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A family to cheer for - finally!
Old 12-18-2008, 11:12 AM   #1
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A family to cheer for - finally!

How family of 7 live on $44K a year - Staying Afloat - MSNBC.com

They live below their means, they have no debt, they've almost paid off their nice house, their family looks very close and happy, and all on less than $50k a year!

I love the fact that they aren't miserly in attitude, and really seem to be happy and enjoying life. A positive message for once, rather than bankrupted keep up with the Joneses types.
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Old 12-18-2008, 11:41 AM   #2
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They need to spend more. Stimulate the economy..


Just kidding. Good for them. Debt is bad.
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Old 12-18-2008, 05:11 PM   #3
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I love stories like this, where people use common sense, priorities, and their brains to live richly. Often stories like this focus on the "wierd" things families do -- like Dumpster diving -- and people reading the stories think "Ugh, I'll never live like that, 'normal' people just have to be in debt, I guess." This one focused on their 'normalcy' but just showed how to do it on a budget.

More power to them!
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:00 PM   #4
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I love stories like this, where people use common sense, priorities, and their brains to live richly. Often stories like this focus on the "wierd" things families do -- like Dumpster diving -- and people reading the stories think "Ugh, I'll never live like that, 'normal' people just have to be in debt, I guess." This one focused on their 'normalcy' but just showed how to do it on a budget.

More power to them!
That was my take, too. You don't have to be a freak to live without debt and live within your means. DW and I are fortunate in that we are able to enjoy a middle-middle class lifestyle while saving due to our upper-middle class income. They are practically living an upper-middle class lifestyle (at least with zip code) with a middle-middle class income and no debt!
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:09 PM   #5
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They sound like my wife's parents, who raised four children and put them all through private colleges, and also had a summer home on the Jersey Shore, all on the salaries of a telephone lineman and an insurance company file clerk.

As a consequence of her upbringing, the young wife is quite the frugalista.
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Old 12-19-2008, 08:09 PM   #6
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“Their average income over the past 26 years is $44,000.” What is their income now?
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Old 12-19-2008, 08:43 PM   #7
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“Their average income over the past 26 years is $44,000.” What is their income now?
Your reading skills are better than mine. I missed this.

The Social Security administration has an "average wage index". The average of that index over the 26 years from 1982 thru 2007 is $25,850. So their income was about 170% of the index. If their 2007 income was also 170% of the 2007 index, then it would have been $68,785. This is about the median income for a family of four.

It's still a challenge to raise five kids on that with only a mortgage for outstanding debt, but now it's believable. I expect that we have people posting here who could do it.
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Old 12-19-2008, 11:29 PM   #8
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Independent, that $44,000 got me visualizing my annual social security statement which happened to be nearby.

So adding up the last 26 years of income reported to SS, the average is 56.5% of my 2007 number. YMMV.
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Old 12-20-2008, 10:56 AM   #9
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They sound like my wife's parents, who raised four children and put them all through private colleges, and also had a summer home on the Jersey Shore, all on the salaries of a telephone lineman and an insurance company file clerk.

As a consequence of her upbringing, the young wife is quite the frugalista.
I guess salaries of telephone lineman are not that low or they incur a lots of debts or their children received a lots of financial aids or grants or the children took out a lots of student loans or a combination of all of these things.
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Old 12-20-2008, 11:02 AM   #10
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They live below their means, they have no debt, they've almost paid off their nice house, their family looks very close and happy, and all on less than $50k a year!
It is quite common among newly arrived Asian families. The key is not to participate in consumerism and living in places in which public transportation is readily available. My parents in the San Francisco Bay Area have never owned a car. This saves a lot of money.
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Old 12-20-2008, 12:48 PM   #11
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I was not impressed with the article.

Good for them for being frugal, but it was plain that they are promoting their web site, their book and I presume speaking engagements.

Also, if it's about frugality and a pointedly anti-consumer stance, why so many references to heavily-promoted consumer brands? And why the constant tinge of "I've got mine!" smugness?

Mostly, it was very light and slippery on numbers. Average income was quoted as 33k per year while paying off their first house, and 44k over 26 years. This means that their income now is probably much higher than 44k, unless it has dropped recently given the title that implies that they make 44k now. And is that before or after taxes?

By the way, what does a family of 7 need with a (2 seat) pickup truck? Just how many cars do they have?
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:01 PM   #12
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Also, if it's about frugality and a pointedly anti-consumer stance, why so many references to heavily-promoted consumer brands? And why the constant tinge of "I've got mine!" smugness?
Good catch. A truly non-consumer stance would be, "Lucky Jeans? Who cares? They're jeans, fer god's sake."

At least one of the "Tightwad Gazette" children was very bitter about her experience growing up. One movie a year, no team sports because it costs money, etc.
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:24 PM   #13
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I was not impressed with the article.

Good for them for being frugal, but it was plain that they are promoting their web site, their book and I presume speaking engagements.

Also, if it's about frugality and a pointedly anti-consumer stance, why so many references to heavily-promoted consumer brands? And why the constant tinge of "I've got mine!" smugness?

Mostly, it was very light and slippery on numbers. Average income was quoted as 33k per year while paying off their first house, and 44k over 26 years. This means that their income now is probably much higher than 44k, unless it has dropped recently given the title that implies that they make 44k now. And is that before or after taxes?

By the way, what does a family of 7 need with a (2 seat) pickup truck? Just how many cars do they have?
Grep, love your comment about the brand names, I had no idea Lucky Brand Jeans were so valuable. I, too, was bothered by the way it was presented. I thought, "if they're frugal, I grew up poor." This was an X-mas shopping story, how to get lots of stuff for next-to-nothing. I had to read between the lines, the kids are teens and in their 20s, I suppose they work? It's not stated. The girl saved for many years to buy the $11,000+ truck, from what source, her income, her parents 26-yr. average income?
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:30 PM   #14
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I guess salaries of telephone lineman are not that low or they incur a lots of debts or their children received a lots of financial aids or grants or the children took out a lots of student loans or a combination of all of these things.
Wow, it is an impressive story. I also was wondering if the summer house was inherited. OTHO, it shows the power of a consistent duel* income over time. Mom always said, "get yourself a steady job."

[edit: * oops, I meant two income family, so now you know what I think about marriage.]
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:47 PM   #15
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At least one of the "Tightwad Gazette" children was very bitter about her experience growing up. One movie a year, no team sports because it costs money, etc.
I've always wondered about that followup ever since Amy D.'s comment that kids will not eat oatmeal for breakfast more than three times a week.

Any websites, blogs, or books to link to?
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:55 PM   #16
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At least one of the "Tightwad Gazette" children was very bitter about her experience growing up. One movie a year, no team sports because it costs money, etc.
Not surprised. Increasingly in this economy, I think we're starting to see the opposite of affluenza and keeping up with the Joneses: In some circles and online communities where most of the people are living below their means, there's a growing tendency to try to "out-frugal" each other, and sometimes even morphs into an arrogant "cheaper than thou" mentality. I've seen it before the last few months in places but I think this "onedownsmanship" is on the rise.

To some of these people, you're not "living below your means" unless you are living as far below yourt means as possible. And if you're not living as far below your means as possible, you are a wasteful spendthrift...
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:59 PM   #17
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....
To some of these people, you're not "living below your means" unless you are living as far below yourt means as possible. And if you're not living as far below your means as possible, you are a wasteful spendthrift...
What's your take on charity; in general, do they cut it out entirely in order to be more frugal? Are they poor tippers?
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Old 12-20-2008, 02:02 PM   #18
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What's your take on charity; in general, do they cut it out entirely in order to be more frugal? Are they poor tippers?
In order to be a poor tipper, you'd have to be in a situation where you'd be paying for someone's service, something the extreme-austerity wing of the LBYM Party isn't noted for...
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Old 12-20-2008, 02:20 PM   #19
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Not surprised. Increasingly in this economy, I think we're starting to see the opposite of affluenza and keeping up with the Joneses: In some circles and online communities where most of the people are living below their means, there's a growing tendency to try to "out-frugal" each other, and sometimes even morphs into an arrogant "cheaper than thou" mentality. I've seen it before the last few months in places but I think this "onedownsmanship" is on the rise.

To some of these people, you're not "living below your means" unless you are living as far below yourt means as possible. And if you're not living as far below your means as possible, you are a wasteful spendthrift...
This is the opposite extreme of those who have high incomes, spend it all, no savings and must work. That the above people exist is not surprising. Both groups of people have conditioned themselves to the behavior. They both get a charge or personal reward from doing what they are doing.

Both are missing balance in their lives.
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Old 12-20-2008, 04:01 PM   #20
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This is the opposite extreme of those who have high incomes, spend it all, no savings and must work. That the above people exist is not surprising. Both groups of people have conditioned themselves to the behavior. They both get a charge or personal reward from doing what they are doing.

Both are missing balance in their lives.
I think you just claimed to be "More balanced than thou."
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