In the United States, the official numbers tell us that approximately 36.5 million people live in poverty. As shockingly high as those numbers appear, I think they still significantly underrate the problem. The government uses an absurdly low cost of living to measure poverty. For example, it puts the poverty line for a family of four at about $5,000 per person per year.
How can we expect a person in the United States to live on $5,000 per year and not call it poverty? We cannot reasonably do that. I doubt a person could afford just rent and food on that.
We need to calculate a reasonable cost of living that includes all the necessary expenses required to survive and support oneself with a reasonable comfort of living. I say a reasonable comfort of living because a person can survive by living in a cardboard box, but we would still consider them poor.
Our cost of living needs to include the costs of food, clothes, shelter, and healthcare. It also needs to include the costs of retirement and student loans. Additionally, it needs to include the costs it takes to earn the income. This includes transportation, education, baby sitting, and other job expenses. Additionally, the cost of living needs to include the costs of unemployment insurance in places where the government does not provide it. The costs of shelter need to include not only rent (or a mortgage), but also the cost of repairs, home insurance, furnishings, and utilities such as heat, hot water, electricity, and a phone.
If we want to make a true cost of living, we need to make a reasonable budget that includes all of those expenses. Then we need to end poverty by making sure children and everyone else can get enough education and training to get a job that pays them a true living wage.
If you want to try to estimate the true cost of living in the United States by making a budget that includes all those expenses, please post it in this thread at the Hunger and Poverty Discussion Forums. You can also discuss other related topics in the forums. It is completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.