According to Blippy, a site which sounds a bit like Foursquare for purchases -- you post what you've purchased and can see what your friends have purchased, too -- users are spending $1.5 million per week. The site is only five months old, but it has already collected an incredible amount of data for advertisers and marketers, not to mention the personal amusement of seeing what your friends buy or get ideas for new products. Marketers can direct deals to you they know will be of interest and coupons can be offered to entice people to remain loyal to the same product, much in the same way the coupon machine at the food store doesn't waste your time on items outside of your buying habits and instead spits out coupons that fit with your buying trends.
But that $1.5 million figure also has the side benefit of creating a little perspective. That regardless of how bad things seem with the United States economy, we are still spending a lot of money. And peruse Blippy and you'll see that it's not all on necessities. The Global Rich List, a site that helps you understand how you stand in the world financially, places our family income ranked at a little under 50 million -- meaning, that only 50 million people in the world are ahead of us, salary-wise.
Which also means with only 50 million people ahead of us and six billion people in the world, we are within the top one percent of the world's richest people.
Which, of course, isn't the whole story because cost-of-living isn't factored into that number, and our salary would obviously go much further if we weren't living in an expensive metropolitan area. As is, what we pay yearly for medical insurance alone would pay for an entire generation of school children in ten Angolan villages. Tack on our mortgage payments and we could fund an additional ten Angolan villages.
Still, spend enough time with an international salary or cost-of-living calculator and your entire perspective on the fact that you can't keep up with the Joneses will change. Take, for instance, the job of teacher. On average, in the United States, a teacher has a salary of $5,266 per month. Norwegian teachers make a comparable $5,558 per month (as based on today's conversion rate). In Mexico, that monthly salary drops to $658. In Peru, it drops further to $609. And in Romania, female teachers make only $346 per month.
It isn't possible that living in the United States is 15 times more expensive than Romania, justifying our income. After all, even a gallon of gasoline in Romania is higher than in the United States ($4.09 in Romania to between $2-3 in the United States). The organization that brings you the Global Rich List bases their calculations on the idea that the "average worldwide annual income is $5,000."
Most of our frustrations stem from money -- either what we can't afford because it's priced out of our ability to pay, such as private school -- or the fear that living on one salary brings in an unstable economy. We've had to make hard choices this year; unhappy choices. And our friends have had to do without a lot, too, as expendable income fades with salary cuts. And at the same time, seeing myself in the top one percent of the world in terms of salary makes me count my blessings. And, as the Global Rich List points out, if people are spending $1.5 million dollars on purchases with their credit cards and sharing that news with friends through sites such as Blippy, we could also take some of that money and give it to others in need, and they are happy to show us how.
More from living