[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/07/caff.money.art.gi.jpg caption=""]
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
With gasoline expected to reach $3 a gallon soon and unemployment stuck at just under 10% - not to mention the added expenses of the holiday season - it's easy to see why many Americans are feeling strapped for cash these days.
But in a piece called "Are Americans as Poor as They Feel?", Businessweek.com takes a look at the cost of living today versus 30 years ago.
They find that a lot of things aren't as expensive as we think, and that many items actually cost less in relative terms today than in 1980.
For starters, the piece suggests nominal income has increased more than overall consumer prices. Also, the price of many daily expenses – things like food and even energy – increased at a slower pace than overall consumer prices.
On the other hand, the cost of some bigger ticket items – things like education and health care – have more than doubled. We're talking big bucks, when it comes to college tuitions and health insurance.
Researchers have also found that compared with the 1970s, more families now have two full-time incomes. But, this change in lifestyle has added new costs – things like a second car and day care.
In fact, after an average two-income family makes its monthly payments, it can now have less money left over... even though both the husband and wife are working.
Finally, there are additional costs today that people didn't have to account for decades ago – including buying computers and software, Internet and cell phone service.
Here’s my question to you: Do you feel poor?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
T. in Oklahoma writes:
No, Jack, I don't feel poor. Even when I "was" poor, I have never felt poor. We live in a country in which most people have more than they could possibly ever need in life. Many Americans are overweight, overdrawn, over-stimulated, overpaid, educated beyond their intelligence, over-extended, over-indulged, on and on. Anyone living in this country who has a car is in the top 15% of the world's wealthy.
The vast majority of people in this country are poor. Many more are joining those ranks every year. I used to think of myself as middle class, but at my income level, despite my education, I now face the reality that I don't even merit middle class. I am in the working poor.
Jerry in Georgia writes:
You only feel poor if you can't afford those things that you "want" to have or that you feel "entitled" to have. If you are rich enough to afford all of the basics that you really truly need and you woke up this morning on this side of the grass, you're not poor.
Paul in Florida writes:
I'm rich. I have no wife, the kids are on their own, no mortgage, car, credit card bills, dog or cat. I live in a trailer on Social Security. The things I don't have are the things that make you poor.
Johnny in Los Angeles writes:
We are a two-income household with less purchasing power than in years past and we have less time on our hands because our company needs us to put in more hours. However, when I look at the opportunities for folks in other countries who are struggling at levels that most Americans would note as horrific, I still see how fortunate we are to live in this great country.
Kevin in California writes:
I think a lot of people feel more demoralized than poor.
No. I'd have to get a raise to feel poor.