How much family income do you need to have a comfortable lifestyle? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
View Poll Results: How much family income do you need annually to afford a comfortable life style?
25,000-40,000 56 100.00%
40,000-55,000 57 100.00%
55,000-75,000 77 100.00%
75,000-95,000 45 100.00%
95,000-120,000 52 100.00%
120,000-150,000 24 100.00%
>150,000 20 100.00%
We have enough income to have a comfortable life 106 100.00%
We do NOT have enough income to have a comfortable life 67 100.00%
other 6 60.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

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#61 of 87 Old 04-07-2007, 04:34 PM
 
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We earn a comfortable living. It was a lot more before I resigned from my career (my gross annual salary was about the same as dh, though I worked part-time so the net was less), but then again a number of other expenses disappeared along with it (from babysitter to dry cleaners to suits for work to pump rental).

I think some people assume if you earn more than ____ (everyone has a different number, which is interesting in and of itself) then you are a.) wasting your money, b.) having a horrendous impact on the environment (the teardown mcmansion, the gas-guzzlers, etc.), and/or c.) are materialistic money-hungry yuppies.

None of these things is true for us AT ALL.

So... where does our money go...
  • We max out 401Ks every year & contribute after-tax to them... I think last time I checked we contributed about 17% of our income to retirement.
  • Each of our three children has a 529 plan and we put anywhere from 300 to 1200 per month into them.
  • Our groceries are a HUGE expense. Honestly, after the mortgage, I think groceries are the biggest expense we have. I am constantly struggling to bring down our grocery budget because it's just, I don't know, it's ridiculous and I think we should. I have a love/hate relationship with shopping at Whole Foods... and I'm trying to be better about cooking from scratch, for example, making homemade chicken tenders instead of Bell & Evans, or making my own bread, etc.
  • We recently moved. We bought an old house in a wonderful town and moved out of one of the most expensive areas in the country (D.C.) so we could be closer to family and live in an older house without spending $2M : and have the quality of life than comes from living in a walking-friendly town. We spent a lot of money on the move, and on fixing up our house and furnishing it. We have not yet sold our house in D.C. and that is obviously a HUGE expense as well, having 2 mortgages. That part was not what we hoped for obviously : but it was a contingency we had saved/planned for.
  • We have 2 cars - both Hondas - a 5 yr old Odyssey (paid for) and a Civic Hybrid (still making car payments). The hybrid sits in the garage most of the time b/c dh takes the train to work. Talk about an energy efficient car! We have thought about selling it but dh is worried about what happens when his project changes to some client where he can't take the train.
  • We tithe at church
  • We help support dh's father financially
  • We contribute a good amount to our alma maters.
  • We love gardening and spend a good amount each year on that. It's a big source of R&R for us, and a big family project.
  • We have zillions of family members close by and spend a lot on gifts, parties, even cards, etc. Nothing fancy, it just all adds up. We're "pizza and soda/juice boxes" people for parties, but still, pizza and juice boxes 10 times a year adds up. We entertain a lot and it's a huge source of enjoyment for us to have family & friends over. Again, always dead simple and cheap, but we are blessed with a big family and so it just adds up.
  • Our taxes are out of this world due to the "alternative minimum tax". We pay tens of thousands each year in taxes. :
  • I don't remember the last time we took a fancy vacation. We only go to stay with family members at their cabin or a beach condo, and always take the kids. It's not like we're jetting off to Europe or something lol.
  • The kids will be attending public school. We could afford private school but dh and I are one of those weird couples who are pro-public school. :
  • I shop consignment and Lands End Overstocks for virtually all of our clothes.
  • I hate wasting money and am a penny pincher on MANY things. (Wish I could translate that to groceries. ugh)
I just wanted to point out that I, like many people making far less money (and far more too) think we are "comfortable" but do not feel like we have money to burn. I am acutely aware that we make well above what the average American does. Yet we feel like average Americans, e.g., I would never self-describe us as "rich." I guess we all have different lifestyles, standards, but it's clear some people say they're comfortable at $25K and some people say they're comfortable at $250K.... and the person making $25K isn't necessarily barely eeking out a living and the person making $250K isn't necessarily living in a McMansion and driving a Hummer and burning hundred-dollar bills for entertainment in their Lear jet. I guess there's just a lot of sterotyping on both sides.
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#62 of 87 Old 04-07-2007, 10:56 PM
 
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I think at least 100,00 total, so we could save for college, retirement, vacations, etc.

jeneca mommy to kamille, 6 lexi, 4
#3 due 2/28/12

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#63 of 87 Old 04-07-2007, 11:14 PM
 
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Periwinkle, very well said. Everyone has different needs. What some find essential, others may find wasteful.

When mine and dh's salaries are added up, it looks pretty good until you get a look at the big picture. Personally, we had several financial setbacks that we are still paying for years later. Having a partner lose a job then go back to school to completely switch careers doesn't help much either. We have a large commuting expense for dh, we have to have two cars and associated payments, we have afterschool care, and other expenses. E Unfortunately, things are about to get very tight just as dh moves up a notch on his teaching pay scale. So much for that raise.

More money isn't always the answer, but sometimes, even a one time cash infusion sure could help.
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#64 of 87 Old 04-12-2007, 02:21 PM
 
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We are very minimal in what we need/want. For living here in Charlotte (NC) in a 900sqft 2br apartment my fiance makes about 35-40k (not sure exactly - maybe even a little less) and we live comfortably. It's a nice apartment, near a shopping center and health food store, rent is only $575.m. All our bills are paid, no debt, we are able to go out and half fun if we want, just have to get a babysitter. There's a lot of nature right outside the back of our complex so I can take long barefoot walks, my son can play on a blanket in the grass. I've even talked the apartment people into letting me keep a potted garden out back next to the picnic area. It may be an apartment but right now for us it's home. We have no need to buy a house here even though we can afford it, because we're not sure this is where we want to be forever. We think we want to go back to Florida where we both were raised.

ETA:
Also wanted to mention that we also all now have insurance, my son has a college savings account, we have a savings account, and we contribute as much as is allowed to his 401k. We're doing darn well for making the amount that we do, or rather that HE does. We also just had to buy a new car - but we BOUGHT it, not payments. We're just very wise with our money.
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#65 of 87 Old 04-12-2007, 04:14 PM
 
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I've spent the last 10 years making less than $10,000 a year. 2006 brought in $4,000 in Survival mode. I CAN live on that, but it's not fun. I would like to earn enough to afford a mortgage on my very own home.

I have no debt other than student loans in default, paid cash for my vehicle and RV home. No credit cards, no revolving debt and I will be paying off the last of the back phone bills this month.

Carlin was just approved for SSDI and that will bring in $500 a month. I would like to earn $1000 a month on top of that to be comfortable. I'm looking into some creative financing backed by my brother to get into a foreclosured house.
Bryanna
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#66 of 87 Old 04-20-2007, 08:18 AM
 
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we're under 25K (family of 3) and comfortable in that we have no debt (one of the criteria given). we also have no car, which is even more comfortable!!! and not many other things people take for granted, but all that adds to our comfort. we never have to go to malls, for instance, which are any way too far to walk to, unlike our thrift store
half our income goes in rent to our parents, whose house we share, but they have promised to give it all back to us when dd is ready for college. so it's like a savings plan, invested into real estate ....

relaxed-unschooler mama to dd (2003). hoping for second one. love being a mama!!
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#67 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 12:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hm, by reading the responses, I've noticed one interesting thing. People who are comfortable living on a small income (<$40K) generally say that they have no debt. While, most of the people in the 'high income' category do have some debt. Well, it looks like those in the 'high income' category have mortgages and car loans, etc, while those who are in 'low income' category usually rent and don't own a car.

For me personally, it is more comfortable to be in debt and own a house + a couple of good cars (although we have no car loans), etc, then two have no debt and no place of your own and use public transport (which in our case is hardly an option).

Also, although I have absolutely nothing against thrift stores, I am very far from being a 'thrift' person. I like and buy high quality stuff only (don't care about brand names) and if I cannot aford what I want, I simply do not buy anything at all.
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#68 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 01:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by M_of_M View Post
Hm, by reading the responses, I've noticed one interesting thing. People who are comfortable living on a small income (<$40K) generally say that they have no debt. While, most of the people in the 'high income' category do have some debt. Well, it looks like those in the 'high income' category have mortgages and car loans, etc, while those who are in 'low income' category usually rent and don't own a car.

For me personally, it is more comfortable to be in debt and own a house + a couple of good cars (although we have no car loans), etc, then two have no debt and no place of your own and use public transport (which in our case is hardly an option).

Also, although I have absolutely nothing against thrift stores, I am very far from being a 'thrift' person. I like and buy high quality stuff only (don't care about brand names) and if I cannot aford what I want, I simply do not buy anything at all.
:

Though I love thrift stores for high quality (sometimes designer) clothes.
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#69 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 03:51 AM
 
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Also, although I have absolutely nothing against thrift stores, I am very far from being a 'thrift' person. I like and buy high quality stuff only (don't care about brand names) and if I cannot aford what I want, I simply do not buy anything at all.
I don't think thrift store shopping has anything to do with income or being able to afford what you want. We are in the >150K bracket and the ONE thing I miss about living in the US is thright stores. That's where I do most of my shopping. It's better for our planet and more fun for me.

Ilaria mamma to Owen, Caroline & Patrick .... loving life as expats in Asia intactlact.gifnovaxnocirc.gifuc.jpgnamaste.gif
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#70 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 02:37 PM
 
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I don't think thrift store shopping has anything to do with income or being able to afford what you want. We are in the >150K bracket and the ONE thing I miss about living in the US is thright stores. That's where I do most of my shopping. It's better for our planet and more fun for me.
v. true. We do a lot of consignment for the kids. Both for environmental concerns as well as just being appalled at wasting our hard-earned money on clothes that will be outgrown in a matter of months and worn hard. Playclothes are consignment all the way.

I wish there were good consignment options for grown-ups. Around here, it's all horrible, outdated maternity clothes or horrible, outdated caftans and jeans jumpers, or business clothes and other stuff I would never wear.

Where is that awesome consignment store selling Horny Toad, Land's End, Gap, Patagonia, Talbots, J. Crew...
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#71 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 02:54 PM
 
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v. true. We do a lot of consignment for the kids. Both for environmental concerns as well as just being appalled at wasting our hard-earned money on clothes that will be outgrown in a matter of months and worn hard. Playclothes are consignment all the way.

I wish there were good consignment options for grown-ups. Around here, it's all horrible, outdated maternity clothes or horrible, outdated caftans and jeans jumpers, or business clothes and other stuff I would never wear.

Where is that awesome consignment store selling Horny Toad, Land's End, Gap, Patagonia, Talbots, J. Crew...
See, its all about location. We have a small chain of consignment stores that only sell, updated, mid level to high brands, trendy like clothes only. http://www.crossroadstrading.com/cm/Home.html They dont take anything less. I purchased new cashmere sweaters for $15, Diane von Fustenburg dress for $20 (normally $300), Michael Stars shirts, etc. Some stores are better than others though. There are also a few really good stores that have updated career wear, evening wear, etc. Maternity is still hit or miss but we have http://www.maternityxchange.com/ that only takes brand name, cute clothes. No peg leg pants or frumpy, cheap tops.
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#72 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 02:56 PM
 
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#73 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 02:58 PM
 
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#74 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 07:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by M_of_M View Post
Hm, by reading the responses, I've noticed one interesting thing. People who are comfortable living on a small income (<$40K) generally say that they have no debt. While, most of the people in the 'high income' category do have some debt. Well, it looks like those in the 'high income' category have mortgages and car loans, etc, while those who are in 'low income' category usually rent and don't own a car.

For me personally, it is more comfortable to be in debt and own a house + a couple of good cars (although we have no car loans), etc, then two have no debt and no place of your own and use public transport (which in our case is hardly an option).
We own 1 house with a mortgage and a car outright. We have had 2 cars at once, nice ones (a 8 year old Infiniti and a 3 year old Maxima). We have never made more than 40k. Now we are still healthily below 40k with the car and the house and no other debt. We don't shop at the thrift stores or Wal Mart either.
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#75 of 87 Old 04-21-2007, 09:00 PM
 
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Where is that awesome consignment store selling Horny Toad, Land's End, Gap, Patagonia, Talbots, J. Crew...
Savers!!!!!! At least the onse in Arizona...they have the best stuff!!!

Ilaria mamma to Owen, Caroline & Patrick .... loving life as expats in Asia intactlact.gifnovaxnocirc.gifuc.jpgnamaste.gif
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#76 of 87 Old 04-22-2007, 02:41 PM
 
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the ONE thing I miss about living in the US is thright stores. That's where I do most of my shopping. It's better for our planet and more fun for me.
yeah when i was abroad it was weird to buy new. not fun at all. secondhand is so stress-free. and fun. ever been to "dollar-a-pound" in cambridge?

i really really dislike paying interest. i did that when i took all those college loans and i a so happy not to be doing it anymore. when i want to buy something and not sure if i really need it, i ask, "would i go into debt for this?"

sure it's depressing sometimes not to afford things, but on the whole i don't regret the low income lifestyle i've got.

relaxed-unschooler mama to dd (2003). hoping for second one. love being a mama!!
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#77 of 87 Old 07-07-2007, 06:56 PM
 
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I chose 75,000-95,000 because I think that would be comfortable. We'd be able to pay off bills, buy a house, put away money in savings, and long-term, would be able to take vacations, buy something if I wanted it (which I can't do now) and buy kiddos anything I want to.

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#78 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 01:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#79 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 01:27 AM
 
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we have 24 000 and we're not terribly uncomfortable
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#80 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 12:31 PM
 
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Other. We make less than $25,000 a year and live a comfortable life with lots of travel.
In a few years we'll make a lot more money and I hope we can keep the same lifestyle and avoid consumerism.
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#81 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 12:36 PM
 
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We make just under $40,000 a year and we're okay.

We don't have any CC debt, our car payment is low, our relative COL is pretty low (under $800 for housing, including utilities and rent), we get by. We don't NEED new clothes or cable TV or anything like that.

Sure more money would be nice, but it's not worth the cost for us (me working, being away from our kids)

Renae wife to J :, Mama to 4.5y/o J-bird and 2y/o A : and E coming in late Dec/Early Jan. My husband had a living donor kidney transplant! :
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#82 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 12:38 PM
 
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We are in the 95,000 to 120,000 range and another 10,000 to 15,000 would make things easier. Hence why I would LOVE to get a part time job.
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#83 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 01:02 PM
 
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$55,000

Mommy to THREE sweet boys & ONE sweet girl + a newb due in February!  I need a nap. 
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#84 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 03:01 PM
 
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With the alimony and child support my Hubby pays for his daughter, we would need 120,000-150,000. We have about 95,000-100,000.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#85 of 87 Old 05-16-2008, 09:52 PM
 
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I think things would be a lot more comfortable if we were around the $70,000 mark. We make things work, but we are on a pretty tight budget w/out much wiggle room.
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#86 of 87 Old 05-17-2008, 03:46 AM
 
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We are in the 25,000 to 40,000 range.
If pur income was $5K-$10K more we'd be comfortable. Right now we don't have savings. We live within our means reasonably well but there isn't much extra.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#87 of 87 Old 05-17-2008, 08:18 PM
 
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I'm a live in the woods off the land kind of gal. To live comfortably means that we would have a house and land without any debt. You would need enough for property tax and any extras. That's about it.
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