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Minimum income required?

April 1st, 2006 at 09:50 pm

On another board people were saying that it's very hard to have a nice life on $50k or less.

The median household income in the US (median means that exactly half make less and half make more) is $44k. So over half the households in the US are not living a nice life?

I just can't wrap my mind around that. We just now make $50k. This is the first time in our lives that we've had this much income. Yes, some years have sucked (the year that neither of us had jobs for 3 months and then moved 750 miles comes to mind). But for the most part, we've always had a good life.

We have more CC debt than I'd like. Most of it is from that year mentioned above, but we did have some before. So, technically we weren't living fully in our means. But, we've always had a positive net worth. If we had had to, we could have paid off all of our debt.

I told those people they were full of it. Half the people in the US are not living bad lives. Some people may be feeling that they don't have enough "stuff" but they have all their needs met.

I think it takes a lot of hubris to say that you HAVE to have more income than over half the nation to have a good life.

13 Responses to “Minimum income required?”

  1. dmontngrey Says:

    My mother is trying to get by on under $1000 per month. I am struggling to put together her budget and get her finances under control. I don't know how she's been able to survive so far. I'm baffled!! Yet she always seems very thankful for what she has. I don't think she would ever say she's not living a nice life. How financially "rich" she'd be if she made $50k!!

  2. Ima saver Says:

    I agree!

  3. Ima saver Says:

    What board is this? I would love to go to other financial sites!

  4. TheMediaBlog Says:

    My wife and I are planning to become a one income family later this year with the birth of our first child. Naturally, this will mean a substantial decrease in our income. We will still be a bit above that median you mention, but even so...

    Obviously we are going to have to make a few changes, but we're not going to fall into poverty and misery. Now, I'll be the first to say that it would be different if we were going to be trying to love on 20k or 25k but even so...

    How many of the things we think of as necessary to a "nice life" are really just add-ons that we wouldn't even miss particularly if they were gone? I mean, a good meal at a fancy restaurant is wonderful, but do you need two of them a week? A brand new car every three or four years is great, but is every five or six years really so terrible? It's nice to go to a movie but is the movie any better at 7pm than it would have been at 5:30?

    I may feel very different about this six or seven months from now, but right now I feel like a lot of folks have their priorities a little mixed up.

  5. Thrifty Ray Says:

    The article is a perfect example of a conpiracy theory...

    Make people believe they have to make more so they can spend more..and every one wins...
    the merchants win, because in increases spending...
    the auto manufacturers win...we have to have a nicer car so everyone knows we make lots of money...
    the fast food industry wins...who has time to cook...
    the doctors win... all the stress and junk food insure this!
    the IRS wins...oooh...lots of income fromt this one!!!
    I could go on and on, but I will stop at this one...
    the bankruptcy courts win....(the numbers speak for themselves)
    the lawyers win, because we all know how many divorces are out there

    So the great minds behind this conspiracy decided it needed a catchy name...

    Let's call it "keeping up with the Jones'"

    (disclaimer * this response was in no way poking fun at two income families...rather the idea that it takes 50K to live a good life)

  6. katy Says:

    We have lived with way less than $1000 per month for years. We pay tithe first and after that, everything takes care of itself. we raised 4 kids this way and sent them to parochial schools.

  7. Single Mom Extraordinaire Says:

    Cercis: I just posted the antithesis to that overconsumptive way of thought under Live Well on Less on my blog. It's kind of a little parable of sorts that expresses what a lot of us here feel.

    I live well on less than $50,000. Sheesh.

    I'm with Ray: it is a conspiracy! Smile

  8. marieelaine75 Says:

    I'm not so sure I agree that it's entirely true for every part of the world you live in.

    Im in Boston and it's impossible (for a family of 5) to live on less than $35,000... $50,000, yes we can live comfortably on less than $50,000 but we can't go much lower than $35, 000...

  9. DivaJen Says:

    I would wonder about location when people toss around figures. We live in a modest home, drive 7 and 12 year old cars, don't take fancy vacations, DH rides his bike to work, etc. We need $25K+ just to meet mortgage and property taxes. And this isn't a big house - 1500-1600 sq ft, 3 bedrooms. Add in food, insurance (health, car, home), dentist, copays, utilities and other life necessities, and living a "nice" life for $50K really seems hard to even fathom here.

    I guess if one's housing expenses are a lot less, it might be different.

  10. lrjohnson Says:

    Last year I had a very luxurious life, spending less than $20K. I traveled to Mexico and Poland, and ate out all the time. I never felt deprived for a second. This was LUXURY at $20K. I can't imagine what I would do with $50K. I suppose I might be a homeowner-in California, it is hard - but jeeeeeeez. A gratitude check is in order for some people.

  11. Frugal Momma Says:

    It all depends where you like. We are in Boston too and make more than $50k and we still sometimes struggle paycheck to paycheck. We don't have alot of luxuries and live within our means.

  12. PRICEPLUS Says:

    It seems many people raise their spending as soon as they get some extra money. Maybe the idea in life is to do more with less. The best times in my life were when I was young and poor. Maybe if we lived more and bought less we'd be better off.

    Living well is a lifestyle choice for many. Some make 100,000 and live hand to mouth worrying about how to stay a step ahead of creditors. Some folks make 40000 or less and live well. The difference is lifestyle and what is important in their lives. You canbe quite happy and live on less than 50K a year!

  13. Tightwad Kitty Says:

    I agree with Priceplus.
    I live on less than 12K AU a year!
    I find that I have a lifestyle that I can do what, when I wont too and still save money too! It's choices that you make now and what you owe from past spending sprees. That's the problem.

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