The cost of living in 2023 is undoubtedly bad and I'm not just referring to the United States of ol' America, which is where I reside. It's hitting other people hard as well, like our neighbors the north. Canada, like much of the world, is suffering from its own issues though a great deal of them mirror our own. For example, most people can't afford to live alone and the ones who can usually have to give up something in order to reside solo.
For Sam, who goes by @sam.breezie on TikTok, things are so bad in 2023 that she believes her life was financially better in 2012 when she was getting paid the minimum wage. As a Canadian living in British Columbia, Sam is frustrated by the fact that no matter how much money she makes, it feels as if she has to keep running up that hill, a la Kate Bush. And while things aren't easy, Sam doesn't exactly provide enough information to support some of her claims.
Having a nearly six figure income is still a decent amount of money.
It's not that I don't believe Sam when she says the cost of living is egregiously high, it's that she doesn't provide enough information. I too am a person in the world and as such, have felt the sting of over-priced groceries and rent that's comparable to her $1,650 per month. In fact, we have similar bills. Unlike her, I have some money left over for extracurricular activities.
Before we get into the missing information, let's dive into Sam's complaint. According to her, she was able to have a better lifestyle in 2012 when she was making minimum wage. As of the time of this writing, Sam takes home nearly $100,000 which some would argue is no longer a lot of money. Those people don't know what not a lot of money actually looks like.
Back in 2012, Sam was living in a two-bedroom apartment that cost $700 a month. She split that with a roommate which means they each paid $350 for rent. My first question is, where was Sam living in 2012? While comparing her measly $350 rent to her current $1,650 amount, Sam mentions living in British Columbia in 2023. It stands to reason that in 2012, she might have been living in a cheaper city.
I know that making more money can put you in a higher tax bracket, which is where folks often get zinged. I was curious about Canada's tax brackets in 2012. Per the Canadian government, someone making up to $42,707 of taxable income was at the mercy of a 15 percent tax rate. That bumped up to 22 percent when they hit $42,708 to $85,14. Fast forward nearly a decade and it has gotten better for Sam and her current bracket. The tax rate is down to 20.5 percent for folks between $53,359 and $106,717.
Sam goes on to say that her utilities were roughly $100 a month for everything and she might have spent around $150 on groceries for the entire month. She was careful to point out that she ate well. Groceries are definitely off the charts right now, but I'm again curious about those utilities. I cut the cord and have saved so much money but in 2012 streaming wasn't what it is today. I'm wondering if Sam didn't really have anything beyond Netflix and Hulu, with cable which was more affordable then.
At her mysterious minimum wage job, Sam took home about $1,300 or $1,400 a month. "After all my expenses and necessities, I had so much money left over," she said. Again I ask, what are these necessities? We need a full picture. Sam then mentions that this allowed her to go out multiple times a week. This is where things can get a little tricky.
No one is going to jump on the "stop buying Starbucks so you can save money" train but going out to dinner several times each week is one of those things a person can cut down on. I feel like she can no longer do this, and is framing that as part of her money troubles when it isn't.
I find that when some people say they don't have money available, it's usually because they aren't budgeting well or they can't afford a luxury item. I don't consider eating dinner out a luxury item unless you're spending half your week at restaurants. I know someone who makes twice as much as I do but always complains about never having money. Guess what, they order DoorDash three times a day, every day. Madness!
Undoubtedly I sound judgmental, but I also know that with a little extra work people can still live a great life making nearly $100,000 a year. Sam is particularly bummed about not being able to afford new clothes or makeup but perhaps she should try secondhand or thrift stores for her new duds. That also cuts down on clothing waste.
There are also new expenses that she simply didn't have in 2012. For example, a car payment, car insurance, gas, and her student loan. To be clear, everything is worse and most of what's happening is a systemic issue. It shouldn't be left up to the individual to always clean up the messes of our government. However, I would still love to learn about all of Sam's expenses and what she has had to give up now that she has a paltry almost $100,000 salary.