One of the two couples I interviewed in my latest MSN Money column has an adjusted gross income of $30,000 — and is raising kids and paying for a home on that sum.
The other couple is doing the same thing on an AGI of $36,000.
“How to live well on $40,000 or less” shares details on how they make their limited funds work. It’s inspiring reading — not because I wrote it, but because they’re living it. (Note: This article is no longer available since MSN Money switched platforms. I’m sorry about that.)
And yes, I know that plenty of people earn less than $40k before taxes. I did that myself, as a single mom and more recently when I went back to school. But these couples are living in decent-sized cities (Albany and Atlanta metro areas), not accepting food stamps, paying for health insurance and even saving for retirement.
Obviously it means that they don’t buy into (as it were) an ultra-consumerist mentality. But they’re not exactly deprived. One couple has satellite service and a 50-inch HDTV. Both have cell phones (two of them prepaid) and both manage some travel each year.
During interviews I noted that they have the same mentality as I do: Save where you can so you can spend where you want. Having an at-home parent is important to one family; for the other, having time for artistic pursuits is more important than huge paychecks.
As I noted in the column, “Savvy spending and a certain amount of sacrifice let them live in ways that mirror their personal values — and they do it debt-free.”
- Choosing what — and whether — to buy
- How to become a one-income family
- Think you’re broke? You’re probably not
- 4 ways to think about money
- Is it OK to start spending again?