Quora is really killing it with weekly updates of interesting questions. Such a good frickin’ site! Here’s a recent highlight:
The top answer (which I will not quote in full) kind of nails it:
The poverty line for an individual is around $10,890 now . That means you’re making less than $1000/month. Make a monthly budget for an individual at the upper end of this bracket:
- Rent: $400 (usually a dump — sorry no cable)
- Food: $200 ($7/day — mostly fast food: (B,L,D) =($1.00,$3.00, $3.00) )
- Clothes: $50
- Transportation: $150 (mostly gas and minor maintenance and insurance)
- Utilities: $50 (sorry no cable or cell phone or internet)
- Household expenses: $50
This is $900/month. No entertainment budget. No savings. No medical. No dental.
The first unexpected expense will be very painful. May be you get an abscessed tooth — there’s $500. May be you get evicted (slumlords are crooks and assholes) and need 2 month’s rent to move into a new place — there’s $800. Break an arm: $2000 in medical plus 6 weeks off work (loss of $1500 income).
Based on this definition of poverty, 16.0% of Americans in 2011 live like this – 49.1M in total, many of them children (about 50% of all poor are children and 20% of all children are poor).
It’s all fairly expected, until you get to the fact that there are 49.1 million Americans living like this. That’s not so great.