What really caught my eye, were the comments, not of those who affirmed that the numbers were correct and they and their quality of life were sinking, but in those who denied this and showed how "well" they survived:
My family of four has been surviving on ONE income of $45,000 (or less) for more than 10 years, and in the (overall) most expensive state in the union, New York. It can be done. First, lose the new cars, you don’t need them. Second, the food bills are too high, cut there. Cut the cable/dish and the internet. These are only the first places to cut. I’ve experienced two pay cuts totally 15% in the last 15 months, so, things are tight. If I have to I start cutting, or, get a second job (which I do have, now).
We have two old cars–paid for, but of course it costs money to keep them running safely. We bought a house a few years ago for 100k–15yr mortgage, and have around 1k monthly payment when you include property taxes and the like. Gasoline prices and food prices have hit fairly hard in the past few years–and even with summer gardens and the like we can’t keep our food bill as low as we could years ago.
We have no credit card debt–as we worked extra part-time jobs for years to pay off our credit card debt and save up cash for cars and down-payment on our ‘nothing-special’ 100k house.
We feel like the working poor and have for this entire decade, we eat out once a month (that being a take out pizza/or chinese) and never go to movies anymore–but rather play board games as a family or other things that don’t cost money. We have no cable and no fancy cell-phones. It seems to us that we were taken for a ride, working for the last 15 years–to be doing only slightly better than many welfare people.
I am a single parent with two teen daughters. We are scratching by on my income of $28k. No cell phones, no cable/satellite tv. We still have the internet. Costs are cut by hanging clothes up outside (reduce electricity), a large garden and a few laying hens. Squeaking by is the name of the game. School loans are on deferment atm and medical bills are not getting paid.
Lisa Z wrote:
Your numbers are almost exactly our life! We live in small city Minnesota, and were successfully living on one income of (now) about 50k per year. We are okay with living simply, purchased a home 6 years ago and used car below our income guidelines, and we make purchases very frugally. Our mortgage and escrow are about 1k/month. Groceries, etc. for our family of 2 adults, a DS13 and DD11, are $400-500/month because that’s all we’ve got (very difficult to do esp. as the kids get older, but we manage by cooking nearly all from scratch, gardening, freezing and canning, etc.)
The biggest problem is our health insurance has risen exponentially to where it’s keeping us from doing anything but getting by. It’s now $600/month to cover our family of four with a small deductible plan. My husband is a teacher so that’s a group plan. This can’t go on. Saving up for the deductible is nearly impossible.
Taxes and mandatory pension plan mean net income is only $2800/month. We can’t contribute much to the economy, that’s for sure. We have taken extra jobs–a first for me, a second for hubby–just to pay for choir for DD, horseback riding therapy for our autistic DS, small vacations to visit grandma/grandpa, etc. Those things absolutely can’t come out of our main income. Everything is a struggle these days. We’re still well fed. We’re still covered by a decent roof, and we’re dressed (in 2ndhand clothes mostly). But we’re treading water upstream and it’s more and more difficult every day, with pay freezes in the school district that won’t end anytime soon
Those of you who are claiming $50K isn’t enough…have you ever been to a garage sale to buy clothes and household items? It’s dirt cheap. I picked up a leather jacket nearly brand new for $5. You can get canning supplies and equipment the same way for nearly nothing. Grow a really nice (huge if you have the room) garden for nearly nothing if you compost and use heritage seeds. Save a ton by buying in bulk. Cook most things from scratch.
NEVER buy a new car, and always pay cash. Drive a junker if need be…I do. I live in outstate MN and $1000/month will buy you an UNBELIEVABLE home. You can get by on half that for a 3BR, 2BA home, possibly with acreage if you can get a deal.
There are people here who have built ponds and stocked them with fish, keep bees, have small orchards and can the product, heat their houses mostly with wood they cut themselves and so on.
Bob Bois writes:
It’s not so much that you can’t make it on 50K on a monthly basis. That can be done with a little foresight and frugality. But forget about putting anything away for retirement at that rate. In fact, the middle class should just forget about retirement completely. As a concept, retirement is a relatively new development affecting a tiny percentage of the global population.
t’s a nightmare out there isn’t it?
my husband and I get by on his one income. We manage by growing much of our own food and i can and dehydrate as well. we keep our util. bill quite low by being diligent and turning things off all the time.
it can be done, but who wants to spend their lives scraping and scratching just to get by to continue living like that day after day.
there just has to be more to life than figuring out which mega rich corporation we are going to send money to this week
It is absolutely possible to live on $50,000 a year for a family of four!! We are a family of 4 living on about HALF that amount! I stay home with the kids too! We bought a reasonably priced home, have 2 decent vehicles with no payments, no credit card debt, no student loans, no cable tv (who has time for that with kids to care for?.) We grow alot of food in our garden and can/freeze it to help cut grocery costs. I breastfeed and use cloth diapers. I buy 95% of the kids clothing second-hand (good stuff too!)We even have to pay for our own health insurance that goes up every year. I do everything I possibly can to make things myself from scratch. It takes alot of work, but we are doing it and we don’t feel like we are living without. We are even able to save money and pay cash for large items (furniture, appliances, vehicles, etc.) We ARE lucky to not live in the city and have the extra expenses they have. Although city folks can do alot of the things we do!
Well, I congratulate those who are making it, or rather surviving, by living more and more like their great grandparents, in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. When the so-called Richest Nation in the World has its average family living on par with someone 40 years prior, that is not Rich it is 2nd World at best. Sure, not being in debt is very important, but it says something when the average wage of the average person can not adequately feed a person and his spouse and two children and their cloths are bought from other poor people, who are a bit more poor and selling off what they own to stay above destitute.
America has now arrived or just about arrived at where we were in the 1990s.
Get real worried when you see grandmothers, on street corners, selling petro out of old soda bottles.