending half of your income on keeping a roof over your head, the odds are you won’t be able to save enough to put a down payment on a home, let alone buy one outright.

Next up is health insurance. This blogger’s husband served in the military for a time, putting them on the military insurance. Not being military myself, I’m paying $39 per paycheck ($1,014 annually) plus $5,500 deductible. It would be more if I didn’t have a corporate job. Between the two, that’s 21.7% of a $30,000 income. This year I broke my leg. Next year could be a broken arm or a very serious bout of the flu, there’s no way to know.

After shelter, insurance, and a vehicle to get to work, we should move on to food. I’m not beans and ricing it. I like organics when I can find them, and grass-finished meat is better for me and the environment. On the other hand, I also don’t eat out all that often, and my vending machine misbehavior is listed under a different category. In 2017 I spent $3,477.31 on food, or 11.6% of a $30,000 income.

So far we have shelter (50.2%), transportation to work (22.4%), health insurance (21.7%), and food (11.6%). Without taking into account clothes, a cell phone, any form of entertainment or hobby, or debt repayment (excluding the vehicle loan), I’m already at 105.9% of a $30,000 income. That’s $30,000 after taxes, which means more than $15.00 per hour in your paycheck.

This commenter that’s calling a $30,000 income more than enough is probably surviving on $12.00 per hour or less. If he’s happy with the lifestyle he’s got on his income, I’m happy for him. I also wonder what part of the country he lives in, since $12.00 or $15.00 buys a different lifestyle in Allagash versus Portland.

I really like the blogger. I think she’s living a wonderful, rich life and she’s giving her children something few people can by being such a big part of their lives. However, calling her life and my life comparable because we’re spending about the same every year is wrong. I think she offers some wonderful suggestions on how to re-prioritize your energy and money to live more on less, and I think that’s a worthy goal no matter what your income. I have every intention of living a life that makes the world a better place, rather than a worse one. However, trying to do it on $30,000 per year or less with no savings, and a side helping of debt is a bit more of a challenge than can be handled by giving up my daily Starbucks. Particularly when I already don’t stop for coffee. I can’t afford to.

Rest in pieces, dream of living like a grown up. Rest in sad, lonely pieces when even the people who would genuinely benefit from a higher minimum wage fight to keep it down.

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Injured in America

I broke my ankle. It’s winter, which means ice and snow in Maine. Thanks to that wonder, Climate Change, it’s more ice than snow this year. I stepped on what I thought was snow that would give me footing. It wasn’t. I went down hard. I didn’t look at my foot, but according to the EMTs, it was laying at an abnormal angle.

I have insurance, luckily, so this is only a mildly horrifying story, instead of a really horrifying one. But in order to limit the damage to my $14 per hour income, since I’m generally in good health, I picked the high deductible plan.

I’ve been out of work for a month now. Luckily, my employer does offer short-term disability pay at full pay, which is apparently unusually generous. I do not, however, qualify for federal protection of my job since I haven’t been employed there for a year. I had been doing the job for 10 days short of a year when I got hurt, but since the first four months were as a temp employee, that doesn’t count as working there. Human Resources has confirmed that my job will be safe as long as I don’t stay out longer than “an ankle usually takes to heal.”

As it is tax season, and I’m not able to do much else, I got that out of the way. It also gave me some good information. Last year, I made $30,300.03. My health insurance deductible is $5,500. That’s 18.15% of my pre-tax income and does not include my premiums. My after-tax income, after adjusting for my tax returns, was $24,613.68. That bumps the deductible up to 22.35% or $211.54 per $946.68 bi-weekly paycheck.

Let’s think a little bit further about this. I don’t pay rent because I can’t afford to if I’m going to be making any other financial progress in my life, but if I did, we’re told to budget about 30% of our income for that. That’s $284 per paycheck (after tax, since that’s what I actually have to work with) and I’m only able to rent a room for that amount. My commuting/car expenses average about $384 per month last year, or about $192 per paycheck. (Ouch, tires are expensive even over 12 months.) I spend $50 per month on my cell phone, $25 per paycheck. Last year I spent about $60 per month on primarily work clothes, or $30 per paycheck. The food I purchased was about $300 per month, or $150 per paycheck. The total for not very extravagant living expenses comes to $681 per paycheck. Adding in my health insurance premiums of about $36 per paycheck brings me to $717.

946.68  total after-tax income -717.00  basic living expenses = 229.68 – 211.54 to cover my annual deductible = $18.14

This tells me that on average, after covering my basic living expenses and my healthcare deductible, I am left with less than $20 per month to cover electric bills, internet bills, random book purchases, extra gas because I want to go to the fair, and any random awshit that might crop up. Like being out of work for a month with a broken ankle if my employer didn’t cover short-term disability pay.

But, hey, once I’ve been there for a year, my company will match if I put 6% of my income into my 401(k). Because I have $70 to spare from each paycheck to set aside for retirement.

My doctor’s sister apparently broke her ankle recently, but she’s living in Canada. She told him coming down was too far, but I have to wonder if she also didn’t want to end up paying two or three months’ income for the pleasure of American healthcare.

Regaining My Power: Financial Independence

Just to be clear, I’m not. Financially independent, that is. But becoming so is getting ever higher on my list of priorities.

I’m one of the 30 or 40% of Millenials living with their parents. I am one of the 19% of Americans with a negative net worth. I am one of the growing number of people that works full time but doesn’t make enough to cover my bills. Despite being employed for all but one year post-college, I was on the verge of homelessness before I moved into my parents’ attic. None of those years were at minimum wage, either.

My peers have been heard to say the following:

“I’m always going to be in debt, so why shouldn’t I go on that cruise?”

“You just don’t want me to have nice things (the occasional Starbucks) because I’m poor.”

“I wouldn’t buy a house even if I could afford one, they’re a financial trap.”

“I’m never going to be able to retire, so why shouldn’t I have fun now?”

You know what? This game sucks and I don’t want to play it anymore. The rules only apply to some of us and we’re the ones so exhausted by the merry-go-round of money in, money out, more money out, loan in, debt payments out that even if we can see how screwed up it is, we don’t have the energy to change it. Assuming we aren’t so afraid of losing our jobs that we wouldn’t dare make a peep.

Financial Independence means different things to different people. For some people it means being able to live it up and spend money like water. For others it means pursuing dreams the cubicle tried to kill. Getting there can happen lots of ways, too. All but zero expenses (freegans, anyone?) mean all but zero income needed. Spending money like water means you have to build/inherit a financial waterfall.

Right now my interest in financial independence is so that I can give a big middle finger to a system that only deigns to notice me to see how much they can convince me to spend and work to make a few people richer. People who are not me. I want to not fear losing my job when I say things like, “employees who are supposed to act like grown-ups should be paid like grown-ups.” If I get fired for it, I want it to be their loss, not mine. Over time I’m sure the focus will mature past profanity, but it’s not a bad place to start. Because it’s making me start.

So where am I right now? In the hole, like most people. Credit card and car loan debt equaling half my annual income. I’ve been tracking my income and expenses for a little over 18 months now, so I’m getting a grasp on where it’s all going. I have a job with overtime potential assuming I can balance it against not losing my mind, followed by the job. I’m not paying rent or interest on my loans thanks to generous parents. I have about $500 cash hidden away to give me a little feeling of control over life. Between actual savings and my 401(k) I have about $1400. Turns out I had more in the 401(k) than I thought!

Where do I need to end up? As a ballpark number, I need my monthly expenses times 300. The other way to get there is annual expenses times 25, but I tend to think in months. If I call my expenses $2,500, which would include rent money, that comes to about $750,000 in investments that allow for a 4% withdrawal without touching the principal. As interim goals, $30,000 in investments will give me $100 per month which would be enough to show up on my chart. $1,000 per month ($300,000) would let me pursue part-time work if I chose.

So how do I get there? After all, $30,000 is technically more than a year’s full-time pay at $14.00 per hour. As Grandpa is fond of saying, you can get rich slowly. It worked for him and for a lot of other people, too. I do pick up a lottery ticket when I think the universe really owes me, but so far the universe hasn’t agreed. In the meantime, this is where all of the tracking of expenses comes in. In the last few months what I’ve been spending on food has been steadily rising. Why? Because the “I deserve sushi instead of a home-packed lunch because work sucks” expenses were rising. The same thing was happening with my book expenses. After all, as an aspiring writer, of course I want the author to get paid. That only happens when you buy the book new. That, and the ones I wanted to get lost in were too hard to find in used bookstores. Now that I’ve identified those trends, I can ask myself if grocery store sushi will really make me feel better, or is it wishful thinking? Since I’ve already bought several books new by this author, wouldn’t it be ok to support a local business that will track down used copies of the rest for me?

This is going to be a long process. I figure I’ve got two years left on the outstanding loan balances before I can make serious headway on the investments, although I have started setting aside some money to invest. During this process I’m a fan of the “stop and consider” method of reducing your purchases rather than punitive thoughts. Some days sushi really will make me feel better. There are some authors I want to support more strongly than others. Telling myself I’m stupid and poor and need to get my crap together instead of being a needy wuss is just going to make me buy more books to drown those thoughts. The flip side of this is I need to work on making more money. Overtime, side hustles (come on, bees!), and job hunting are all on the table. The difference between what’s coming in and what I’m spending will determine how long I’m stuck in this lousy game. The bigger I can make that difference, the faster I’ll have the leverage to start changing the game.

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The actual numbers are beside the point. What’s important is that my income (blue) is almost always higher than my outgo (black). My debt is literally off the chart, so it’s being tracked in the red numbers up top instead of dots. Because the blue dots are almost always above the black dots, those red numbers are slowly counting down. Before I reach the end of the current sheet, I’m hoping to need to track my savings in numbers instead of my debt.

Regaining My Power: Success?

To live an average middle-class life it costs a family about $130,000 per year. To afford a two-bedroom apartment in Maine, a worker needs to be making at least $18.05 per hour. Nationally, to afford a one bedroom apartment, a worker needs to be making at least $15.50 per hour. Remember these numbers.

In the last few months I was offered and accepted a permanent position with a company. Like many similar companies, they do temp-to-hire most of the time which means that for 90(ish) days, their new employees are without insurance or job stability. It’s a 90-day interview. I like the company, they like me. Now that I’m a “real” employee I have insurance and paid vacation along with the limited job security one gets these days. They are proud to be offering competitive wages. I’ve certainly seen worse for similar jobs, though I have heard of better in the area.

I am making $14.00 per hour. Please refer to paragraph #1.

The solution to this, of course, is to “get a better job.” The problem is that this is a “better job.” I’m not flipping burgers, here. (The fact that burger-flippers deserve a living wage, too, is a discussion for another day.) This job doesn’t require a college degree to do the work but good luck getting an interview if you don’t have either a degree or a fair amount of work experience. It’s an office job where I get to be in a temperature-controlled environment and stare at multiple computer monitors all day long. This is supposed to be a job to strive for.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about this particular company twisting the screws on us poor workers. I believe that they genuinely believe they’re doing well enough by their workers with what they offer. I’m not silly enough to ask them to do well by their workers at such an insignificant level as the literal interface between the customers and the company, but I think they are earnest in doing well enough. The problem is the paradigm in which a company can earnestly offer wages that are competitive in the local economy yet still offer too little to allow them to afford a one-bedroom apartment.

This, of course, leads into my current personal struggle. I have had a job, mostly full time, for pretty much my entire adult life. I have not had a minimum wage job since I was shelving books at the library at 16. When I wasn’t employed, I was living off of my own money, such as it was. Since I sold my last horse, I have no outrageous spending habits to support. Yet, despite all of that, I am living in my parents house because it wouldn’t have been long before I was homeless if I hadn’t moved here.

I have a “better job,” and I have future prospects at the company, provided they don’t take offense at this post. Somehow I’m supposed to be grateful for this opportunity. But grateful for what? For another 30 to 50 years of mostly getting by, hopefully, while someone else gets rich off of my work? A coworker is making now what they were making the year I was born, so in 30 years I may still be making $14.00. If I’m not doing it at this job, it’s not like any other “better job” would offer me another option. My supervisor was kind enough to tell us permanent hires that they’re always watching us; it’s like every day is an interview. She said it very sweetly, she’s very sweet, but the very idea of 40+ hours worth of interview each week is rather exhausting. She’s right, though. There’s no such thing as getting a job and being sure to keep it as long as you don’t do anything really, truly heinous.

I have achieved success. I have a job that will almost pay my bills and firing me out of hand is slightly harder than when I was a temp. I have health insurance whose deductible is only two weeks worth of pay before it kicks in (that’s the pay before I cover silly things like food and rent). I have the opportunity to reach up into middle management.

Could someone remind me why I’m playing this game again? I’ve forgotten.

Finding My Power: To Farm or Not To Farm

This seems to be the perpetual question. On the one hand, if we don’t have farmers, we don’t have food. This should be pretty straight forward, right? On the other hand, it is difficult, verging on impossible to be a farmer and be able to afford to feed yourself. That should be a ridiculous statement, but it’s not.

In my blog about what it would take to gross $10,000, I only addressed the numbers generated from my interest in farming. This needs to be looked at from another angle, though. What are the numbers my current employment is generating and what are other possible income amounts broken down into the hours, weeks, and months they take to get to $10,000.

I am currently working at a temp job that I rather enjoy making $12 per hour. In Maine, I’m doing ok as a moderately skilled temp. To gross $10,000 I need to work 833.33 (call it 833) hours which is 20.825 (call it 21) weeks or 5 months. That’s a long time. It’s also not taking into account commuting time, gas, clothing requirements, or the fallout from not feeling like I’m contributing in any meaningful way to the world. Gas and commuting time are fairly easy to attach numbers to. I am commuting pretty much exactly an hour each way five days a week plus five 30-minute lunches, making my 40-hour week actually a 52.5-hour week. 40 hours times $12 per hour divided by 52.5 hours means that counting the commute and lunch, I’m being paid $9.14 for each hour the job is consuming. Gas is costing me about $38 per week and the vast bulk of it is for my commute. That means that 21 weeks of commuting costs me $798. At $9.14 per hour before taxes, that means about 87 hours are spent just paying for gas. That’s over 1.5 of my 52.5 hour weeks every 5 months are just paying for gas.

Let’s say I find a job with the same commuting and lunch time and cost, but I’m making $15 per hour for 40 hours. That’s 666.66 (call it 667) hours which is 16.675 (call it 17) weeks or 4 months. My actual time being used is still 52.5 hours per week, which means I’m actually being paid $11.43 per hour before taxes. 17 weeks of commuting at $38 per week is $646 or 56.5 hours. That’s just over a week every 4 months is to pay for gas.

Temping, like an increasing number of permanent jobs, does not offer insurance or any guarantee of hours. Unlike a permanent job, my temporary employer can send me home at lunch time and tell me not to come back for absolutely no reason other than they don’t need me. Poof- no more income. The staffing agency has it in their best interest to get me back to work as quickly as possible, but that might be days or weeks of unemployment. Have you ever tried to save an emergency fund on $12 per hour?

Farming also offers no insurance, no guarantees, and if you’re not careful, the potential to end up with no income and a pile of debt if it all falls apart. On the other hand, I will be using and learning skills that are actually useful in the real world. The world in which being able to feed yourself means knowing whether those berries are yummy or deadly. I have the potential to make my corner of the world healthier, cleaner, and better habitat for both my cultivated plants and animals and the local plants and animals that are using the same space. I can help to perpetuate skills, genes, and equipment that we will need when we realize that Agribusiness might not be working as well as advertised. Farming, particularly small-scale farming, demands a certain level of fitness that will keep me healthy long past the time when an office-bound body would fall apart. It has its own challenges for health, but at least you can often see them coming. I can build the business to embrace my strengths and interests and my income is limited only by my imagination and ability to manifest what I see.

Now comes the hard part. I have been told, am being told, will continue to be told that the responsible thing is to get a “real” job. I need to work on a skill set that employers are looking for. I need to invest time, energy, and possibly money in pursuing what society tells me is an acceptable, respectable, logical use of my time and energy resulting in a “fair” income. I will be paid what I am “worth.”

I was talking about this with a friend and he asked if I’d considered what I would regret not doing in 10 years. 10 years ago I was just settling into a job with a company that I had spent the previous couple of years building a resume to get into. It was a good, solid company. I knew people that loved working there. I was making more money than I had ever made before. I was studying hard to get the licensing to move up in the ranks exactly the way I was supposed to. I may have even had my first exam under my belt at that point. I was doing everything right.

I’m not saying I didn’t learn things from working there, but in the end, you learn things from walking face first into a wall, too. Just because everyone’s doing it and everyone’s saying you need to do it, doesn’t mean it’ll work. Not everyone can get through to Platform 9 ¾, and it turned out I’m one of the ones that can’t.

I can’t quit my job and start farming tomorrow. I do have access to land that I don’t have to pay for, which is more than most people in my situation can say. What I don’t have are a significant number of skills or the money for the infrastructure. 31 hives worth of materials (excluding bees) will cost me about $5,663- that’s 472 hours (12 weeks or 3 months) worth of work at $12 per hour before taxes and expenses. However, I can take the time I would spend looking for a “real” job, and the small amount of disposable income I do have and spend it on a small number of hives so that I can build the necessary skills. If things go well, the hives themselves may gradually generate the income needed to expand my operations. If things go badly, I won’t have spent more than I had and it could be chalked up to an educational expense.

I guess it wasn’t as much of a question as I thought.

$10,000

Money’s funny. One number can seem like so much or so little to the same person, depending on the circumstances around it. If I had to pay $10,000- wow, that’s a lot of money! Where would I come up with it? If I were to receive $10,000, it’s a lot of money up until I start paying bills. Then it goes mighty fast.

I was doing some end-of-year looking at my spending in 2016. I’ve been tracking it for most of the year to help me figure out where it all goes and why there’s never quite enough. The number $10,000 came about because it’s an annual budget of modest spending for one excluding rent, food, utilities, renters insurance, and internet. Just for giggles, I wondered what it would take to gross $10,000 from my farming ventures.

If you know anything about farming, then you are familiar with the fact that gross and net income are not the same and often very, very different.

Honey: 1,250# at $8 per #. That’s 31.25 hives (call it 31) harvesting an average of 40# per hive

Nucs (nucleus hives): 67 nucs at $150, but only 56 if I sell them for $180 each

Eggs: 20,000 or 1,666.66 (call it 1,667) dozen at $6 per dozen

It was just an experiment. Everyone knows farming has no security and little if any prosperity attached to it, but some of those numbers looked almost possible. I don’t have much information on the net income for each, but I could make some educated guesses.

For the eggs, with the numbers I’ve been collecting since I got my chicks in the spring, to gross $10,000 I’d be looking at a net of $-20,000 or thereabouts. Yes, that’s a negative. The housing is killing me. I’ll never make money off of the eggs, but eventually I would like to at least get them to pay for the eggs and old hens the family eats.

For the honey, I found a place where I can get a kit with two deeps and buy one medium super for about $173 per brand new hive (2016 prices). At $8 per pound of honey, that’s around 22 pounds per hive to pay off the woodenware. If I’m buying bees, that’s another $125 to $190 or 16 to 24 pounds. With average harvests in Maine in the 40 to 45# range, that means I should be able to pay off even a purchased hive with the first full harvest- which isn’t until the second summer/fall. If I am splitting my own bees and/or catching swarms, I can make a dent in paying off the bear fence in the first harvest, too. Looking at my 31 hives, they will cost $5,363 for the hives themselves, no bees, and $300 for the bear fence with a potential income of $9,920. (31*40*8) That leaves me with $4,257 to either purchase the bees or pay for my time to split hives and catch swarms.

Splitting hives will mean making at least some nucs for my own use, and I can certainly make more for sale. I’ve heard of available patterns for making nucs out of ½” plywood, about four per sheet. At $20 per sheet that’s about $5 for the box. I also need 5 frames and 5 foundations, a total of about $18. That makes the gear requirement around $23. Nucs are selling around here in the $150 to $190 range for local bees, more if the nuc was overwintered. As a newbie I’d probably start selling at the low end, meaning that after deducting the gear, each hive could net me about $127 less the cost of my time. If I manage to make 67 successful nucs to sell, minus $23 per nuc for the gear, I could have around $8,509 to pay for that time.

If I have 31 healthy, producing hives, making 67 nucs shouldn’t be that hard. If I can do both simultaneously, I could spend around $7,204 but gross about $19,970 to net around $12,766. Hm.

These numbers aren’t taking into account some very important information. It doesn’t include rent/lease/mortgage on the land I’m using. It doesn’t include taxes. It also doesn’t account for the hive bodies and nucs that I have to buy and/or build for the hives that are too weak to produce honey or split into nucs. It doesn’t have room for the farm up the way to spray their fields at just the wrong time of day with the wind blowing in just the wrong direction that wipes out most or all of my hives. It doesn’t take into account the time it will take me, a beginning beekeeper, to learn the skills necessary to take care of 31+ hives and build 67+ nucs.

The numbers are still very interesting.

Regaining My Power: What I’m Worth

I got a call on Friday with an offer to do a day of flagging on Saturday. It paid $12 per hour, which is pretty good for flagging. I would be one of those people in bright vests that endeavors to get people to park in straight lines at a fairground event. I really should have worn a hat, and I was told at one point that I was so polite I must be from the South. For my 6.5 hours of chasing cars, directing people, and not sitting down once I made $78. Assuming a 25% tax rate- the least individuals pay that are living off of work not investments- I get to walk away with $58.50.

With all of my job hopping lately, I can tell you that $12 per hour is considered a half-way decent amount. It’s certainly far above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or the Maine minimum wage of $7.50. I, personally, look at $12 and see an amount that’s big enough to work with. That $58.50 that I made? That’s almost 3 bags of chicken feed (yeah, I get the pricey stuff) or two pairs of jeans bought new. It’s a week and a half of what I set aside for my food and supplement budget.

But let’s look at that $58.50 from the other direction. The President of the United States makes $400,000 per year. The government uses 2,087 hours per year to calculate hourly pay. According to this calculation, the President makes $191.66 per hour. In other words, I spent all day making the amount he makes in about 18 minutes. Unfortunately, most Presidential candidates are looking at a pretty severe pay cut to take office.

In 2015 the CEO of Coca-Cola made $14.6 million- or $6,995.69 per hour. Just typing that makes me a little nauseous. What took me a day to make, he makes in about 30 seconds.

The CEO of Time Warner did a bit better at $18,051,386 in 2015- or $8,649.44 per hour. He pays his customer service representatives as little as $9 per hour, but averaging around $13. What I made in a day- and what his customer-facing employees make- is worth 20 to 25 seconds of his time.

The CEO of Citigroup took a hit in his pay for 2015, only making $13 million while over at JP Morgan, the CEO is going strong at $20 million. The people that crashed our financial system and had to be bailed out by, well, you and I, are making $6,229.04 and $9,583.13 per hour. A good solid sneeze will see them paid what it took me 6.5 hours and a sunburn to earn.

How many people do you know that make in the $10 to $15 range? Or less? For better or worse, a whole lot of our personal self worth is tied up in how much we make. The more we make, the more we’re “worth” to society. Certainly the more we’re worth in our current democracy where there are more lobbyists in DC than politicians.

I am worth more than a CEO’s sneeze. I spent my day keeping order so that small business people and individuals could exchange goods and money. There is no way that as many cars could have parked in that field as were there if it weren’t for the team of us keeping order. I’m not saying that I need to make a CEO’s salary for something like this. However, I think there is a big problem when what I’m looking to make in a year is what the JP Morgan CEO can make in 3 hours. Or less.

Like so many others in the precariat class, all I want is a home, the chance to reduce or eliminate my debt, and the chance to maybe not work until the day I die. Why is that too much to ask for when there is a not insignificant portion of our society that needs to decide whether to buy a second yacht, a third house, or, the heck with it, both! I need to hold on to the idea that I’m worth more than a CEO’s sneeze. Because I am. Considering the behavior of a fair number of CEOs over the last 10 or 20 years, I have more to give to this world than the CEO does.