People are Remaining Poor, Despite Earning Consistent Income

By: Mark Smith | Published: Jan 17, 2024

Despite a stable salary, many individuals find themselves facing financial decline. McKinzie Bean, a personal finance and business mentor, and founder of Moms Make Cents, told GoBankingRates, “It might be surprising that even real responsible folks can end up in money trouble without even realizing it’s happening.”

This phenomenon occurs when income remains constant, but external financial pressures increase. This highlights key factors contributing to the situation and the importance of being aware of them. So let’s dive in.

The Impact of Inflation on Purchasing Power

Inflation plays a significant role in eroding the purchasing power of a stable income. Andy Chang, the founder and CEO of The Credit Review, explained to GoBankingRates, “If salaries don’t increase over time, but rents, groceries, and other living costs do, people can find their income doesn’t stretch as far as it once did.”

Advertisement
A vacuum cleaner head is positioned on a hardwood floor, surrounded by scattered one-dollar bills

Source: rc.xyz NFT gallery/Unsplash

People making stable incomes are still hurt when the prices of everyday goods increase. In 2022, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell wrote, “The burdens of high inflation fall heaviest on those who are least able to bear them.”

The Dangers of Lifestyle Creep

“Lifestyle creep” occurs when individuals gradually increase their spending as their income remains constant. NPR also called it “lifestyle inflation” and wrote of the situation, “However you got here, now you have more cash in your bank account, and instead of investing or saving it, you’ve only ballooned the cost of your lifestyle.”

Advertisement
A woman and a man sit across from each other at a small table in a dimly lit room, each holding a glass of white wine

Source: cottonrbro studio/Pexels

This gradual increase in lifestyle expenses can lead to significant financial strain, particularly when combined with rising everyday costs and life changes such as having children or adopting expensive hobbies.

The Importance of Effective Budgeting

Effective budgeting is crucial for financial stability, even with a steady income. You might explore different budgeting styles or ways to avoid going over your budget.

Advertisement
A person's hand is holding a smartphone with a calculator application displayed on the screen, showing a clear zero on the display. The phone is encased in a yellow cover, and it is positioned against a background of papers

Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

A well-planned budget helps track spending and manage money effectively, preventing financial instability due to unforeseen costs or lifestyle inflation.

The Necessity of an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is essential for financial security, providing a buffer against unexpected expenses. Without this safety net, individuals with a steady income can find themselves in debt due to unforeseen costs like medical bills or sudden home repairs.

Advertisement
Close-up of a person's hands holding and counting a stack of one-dollar bills. The individual has painted nails and is wearing a blue top

Source: Alexander Grey/Unsplash

Experts at Morgan Stanley recommend saving enough to at least cover three months of expenses, perhaps up to six months.

Investing in Personal Growth and Skill Development

McKinzie Bean highlighted the importance of personal growth, telling GoBankingRates, “Those who don’t invest in learning new skills … may pass up chances for career advancement or higher-paying roles.”

Over-the-shoulder view of a man reading a book at a wooden table with his hand on a coffee mug

Source: Priscill Du Preez/Unsplash

Continuous learning and skill development are crucial in adapting to the job market’s changes and increasing earning potential. Neglecting this aspect can lead to stagnation and missed opportunities.

Advertisement

Avoiding the Debt Cycle

If you’re spending a lot and going over budget, you might fall into what’s called a “debt spiral” or “debt cycle.”

An open laptop displaying a shopping website rests on a red shaggy carpet, surrounded by multiple credit cards and receipts scattered around it

Source: Dylan Gillis/Unsplash

“The first step getting out of a debt spiral is to stop borrowing money,” Investopedia advises. This is also where it’s important to have a budget and cut back on unnecessary expenses.

Advertisement

Stay Away from Risky Loans

Investopedia also warns against taking on riskier debt to get out of a debt spiral.

Close-up of hands using a calculator and holding a stack of US dollar bills, with a pen resting on an open planner and receipts lying on a wooden table

Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

“Certain types of loans, including payday loans, which carry high interest rates, can lead to a high expense that may cause you to borrow more money to pay it off,” their experts say.

Advertisement

The Role of Financial Literacy in Wealth Accumulation

Expert Andy Chang pointed out the consequences of lacking financial literacy, telling GoBankingRates, “By simply storing money in a traditional savings account, people are missing the potential for increased returns through retirement funds or stocks.”

Close-up of a person's hands opening a well-worn brown leather wallet that appears to be empty

Source: Towfiqu barbhuiya/Unsplash

Financial education is key to making informed investment decisions and taking advantage of growth opportunities to build wealth over time.

Advertisement

Effective Money Management for Long-Term Financial Health

Effective money management involves more than just earning a steady income; it requires strategic planning in spending, saving, and investing.

An organized work desk featuring an open laptop on the left and an open notebook with a pen in the center

Source: Nick Morrison/Unsplash

This approach ensures that one’s financial resources are utilized efficiently, focusing on debt management, emergency savings, wise investments, and enhancing financial literacy for long-term stability and growth.

Advertisement

Inflation's Continuous Challenge to Fixed Incomes

Ann Martin emphasized the relentless challenge of inflation to those with fixed incomes. “We’ve all gotten a harsh refresher on inflationary dynamics over the past three years or so,” she told GoBankingRates.

An overhead view of a woman at a wooden desk, holding receipts in one hand and a pen in the other, with a laptop open beside her. In front of her is an open planner

Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Inflation continuously erodes the value of a fixed salary, making it difficult for individuals to maintain their standard of living without salary adjustments.

Advertisement

Financial Stability Is No Accident

All of this advice illustrates the interplay of various factors affecting financial stability.

A man and a woman sit at a kitchen table with financial documents and a laptop. The man appears stressed, holding his head, while the woman holds a one-dollar bill and looks pensively at the camera

Source: Mikhail Nilov/Pexels

Inflation, lifestyle creep, ineffective budgeting, lack of emergency savings, failure to invest in personal growth, the debt cycle, and insufficient financial literacy are critical areas to address.

Advertisement