th5 Why you can’t afford an apartment.If you want to find a place to rent, make sure you earn at least $18.92 per hour. Or so says the 2014 “Out of Reach” study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  

That amount represents the “housing wage,” the hourly amount a full-time worker needs to earn to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD-estimated fair market rent, while spending no more than 30 percent of salary for lodging.

That wage is more than two and a half times the federal minimum wage – and 52 percent higher than it was in 2000. As study authors note, “in no state can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent.”

Think that’s depressing? According to the Center for Housing Policy, 25.4 percent of working renters spend at least half their income on housing.


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th2 Why are guys still expected to pay?A recent study from the NerdWallet consumer blog — love that name — indicates that men still pick up the tab way too automatically.

(Yes, I’m aware that men still tend to out-earn women; I’ll address that in a minute)

But seriously? I thought this kind of thing was supposed to have gone out after the 1970s:

77.4 percent of those surveyed thought men should pay for the first date.

Even in a relationship, 56.1 percent of men still pay for date nights.

Almost 40 percent of men cover all household bills; just 14.3 percent of women do.

Remind me: In which century are we living? I just don’t see how this is fair.


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th4 150x150 Tomorrows Tweetchat could make you $100 richer.Those of you who actually enter the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes [hand goes up] may remember the $5,000 bonus award you could get if the PCH team ever showed up at your front door.

You were supposed to look at the camera and say something like, “I just won a gazillion dollars in the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes! Now I know it’s real!”

Why someone who’d just won a gazillion dollars would be compos mentis enough to remember to say that – and why he’d even care about an extra five grand – was never explained to my satisfaction. That won’t stop me from pirating the slogan, however:

“Last month I won a $100 Amazon card from the Ally Bank Tweetchat! Now I know it’s real!”

 

Ally Bank Tweetchat screenshot winner 300x187 Tomorrows Tweetchat could make you $100 richer.

(Yeah, that’s some teeny print. But if you click on the screenshot you’ll see my Twitter handle, @DLFreedman, as one of the winners.)

I already knew it was real, because a Surviving and Thriving reader wrote to tell me she’d won a card. That made me happy.

You may already be a winner!

It would also make me happy if one (or two!) of you guys won the Amazon scrip at tomorrow’s Ally Bank Tweetchat. Certainly it’s a topic to which we can all relate: “Developing enviable saving habits.”


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th1 150x150 In which I reveal my paycheck.Almost four years ago I wrote a post called “I’ll show you my salary if you’ll show me yours.” In it I explained why I declined to reveal how much money I earned:

“Is there no such thing as privacy any longer? Are we required to tell everything? Myself, I’d sooner talk about my sex life than my salary – and I believe that either one would be an overshare.

“Maybe it’s because I’m in my 50s and am thus a couple of generations removed from the new tell-all culture.  I was raised not to talk about money and certainly never to brag about what you have.

“… Personal finance is exactly that: personal. No one needs to know what I earn or how much my 401(k) lost in the crash. It’s bad enough that people can Google my home address. I don’t want to give away any additional details of my private life.

Well, last week I had a piece up at Get Rich Slowly that revealed all. “Why I voluntarily slashed my salary” talked about my decision to downsize my worklife after Microsoft fired all its writers on the same day.

That decision represented a salary cut of almost 58 percent, possibly more. Would that be worth maybe eating cat food and saying “Welcome to Wal-Mart” when I’m 80? That’s all I could think of at first, but then I did the math and it’s not as scary as I’d feared.


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th1 See a penny? Pick it up!During my recent trip to Austin I continued my habit of picking up stray coins. A penny at the drugstore checkout. Two pennies and a nickel behind a bench at the bus stop. A dime on the airport floor.

No matter where I go, I’m an inveterate coin-grabber. Except maybe Phoenix, Arizona, where picking up a coin in high summer can burn like the dickens. I learned this important safety tip from my daughter, who lives in Phoenix and blogs at…

(wait for it)

….I Pick Up Pennies.

I carry an old prescription bottle in my suitcase just for found money, which amounted to 24 cents on this trip. When I got home the coins went into an old pink vase that my daughter once got from the “free” box at a yard sale. My change purse gets emptied into a pink piggy bank that was a Christmas gift from Will Chen at the Wise Bread blog; this money gets wrapped every so often and deposited into savings.

According to a November 2013 survey from Coinstar, the average respondent figured he had a little over $26 in spare change lying around the house. In fact, the average trade-in at a Coinstar kiosk is $56.


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