These days, the average American has to deal with a lot. The news is full of strife and controversy, jobs are plentiful but frequently don’t pay, and we all live on a giant rock that’s rapidly flooding and overheating. It’s stressful, and sometimes you just want to buy a coffee instead of making it, watch some Netflix, or go out to lunch every once in a while.
Unfortunately, as noted in a study released by The Motley Fool via USA Today (it’s “paid content”, so take their findings with the requisite grains of salt), those meager scraps of joy in the face of a terrifying universe are adding up. Reportedly, “the average adult in the USA spends $1,497 a month on nonessential items.” As defined by the cited study, “nonessential items” include buying lunch, drinks, coffee, cable, personal grooming, rideshares, and bottled water. That’s right, everyone: your incidental hydration needs are preventing you from saving up for a retirement you’ll never actually have.
Lately, it seems like one of these studies emerges every few months, encouraging a rapidly vanishing American middle class to get its finances back on track by cutting out anything enjoyable. And while The Takeout is never going to discourage anybody from doing their own cooking or packing their own meals within their ability, the notion of coffee being referred to as a “luxury” by the study seems to just mean that “luxury” no longer has any meaning.
Predictably, the article goes on to argue that Americans should instead be hoarding months of budget and making regular deposits into retirement funds, which is an idea that seems to only ever come up from people who’ve never had to coordinate a four-way Venmo transaction to help their friends pay bills. While saving up is always a good idea if you have the means, the few seldom understand the concerns of the many, and the many just want the goddamn cup of Starbucks.
The replies on USA Today’s Twitter post offer a mixture of fire and outrage, but one user was able to hit that lobbed softball out of the park: