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View Poll Results: Have you ever lived paycheck to paycheck ?
Never 96 37.07%
.1 - 2 years 51 19.69%
2.1 - 5 years 41 15.83%
5.1 years - 10 years 37 14.29%
More than 10 years 34 13.13%
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Poll:Living paycheck to paycheck
Old 06-27-2017, 02:21 PM   #1
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Poll:Living paycheck to paycheck

This month has been an above-average spending month with lots of one time purchases being made. It made me think about the fact that I don't have to worry about bills hitting all at the same time. In fact, I can't really remember a period where I ever had to worry about being able to pay all my bills at months end (although I did borrow $500 from my Mom for a new fridge once ... back in 1985, my second year living on my own .... I had the money but it would have brought my bank account below my emergency fund threshold).

I started saving from the day I started working. I always saved half of what I made. I didn't get married until we were making enough to cover all monthly expenses, plus a surplus for savings.

I was curious if other ERs / STB-ERs were the same.

*STB = soon to be
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:28 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Live And Learn View Post
I always saved half of what I made.
+1

Same here. Remember living on a 3-position beach chairs and cardboard-box tables right out of school.

DW was on board eventually, and we have been saving 40-60% of our combined annual income for 30+ years. Makes a big difference.

Now if I could only convince my DS......
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:37 PM   #3
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I checked 2.1 to 5 years. The marriage to my ex lasted five years and for almost all that time we lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and that's why we got divorced. When I flat-out refused to even discuss taking out a loan to go on a trip, it was over.

That was also the only time in my life that I've paid credit card interest charges, was late on a rent payment, was late on a house payment, received a telephone call about an overdue bill, or had to routinely "play the float" to pay normal utility bills.

In hindsight I think it lasted as long as five years because I worked rotating shifts at the time and much of the time I either wasn't there or was asleep.
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:44 PM   #4
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Yes, when I was paying my own way through college and for the first 3 months of working full-time after graduation. If I'd missed a paycheck or two during that time, I'd have had to ask my parents for help. I know they would have happily assisted, but I wanted badly to be independent.
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:48 PM   #5
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Tough to remember, but I think we probably did so for at least part of my first year out of school. Was paying for last year of DW's med school, plus rent, car, and new "lawyer" wardrobe.
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:48 PM   #6
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Never had to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Always had enough + a bit, at least
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:49 PM   #7
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Until I was about 30 tbh. From 21-25 I would cut it very close. I remember rolling up quarters, or running to the grocery store to cash a check on a Wednesday because I knew it would float till Friday (payday) - before the days of insta-clear.

I played credit card floats and all sorts of silliness. From about 25 - 30 I would strictly budget a few paychecks out, got debts paid down, and got started on savings.
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:56 PM   #8
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I went to a local college (we couldn't afford anything else and I didn't want student loans), so I did have the benefit of living at home during my college years. I got married over spring break my senior year but we had already saved enough to have a 6 month emergency fund plus the 3 months of expenses we had to cover until I started my first post-college job. My family used to tease me and asked if I had gone to the bank yet that day .... heck, I remember saving my allowance in a Christmas Club account when I was 12 or so.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:00 PM   #9
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I always had a buffer, albeit sometimes a small one, every month beyond my paycheck to cover my bills, even when I began working FT in 1985. But there were a few months in 1989, shortly after I bought my co-op apartment, when I needed some money ($3,500) from my parents to maintain that buffer. My paycheck by then was more than enough to cover my expenses, including repaying my parents about $500 a month for the next 7 months. Without that initial propping up, things would have been very tight for the first few months of those 7 months, for sure.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:04 PM   #10
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Until I was about 30 tbh. From 21-25 I would cut it very close. I remember rolling up quarters, or running to the grocery store to cash a check on a Wednesday because I knew it would float till Friday (payday) - before the days of insta-clear.

I played credit card floats and all sorts of silliness. From about 25 - 30 I would strictly budget a few paychecks out, got debts paid down, and got started on savings.
Sounds like we went to the same school of finance.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:07 PM   #11
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DW and I saved a lot early on, but most of that got spent when I went back to grad school. So we started over at 29 with two young kids, two car notes, and a mortgage. We carried ~$5K credit card debt for another 3 or 4 years, but we did save at least enough for employer match on the 401Ks. Not really sure how that all stacks up against the definition of "living paycheck-to-paycheck." And not sure if college years are relevant to OP's intent. So I answered 2.1-5 years.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:26 PM   #12
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I had a period of about a year+ of underemployment in the late 90s - precipitating a career path change. I was a partner in a small business for about 12 years. We had some lean times in that period (as well as some good time $-wise...) I spitballed 2.1-5.


Whenever I was making money I saved some. And whenever I had any matching savings from my employer, I ensured I at least saved to maximize the match.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:28 PM   #13
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I left graduate school because we ran out of money and I could not find work. It was the only time in my life when I wanted to work but couldn't. We moved abroad, DW and I both immediately started working and making babies, she quit her job after the third baby was born. We saved diligently, never less than 10% of my gross, and after 15 years had almost nothing in the bank. It had all been spent on hospitals and doctors, including a couple of major health episodes. But we were able to pay our own way through some difficult and costly times, and owed money to no one.

I remember at the time feeling deeply depressed, thinking we would never get ahead, but at the same time, grateful that we had been able to face and overcome some difficult financial challenges.

This type of thrift is clearly an attribute that is common among the ER community.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:31 PM   #14
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I've always been a saver. I can get really frugal if needed. We lived in a small cheap apartment for the first 8 years of marriage. Then we bought a house (25% down payment) and had a couple of kids on one income and there were a couple of times when money got tighter than I was comfortable with. All the bills would get paid and there was always grocery money but if anything extra came up it was tight. A sick kid or car issue or a home repair meant running up to the bank to transfer money from the savings (no internet back then). We always had something in savings, just in case, but I hated to have to deplete it.

Eventually DHs income went up enough that things eased up a bit. He's been retired 7 years and his pension is deposited once a month, so I guess we operate on a monthly basis, but it's not anything like back in those early days.

Now when we anticipate the next month it's because it feels so good to be able to live quite well on about 85% of the pension.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:33 PM   #15
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I certainly remember renting less of an apartment than we would have liked because "don't want to cut it too close". But, never worried that I couldn't make rent on the due date.

Also, never got fired or laid off, and never had a serious illness that cut into my expected income. I'm sure some people slip over the line due to those things.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:35 PM   #16
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I always saved half of what I made.
+2
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:36 PM   #17
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Also, never got fired or laid off, and never had a serious illness that cut into my expected income. I'm sure some people slip over the line due to those things.
Excellent point - so true!
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:47 PM   #18
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Definitely lived paycheck to paycheck for a few years - all through college and the first few years afterwards. I remember being down to my last five dollars quite a few times, and putting checks in the mail that wouldn't be covered until payday a few days off. Whatever buffer built up usually got spent on car repairs or some other non-monthly expense. We got married while still in college, but two part-time incomes didn't make for much excess. Scholarships covered tuition and books, but not living expenses.

Still ran things pretty tight when we started getting regular paychecks, but that included 10% of income into an employee stock purchase plan. Over time, the income rose and the savings increased and the emergency fund got built, and then financial life was much easier.
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:49 PM   #19
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The more I make, the more I spend and the more I save. You could say I live paycheck to paycheck. If I get a major expense, I'll hold off on booking an international vacation or buying a new gun.
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Old 06-27-2017, 04:02 PM   #20
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I was fortunate during college to have a part-time job that paid pretty well and provided health insurance. Plus, my folks let me stay in the little apartment behind their restaurant for a couple hundred a month while I was in school. After graduating, I immediately got a good full-time job and have since lived off a decreasing percentage of my take-home pay. Never had kids though, so that's made it easier financially.
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