The Living Wage Calculator - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: How accurate is the living wage calculator for your area?
Yes the calculator was spot on 94 24.93%
No way the calculator was too low, it thinks we can live with out food or shelter 215 57.03%
No way the calculator estimates too much money, we don't need caviar to survive 41 10.88%
obligatory other, please explain 27 7.16%
Voters: 377. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you seen the living wage calculator? How accurate do you find it for your area?

http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/



For me it was fairly generous. It was 10% higher than what DP makes, but we have everything we need and extra. I think we could easily cut some extras and live off of what it suggests is a living wage for our area.
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#2 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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That link is to a calendar.
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#3 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:51 PM
 
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April 13 is Blame Somebody Else Day.
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#4 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Doh! Thanks, I fixed it.
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#5 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:53 PM
 
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I voted right on, but I suspect most people in my area would disagree. We have been car-free for 7 years, so that helps. And the rent it quoted was $200 higher than what we pay, because we live in a less than glamorous apartment. The food quote was a little low, though, imho.
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#6 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:56 PM
 
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ha! Ha ha ha! Oh man... find me that rent in Manhattan and I'll throw you a freaking parade!
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#7 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:57 PM
 
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Well, it didn't include what the wage should be if you had two adults and more than two kids. But it did not accurately calculate the housing costs (astronomical) in my area, not at all. So, it underestimated what the living wage would be for me.

It was much closer to accurate when I checked for my sister's location, a medium sized midwestern city.
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#8 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 04:57 PM
 
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I picked that it was low. The housing cost it gave was half of what our mortgage is, and we live in a townhouse that is way way cheaper than most of the housing around here.
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#9 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:00 PM
 
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Well, it really underestimated housing and child care, so I think it's pretty low for my midwestern city.
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#10 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:03 PM
 
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I voted spot on but it wasn't quite but pretty close.

We make $10,000 a year less (before taxes) than what they consider average for a family of 4 (we are a family of 5). My dh makes $6 less an Hr than what they consider a living wage.

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#11 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:06 PM
 
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It was pretty close here. The housing was a tad bit higher than we pay, but lately the houses around here are going for a lot more than we paid, so my guess is it would be too low. (We paid $40000 for a house four years ago that would now go for about $70000 now.)

The most interesting thing was the average wages for this area since the best paying jobs around here weren't mentioned or listed below actual wages. We have a candy factory, a refinery, and a prison as our top three "best" jobs in town (highest paying, best benefits, most "prestige" if you can imagine that.) Of course, doctors and lawyers and such make more, but you know what I mean.
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#12 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:06 PM
 
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I'd say its an underestimate.

It has only $127 for transportation. We have one car with a pymt of just over $200 which is pretty cheap for a car pymt I think, that doesn't include gas, maintenance, or insurance.

It has $594 for housing. You could probably find a fairly crappy apartment for that but most houses rent for $1000 or more. A decent house in a decent neighborhood is going to be around $200k so I can't see a mortgage for less that $600 on that.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#13 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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Too low. It says two adults can live on less than $400/mo rent here. That's possible, but not likely.
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#14 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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I voted "spot on." The calculations seemed like the minimum for the area--the food costs and rent seemed lowish--but doable.
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#15 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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I'm looking at the 2 adult 2 child costs...

Housing was low. We rented a 2 bedroom apartment 8 years ago for right around the housing figure they gave for a family of 4. I can't imagine that rents haven't gone up since then. There's no way you could buy anything for a mortgage payment that low.

Childcare was low. It was $100 less then I'm paying for one child to receive care from a licensed home daycare provider. From what I've seen our DCP's costs are average for the area. My older child is in public school and we're juggling dh and my schedule to avoid putting her in aftercare. (that will change in a few weeks though) If she were in daycare or after school care the number would be even more off.

Transportation was probably about right if you own a paid-for car. If you're taking public transportation or making a car payment it was also low.

Mom to (5) (9)
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#16 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:08 PM
 
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I found the calculator too low for someone wanting to *move* to my town though I think you could make it, albeit very frugally, if you bought your house 5-10 years ago. There are very few rentals around here.

For example:
1)there is not a single home for sale in my town for less than 500K. The one house at the low end is a 4 room (kitchen, living room, 2 bedroom) cape on less than a quarter acre on busy street a few house down from a 7-11. My husband is a mortgage broker and said the median selling price in 2005 in our town was aprox in the low 400's. As of today there not a single home or apartment for rent.
2) Our tax base is the highest all surrounding towns and one of the highest in the state
3) A survey of local grocery store prices found the most chains (Stop and Shop, Shaws) prices were highest in our town and the 2 adjacent towns.

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#17 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:14 PM
 
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According to that, I would have to make $21.48/hr for a living wage. Hah!
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#18 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kama'aina mama View Post
ha! Ha ha ha! Oh man... find me that rent in Manhattan and I'll throw you a freaking parade!
OMG--I checked that out. $1135 for rent in Manhattan for 2 adults and 1 child? What would you be renting? A parking spot?

They listed housing in DC (where I live now) at $1225. Now that seems pretty low to me still, but how on earth are they figuring that DC housing is HIGHER than Manhattan housing? We rent in DC for about $800 less than we did in NYC--in an expensive neighborhood, for a bigger apartment. And we just bought a 4-bedroom house in a very good DC neighborhood for the cost of a (crappy) 1-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

I think this thing is off.
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#19 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:16 PM
 
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Monthly Expenses:
Food $156 HA! Yeah, right.
Child Care $0 ok.
Medical $98 Health insurance is about $300, so totally wrong.
Housing $1,063 My rent alone is 995, not including oil/electric. A mortgage payment in my town is about 3000-5000.
Transportation $127 - maybe. If you didn't have a car payment, but probably not because everyone drives huge SUVs.
Other $460 - dog food, toiletries, student loans, car payment, etc. etc. not even close.
Monthly After-Tax Income That's Required $1,904 A joke.
Annual After-Tax Income That's Required $22,848


A single person in this town making that much money would not be living here for long, unless they were in the trailer park (the one that is across the street from the $1.3 million dollar houses.)
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#20 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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from the site, on how they figure housing costs

Quote:
Housing
The state-level FMR (fair-market rent) data are taken from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, which uses HUD 2005 FMR data.

The county- and place-level data are taken from HUD Fair-Market Rents, FY 2006.

A select few places use HUD Fair-Market Rents, FY 2002. We then adjusted the values to 2004 dollars using the CPI-U.
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#21 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OdeToJoy View Post
According to that, I would have to make $21.48/hr for a living wage. Hah!
too high or too low?

Interesting that the minimum wage in this country is a third of what you should be able to live on isn't it? So many here are barely getting by at above the living wage listed, I can't even imagine what life is like for the many millions who don't even make a living wage. Something needs to be done.
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#22 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:21 PM
 
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I think it is about right. Our finances are divided a bit differently though, and we receive aid to cover most of it.
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#23 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:22 PM
 
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Spot on for us. We make barely the living wage for our area, and indeed we are living right at our limit - getting by but not saving anything.

ETA: I should add that we live quite frugally. No dinners out, no car payment, not a very nice apartment, etc.
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#24 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:25 PM
 
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See, this is the living wage, though. Not the living nicely and comfortably wage. In Portland, you don't really need a car. And no one needs a mortgage or a rental house. The rent quoted was more than enough for a decent apartment. Not in a fun neighborhood, not with amenities, but someplace safe and warm.

I find these discussions both amusing and infuriating at times. We've lived on never more than about $23k per year since we moved here in 1999. Frequently, we've lived on half that.
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#25 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:27 PM
 
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It's a draw, housing and transportation were way low, only 127 a month for transportation is way off. But other things seems really close.

Mom to ds 9 dd 7 : and dd 3/08 : if I can I go to
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#26 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BelgianSheepDog View Post
See, this is the living wage, though. Not the living nicely and comfortably wage. In Portland, you don't really need a car. And no one needs a mortgage or a rental house. The rent quoted was more than enough for a decent apartment. Not in a fun neighborhood, not with amenities, but someplace safe and warm.

I find these discussions both amusing and infuriating at times. We've lived on never more than about $23k per year since we moved here in 1999. Frequently, we've lived on half that.
true stuff. No one could ever afford to BUY a house on what they say you need where we are. And we could rent an apartment in a just okay neighborhood for what they suggest. But we choose to live in a nicer area and rent a small house (well half a duplex) so our rent is 50% higher than suggested.
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#27 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:31 PM
 
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It says about 41k for a family of four in my city...I know people living here on less than that. I voted 'spot on' because of that.
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#28 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:37 PM
 
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http://www.universallivingwage.com/

"April 17th—Tax Day—is the ULW Campaign's Sixth Anniversary. Our goal to fix the Federal Minimum Wage has garnered the support of over 1560 separate organizations at the local, state, and national levels.
Every Tax Day we ask the recipients of our campaign kits to go to their main post office on tax night, take a few people, a couple of red and white yard signs and the banner and help make a statement about taxes and wages."


Being involved in this campaign has really opened my eyes. There is a living wage calculator on this site as well. Go to "ULW State/City" tab and click.

DC
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#29 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BelgianSheepDog View Post
See, this is the living wage, though. Not the living nicely and comfortably wage.
I was thinking the same thing as I read through the responses (with the possible exception of the Manhattan argument---that does seem insanely low for that area!) I feel like the $36K it quoted be for the Seattle area (two adults, one child) is pretty spot-on. The only particular I disagree with is the childcare----this isn't an issue for us as I'm staying home while my children are young, but find me someone who will watch a 2-yo for $427 per month...the cheapest centers I've heard of are around here charge about 2.5 times that. That's a difference of $7400 per year!

Mama to DS 3/05 and DD 1/08
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#30 of 196 Old 04-13-2007, 05:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BelgianSheepDog View Post
See, this is the living wage, though. Not the living nicely and comfortably wage. In Portland, you don't really need a car. And no one needs a mortgage or a rental house. The rent quoted was more than enough for a decent apartment. Not in a fun neighborhood, not with amenities, but someplace safe and warm.

I find these discussions both amusing and infuriating at times. We've lived on never more than about $23k per year since we moved here in 1999. Frequently, we've lived on half that.
I hear what you are saying but I think in some towns there just are not the options you speak of. In a a fairly large city like Portland you do have options for rentals, public transportation, etc but in a suburb like mine you don't.

For example there are no apartments in my town. We used to have a trailer park and a low income "motel" that had long term rentals but both were torn down when the land was sold to build another development. Part of the agreement was to provide some low income housing but now it looks like the development is on hold because all construction has been stopped for the past 6 month.

In some towns it is near impossible to be car free. Unless you live on the major roadway there are no local buses and those buses are really for commuters into Boston so there are none to get you to the library say or the grocery store. There are no sidewalks in our town again except for the major road way because the UA violations in the town council want to keep the "rural" feel since this is an old farming community.

The school system now has "pay for buses" too so getting your kids to school (if you use school) costs money and if you are not on the bus route (some areas aren't) you have to get your kids to school or over to a bus route.

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