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#1 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 10:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, just curious, realistically, how much annual income would your family need to live comfortably and pay all basic expenses (housing, food, utilities, health care, clothes, etc).

And what area of the country do you live in (that might make a huge difference)...east coast, west coast, midwest, south, mountains, southwest?

$25k? $45K? $65K? Some other figure?
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#2 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:17 PM
 
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I guess we could scrape by on $20k, preferably $30k. I guess it's not a horribly large amount. Rent is $450/mth for us. Healthcare is "free". We don't have kids. We're in Quebec, Canada. We've dreamed of moving, but this is where our families are so...

I say that you can probably make due with less than you imagine. I find the more we make, the more we end up spending.:
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#3 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I find the more we make, the more we end up spending.:
Well that is true!
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#4 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess we could scrape by on $20k, preferably $30k. I guess it's not a horribly large amount. Rent is $450/mth for us. Healthcare is "free". We don't have kids. We're in Quebec, Canada. We've dreamed of moving, but this is where our families are so...

I say that you can probably make due with less than you imagine. I find the more we make, the more we end up spending.:
Canada has universal healthcare free for all, no? Are there co-pays and such?
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#5 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:22 PM
 
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Here, the level of poverty is $15,000 a year but I find that to not have worry of late bills, etc, a family in Springfield, MO would need 22,000 a year to scrape by, 27,000 to comfortably be able to cover bill and buying, say, socks as needed.
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#6 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:23 PM
 
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This is a great question...I wish I knew
We live in Southeastern VA and our gross income is $47,000 a year. After taxes insurance, 401K, etc we take home about $2800 a month. I would not call us "comfortable." We have a very small house in a "developing area" (not the ghetto but the ghetto is real close). Our car payment is $338 a month and we could not afford that. My dh gets profit sharing once a year and we pay the car from that. We do not have extra money to go out and buy clothes, go to on vacation, etc. But I no longer need to use a calculator to go to the grocery store. Does that make sense? We still must plan and budget for necessities but we are not so broke that I can't buy organic food, etc.
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#7 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:23 PM
 
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Last year dh made $32,000 and we had a very hard time making it. But part of the was spending $ on things that were not needed. We could live comfortably on this amount but we would have nothing left over to buy "things". We live in east tn and the cost of living here is pretty low.

 
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#8 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:25 PM
 
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We're getting by at around $30K. $35K would let us get off WIC and pay those random extra bills that come up in a more timely fashion (water and sewer, car registration renewal, car repairs, etc.). But we're doing ok.

We live in CT. I should note that this is *not* normal for a family of four in CT. Cost of living is pretty high here. But we got extremely lucky in finding a house in a special program for first time homebuyers with children, so our mortgage is lower than most people's rent. These houses are rare and hard to get into. That made all the difference in us being able to get by on just dh's salary without him having to try to find something that pays better right away. Instead, we can be frugal while he gets his business idea off the ground, which will hopefully result in more income than what he gets from where he's working now.
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#9 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:35 PM
 
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Median household income here is nearly $90K a year. The median cost of a 4Br/2Bath house is $450K now. You can expect to pay at least $1200 a month for rent on a one bedroom apartment in an okay area, in the suburbs or the city ($2K a month is more likely tho). In theory, you can can find studios and 1BRs for under $800, but that will require living waaaaaay outside of the city, or in really sketchy parts of the District.

I lived in this area comfortably as a single woman on $27K a year 6 years ago, mainly by having roommates to cut housing costs, but there's no way I could do that with a child to support. I'd be hardpressed to cover housing, food, utilities and day care on less than $50K, I'd say. I'd have no car on that income, which is entirely doable here since we have public transit.
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#10 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a great question...I wish I knew
We live in Southeastern VA and our gross income is $47,000 a year. After taxes insurance, 401K, etc we take home about $2800 a month. I would not call us "comfortable." We have a very small house in a "developing area" (not the ghetto but the ghetto is real close). Our car payment is $338 a month and we could not afford that. My dh gets profit sharing once a year and we pay the car from that. We do not have extra money to go out and buy clothes, go to on vacation, etc. But I no longer need to use a calculator to go to the grocery store. Does that make sense? We still must plan and budget for necessities but we are not so broke that I can't buy organic food, etc.
Makes total sense. You're in a pretty expensive area I think too. Close to DC?
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#11 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We live in CT. I should note that this is *not* normal for a family of four in CT. Cost of living is pretty high here. But we got extremely lucky in finding a house in a special program for first time homebuyers with children, so our mortgage is lower than most people's rent.
That's great! Good for you guys!
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#12 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Median household income here is nearly $90K a year. The median cost of a 4Br/2Bath house is $450K now. You can expect to pay at least $1200 a month for rent on a one bedroom apartment in an okay area, in the suburbs or the city ($2K a month is more likely tho). In theory, you can can find studios and 1BRs for under $800, but that will require living waaaaaay outside of the city, or in really sketchy parts of the District.

I lived in this area comfortably as a single woman on $27K a year 6 years ago, mainly by having roommates to cut housing costs, but there's no way I could do that with a child to support. I'd be hardpressed to cover housing, food, utilities and day care on less than $50K, I'd say. I'd have no car on that income, which is entirely doable here since we have public transit.
Yeah, I think it's hardest in the major urban areas...DC, NYC, San Fran, LA, maybe even Denver? The cost of living is so high. You could make $100,000 in NYC and have it not go as far as say $40,000 in the midwest probably. Good luck!
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#13 of 156 Old 10-07-2006, 11:45 PM
 
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We live on 18K a year before taxes ...We live in the midwest. We are on WIC, the medical card, and food stamps (but DH just got a new job so all that is changing!!!!!!!! )...Our rent is $400 a month on a house(we rent from the inlaws)...We don't have car payments(but my generous Dad bought us both a car and van)....Dh's mom pays the van insurance...I don't work so no childcare...We get $4k back on taxes and that goes for things like clothing and small vacations...If we didn't have so much help, there is no way we could make it on that....
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#14 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 12:00 AM
 
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We made around 20 thousand Canadian last year( family of 4). It was really tight through winter but we were comfortable in the summer. We still dont have everything that we need, like newer socks for winter or a coat we actually like! But we make do. I think we made a little bit more this year barely... we still have to really budget. We just went for 3 months without a muffler on our van in order to save enough to get it fixed... and it is still a real huge purchase for us! Luckily our neighbour switched over to another form of heat.... today they let us siphon what they had in thier tank before they had it taken away. There was about 300$ worth of oil in there. So that ment we could afford to put that towards having the vehicle fixed!!!And now we wont have to get fuel until after the new year!
So we CAN live off of 20 to 25K a year... but dont like to, because we cant afford those things that are beyond the obvious nessesities. We can't save for a home, or afford dental care.... or visit relatives! It takes real work.... and faith... to live frugally sometimes!

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#15 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 12:01 AM
 
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We bring home just over $3000 a month and can't even afford to move out of our apartment or make payments on all our bills. We live in Seattle, it's really expensive here, as well. We also only have one cheap car and a two bedroom apt in a modest neighborhood. I would say, to be *comfortable*, we would need at least another $1000 a month to make payments on all of our bills and also move in to a bigger apartment.
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#16 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 12:17 AM
 
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wow... it must be a lot cheaper in other areas! my husband makes about $60,000/year and I bring in about $300/week selling books online (this is before taxes...) and I feel like we are just barely making it. We own a house, so that is a big expense, but we also feel like the money we put into it is being better spent than it would be if we were renting (we live within walking distance of a college, so we plan to rent out apartments in the basement once we get it fixed up.) We don't have cable, we rarely go out, we spend bare minimum on groceries, we don't really have any debt, aren't able to save anything really, get ALL of the kids' clothes from relatives and friends for free...I think around here, you have to make about $90,000-$100,000 to live comfortably. That is how much our parents make (combined income) and they seem to be able to pay their bills, buy clothes/shoes when they need them, go out once in a while, save some money, etc. Nothing extravagent, but they live ok.

We often talk about moving somewhere more affordable. NYC seems to be spreading Northward and it is getting harder and harder to survive within commuting distance without actually working in Manhattan.
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#17 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 12:18 AM
 
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This really made me think...to maintain just our mortgage, utilities, etc, and make it on $100/week groceries/other consumables, we'd need to take home 48,600 a year after taxes. This amount does not include maintaining our current rate of savings, investment, entertainment, and other 'non-necessities'.

I honestly haven't tried to calculate what the 'bare minimum' would be...like if we sold our house, sacrificed one car, etc. When my dh first graduated from college (10 years ago) we lived in Tampa, and his first job was working for Polk county and making $29k. We felt RICH. We moved into a nicer apartment (rent around 650), I was able to afford a pass to Busch Gardens and took dd there all the time, we only had one car and a low payment but dd and I were able to walk to the grocery store and there was a bus stop nearby and we could go ANYWHERE on the bus...I was able to stay at home on that salary.

FWIW, we live in Tallahassee now...not nearly as big as Tampa but I'd say it's just as or more expensive, lousy public transportation and now we're homeowners and that is costly in more ways than just a mortgage payment. As one pp said, the more we make the more we spend.
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#18 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 12:27 AM
 
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Last year our family brought in $22,000. That is just scraping by for us, we do occasionally receive food stamps and get WIC, heat assistance and medical assistance. We live in northern MN.
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#19 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 12:45 AM
 
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I live in Tampa, FL.
Our current bills are $28,800/year
Food, gas, and other expenses are about $12,000/year. I know we could probably get by with $7,200/year if we *had* to.
So that makes between $36,000 and $40,800 per year to live at least the way we do (which is pretty frugally, but we still get a few things we want and don't really "need" here and there- maybe $100-$200/month).

We only have one car, a small civic that is 9 years old. I think when we have this baby we will "need" a different car. I figure that with the car payment and increase in insurance cost we will end up paying about $400/mo. That's $4800 a year.

So our total to live comfortably (incl a car) is $40,800-$45,600. Phew! We bring in ~~$43,200. WHICH I just calculated to be exactly the average of those two numbers! WOW. That's neat. I feel better now.

was this TMI?


ETA: Posting this made me realize that if we can cut our extranious spending a little and spend only the average of the two numbers for food, gas, etc. That we can afford a $400/mo car expense. I really do feel better. That was stressing me out.

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#20 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 12:58 AM
 
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I am always shocked by what people spend on their cars. I know that my perspective is different, since I live in an area with good public transportation and my home is quite close to work, and that's not normal in this country, but I really do wonder how people afford it. I see people who make less than half or even a third what I make paying car notes that I could NEVER afford. (Not to mention the added cost of full coverage insurance.)

But then again, housing disproportionately eats up our income here, and I'm sure most of those folks with the $300-500 car notes would faint at the prospect of paying my mortgage. (I know my mother can't believe I don't live in a mansion for that price. ) So I guess it balances out.
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#21 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 01:30 AM
 
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If we had *no* debt, with the two boys, we could easily live off $15K a year. And that's being generous with the coming grocery bill with 2 teenage boys, estimating higher property taxes, etc.

*With* our debt, including the mortgage, car payment, residual cc debt from dh's college days and student loans, we need at least $35K if we wanted to keep living the way we are (which really isn't anything too spectacular for the low end of middle-income). We'd have to move to a 600sf apartment (house is 2085sf), get rid of a car (that we need to be able to cart the kids anywhere), and such to be able to live on much less.

We live in north Idaho.


eta: There's *no* public transportation here. The grocery store's 1.5mi away, PO/library/dh's work are all 2-2.5mi away, and it snows a decent amount during normal winters. So no car with kiddos that can drive me nuts when we're housebound isn't a good recipe.

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#22 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 01:41 AM
 
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I live in the midwest. My husband is military. He works a second job 3 nights a week, and I work several at-home jobs to make ends meet. We do have a house, but one of lesser value than most in our community. We also have two relatively new cars. We do not pay for health care. We have high credit card debt right now. If some of these circumstances were different we could get by on less. To just skate by, we need about $3000 a month. We're currently making about $3500, which lets us live pretty comfortably but without enough to make much contribution to savings, IRAS & college funds. To just skate by I think we need about $36,000 a year and to do it comfortably about $40,000. We'd need a bit more to do everything we'd like to though. In Colorado Springs, the average new home is about $250K and ours is just $160K. I think most people make about $50,000? Not sure.

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#23 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 02:08 AM
 
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Yeah it all depends on where you live hehe.

Palms Springs,CA is pretty expensive. $300,000 for 2 bed. house in the ghetto, $500,000 for something decent.

My dh makes $37,000/yr and I make around $1,000/mo part time and we are "barely getting by" sharing rent on a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 bachelors (rent is $1,200...our share is $450) and sharing 1 car. Mainly because we racked up $4,000 of credit card debt to put me through massage school (which we viewed as worth it because it would be like a student loan since I couldn't get one for a non-accredited school) and we are determined to pay it off sooner rather than later so we penny pinch to put $500 a month toward it. We really don't spend randomly on clothes and such other than spending $100 a month or so on dates.

So I can't complain that we are "barely getting by" because we have put 10% of dh's income into an IRA for 2 years, have health insurance and buy organic food. I grew up with a self-employed Father who still has no retirement and we never could affoard health insurance yet made just enough to not qualify for assistance.

Once our credit cards are paid off it will be a bit more comfortable. Then hopefully we can save and I can be a SAHM one day...bringing in some income doing an occasional massage on saturdays when dh could be at home with the kids. This is the goal, anyways.

Happily married to DH for 6 years, in process to foster-adopt 3 children DD4, DS3 and DS2. We may be bringing half brother age 9 one day as well! We are not infertile, we just have decided that since there are precious children who need homes there is no need for us to have biological children.

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#24 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 02:53 AM
 
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I think in my area (Princeton New Jersey) you need at least maybe 3500 a month (after tax income) to live comfortably as a family. This does not include savings or any extra purchases, or special treats. Everything about this place is crazy expensive. Housing... if you want the smallest apartment in a ok area, with no special amentities is at least $1000 a month. For some people thats mortage. Utilities are the highest it can go. Food is really expensive, car insurance is the highest in the country, property tax if off the charts too. It is a nice place to live though....if you can afford it. However I want out of here and I wouldn't suggest to come live here.
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#25 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 02:55 AM
 
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We need about $400 more a month and we could pay all our bills and have about $25 fun money each per month.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#26 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 03:46 AM
 
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I live in San Diego, rent an apartment, have a dog involved in a fairly expensive sport (not including the cost of a high quality kibble), have student loans to pay off, have to drive to work M-F (and gas here seems to always be more expensive than anywhere else), and am involved in a GSD rescue organization (more driving). On the bright side, my car is completely my own. That's about the only thing that I do own. That and my dog.

When I first moved here, I made $35,000 a year, and it was a BIG struggle. Then, I got promoted to the higher echelons of administration and I make $45,000 a year. And that, to the last penny, is how much I use.

If we're talking about just "getting by" ... well, I could stop doing Schutzhund with my dog, feed him something other than his expensive kibble, and stop doing rescue (save on gas). I could stop eating organic. Also, I pay more than I have to every month for my student loans. I just want to get those things paid off! Technically, those are not things I need to be doing. My lease ends soon, and I'll be moving in with my boyfriend, which means paying around $300.00 less for rent each month.

Technically, I could make it work on $30,000. I just don't want to give up the things for which I am passionate - my dog, GSD rescue, and organic living.

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#27 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 04:19 AM
 
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We are currently living in rural AZ. We don't have any debt (finally, yay!). We live in teacher housing, which is cheap- 275.00/month. However, we are barely making it on dh's 33K/year salary........here's why:

He has to pay social security taxes AND teacher retirement taxes, which eats up about 17% of his check, and then of course there are state/federal taxes.

We have to pay 323.00/month for health insurance.

Groceries are expensive here, as we are rural. It doesn't help that I buy mostly organic.....though, even when I wasn't, it was still much pricier than shopping in a "real" city (closest one is 3.5 hours away, not a real option).

Propane gas is more expensive than natural gas, and it's all that is available here.

Gasoline is pricey in general, but more pricey where we live (30 cents a gallon more than Phoenix).

We have three kids, two are teens

We do indulge in some "extras"- 35.00/month for satellite tv, and high speed dsl which is part of our phone package.


We are looking to move to Central or Southern CA, which at first I was leary of due to the cost of living, even with a salary increase. However, it will all balance out, even though our rent will go waaaaaaay up, lol. Food is cheaper, and we won't have to pay 323/month for insurance (it's all paid by the employers for the jobs dh is considering). We'd save on gas as dh could ride his motorcycle most of the year (we currently live in the mountains and get lots of rain and snow), and we wouldn't have to drive an hour into town to go shopping. Natural gas prices are much more affordable than propane.

When we did the math, we realized that though we are barely making it on 33K/year when our rent is only 275/month, we'd be okay in certain parts of CA with dh making 45K/year (on the low end) and paying 1400/month in rent, as the salary increase would pay for the rent increase, and our other expenses would go down, and we wouldn't have to pay for health insurance.

ETA: also, by moving to CA, we'll be getting more on dh's check: in CA, he'll only have to pay into teacher retirement, not social security (I don't know why AZ makes teachers do both). So, that's more money, too!

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#28 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Our real estate taxes alone are about $500 per month (does this seem high to anyone else, it does to me!). Add in the mortgage principle and interest and our housing cost is quite high. This is for an average priced home. The average prices for homes here are $240s to $250s. To get a decent house in a good school district, you would need to spend around $300,000.

We live in a high tax state and since real estate taxes are $500/mo I just don't see our mortgage ever going below $1500 to $1000/mo.

We've thought about renting but 1 BDRs go for around $1000/mo and 2 BDRs for around $1200 so it's not much of a solution.

I would say to afford the average mortgage or rent here and pay all basic bills, you would need around $70,000 per year! (No wonder we feel such a crunch!!)
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#29 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 11:02 AM
 
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We could live comfortably on 18,000 a year. Our monthly bills are very low & the cost of living is extremely low here.

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#30 of 156 Old 10-08-2006, 11:13 AM
 
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We have 13k a year and while its not always super comfy, we get by happily for a family of 5 with all our bills paid.

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