Stop Calling it Disposable Income

Is this what I'm supposed to do with my income?  Then ship it to the closest corporate office?

Is this what I’m supposed to do with my income? Then ship it to the closest corporate office?

The term “Disposable Income” was a great marketing coup by some probably very wealthy capitalist minds; if we tell them it’s disposable they’ll just get rid of it by spending on all this useless junk.  I can’t remember where exactly I was reminded of this, possibly this GRS.  What do you think of when you hear the word disposable?  One use, throw away, not important?  No one would say “I disposed of all my money by putting some in the bank and investing the rest in stocks.”  It just sounds like the kind of term picked very carefully to sound official and statistic-y, but at the same time ingrain in your head and subliminally make you want to spend money on crap.  If all the financial media outlets continue to spout this “disposable income” garbage it certainly makes sense that you will have a lot of people thinking they are just supposed to dispose of their “disposable” income.  And how do you actually dispose of your money?  Buying useless disposable shit at Walmart.  Believe it or not, a lot of people do just that…

Also, there is a difference between disposable and discretionary. Disposable is what you have left after taxes and discretionary is what you have leftover after all basic living expenses.   You can save or spend this leftover money at your discretion.  In fact, the same is true of the so called disposable income, all basic living expenses can be adjusted at your discretion, at least to some very minimalist level of living standard.

We should just be calling post tax income just that: “Post Tax Income” or “Take-Home”.  It’s even less syllables.  And then “discretionary” actually has the correct connotation.  If you want to buy useless crap, do so at your discretion.  Otherwise invest and save at your discretion.  The greater societal effect may be minor, but this is just one more terrible example of the pervasive American consumerism that is not in any way good for this country.  Coming next; ranting about American Consumerism and the so-called consumer economy, WTF!

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