Blue Collar Guilt? Five Things to Do Yourself

Success is always good, right? Perhaps. The personal and financial achievements of a job well done can be gratifying, but it can also be confusing. A book titled Limbo explores this subject by delving into “…an overlooked cultural phenomenon: the internal conflict within individuals raised in blue-collar homes, now living white-collar lives. These people often find that the values of the working class are not sufficient guidance to navigate the white-collar world, where unspoken rules reflect primarily upper-class values. Torn between the world they were raised in and the life they aspire to, they hover between worlds, not quite accepted in either. Himself the son of a Brooklyn bricklayer, Lubrano informs his account with personal experience and interviews with other professionals living in limbo. For millions of Americans, these stories will serve as familiar reminders of the struggles of achieving the American Dream.”

What happens when your upbringing clashes with your current lifestyle? What can we learn from both experiences? As the middle class struggles to survive, these questions have never been more relevant. We are no longer the wealthiest people in the world, and the time to throw off the image of success in favor of saving is now. Read on if you find yourself in limbo. Cutting back on life’s luxuries will lead to a greater appreciation of money, and, potentially, greater peace of mind.

Tightening your purse strings? Start by:

    1. Cleaning the house. You’re busy with work, kids and a million other things. Who has time to clean the house? Employing a housekeeper may seem necessary, but the correct term is probably convenient. Spending hundreds of dollars a year to keep your home and laundry clean is a high price to pay. Make an effort to prioritize home maintenance on your own. Draft a cleaning chart that doles out responsibilities for the whole family. Do the same for lawn care. Sacrificing 20 minutes a day will eliminate a messy house and help you focus on financial security.
    2. Cook your meals. Fast food may not seem “white collar,” but quick and easy dining options are a luxury in many parts of the world. The average person spends $1,200 a year on drive-thru food alone. Wasting your cash on marked up food products is a common domestic crime, one you should strive to eliminate. For example, while you’re likely to pay at least $25 for a salmon and asparagus entrée, it’s possible to make the same dish at home for half the price. Invest in some cooking supplies and take your food budget seriously.
    3. Find better childcare. Who says childcare can’t be affordable? Paying a full-time nanny for one-on-one care is trendy, but it isn’t the only option. Consider a daycare or Montessori school where your child can play with others. If you’re still set on personal care, talk to your parent friends about sharing babysitting duties during the week. If you can multitask, talk to your boss about work-from-home options.
    4. Park, shop, and generally run errands.  Even low-maintenance spenders waste money on convenience purchases. Whether it’s personal shoppers, online surcharge fees, valet parking, or even grocery delivery, there are plenty of ways to rein in spending with a do-it-yourself attitude. Don’t rely on someone else to propel your life forward. Be present when you spend—the result will help you think twice about handing over your credit card.
    5. Stick to your roots. So, you’re a white collar professional, but does that make you a white collar person? There are no rules about how and where to spend your money, especially if it conflicts with your personal comfort zone. Don’t allow the illusion of class to define you. Stick to your roots by creating a budget that suits you. Peer pressure is far from trendy.