Remember a company called Loudeye? At one time (1999 to 2002) they were the LARGEST digital media company in the world. More music, more images than anyone else. Sure, they lost money on every stream they served, but they were HUGE, and were growing at record rates (like 2500% annual growth). At IPO (early 2000 IIRC) they were valued at $1.5 billion, making them one of the biggest "Internet companies" out there. By 2006, Nokia bought the whole thing for $60 million (about three pennies on the dollar, relative to their peak). And now? Loudeye.com doesn't exist.
LOTS of savvy investors back then, with lots of experience. But the market was irrational and thought - just like many people now - "this time it's different". Turns out it's not. At the end of the day, what matters is PROFIT, not revenue, not user base size, not "reach" or "brand awareness" or followers on Twitter. Profit. If you don't make one (or have the ability to pivot to profit within a single quarter, like Amazon) - you're not going to survive the next downturn. You're running on borrowed money, and when that stream dries up, you cannot continue on your own. You die. Or you end up like Loudeye and are purchased for a few pennies on the dollar and fade away.
That IS like 2001 - the focus on revenue, not profit. I don't know of a single unicorn ($1 billion+ valuation, pre-IPO stage) who's making profit right now. Turn off the flow of VC funds and they close - they cannot continue operations.
Back in the dot-bomb days it was the same thing. It was all about growing big, growing fast, and even if you lost money on every customer/user, you'd "make it up in volume". At the end of that era, most of the companies who had big revenues and negative cash flow either folded or scaled back so far they were sold for literally a penny on the dollar and faded away to obscurity. We'll see the same thing with the current crop of unicorns when the market crashes again. Those who can sustain themselves on existing revenues will survive. The rest will either go away completely, or end up being gobbled up by others for a fraction of their "value".
I sometimes get Mac Keynote presentations which are impossible to open on Windows. It either has to be printed out as a PDF or saved as a PPT format. Likewise with Numbers - useless as-is if you don't have OSX. I would love to know how to convert a Numbers file so that it can be opened and used on a Windows platform without using a computer running OSX.
On the other hand, Excel and PowerPoint are both available on Windows and OSX (as well as iOS and Android) and so files created with those tools pretty much open on all platforms.
ARMs blew up the economy? Rates changed less than 1% from 2005 to the peak since then - and that's for 1 year ARMs (10 year ARMs have been much more stable).
If you had an ARM before the crash in 2008 and you were able to pay your mortgage before - you could continue to pay your mortgage afterwards. What blew up the CDS market was NINJA loans and 100%+ loan-to-value mortgages and 2nd and 3rd mortgages at 125% to 150% LTV rates - not ARMs.
As far as FICA, you don't pay it on $100K; you pay it on your adjusted mortgage. Assuming $100,000 annually, a mortgage interest amount of $1200 per month, a $1000 a monthly 401K deposit, and four exemptions, your AGI would be around $45,000 - meaning you'll pay an average of $280 per month for SS and FICA (7.62% of your AGI).
$1000 for two cars, gas and insurance? Right there is a major problem. Seattle is NOT that big of a city (I lived there for the first 35 years of my life). If you're spending more than $200 a month of gas, and more than $150 a month on insurance you're doing it wrong. And if you're carrying $650+ of car loans, you're doing it wrong as well.
10 year ARM mortgage rates are around 3.1%, not 4.5% - so that changes the payments quite a bit. With taxes, a $400K mortgage on a $500K home (you do a 20% down payment, right?) you'll be around $2000 a month total.
With a family of 4, a mortgage, and $1000/month into a 401K like you stated, inocome taxes will be a LOT less than what you quote - probably closer to $450/month, not $2000 a month.
Get the transportation budget down to $500 a month (which is still very high), get a current mortgage rate, and do real taxes, and your $2000/month for everything else is closer to $5000 a month. Which should be plenty for a family of 4 AND allow for a $1000/month savings.
Or you can get those new cars every few years, accept a high mortgage rate, and don't take all the deductions you're allowed and then complain about not making enough.
It can be done, I did it, I do it, and so do hundreds of thousands of responsible adults who life comfortable lives. Sure, I don't have a new BMW or Mercedes every few years, but I also have built up a savings account over the last decade that gives me a year buffer with ZERO change to my spending habits - 18 months if I pull back a bit.
Are they the only ones that win? Do they win everything?
My neighbor across the street has a house about the same size as mine. He buys a new BMW or Mercedes every year; I get 3-4 years out of my Ford. He has a top-of-the-line MotoGuzzi - I ride a mid-line Honda. He and his family vacation in Barbados - I make due with Cabo San Lucas and Hawaii. He's at work right now (and nearly every Saturday, and many Sundays), and I'm at home, relaxing with some music, the cats, and Slashdot.
Did he win everything? I dunno - but I do know that in an hour or so I'll go play a little basketball with his kids...
Amazon appears to pay white collar workers (the subject of this article) fairly well. If you cannot afford to keep a family of 4 on $9,000 per month, then you're doing it wrong. Yes, Seattle housing has gotten more expensive - but you can still find hundreds of houses for sale that would have 3+ bedrooms (so little Johnny and little Mary can have their own rooms), 2+ bathrooms, and are standalone homes - and are available for under $500,000 (meaning about a $2,000/month mortgage - should be simple for a monthly income of $9,000).
If the typical white collar Amazon worker cannot afford to feed their kids and pay a mortgage AND put away 10% of their income every month - then they really need some basic budgeting skills and self-control.
The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.