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Does Your Family Earn a Livable Wage? - Page 4

post #61 of 94
Originally Posted by major_mama11 View Post

Interesting calculator!


With both of us working (DH full-time, me part-time) we make just under what is listed as annual living wage for our area. But we work opposite shifts instead of paying $800/mo for daycare, so that makes a significant difference in our budget.


My DH does not make a living wage for our area, even though he qualifies as "skilled labor" and has nearly 20 years experience in his field. The reason for this has little to do with hourly wage, and a lot to do with simply not getting 40 hours every week. I make almost exactly the living hourly wage, but I only work part-time. Add us together, and we squeak by.

This is very, very common where I currently live/work and really the only way most people without post-secondary educations make a go of it. If you have two people working full time and no childcare you can get up to a living wage.  Too bad that you spend almost no time with your partner and are at high risk for divorce.  I guess I wish the system was set up better in a way that actually nourished not starved family life.


Edited by mnnice - 5/9/11 at 9:49am
post #62 of 94

We are just shy of the livable wage where we are. DH is the only one who works and we don't have the childcare costs so that helps A LOT...But as another PP said, DH works in a skilled trade with over a decade of experience and it mostly depends on how many hours he gets in a week. During the winter 30 hours is awesome! During the summer 50 is not unheard of. It's tough but that is probably why we live with MIL!!


I don't mind for now, me not working and being with DD all day is more important than having extra cash at this point. When dd starts school I will start a PT job hopefully.

post #63 of 94

We make just slightly less than the given wage but don't have house payments or car payments (which does sound awesome).  On the other hand, we are totally getting smothered by insurance (3x what it says it should cost for our area) and college and grad school loans...  


We also don't pay for child care because I stay home.  We lose money in the long run doing it that way, but I'm blessed to be home with my babe.  On the whole I feel positive with our financial situation.  Only just.

post #64 of 94

I counted child support, alimony and my hourly job and I still make below.   They said we need just over $50,000  (two adults, two children...they didn't have any options for one adult three children but M is old enough to be considered an adult in terms of expenses) which i think is way more than we need.  absolutely need.  I make just under $24,000 a year which means we sacrifice a lot but still, I wouldn't need 50k.

post #65 of 94

The amount that they quote for my area seems about right for a lower middle-income family. We are fortunate to make substantially above the living wage in our area, between 3-1/2 and 4 times higher if you take both of our incomes, depending on how much work my DH gets in a given year (he is self-employed). The numbers do seem pretty accurate, though, given the cost of living here, though we certainly pay different amounts due to our priorities and ability to pay. While living at that level would require significant changes for OUR family, it is certainly livable in terms of relatively decent housing, healthy food (not organic, of course), transportation, etc. Childcare is the only one that is potentially low if your child is not in school, though I suppose that are lower cost full-time child care options catering to lower middle-income families.

post #66 of 94
Nope. Well, I make about a dollar an hour less than their living wage for one adult supporting one adult (was supporting us two), and DP is very newly making min. wage, was unemployed. (hopefully he'll start making more soon, good possibility, however it won't come near living wage for two, even though I'm going back to school).

We feel like we're doing ok, most of the time, except that we can't afford health insurance or much health or dental care. We were eating our savings, but even now, they won't build very fast.
post #67 of 94
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mnnice View Post

 If you have two people working full time and no childcare you can get up to a living wage.  Too bad that you spend almost no time with your partner and are at high risk for divorce.  I guess I wish the system was set up better in a way that actually nourished not starved family live.



I know, right?  It kind of makes me roll my eyes when I hear all of the political rhetoric about "family values"......

post #68 of 94

We do, although barely for our area.  If we had a larger house payment or another child, we could be in trouble.

post #69 of 94

I can't imagine actually trying to live on what they consider to be a living wage in my area. The number listed is barely above minimum wage. When I was single I was making twice the "living wage", but half of my paycheck went towards a small one bedroom home. I never went out to eat or any other sort of entertainment, rarely purchased anything, and there was still zero left over for savings. It was definitely a paycheck to paycheck situation. There is plenty of cheap housing here, but if you want to actually live in a safe area, you're going to pay a lot more than you can afford with a "living wage". Even my one bedroom house in a safe neighborhood was in a nearly collapsed school district that I would never send my children to. Everyone in the area paid to send their kid's to Catholic school or hoped they'd make it into the limited spaces in the nearby magnet schools. There is no way that we could pay for both housing and daycare for one child on the family wage listed, let alone food, transportation, medical, etc. I could go on, but really my point is that the "living wage" listed for my area is not livable at all.

post #70 of 94

We make about the living wage if you take child support into account. Once that ceases, we will be below the living wage, but I will hopefully be working in a higher paying job in the near future (last year of school).


But yeah, the numbers seem off. It lists over $900/month for transportation. Um, no, I don't think so. Even with my car payment, we don't spend nearly that much on transportation. And I pay to park where I work.



post #71 of 94

No, not even close.  "Livable wage" is more than twice what I make.  But we do ok.  I don't have to pay for childcare...DD gets in home nursing and I take DS to work with me.  My rent is one the higher end for my area, but I have lower transportation costs.  I do get medical for the kids, but none for me.  We get FS.  So I guess I should say "we do ok with a little help".

post #72 of 94

If I add child support and military retirement pay to what I actually earn, then we have just enough to live on according to the chart. My family is me and and an adult daughter and teenage son - neither of them generate any income yet. My daughter is disabled, but we don't claim any benefits for her (and we really should). My coworker earns $1/hr less than me and supports her two teenage daughters on just what she earns. She has to live with her mother in order to do it.


Despite what the chart says for expenditure, we are able to save each month for a college fund and my retirement, and pay off my student loans and our car. I feel like we're pretty comfortable so long as our elderly cat doesn't need another surgery soon! Vet bills - yowza!

post #73 of 94
Yes with 2 adults and 2 kids. The overall wage seems about right to me but the numbers for each category seem off.

The site says the living wage for a single person in our area is $14,800. I think it would be pretty tough to live on that.
post #74 of 94

We make a bit less than their liveable wage calculations so that makes me feel a little better.

We certainly aren't struggling, but we have had to cut back when DH quit his part-time job (he still has a full-time 9 months job).


Their numbers were WAY off in a lot of categories. I can't figure out how they decided that rent was under $500 in a college town. uhoh3.gif

post #75 of 94

Yes, we fall above their 'livable' wage but I honestly don't see how. We barely spend $400-500 per month on groceries and that's a luxury. The calculator gave me nearly $700.

post #76 of 94

I'm in Canada, so not on the list, but I find this topic very interesting. In our City, which has one of the highest COL in the *world*, the average family's annual income of residents (including the multimillionaires and the welfare recipients) is around $75,000, almost exactly what my husband and I make combined. However, we are generally just making it, and with paid off student loans, no car payment, one kid in daycare ($800/month for a 3.5 year old), renting in a housing co-op, etc. we are still unable to save.  Admittedly we spend more than most on groceries, but only one car, we don't drink or smoke, not fashionistas etc. I just wonder where the money goes.  

Additionally, we are still $50,000 in income below the level required in this city to buy a home. The cheapest detached home in our neighbourhood is still $499,000 and it's a tear down, and it's NOT a posh neighbourhood. The cheapest two bedroom condo is over $350,000.  We talk all the time about moving, but my wage (I'm the primary breadwinner) would pay so much less in a smaller centre that it's not worth it. Also, my hubby's job is one in a lifetime -- a part time union position in the arts for a disabled artist. So we will never leave as long as that job exists. 

post #77 of 94

Err, my husband makes about three times what that chart considers a living wage. But our housing is twice as expensive. Transportation costs mean every expense involved with owning a vehicle so we probably spend two or three times what they estimate. We don't pay childcare for our two kids.


I am weirdly frugal/depression era attitude towards how I run my house because I grew up very poor. I am weird about how I work with money. So we save a lot. And we are paying off our mortgage fast. We won't have a mortgage by the time I'm 40. And we live in the bay area--that's huge. I feel like the future is scary. My husband is in an industry that kicks people out at 40. He's a programmer. (Mostly Ruby and Java these days. Like I know what that means.) I need to get our entire set of living expenses down to a salary that I can start earning in a few years because he may be kind of screwed in a few years. I'm trying to be very practical about the money now. I am extremely grateful that his industry is booming. He was born at the right time with the right set of weird little interests to have money thrown at him.


It's very weird to stand next to him. In financial terms I'm not worth much despite all my education. I could go back to teaching. Only if we don't have a mortgage to pay. Ha. He grew up rich and sometimes I have to work very hard not to react to some of his attitudes with great hostility. We have a really weird marriage. Heh. I have no idea why he wants to be married to me. But in the meantime I am hiding extra nickels under my mattress.


I feel really sad when I read about how much every one else is struggling. I don't feel like I "deserve" to be doing better than other people. It's very weird that in substantial ways my life is easier than other peoples lives now. I have less day to day fear. I feel really bad that I still don't feel safe. I think I am broken in that way that poor kids sometimes get broke--they never ever feel like they get enough ever again in life. But I made sure I didn't pursue a career that would lead to money! Oh man. I can't deal with pressure. Teaching was awesome.


Holy moly I need to stop rambling.

post #78 of 94

DF makes a couple thousand dollars more/year than the calculator says is required for 1 adult, and we are 2 adults, 2 (soon to be 3) kids. Our food is about the same as they say you need for 1 adult, but we get WIC, so that helps a lot. I sah,  so no childcare costs, and DF has wicked awesome insurance cost through work. Housing is about right. Sometimes it's hard, but I remember just a few months ago we were homeless, and I feel so lucky.

post #79 of 94

We now make slightly more than what they give for the local living wage, but then we also tithe.  Their estimates for food, health care, transportation, and taxes are far off, in our case.  (For $900 a month in food, we could eat out every night!!)


What is interesting, though, is to look up living wage estimates for places I'd like to move to....


Also, it is interesting to look at the numbers and guess what some of their assumptions behind the estimates must be:  one or two car payments, one wage earner per household, one family unit per household, transportation expenses steadily increasing with number of family members, and a low level of cooking and home economics skills.  A low level of household wealth (negative net worth) is implied, but actually many low-income households have significant assets (mostly older people).


If you go back and look at their data sources, many of the costs are based on data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, which is a survey of what people actually spent, not necessarily of what they had to spend.  (The USDA's Cost of Raising a Child estimate uses some of the same data.)  Which makes it impossible for me to accept the living wage given here as an income threshold for meeting the basic necessities of life.  It is very possible to live well on much less than the calculated living wage, and many people do indeed manage to do this.

post #80 of 94

No, a few thousand more per year and we would.

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