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Old 09-25-2010, 10:48 AM   #61
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Personally, I know that my household income in a high cost of living area is several times what some of my relatives make in the midwest. However, I can't say that my lifestyle is much different. I have a smaller home, still drive a 15 year old car, don't eat out much, etc.
I'd wager differences in savings rates contribute to a substantial portion of this apparent discrepancy. The cost of living in NYC is approximately 120% of the national average, not multiples.
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Old 09-25-2010, 10:57 AM   #62
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It is probably the student loans that are killing them; when they are paid off and the wife is established in her practice, the couple will be on easy street.
Maybe. But I know from a friend who works in the financial services industry that some high income people live pay check to pay check, despite being in a top earning category compared to most households.
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Old 09-25-2010, 10:58 AM   #63
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Maybe. But I know from a friend who works in the financial services industry that some high income people live pay check to pay check, despite being in a top earning category compared to most households.
A lot of them do.

The guys in the back office making $150K hang out with low-level front office folks making $250K and feel poor. The low-level guys in the front office see the mid-level guys making $500K and feel poor. The mid-level guys look at the MD's making seven figures, and they feel poor. The MD's look at their friends who went off and run hedge funds making eight figures, and they feel poor. Meanwhile they're all spending like they're earning the next rung up, and almost everyone feels pinched. It's insanity.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:20 AM   #64
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Both sets of numbers ultimately come from the census bureau. The 47K per year is for new york city as a whole (the greater metro area) whereas the 100K per year is for manhattan itself. This is clearer if you go to
And both numbers include many sources of support that are not tallied. Food stamps, Medicaid, child welfare, various forms of free services that are delivered in kind. It also may not include refundable cash tax credits such as EIC.

Those with zero experience who think this couple should be able to live on much much less, even after paying huge taxes should just try it- with the same constraints of wanting one's children to go to school where someone speaks English, and where the teachers are not all just clock punchers and may even know something about the subjects that they teach.

Of course most of the biggest know-it-alls have never lived anywhere expensive, have no children, and have as their sole aspiration to miser up a big pile of money.

Ha
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:27 AM   #65
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And both numbers include many sources of support that are not tallied. Food stamps, Medicaid, child welfare, various forms of free services that are delivered in kind. It also may not include refundable cash tax credits such as EIC.
People always seem surprised when I tell them that people in the lowest quintile of income spend more money than it takes to be in the second lowest income quintile.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:36 AM   #66
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Of course most of the biggest know-it-alls have never lived anywhere expensive, have no children, and have as their sole aspiration to miser up a big pile of money.
I live some place expensive and have kids. But we waited to have kids until we had a nest egg saved up and we moved to a neighborhood where we wouldn't have to pay for private schools.

In Chicago you don't have to live near where you work. Many people commute from the suburbs into the city. Some people commute from Wisconsin. The blogger doing the complaining about his expenses made a lot of financial choices that got him into the situation he is in. And even that is okay. What people do with their own finances is their business.

But I think what stirred up such a hornet's nest is that he cried poor when they are obviously leading a privileged life compared to over 99% of the people in the world.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:46 AM   #67
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I'd wager differences in savings rates contribute to a substantial portion of this apparent discrepancy. The cost of living in NYC is approximately 120% of the national average, not multiples.
I don't know how much is due to savings rate, but I do have some ambitious goals this year. However, I think that is facilitated in large part by being DINKS as opposed to having multiple children. With a large family our savings rate would go pretty close to zero here.

Regarding NYC, did you mean +120%? That's more consistent with what I see reported (Cost of Living Index for Selected U.S. Cities, 2005 — Infoplease.com) and what matches closer with my own experience.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:53 AM   #68
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I am a little sympathetic to the problem of excessive student loans and living in an area with a high cost of living . . . just a little. However, as some have pointed out, they jumped into a high standard of living way to early in their careers. My wife and I make a pretty high combined salary but that is after 30 years at the same employer. Over time it just builds up. We still live in our original small house which, for a long time now, has been a case of living below our means. We also live in the high cost San Francisco Bay Area.

This debate about the $250k dividing line has been very interesting. It sounds like another one of those numbers that economists come up with that don't sync with what people think and feel about their wealth. I think most people, when given a chance, will realize they are not going to become super rich. But what do most people think is rich? It is obviously not too difficult for people to imagine that they or their children could become doctors and lawyers and find themselves at the $250k income level. Or maybe owning a small business that gets them there. I think the politics of this would change dramatically (in the Democrats favor) if they moved the line to say, $5 million. The debate should reflect people's perceptions, not a statistical definition of rich. At $5m you could credibly talk about high cost of living areas or student loans or hired help or whatever.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:58 AM   #69
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. But I think what stirred up such a hornet's nest is that he cried poor when they are obviously leading a privileged life compared to over 99% of the people in the world.
Which in my opinion is 100% irrelevant. He is not in the thirld world somewhere, he is in an expensive area of the USA. He is not trying to get anyone to else to underwrite his lifestyle, only trying to point out some things that may not be easily understood by those who have never experienced them.

The uproar is caused by simple jealousy and class hatred, which is an easy thing to get fired up lately, even in an unexpected place like this board which is full of well to do people. My interpretation of this is that his critics are not as happy with their own lives as they like to claim, else why care what he says? He is not trying to get money sent from our pocketbooks to his, which is rare enough today and IMO quite commendable. Maybe trading one's youth for a bit of money is not always a pass through the gates of paradise?

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Old 09-25-2010, 12:02 PM   #70
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Regarding NYC, did you mean +120%? That's more consistent with what I see reported (Cost of Living Index for Selected U.S. Cities, 2005 — Infoplease.com) and what matches closer with my own experience.
Yes, as in it cost a New Yorker on average $1.20 for ever $1.00 spent by the rest of the country.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:03 PM   #71
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Of course most of the biggest know-it-alls have never lived anywhere expensive, have no children, and have as their sole aspiration to miser up a big pile of money.

Ha
DW and I live in a very expensive area, used private schools, had in-house day care etc. At the time of the Bush tax cuts we were way above $250K and profited significantly from the cuts. Nevertheless, we both ranted against the cuts at the time. Were we still at that same level of income we would continue to call for termination of the cuts today. We live well beyond 90% of the country in either case and anticipate leaving a decent pile to our kids. The couple in that article are pathetic.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:14 PM   #72
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I think we are only jumping on him because with his living way above his means he is not on the path to early retirement, then has the gall to bitch about it.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:16 PM   #73
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The couple in that article are pathetic.
I can't understand the source of your animus. What threats do this very productive, obviously socially useful couple represent?

Ha
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:27 PM   #74
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Of course most of the biggest know-it-alls have never lived anywhere expensive, have no children, and have as their sole aspiration to miser up a big pile of money.
And some of us know-it-alls have spent the past 20 years in NYC and have some idea what a higher-cost environment than Chicago is like. And we know that you can live here cheaply, or extraordinarily expensively. If someone chooses to live expensively, that's fine. But he shouldn't bitch about how much things cost when he could make other choices. And maybe, instead of feeling sorry for himself, he should be happy that he can afford the things he can. Most everyone else can not.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:28 PM   #75
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Yes, as in it cost a New Yorker on average $1.20 for ever $1.00 spent by the rest of the country.
The results I see reported imply that for every $1 spent by the rest of the county it is $2.20 for NYC. And for every $1 on housing it is $4 in NYC.

Given that it's not unusual to see apartments renting for 3K/month, I don't see how the 20% extra figure could be correct.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:31 PM   #76
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Of course most of the biggest know-it-alls have never lived anywhere expensive, have no children, and have as their sole aspiration to miser up a big pile of money.
There is something to be said about making choices and being held accountable for those choices, wouldn't you say? Todd seems to blame the government for his money problems when in fact he should look squarely in the mirror to find the responsible party. He decided to live somewhere expensive, he decided to have 3 children, he decided to send them to private school, he decided to live in an exclusive neighborhood... Those decisions should have been weighted more carefully against his disposable income. Perhaps his current lifestyle is not realistic for someone in his income range who is also in debt to his eyeballs.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:35 PM   #77
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I can't understand the source of your animus. What threats do this very productive, obviously socially useful couple represent?
I believe you have it figured out brother. The patented CFB Triple DING! award to you (and another $1 to the CFB fund).
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:43 PM   #78
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The uproar is caused by simple jealousy and class hatred, which is an easy thing to get fired up lately, even in an unexpected place like this board which is full of well to do people.
I don't think it is class hatred. I'm guessing many people on this board are in similar income ranges and they still think the guy is a dweeb.

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I think we are only jumping on him because with his living way above his means he is not on the path to early retirement, then has the gall to bitch about it.
What LOL! said. Besides, if I wasn't on here complaining about someone else's complaining I'd have to be doing something less interesting myself, like catching up on work or grocery shopping.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:43 PM   #79
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He decided to live somewhere expensive, he decided to have 3 children, he decided to send them to private school, he decided to live in an exclusive neighborhood... Those decisions should have been weighted more carefully against his disposable income. Perhaps his current lifestyle is not realistic for someone in his income range who is also in debt to his eyeballs.
About him being over his head, perhaps it is true. But in this he is no different from many, in fact he is more responsible than the huge numbers of Americans who are trying to get out from under their debts.

And regarding where he decided to live, how many children he decided to have, the type of education that he decided to get for them, we should be grateful that there are still intelligent, productive people willing to take on the expense and difficulty of child rearing, and educating those children to take over the responsible roles in society.

Who will be your surgeon when you are old? Someone's child I would wager, unless you imagine that we will fill our empty surgeon slots with illegals, as we do our empty fruit picker slots.

I don't expect any understanding of this, as there aren't many systems thinkers around here, but try to think about it. Do you know that it takes 2.2 births per woman to replace population? If the middle class and upper middle class drops out of this responsibility, can you say where the replacements will come from?

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I think we are only jumping on him because with his living way above his means he is not on the path to early retirement, then has the gall to bitch about it.
Does an intelliegent society really want its law professors and doctors on a path to early retirement? What social goal is accompished by that? Work has to be done by trained people, these individuals as well as the society have made a large investment in training. Do we really want that to be prematurely scrapped ? It is an absurd social goal.

Ha
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:44 PM   #80
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I can't understand the source of your animus. What threats do this very productive, obviously socially useful couple represent?

Ha
Hell Ha. At this point in the thread I am not sure what we are even talking about. I thought I was describing as pathetic someone who whines that a marginal increase in taxes on amounts over $250K will make it too hard for them to live. That is not to say that it is pathetic to argue that we shouldn't tax the rich, that we should have a flat tax, or whatever. I am complaining about people in my bracket whining that they can't get by.
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