Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How Wealthy Am I Compared to the Rest of the World

Have you ever visited the Global Rich List? I encourage you to try it. Go ahead, click on the link below. I'll be here when you get back.

I'm guessing our annual household income to be about $20,000, after our tax returns and any miscellaneous income I make. Depending on how it is calculated, our family hovers around the top 14%.
Poking around the site a little bit, I see that 85% of the world's population lives on less that $6 per day. Along with that, 50% live on less that $2.35 per day and the bottom 10% live on around $1 a day.
Who is it that we are comparing ourselves to that we think that we need more than we have?
The official world poverty level is $1.25 per day. The US poverty line is drawn between $30 and $10 per person per day, depending on the size of the family. As someone who lives below the US "poverty" line, I can confidently say that US poverty is a hoax (with the exception of the homeless). Those living below the US poverty level are some of the richest people in the world, myself included. Not to mention, my family has been offered, on several occasions, a lucrative $400 per month in food stamps, and the government doesn't even know that I'm pregnant. But that is not the point...
The point is that our standard of living is much higher than is NECESSARY. Yes, we may like buying new toys and continually updating our shoe collection, but it is by no means necessary.
What is necessary? Clothes to keep you warm and descent, some sort of shelter, depending on your climate, and basic food and drink to nourish your body. That is all. Everything else is gravy. And my "poverty-stricken" family has a LOT of gravy. I'm sure yours has even more.

This "African Washing Machine" is similar to my washing machine, except I have one bucket and it is filled with running water. I didn't have to carry it from the well. When we moved to an apartment with no washer/dryer hookups, I found myself shelling out $40 per month to the laundromat. So I started filling a bucket, hung a few laundry lines in our bedrooms, and kept my money. In what way can you save money by living a little more like the rest of the world?


Stephen said...

Great post Emily, sometimes we forget how lucky we really are when compared to the rest of the world. I'm guilty of this just as much as anyone but I do think it's important to reflect on our relative wealth as much as we can.

-Gen Y Investor

Organizing Mommy said...

O.K. I have no clue how you do it. I need to sit at your feet, honey. I know I'm lucky and all.. but???

Anonymous said...

That is amazing! I guarantee your clothes will last a lot longer, since hand washing and drying is much more gentle.

I just found your blog and I LOVE it. I'm reading previous posts now. :)


Terri said...

When I moved into my new apartment, I was shocked to discover that the machines in my building cost $1.75 to wash and $1.75 to dry each load. I do about 10 loads a month, so it works out to $35 per month to wash my clothes. In the past, when I've been really broke, I've resorted to washing clothes out by hand. I'm WAY too busy for that now, so I bought a small, portable washing machine called the "Wonder Washer" on Amazon.com for less than $55.00, including shipping. It's kind of small, so it won't do things like sheets and blankets, but it works for virtually everything else. Because it's small, I tend to do a load every day, which means my laundry doesn't pile up like it used to.

Emily said...

Terri, I looked at the wonder washer, and have looked at similar items before. I find that the hard work is in the wringing out of clothes so that they don't drip, since our clothes lines are inside. What I need is a wringer, but this looks like a good item for busy people with no washer.

Terri said...

The company that makes the Wonder Washer also makes a Mini Countertop Spin Dryer. However, it's a little expensive, which is why I didn't buy it, around $98, including shipping, on Amazon.com. I hadn't thought of getting one of those old fashioned hand crank wringers, I'm going to have to look into that.

Anonymous said...

I do agree that US poverty is a hoax. The poor here often have cell phones, TVs, cigarettes, buy lottery tickets etc. It usually just comes down to a lack of education about money management. My brother and his girlfriend are "poor" by US standards but have an apartment bigger than yours, ipods, phones, a 46" flat screen and my brother has a giant sneaker collection. He works but they also receive food stamps. I have a very hard time giving to US charities, I would much rather give to the poor in Africa or Asia, where children actually die for lack of food.

Simply Natural Homestead said...

Go to Lehmans.com. They have a wringer, the one they call "our best" wringer, it's really expensive, but I've heard good things about it. Sometimes stuff like that has to be considered an investment. You want the best, not something that will break down. I have one virtually identical, but mine is an actual vintage wringer. It works pretty good, but the rollers are old, so they're cracked and sometimes little pieces of rubber come off. Have to watch out for buttons and zippers, too.

I've handwashed before, using a "Rapid Washer". They sell those at Lehman's, too. It looks a little like a plunger, but it's made of metal, and the water somehow pushes through the cone, so you get great agitation. Again, mine is an actual antique I bought on craigslist, and has a longer handle and a little handle that comes out the side...and looks cooler, lol. I should do a post about it. It works great, but it does take some arm strength.

I agree about the poverty level here. I'm trying to remind myself that I don't need xyz to get along in life. Although comparing us to countries where they make $1 a day isn't completely accurate, as they don't spend $400-1000 a month for a small apartment like Americans have to. But still, they know what's important in life, and they know how to REALLY stretch a dollar. Even when my husband was unemployed, we lived pretty "high on the hog" compared to most countries.

By the way, do a youtube search for washing laundry by hand from a user called Pockets of the Future. Cute video series of their famiy doing the laundry, using the same items I just mentioned.

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