What is your definition of middle-class success?

$30/day income?


$400?  $500?

What about the costs associated with the standard of living you provide yourself and/or family on that income?

Can you afford your own car?

Let’s take one vehicle as an example of what its cost adds to your standard of living — the 2012 Toyota Avalon Limited (as detailed here):

5 Year Details

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 5 Yr Total
Depreciation $7,139 $3,502 $3,081 $2,731 $2,451 $18,904
Taxes & Fees $3,169 $441 $398 $362 $329 $4,699
Financing $1,175 $934 $683 $422 $151 $3,365
Fuel $2,249 $2,317 $2,386 $2,458 $2,532 $11,942
Insurance $1,480 $1,532 $1,585 $1,641 $1,698 $7,936
Maintenance $42 $404 $568 $919 $2,005 $3,938
Repairs $0 $0 $96 $232 $337 $665
Tax Credit $0 $0
True Cost to Own ® $15,254 $9,130 $8,797 $8,765 $9,503 $51,449

That doesn’t include a place to park your vehicle such as a one/two car garage, driveway or public carpark.

It doesn’t include the time you spend in the vehicle driving yourself through traffic as opposed to whatever else you could be doing in that travel time.

And that’s just one aspect of the life of a car owner, one small portion of a successful middle-class lifestyle.

If you didn’t spend that money on a car, you could spend it on yourself — a nice holiday getaway, perhaps — or on someone else — a loved one or a favourite charity.

When you say the life you live is the life you want to nourish with material goods, what is the cost to the future that you’re spending on yourself today?

The purchasing power of money is a responsibility, a benefit and a danger.

I don’t have kids.

My future is here and now.

I want my wife and myself to enjoy our days together while we can because we’ve seen couples where one spouse or the other died at an early age, including her brother at 51.

My wife and I turn 51 this year so it is an important one in our joint psyche.

We know we’re borrowing from the future to give ourselves some enjoyment today but that’s okay.

Sure, there’s a little guilt that we’re enjoying ourselves when her brother no longer can and that’s okay, too.

Life is what it is.

There may be kids starving out there somewhere but I’m not taking the world on to raise.

With total cost of ownership there is an emotional component as well as a rational mathematical one.

Today the two crossed paths.

Tomorrow we’ll see if we’re as happy today as we thought we’d hope we’re going to be adding a few luxuries to our motorcar collection.

[I’m behind in thanking others — time to catch up soon.]

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