Ruining the good Jones name

The NY Times this morning ran a story about the least sympathetic Joneses of the current recession:

Meet the Joneses, two Silicon Valley engineers who, in many ways, seem to have it all — a home they bought for $850,000, two children and a combined income of about $250,000 a year. But despite their apparent wealth, Kirsten and Mike Jones financed much of their lifestyle with borrowed money.

Now, like many overspent Americans, the Joneses are deeply in debt. They owe $100,000 on their credit cards, and the tax assessor says their home is worth $100,000 less than they paid for it. To turn their finances around, they’re embracing an idea so quaint it might be cool again: living within their means.

Apparently things really are tough in the Jones household (emphasis added):

MS. JONES said that to get back to living on their actual incomes, she and her husband had to stop thinking in terms of credit. They set up one bank account to cover the household bills and pay back debt. To rein in unnecessary expenditures, she and her husband each get a cash allowance of $600 a month.

If your austerity budget includes $1200/month for “dinners out, clothes, gadgets,” here’s an idea: Don’t be in the %@^* paper.  Nobody’s twisting your arm.  When the reporter asks, just politely decline.  It’s not indecent to be successful, obviously, but it is to whine about how hard it is to live on a mere $250K/year.  And it’s outright obscene to be self-congratulatory about one’s ability to endure a $1200/month austerity budget.

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3 Responses to Ruining the good Jones name

  1. Tom says:

    To be fair, the median home prices in Scotts Valley seem to be in the $550-600k range.

    Would it were that I had $600/month walking around town money. I could pay for some large teenager’s college tuition and still have $250/month left over.

  2. The Times really seems to enjoy these profiles in abject poverty. In the midst of my surfing yesterday I came across the heartwarming story “To Buy Children’s Gifts, Mothers Do Without,” which features a woman standing in a garage filled with toys. To make ends meet over the holidays, she has decided to forgo the purchase of designer jeans for the season.

    Paradoxically, I think I feel somewhat better about her than the folks in “Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood,” who have launched a letter-writing campaign urging toymakers not to advertise directly to children. Because, you know, that might make them want such toys, thus obliging parents to refuse them to stay within their budgets.

  3. jbj says:

    I definitely remember the Times running other stories like this–there was one a couple of months back about the plight of having to scrimp on, say $2million/year after living on $10million/year.

    What’s baffling is why people would let themselves be interviewed on the record about this sort of thing.

    At least these people were safely anonymous.

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