Okay, okay – here is our first and LAST Presidential Election post for you. And, you can take that promise to the bank! We aren't here to tell you who to vote for – but we'd love to offer a few things to think about when you go to the polls (not, that you asked).
The age-old question many ask every election is: “Are you better off now – than you were four years ago?” Of course, the incumbent hopes you say yes, while the challenger is hoping you're worse off – and in the market for something different.
We aren't of the opinion that government can solve your problems. I don't think that's what it was designed for. However, whenever you listen to a debate or conversation about the election – it seems to center on the economy and what the candidates can do for it. And, many a candidate will promise less unemployment, lower taxes (or more), more jobs and cheaper gas prices. The eternal debate will remain: can they really affect that change? We'll let you decide that one.
Since we are a personal finance site – we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the four years – see where we started with the current President – and where we are now. I credit a very informative BusinessWeek article that ran the first week in October in addressing some of these statistics.
Let's just look at the cost of goods – things you and I buy everyday:
Of course it wouldn't be fair to say that everything has gone up. There are a few things that have actually gone down, including: appliances (-5%), utility gas (-26%), computers (-29%) and televisions (-57%). But for the mainstay products and goods – things seemed to have gone up. I'm sure you're noticing this at the grocery store.
What about income?
You and I can easily adjust to the cost of goods going up IF our take-home pay does the same. However, this has not been the case over the past four years. The median household income has stayed flat. When you have this going on – your standard of living goes down.
We certainly entered 2009 in some rocky territory – with a big financial crisis and recession. But, given we were at a low point – you'd think there would be only one way to go with wages: up. But, this hasn't been the case.
Are you better off?
The real question is – how are you doing today? Do you feel more financially secure? Are you happy with what you are making at work? Or, perhaps you are still looking for work and unemployed.
Kiplingers recently did a poll asking 5,570 folks the question: “are you better off today than you were four years ago?” The response was surprising. 59% of those polled said they were worse off, 29% said better and 11% said about the same.
So, how would you answer this?