Sunday, April 13, 2008

STATUS ANXIETY WEEK: What do you make?


Yep. Ultimate taboo topic. What do you earn?

Parade Magazine (I know! I can't believe I just typed that either!) just published my FAVORITE issue of the year, the What People Earn Issue. I love it. I love that it's like setting up the strawman, so to speak... "Yes! I make more than a psychic! And I make more than a social worker! Hooray for me!"

So - let's hear it, people. A few notes:

1) Feel free to post anonymously, if you choose

2) Try to give some indication of type of work, years doing it, and region of the country

3) I am going to turn on comment moderation for now since it allows me to publish your comments in batches, and with a time delay, so no one associates the timing of your anonymous answer to, say, another comment you leave on here tonight.

If you don't want to play that game, tell us - - what is the minimum annual salary you could comfortably live on.

**Updated questions**
1) If you are a SAHM, is this a temporary state for you, or the long-term plan? Are you freaked out by not having control in earning the paycheck? (I am a control freak and the thought of leaving the money-making up to my man freaks me out beyond belief.)

2) What's the biggest pay increase you have ever earned? And did you get this at an existing job, or by moving companies?

3) Do you know people in your current or past jobs who had/have exactly the same job and made more money? I always like to hear if this bothers people and/or if they have done anything about it.

234 comments:

1 – 200 of 234   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Alright I'll kick things off from the meager end. I am a Public Relations Account Exec for a small firm in the beauty industry. I am 25, live in the metropolitan Midwest and have been with my firm for just over two years. I make $30K. This is the absolute minimum I can live on and frankly...I'm ready to jump based simply on salary.

Anonymous said...

ok, but you have to play too...

Anonymous said...

I don't even earn as much as a psychic. I own a vintage furnishings shop and am in the red; take home = zero. I could comfortably live on $6,000 a year. Problem is the cost of living is not in sync with my way of thinking, ha! It's all very relative...in an urban area I would need $36,000-$40,000 for a family of three (we live quite simply). I could probably live in the Italian countryside on $6,000, free room and board, if anyone knows of a situation!

Anonymous said...

I am a freelance PR copywriter. I live in a metropolitan area in the west and make between $50 and $60k a year. I could live comfortably on $85,000, I think. Suffice it to say, I have pissed through a fair amount of family money.

Anonymous said...

I've been a self-employed jack of all trades for the better part of five years. I have never made over 50K and never had more fun. I could comfortably live off 10k but unfortunately, the ladies cost too much. I own two homes (one in CO and one in WY) and hope to buy another (maybe Roatan). My gross income last year was 22k.

Petunia Face said...

Oh goody! I love taboo topics. I made (past tense intentional) $110 as Director of Product Development for Home Accessories at a retail chain. No, not Pottery Barn, not WS Home, the other one. The one that is over-priced and, as of last week, under-staffed. Because last week I was laid off so I now make nada. Zilch. Zippo. Diddlysquat. Unless of course you count unemployment which is a whopping $450/week which doesn't go far in San Francisco.
Why is taboo always so tasty?

Anonymous said...

Made 90K as a paralegal in LA. Now am self-employed in fashion industry, make a fraction of that, work from home and never been happier.

Anonymous said...

I"m 44, live in Brooklyn, own my home, make 100k as an Account Executive for a broadcast media outlet. I should be making about 185 in a good year (hopefully this year) and I've been in the business 17 years.

100k is about right to live on in the city, plus I help an aging parent and paying off my daughters college tuition. Its all a blessing, but it's really crazy expensive to live in NY.

I would really love to start a marketing firm and stop working for the man.

ps-really hooked on the site, totally love!

Anonymous said...

Textile designer located in southeast US. I'm 25 living in a medium sized city working for corporate wasteland. I've been working for a little over a year and make $37K. Salary is good, but would trade for a more creative, better work environment. Cubicle hell isn't worth it.

Veronique said...

I live in Brooklyn, 44, sell advertising for a big broadcaster, I make 100k a year. In a good year (hopefully 08) it should be about 150-180. I've been in the business 17 years.

You need 100 to live in NY. I own my home, support an aging parent plus paying off my daughter's college loan (about the same cost of my fantasy country cottage)

would rather be painting houses and decorating if I could make the same amount. the site is inspiring!

Decorno said...

I am so glad people are playing along! I thought I would get hate mail, like, "So tacky, Decorno! How could you ask?"

I'm glad everyone here is, well, real.

Anonymous said...

Anybody live off their blogs? Do tell....how do you make money from your blogs....?

Anonymous said...

I make money off of my blog. It isn't making me rich, but I get about $500 /month in advertising.

I read an estimate that said dooce may make up to $40,000 / month.

Decorno said...

$500/month?

Ok... you need to email your friend Decorno (decorno at gmail.com) and let me know the secret.

Mama needs to earn a little vacation money....

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a SAHM to 3 kids in a suburb of LA so I make nada. My husband makes about $120,000 annually working at a utilities agency here and we are barely scraping by (as in $15k in debt and just had to borrow from our kids college fund to pay our property taxes). LA is an expensive city but my youngest is just 3 and it wouldn't even be a push financially for me to go back to work yet with what childcare costs. Maybe in a couple of years . . .until then, I enjoy the design world VERY vicariously!

Anonymous said...

i am about to start my OB-GYN residency and I make a piddly 47,000 dollars. There are several ridiculous things about this salary:
1. I've been in school for 8 years and have consequently accumulated an enormous debt.
2. I have to work an average of 80 hours/week making me and my fellow residents the lowest paid people in the hospital (yup, even lower than the people who make the scrambled eggs)
3. This salary might be reasonable in kansas or west texas, but I have live in San Francisco.

To be fair, once residency is done, I can expect a hefty salary increase. But still.

Kelly Anne said...

I am 22 and an art historian with a year-old degree. Up until a week ago, I was a supervisor at a big box bookstore with an annual of about 22K, but then my job went away (poof!) and I decided, what the hell, I want to go to grad school, anyway. I could live on 22K, but not comfortably, not in Northern VA. Fortunately, I have local parents with a big house, 3 pets, and a desperate need to travel.

If you're interested, my beat friend (and economist-in-training) recently posted a chart of starting salaries by major.

http://sophistpundit.blogspot.com/2008/04/show-me-money.html

Anonymous said...

Freelance writer, West Coast. I made about $17K last year. Pathetic, I know.

The year before (when I wasn't spending half my time blogging), about $24K.

The year before that, when I was a senior editor at a major website (and fantasized about driving my car off the bridge I drove across to work every day), between $60K and $70K.

So yeah, kill me now.

Anonymous said...

I'm 28, and an investment banker in melbourne making about 130-150k a year. My boyfriend and i just got engaged and he's taking home about 150 k as a consultant. I would say in the city you can live comfortably on about 150k for 2. It's difficult though when you're just starting out and there are home loans and cars to pay for.

Anonymous said...

I am a 27 year old interior designer/project manager in philadelphia and make $43K.

Anonymous said...

hello from the north!
25, marketing analyst for a fortune 500, own a duplex in montreal and earn $48.5k CDN...which is pretty good here considering a) it's an entry-level position, b) the cost of living in montreal is fairly low and c) there is promise of promotion on an annual basis

Anonymous said...

I am a 27 year old Interior Designer/Project Manager for a luxury retailer in NYC and make
57K. Between my husband and myself we make over 100K and I think you definetly need that much to live in the city. We purchased a condo and have 2 dogs and our dog walker costs more than an au pair in most parts of the country.

Anonymous said...

I am an architect living in a mid size southeastern city. I make about 41k after 3 years experience. Should bump up some after getting liscensed and economy turns around. I would say this is minimum I can live on. It will be real tight to buy a car or house (just rent).

LIBERTY POST EDITOR said...

I work for free. I donate all my time , expertise and creativity for nothing. O.K. I'm lying.

Anonymous said...

This is FUN!

Ok, 23 year-old living in the DEEP SOUTH working as an Admin. Assistant to the tune of $34K a year. I am hoping to make a little more with some creative business ventures on the side.

Yes, could someone tell me how to make $500 a month on your blog?! Mama needs a new pair of shoes!

Anonymous said...

I, a sprightly 25 year old with 3 years of experience, work as a graphic designer/marketing peon at a large corporate architecture firm, making a decent 49.5 k a year. My boyfriend (a better paid architect) and I live up north in harlem and live sparsely on over 110k a year. You compromise your living situation/location on any less, and I'd hope we can only go up.

Anonymous said...

I am 23 and work at an entry level marketing position (in a design related field) and graduated with a degree in Communications less than a year ago. I have been at my job for about 6 months and have been looking for another one for the last 5. Anything would be better than sitting in a desk (in the COPY ROOM) and I have considered everything from being self-employed to waiting tables to organizing other peoples homes.

I make 37K a year and am expected a small raise at my (overdue) 6-month review. We live fairly comfortably and own our condo in a decent-sized downtown in the Midwest, but I can't wait for my husband to finish grad school (2 more yrs) so that I can try my hand at something that I actually enjoy!

reclaimingmisshavisham said...

I'm a 24 year old and make about 50K with a recent raise. I have two jobs at the same office so two incomes from the same non-profit organization. I am a laboratory/research/veterinarian assistant with animal based medical research (my official title on my ID says "research biologist") and I'm also the administrator for the animal welfare/bio-ethics committee. I live in San Francisco and don't think I could be comfortable on any less.

Thinking of going to veterinary school so I can earn much much less. Yay!

Anonymous said...

I'm a first-year attorney, working for state government and I make $57. This would be fine anywhere else but I live in Manhattan and I'm paying off student loans. It's crazy that I still couldn't afford to live alone so I'm lucky to live with my partner - combined income is about $130k, which is comfortable but certainly not extravagant here.

Anonymous said...

I'm 26 and work in Construction as a Construction Manager (and yes, I'm a girl! OMG!1!!). I've been doing this for 3 years, I'm making $61k.

I bought a house last year and this year I accidentally adopted 2 black lab puppies. So between the eating machines and a little bit too nice of a house, I probably could use another $200-300 a month.

Once I get my house paid off, I could probably live on $20-30k a year gross without a problem. Oh, and I live in Dallas, and no, I've never seen the show.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Gulf Coast, working for state government and make $45-50k (depending on the amount of overtime) using my architecture background. 2 years ago I was working as a federal contractor making low six figures ($80k base + massive overtime). I'd say that I could comfortably live the life I lead on $65k and get ahead on $80k. As a regular architect I never made much over $30k due to the volatile job market in my field.

Anonymous said...

i'm 27, work in promotional sales, and make $125K. i got very very lucky with this one. husband makes 55K, and we're still not comfortable b/c our hobbies are expensive. its all relative i think. you'll always want more...

way to go on the construction manager. that's awesome.

and $500 a month on the blog? tell me more tell me more.

Anonymous said...

There are men at work who have the same job as me. They have stay at home wives and a baby or two and own their homes. So, I'd say a) they make much more than me or b) all have really nice parents supporting them also. I, on the other hand, am sliding by with my rental... Hmmm....

Anonymous said...

I'm 23 & living in coastal CT (but not in the "gold coast" area). I graduated college 2 years ago with a B.S. in bio. I'm currently working in the pharmaceutical industry (with my current company for the past 9 months), making about $52k and on top of a decent salary, have very excellent benefits. I just bought a home in the burbs with my boyfriend, and if you combined our incomes, it's about $88k (I'm the breadwinner at the moment). If I hadn't received a chunk of money from inheritance, we probably couldn't have afforded the house yet.. or we wouldn't have had a downpayment at least. Up until now, we have been living very comfortably renting in a small city. I have only about 15k in student loan debt, boyfriend has an obscene amount of debt. We spend our money where we think it counts- we don't have cable and only have 1 car between us, but we have kind of expensive taste in other areas. Do I need more money? Not at the moment. If a wedding and kids enter the picture, then yes, more would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I'm a 26 year old Production Manager for a successful wedding photography studio in a large, urban midwest city. Basically I am in charge of editing all of our events, as well as designing & producing our clients albums. I graduated 3 years ago with a BA in Art History. I've been with the company almost 2 years and I am underpaid at $31k/year. If it wasn't such a good learning experience and environment, I'd have bailed ages ago, as that salary in my city is nowhere near sufficient. Someone in my situation (no kids, car, or debt, & renting) could feasibly live comfortably on $45k.

Jules said...

I'll play when Decorno does. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm 36 and currently unemployed. Last job was in for several years in the mid-2000s in Paris, doing Account Planning at a big ad agency, earning about $58K/ year which -- after paying French taxes, social benefits etc -- didn't come out to much at all.

Maybe this would be a topic for another day, or maybe not a topic you want to address (it's up to Decorno, of course - it's her blog!)... I'd love to know the honest truth about how much all of you have been supplemented or think you will in the future be supplemented by family money/ inheritances.

I'll answer on my own behalf. All my grandparents and both my parents are already dead, which -- from reading these blogs -- seems not to be the case for most of you. I've already inherited or am on the way to receiving all the assets and cash that I ever will: all tolled a bit under $3million, the accountants tell me.

This, of course, allows me to have a lovely cushion so I can take work that I want to, and have supportive, delightful, bright husband who doesn't earn a momentous salary either.

Sadly, being a millionaire isn't what it used to be (or, at least, how I used to imagine it). I don't wallow in champagne all day or eat caviar for breakfast. I have a mid-sized house in a desired neighborhood, and it's totally paid off and renovated (a bit under $1million). The rest of the money is invested or not yet in my hands or tied up in assets that aren't liquid.

Decorno, you never cease to amaze me. You ask great questions AND somehow you get dozens of your thoughtful, sassy readers to play along. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

I am 29, and love. I work in HR, and make 31k (new to the field, no degree, entry level position). My husband works PT, and brings home a couple of hundred a month. We live well, and other than wishing we had more savings to buffer things like car repairs, it is all good, even though it is spectacularly expensive to live in Vermont.

Anonymous said...

I'm 39, live near los angeles. I'm a project mgr [which means I do anything from account mgmt/design/photo styling/producing] for a small design [advertising] group.

I make just over 60k a year. I've worked here for 12 years. I could make more at a bigger agency but decided I enjoy the quality of my life over money right now.

I love my job. I probably could do 55k but 60k allows me a little more freedom which I love.

Decorno said...

Aw, Jules - I can't! :) Three people I work with read this. I can't disclose the numbers.

I have a good life, I can't complain. 2 incomes and we both like what we do and are paid well enough for it.

Anonymous said...

I am a 30 y/o SAHM of two. I have NO problem letting my husband earn all the cash and hope to stay home even after kids are in school. Hubby makes 64K as a systems analyst. We live in the south and own our home outright thanks in total to my generous in-laws. They bought us a car too. Don't be hatin'! I know I'm lucky. The possibility of losing the bread winner of the family scares me to death considering I dropped out of college and have minimal entry level work skills. We could live off $30,000 but wouldn't have enough left over for retirement or college savings. Comfortably and securely (and clipping coupons)would have to be a minimum of $50,000 for our family of 4.

Anonymous said...

Millionaire Anon - money aint' what it used to be, huh? :)

When I was 26, working in the bay area, I had a work friend who was about 42... she lived in a $15.m house in San Francisco, and I remember her telling me, "We make a quarter million a year, and we are SOLIDLY middle class. Nothing more."

That seemed like a HUGE amount of money to me then. THEN. Now, it's amazing what half a million *won't* buy you on the west coast.

Nevertheless, you have quite a nest egg. You should hang out with broke people. You will feel better. I suspect you are hanging around with people who are even better off. It's hard to fight the keeping up with the Jones game.

Anonymous said...

I am in my late 20's. I work in the arts in a major midwestern city. I make $40K, no health benefits. I can live on this, but do not own a home. I expect to "pay my dues" and earn more $$ in the future.

Anonymous said...

I live in a fairly large city in the southwest and I work as an office manager for a non-profit. My salary is $37.5 which is pretty decent. My husband is an attorney also working for a non-profit and he makes about $40. That is a bit on the low side. Both of our jobs are stress free and that's all that matters to us. We also make enough to save quite a bit of money. Life is good.

angelica said...

I am 22 and I live in San Francisco. I work for a commercial real estate business as an administrative assistant and make $30k. I am also in school, working on an associates degree in fashion merchandising. Life is pretty easy, I feel content except that I hate my job. but it gives me money to feel okay. I have roommates, so that makes living in SF a little bit easier. I just wish my job didn't make me so miserable. But I used to work retail and made nowhere near that amount.

Anonymous said...

I am a young architect with 6 years of experience working at a small but well known architectural firm here in dc. I make 55k which is sort of rough -no car, but I do own my TINY condo in a good part of the city (a studio) and have a bit leftover. I started at 37k 6 years ago, which wasn't any worse really because I shared housing ( and probably had more money leftover at the end of the month!).

Anonymous said...

I'm a 28 year old graduate student; I'm a teaching associate at my school on the east coast. Last year I made $14,000 which, amazingly, is enough to scrape by on, though barely.

In my previous life I made about $30,000 working in the human services field, and I was comfortable.

Presently I'm one brake job away from destitution, but I guess I asked for it.

Anonymous said...

I work on the west coast as an account person and make $78k. My husband is often bothered by the fact that he doesn't make as much as me - combined, I think we are pulling in around $128k, which is good for where we live. You might notice I said "I think" when noting our combined income - that's because we have separate accounts. I admit it, I'm a freak and my money is my money and I want to have complete control over it. Believe it or not, we've been married and together for many years and this has never been an issue for us. It just is.

However, he has the nicer car, that I pay the car payment for. So maybe I'm not as smart and crafty with my money as I think I am.

Anonymous said...

Ok, So I'm Self Employed in Seattle at 39. Selling from my blog & Antique Mall.The blog which made $38k in 07. The Antique Mall making over $45k. Total end of year $83k. My husbands 37 and a Project Manager at Opus. He made $130k in 07.
* The blog is only selling antiques no advertising.

Anonymous said...

I'm 25 and a Gallery Director and now teacher as well (for the past 3 years after art school). $45K - plus a few REALLY tasty perks.

I just jumped ship from a $36K director position at a contemporary gallery in Los Angeles to an educational facility in the middle of nowhere southern CA and LOVE it.

More taboo info:
I just bought a house $133K ($1041 a month), I pay nothing for my car, I'm addicted to vintage (about $300 a month). I've got $1200 in the bank right now and $900 in savings.

I'm $17K in debt from college and $2K from credit cards.

I live with my SO and our dog. He makes the same as I do. We are doing better than ever before...and I'm totally freaked out.

Anonymous said...

I am a doctoral student in biomedical sciences, and earn a research stipend of $25,000 for my slave labor. I am slightly different from other graduate students in that I inherited a large number of family stocks that pay dividents, and those dividents go into CDs which I do not touch. Those add up to about $50K a year, but I am saving it for a house when I finish school. I am trying to be as responsible as possible, but it sometimes does get sad being so frugal (I live on my stipend) when I know I have other income.

Being in the sciences sucks in that it sounds prestigious but really does not pay well, I greatly appreciate the fact that I won't live in a box when I graduate.

bdayanon said...

This is FUN! I'm turning 33 in a few days, work in healthcare & make a tiny bit over $70,000 - I work from home which is great. I've been doing this for about 9 years now but it's time to move on - OH, ready for this one - $27,000 in credit card debt.

Anonymous said...

Like the post above, I am also a girl (26 yrs. old) working for a very large commercial Construction company as a project engineer and am making about $65k after 3.5 yrs. experience. I live in a decent sized city in the southeast.

Anonymous said...

I make almost 38,000 working in high education. Staff not faculty. I came from a more private corporate America type environment for most of my career. I was making much (MUCH)more money. However, I was working 60-65 hours per week, hardly any holidays, stressed to the max, and always tied to work thru cell phone. Now I work and at the end of the day walk out the door without a care in the world, have tons of vacation and holidays and have a better quality of life. I am nervous about the pay cut as this is job is fairly new but I already feel so much better and healthier.

I am 37, live in a high cost of living area and by all financial experts I am sure did everything wrong with taking this step backwards in pay. However, I am not getting out of this life of mine alive so I need to actually start living it.

Anonymous said...

I'm 41 and have been working in a small residential architecture firm in DC for about 8 years. (Not able to call myself an Architect yet - 7 tests down and only 2 to go to achieve that major life goal) Annual income about $73,000 with about a $5,000 bonus at the end of the year.

Anonymous said...

Anon - 1:46 -

What part freaks you out?

Anonymous said...

I am 31, and a senior merchant at a Corporate Retailer in SF. I make 100k. My husband was laid-off from his job 6 weeks ago....where he was on an 85k base, and made on average 300k in commissions a year.

It is now making us both sick that we 1) got used to having so much disposable income, 2) we can now barely make it on my salary.

UGH.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:32 - *that* is exactly my fear. Similar situation. You just never know how the job market will be. If we lost an income, it's not that we couldn't survive on just one, it's that we have become so stupidly used to spending indiscriminately.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fulltime SAHM in the NW. I work 20 to 30 hours a week as an Event Coordinator, most of those hours from home. My husband works in the tech industry, combinded we bring home about 135K a year. We're comfortable and I'm VERY lucky to be able to work PT. It's quite a juggling act, but so worth it. Keeping my foot in the door is very important as I plan to return to work after the babes are in school - this is the plan for now.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting... I wanted to post my info because I haven't noticed any similar jobs listed yet: I'm a 31 year-old technical writer in Southern California, and I make a little over $45,000. I've been in this position for 2 years. If I didn't have any debt (too much of the "I-was-stupid" kind), I could probably pretty comfortably live on what I make and afford a new car. But of course I want to earn more...who doesn't?

Anonymous said...

I own my own business in the NW doing event design. I'm making about 30k a year, which is about half of what I made at my previous job. However, I'm happier than I've ever been! Also, my husband has been really great about not being weird about supporting me as the business got going. On the husband subject though...he was recently laid off (real estate industry) and is working again but for much less. We've been appalled that we're finding it difficult to live on our combined 100K. I can't figure out what is wrong withus! It doesn't seem like we spend extravagently. We do have two kids and are determined not to start using credit though. Maybe a lot of people living on so much less are acquiring more credit. Or maybe we're just ridiculous.

Meg said...

On the housewife front, yup, it's pretty freaky sometimes. But maybe not in the way you think- what's scary to me is that if I want or need to go back to work, I'll be starting from zero on salary, vacation- everything. Which is more than a little depressing, particularly since I haven't exactly been sitting on the couch eating bon-bons for the last 8 years.

Anonymous said...

i'm 26, a journalist for a news service. been there for almost 2 years, have a masters and a b.a. from two very expensive schools and thus, have accrued $75k in debt. i make $38k and that's with working overtime and nearly every holiday in a year. i pay $400 in "rent" to live with my parents in nyc, and really can't get by after taxes, "rent" and over $500 in loan payments. and this salary is considered high for someone in my industry, which usually caps at $50k-60k. but i love my job and i'd rather be doing this than anything else.

Anonymous said...

I'm 40, live in a small city in the richest state in the country (not gold coast) and work in the event business as a logistics manager and on-site producer. I make $60K a year and between mortgage, 2nd mortgage for condo assessment, car payment, taxes, insurance, food and utilities, I barely have enough for fun things like eating out and vacations. I am ashamed to say I have less than $100K in my retirement accounts. My current employer does not offer a 401K, and I never seem to have saved up the minimum to open a private IRA or anything. The minute it is there, something big goes, like the water heater....

Anonymous said...

Age 42, wow the den mother of you young things! Became a sahm last August. My child was entering adolescence and I needed to be more present. Job was stressful and there was a lot of travel. Used to make 90k as a prod dev. mgr for a clothing co in SF -- the industry pays very low even here in San Francisco. Husband in restaurant business making 175k. Child in private school and we feel like the working poor sometimes as many kids there are pretty privileged. High school tuitions will range between 15k-29k/year next year. Our public schools are in pretty bad shape.
Own our own home, still have a small mortgage, and 3 other rental properties. We bought before the market when crazy.
Have to say that without my salary I am very careful about what I buy -- I don't buy fancy shoes anymore, am shopping at Trader Joe's rather than Whole Foods, dine out less and have become more creative when updating our house. It can be done. Clearly the more you make the more you spend. For those of you who have been forced to scale back I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT petunia face and anon 2:32. Jesus, if I can you can!! BUT, I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't miss the salon shoes at Neiman's.

Anonymous said...

I'm 27, live in a decent-sized Southern town and I make $58k in annual salary (plus another $10k or so in retirement and health benefits). My husband and I live quite comfortably on our salaries (he makes about $30k)--not a whole lot of bells and whistles, but that's because we save about $2k per month for retirement and general savings.
We have no debt except a mortgage, which is really small, due in part to a low cost of living and in part from a $50k interest-free loan from my parents (they rock).
Fascinating topic, Decorno!

Decorno said...

Anon 4:39: Don't be ashamed.

Also, you probably qualify for a RothIRA. You can open one with a very small minimum through T. Rowe Price, as long as you sign up for auto-deposit.

It's an amazing thing. You can also take out the principle any time.

I forced myself to do it when I thought I was broke. I never missed the money and it added up quickly.

Anonymous said...

my days are spent taking naps, reading, getting coffee, eating, going to the zoo, library, and parks.

i work no more than 35 hours a week- usually somewhere between 25-30, and make $25,000 a year. i'm a nanny in seattle, and i'm 22 years old. with this salary, i eat out (nicely) 1 or 2 times a week, go out every weekend, buy (most) of the clothes/coffee tables/crap i think i need and i've still been able to save some money (more than i expected).

i know that if you make more, you spend more, but i'd have to say i'm doing pretty well on what some would call a very measly income.

Anonymous said...

I'm a dentist making approx $50K. But that's only part-time because I hate it so fucking much.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher in a large city on the East Coast and I make something near $40k (haven't been teaching long). I am leaving this job after this school year and will be working for a large non-profit with a salary in the high $50k area and great benefits (which I realize is a lot for a non-profit). I bought my house with a generous down payment from my parents last summer. My car is paid off but is 10 years old and about to fall apart, so I am getting rid of it in favor of public transportation. I currently have about $5k in credit card debt and struggle with budgeting so tend to be low on funds.

Anonymous said...

everyone who's posted would probably enjoy this blog
http://www.myopenwallet.net/

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll play along seeing as I've just read everyone else's comments.

Together my husband and I make 95K a year, but we live in a country where tax is quite low. We live quite comfortably, although - as everyone else - we'd like to be making more. I think its a matter of making do with what you have. I have to be honest though, I do find it rather obscene to hear people who are making several 100K a year / or with million dollar inheritances complaining about making do. I find the American classification of 'middle class' quite suprising. I've seen factory workers in China who support their families on $50 a month. They live in company supplied housing on the same block of land as the factory they work in. They often work 7 days a week - often not by choice. I think anyone making the kind of money we're all talking about here, should really step back and take a good look at the world as a whole and realise just how lucky we are to be living in developed countries that a) allow you to earn that kind of living, b) allow you to send your kids to schoool at all, let alone a private school, and c) where you can own 2 huge gas guzzling cars per family.
I hate to get all negative on you, but as someone here already said, if you keep comparing yourself to people who are better off, you'll never be satisfied.

Last thing, as I've already given you our combined salaries - and they're not huge - we did a survey a little while ago that stated we were in the top 10% of the world wealth. Think about that for a while.

Anonymous said...

"Never being satisfied" is underrated.

Anonymous said...

I'm 25/ female with a BFA in Interior Design. I work as a designer for a high end hotel design firm in Los Angeles. I make $46,000 which is pretty tight in L.A. It's so sad that $46,000 in L.A can't get you a 1 bedroom apartment... (at least not in an area I want to live in!)I think $50,000 would make things easier but LA really is a two income city. Its hard to be single and paying your own way.

Anonymous said...

oops.. I forgot. I have 3 years of experience + an internship from college.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:43-points all well taken.
My husband came to this country not knowing the language and had not finished high school. He lived in a tiny studio apartment until he could afford something better. Now he works 12-14 hour days and is very proud to send our kids to private school. Perhaps they may be the first in his family to go to college.

Anonymous said...

It's not what you make....
It's what you save.
To the bank with my savings I go.

Anonymous said...

I am a SAHM and am blessed to have a job the complements my desire to be with my children.

I took a leap of faith and became pregnant despite knowing that my current sales job wouldn't work with a family. I found a part-time job in sales when I was pregnant in the NW and now make $55K working just two days a week. Ladies, you can work, be a present mother, and contribute to your family ~ you just have to be open to the possibilities that exist, and if they aren't there, you can create them.

Anonymous said...

This recent 60 minutes segment about
happiness in Denmark
is fascinating.

visualvamp.blogspot.com/ said...

gosh, I thought this was a blog about your dining room chair quest...

Anonymous said...

visualvamp, I beg of you:

Lose that avatar/portrait.

Honey, it's ugly. There's no nice way to say it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:43:

$50 a month in China can't be compared to $50 a month in Manhattan.

Suzy said...

Anon 6:43 in reply to Anon 9:38

I think you missed the point...
I understand that $50 in china is not the same as $50 in Manhattan, because it certainly isn't the same where I live either.

My point was, every single person who has posted comments here is in the TOP 10% OF THE WORLDS WEALTHY.

None of us should be complaining about what we earn. We are all very priviledged and should be thankful.

Another thing - what you earn is not a measure of what you are worth as a person.

visualvamp.blogspot.com/ said...

Hello Anon, Please stop my blog so I can tell you about my portrait. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

To anon 6:43 - I think that most of us (including me, with the "million dollar inheritance")aren't complaining. I feel extremely fortunate/ blessed/ grateful for the substantial financial cushion that I have thanks to my parents' and grandparents' hard work, thrifty lifestyles and sound investments.

I did state that being a millionaire ain't what I dreamed it would be, though, simply because I'd imagined that million dollars would buy a person a wildly extravagant lifestyle (hence the reference to caviar breakfasts that I am not consuming). Instead, I find that it puts me in the top percentages of the world and also of my country but it does not allow me to live like a debauched socialite if I want the money to last my whole lifetime and have some assets to pass along to my two kids.

I suspect that most of us here are expressing the same sentiment, rather than complaining. That no matter how much or little we earn or inherit or win in the lottery, we are surprised by how this sum doesn't necessarily correspond to the lifestyle we thought it would.

I am touched by everyone's honesty and willingness to share. Let's try to read these entries with open minds rather than judging each other, shall we?

Anonymous said...

Decorno: I understand that you can't discuss your own salary comfortably given that co-workers read the blog. But could you at least tell us what you'd need as a minimum $ ?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, not meant to be a judgement, just feeling the "it's not enough" as it seems most are, and I guess more suprised than anything that folks who are earning substantially more are still not satisfied. I guess its the society we live in.

Anonymous said...

Having come from a third world country--and visited pretty recently--I agree with anon 6:43 for the most part, though I understand how difficult it is to live with skyrocketing costs of living in the US. I'm 22, live in a large city in the Midwest, and work in the design end of publishing. I've been at my current job for under a year and have my B.A. and M.A. in the humanities. I make $32K and have about $30K in student loans to repay. I feel as if I'm living pretty simply at the moment, saving a little and paying back my loans. Yet I have enough disposable income to play on the weekends and to treat myself to little things. I am fortunate to be moving in with my boyfriend, who makes significantly more than me (I don't know the exact sum ... is that puzzling?), so we will be saving money in that way--and he's nice enough to pay for things like concert tickets and little weekend trips. I often feel like I'm scraping by and it doesn't feel good to think about how comfortable I could be with a higher income, but I have to remind myself of how fortunate I am to love my job--and how fortunate I am in general. However, I do look forward to moving up the income ladder eventually.

Anonymous said...

I live in Toronto, was raised VERY comfortably and still live at home in effort to save up the 26 k CA (after taxes) that i've earned this year from an entry-level PR job.

I'm looking for a new position as this one does not challenge me anyways, and the fact is I need to take home more money if I ever hope to live in any way shape or form like I do now.

To live in a modest-sized house in a desirable neighbourhood near by my current home I'd need at least 1.5 million dollars, which petrifies me.

I have anxiety dreams about living in Durham and other generic suburbs and frankly unless I marry a big-shot and benfit from both our incomes, I will have to make the move up north where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the centre of the city.

Anonymous said...

I'm 31, live in Washington, DC and have worked as a real estate consultant for going on 5 years. My gross salary is about 71K plus bonus (5Kish). This salary is nothing special in this area. I'm very comfortable living at this level, though I can't afford to save enough to buy a condo/house (could in other areas). I could maybe squeak by on less, but having done it, I'm not interested!

I can't remember my biggest pay increase, but I think at my last job, I got a raise of 10k in less than a year. In the 10 yrs since graduating w/ a liberal arts degree, my salary went something like this (in thousands) 24,29,30,5(grad school, so it really should be negative 30),5,48,58,61,71.

I would personally never feel comfortable leaving the earning up to a man. I've got issues! At my last job, there was someone at my level (about 15 yrs older than me, but incompetent) who was earning significantly more, though I did more...that irritated me to no end.

Anonymous said...

SAHM, husband is MD, made in the high 6 figures last 4 years. But there were many, many years of low 5 figures (30's). I save a lot, because I never want to be in that situation again. I am on East coast NYC area. You will need a couple hundred thousand annually to live comfortably here (unless family buys you a house, a big expenditure here).

Anonymous said...

i'm a professional psychic (SERIOUSLY). i've been self-employed for 15 years. i teach meditation, psychic development and have an active blog and thriving practice.

i'm 39 and just got motivated to build my empire since having two kids in the last 4 years. in the past i was lucky to be supplemented by family money as well which compromised my motivation. that money is gone now (a blessing and a curse)

i make about 36 - 40k per year. it fluctuates which drives me nuts. i'm at the best i've ever been over the last nine months. hubby makes (or has the potential to make) anywhere from 24-40k.

my goal is to get to 60k/year minimum which will require me to write some books...get out on the lecture circuit.

the ups and downs are tough but give me ample opportunity to work on FAITH.

we live high when we have the $$$ and low when we don't. i'm trying to get a plan together to pay off debt/save/etc.

in a parallel universe i'm a designer...thus my participation in the decorno reality.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the psychic could tell us how much decorno makes...

Anonymous said...

25, SAHM and freelance writer. Married. Mountain West. I made $32K as a journalist before I had my baby. Last year, made $10K as a freelance writer, working between 5 and 10 hours a week. My husband makes close to $50K in public relations. Our only debt is our house. We have a tight budget but still manage vacations, etc. We don't have much but everything we have is ours and we've earned it.

Anonymous said...

I 30 and a book keeper in a medium-big city. I make 47k a year, but also continue to inherit stock in the company that pays dividends (last year it was 28k). My husband's family insists on paying our rent (they can afford it). I feel weird/guilty about this and as a result save half of my income just so I know I could pay them back if I ever wanted to (though they would be mortified if I tried). I also know I will inherit more someday, but I am not told when (a trick to keep us from getting too lazy). I would guess 70% of our friends have some sort of family assistance that keeps them in the upper middle class (thanks to previous generations), but most of them work really hard too. They give to charity, live modestly and save responsibly.

Anonymous said...

I'm 47, work from home full-time as a buyer for a consulting firm. $58K + incentives annually. Married, w/ 2 teens. Hubby is an IT professional. Combined family income is nearly $200K, which allows us a comfortable but hardly luxurious lifestyle in our northern Toronto suburb. We lucked out and bought our modest 2400 sq ft house when it was affordable, so the mortgage is almost paid off. I never want to move.

Hubby is a saver, but I spend more money than I would ever admit on books and magazines, clothes, and kids extracurricular activities. I sacrificed the cleaning lady and monthly hair appointments so that I can afford to go to bootcamp and hot yoga. We eat out about 3x a week. Every summer we choose to have a big family vacation (cruises, Hawaii, Paris, etc), at the expense of landscaping our yards. Oh well. The interior of our house though is very chic, thanks to inspiration from domino and decorno :)

Anonymous said...

Suzy,

Everyone here understands the basic principle that we are each:

--better off than some

--worse off than others.

But you're simplifying too much. People in rural China actually CAN live on $50 a month. Almost EVERY condition there is radically different than those in, say, mid-town Manhattan.

I don't know if you:
--have kids,
--are saving for their college educations,
--supporting elderly or sick parents,
--paying your own medical bills,
--paying off loans for old tuitions for yourself or your husband...
Or whether any or some or all of those expenses are covered by your government.

And you know few or none of those details about the posters here. You don't, in short, have enough information to scold anyone.

So sit back, let people tell their stories, and just try to be a good listener.

Anonymous said...

amen!

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1:58PM -- Word!

Anonymous said...

Back to the stories.....

I work in a large south-central US city as an environmental engineer. Went from $25k to $66k after graduating with my doctorate and live comfortably on my salary.

My guilty secret: I made slave wages in grad school but loved what I did, even though I had no life other than school. Now, I make WAY more money and in the back of my mind, I fear that someone will figure out that the money isn't what motivates me!

The inheritance theme is interesting. I received some family money (less than $100k) and feel a huge burden to use it responsibly.

Anonymous said...

Im so glad you asked this! I've been considering a career change (for many years) but always wondered how much other people made and if I could survive. Im a 37 yr old real estate agent living in Seattle. In 05 & 06, I earned a over $100k/year. In 07 that was cut to just under 80k, but I only worked from Jan-June (but not buy choice)..I do own my own small home, but I really think I need to make at least 80k+ to live the life Ive been a customed to.
I applaud those who can live on much less and Id love to know how you do it, seriously!

Anonymous said...

I saw one reader say they owned a vintage furniture store and made nada..any other store (furniture or home decor) owners on here? I'd love to know what you bring home..Im considering getting into the business. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'll play the game. I am contractor for a government agency, I guess it would be mid level admin/budget stuff making about $38,000 and the boy is with the same company as an office manager making $42,000. We live in DC and our salaries are more than enough for loan payments, car note, public transportation, eating out, etc because we lucked out and found an apartment with amazingly low rent in a decent neighborhood. I am slightly bitter that the boy makes more than me as I have a master's degree and he barely has a college education, but that is mainly a product of my own laziness. This is the most I've made in income a year and I am 31. I guess years of making no money as a student makes anything look like riches.

Anonymous said...

I'm 26 living in Charlotte, NC. I have two jobs - one is 40 hrs/wk handling corporate relocations and making $25/hr (no benefits), the other is $500 per closing that I handle for some real estate agents. On an average month, I bring home about $5500 before taxes. My husband was making $7500/month until he quit his job last month to discover his true career calling in life. I'm happy to support him until he figures it out, though I miss the extra money. We have no debt but also no savings and very little retirement. I know we could live comfortably and save for retirement on $80K.

Anonymous said...

I've been a teacher for 12 years and my husband is a social worker. I make $74,000 and he makes $65.000.

We live in the suburbs- LA area and are easily making ends meet, but we do have debt from fixing up our house- $70,000 in a home equity loan. Luckily we have pretty secure jobs and great medical/retirement benefits.

The best thing about my situation is that I have summers of as well as 4 weeks during the year.

Suzy said...

to anon at 1:58

I apologise if I've come across as scolding anyone..I guess I've really gone off the original track of this conversation. All I wanted to say was, maybe to myself more than to others, is that those who are earning double what I do don't actually seem to be any happier/satisfied. More of a comment on our society that what we earn will never be enough.

I prefaced my first comment (which I posted as anon) with our household combined salary and said I'd like to earn more - I'm human, as we all are here. I think its natural to want to be better off, especially when you have a family to provide for - which I don't at this stage.

Decorno - well done for getting so many people to participate!

Anonymous said...

I clicked on to the comments expecting to feel devastated by the number of people with real jobs making real money. As artist, some years I make enough, this year about 6k. Actual expenses, around 30K. So I'm the family sponger, which really bothers me, but other odd sources like workshops have dried up in the past six months. My painter friends and I say it feels like running into a brick wall fast with your eyes closed sometimes. But life is still great when the work goes well. I keep reading about the astounding salaries people make, and meeting very wealthy people with multiple homes(I live in a destination area), so this makes me feel that my lifestyle isn't so abnormal after all. And anon's before me, you're right about the third world, but we all live in our own culture.

Anonymous said...

Suzy for what it's worth,I thought your original comments were just fine.

Anonymous said...

We may live in our own culture, but we're certainly not the happiest people in the Western World. Studies show, once basic needs are met (food, roof over your head, safety) there is no difference in happiness between people who make a little money and those who make a lot. In other words, making $500K won't make you any happier. Neither will owning that fancy house/car/sofa/whatever.

Anonymous said...

Hi--previously posted my salary etc. Hearing the number of people with family help or family money answers a lot for me...I am worried about how I'm going to support my family (meaning, my parents and perhaps others, not my children which I don't have). It explains to me how people who seem to be in the same position as me are able to do so much more. Just goes to show how futile keeping up with the Jones's is.

Anonymous said...

here goes: interior designer, part time, self employed - who knows? on a good year $50k on a bad year 30K maybe, 20K probably.
Husband: 1 million this year - 800,000 last year
5 years ago - bankrupt - seriously
all in the same industry - oil and gas. huge ups and huge downs. the ups are much more fun though - you can be really generous to your family and your friends. I support my best friend who has lupus and cant work. our housekeeper - well, we pay her really well because she's the most incredible woman in the world, single mother to two. but, next year - who knows? weccould be heading back down to negative land. depends who we elect for president my husband claims.

Anonymous said...

I own my own business- a florist.
Gee...last year I made a whole 8K...honestly, my employees made more money than me!
Thank God my husband has a good paying job .. but he has had some work related health issues that had him off work for about 3 months.. then he was techinally considered 'unemployable' based on his illness. During this time, I found that stress is an amazing diet and you can really lose some weight because of it..unintentional of course.

We have 2 kids in college..they have college loans and we also help to pay them off. My income sucks considering the amount of hours I work- 6 days a week.

Right now.. my business has debt to pay.. I'm hoping when I eliminate more debt, I can pay myself more.

I truly love my job-- and see my business growing and it's potential for really increasing clientel.

Flowers are an affordable luxury.. even one daisy in your life will make it better. Life is short.. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Anon the Florist -

Flowers really are an affordable luxury. They are a must.

I can't believe I am saying this (because unsolicited advice is so rude) but I think you should quit paying any part of your kids' college loans. That's debt they are adult enough to know they are taking on. They'll thank you for forcing them to figure it out. Plus, it will allow you to focus on paying down your business debt and save for your own retirement (they will really thank you for that).

I hope your husband is feeling much better these days.

Anonymous said...

29, junior interior designer, NYC. I make 50K but have over 80K in student loan debt from my two degrees, and am completely overwhelmed, to the point that I am wondering whether going back to school for design was even worth it, because I don't know how I'll ever get out from under this, let alone raise (hypothetical) kids and save for retirement.

The Liz Army said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am posting this before reading all the other comments...

I make $54,998/year (I could round up to $55,000 but I am being honest)

I am a "marketing specialist" for a city in northern California. This a varied communications type of job which combines bits and pieces of public relations, journalism, advertising, graphic design, and new media. I was a free-lance graphic and Web designer for two years before taking on this job 2.5 years ago. I am 28 years old, I have an associates degree in graphic design, and I am a part-time student working on my bachelor's degree. Everyone else who has my same job-title has their BA.

My biggest pay increase was my most recent. I went from earning $46,500 to now $54,998. When you work for government there are set pay increases. I got a "double" increase for kicking ass. And then when January 1 rolled around a month later I also got a 3% cost of living increase.

As for others with my same EXACT job, since I work in government the pay scale is pretty much set. You know what you are going to get over the years.

There is someone, however, who has a different title who does the same things as me, however she gets paid about $30,000 more a year because she is considered "management" even though she doesn't have anyone underneath of her. And oh yeah, her work is lousy. RAWR! Until I get my BA there's really nothing I can do about this. But whatever, I have plenty of years ahead of me to kick ass and prove myself.

Anonymous said...

Liz - if you like kicking ass at work, I implore you STOP working for the government.

Seriously. Private sector, kiddo. Someone like you could make $80k+. Honest.

Anonymous said...

In response to the person who just told me I could make $80k+ a year in the private sector... I know! But for now I am going to school while I work (which my job pays for) and all my benefits are free. My plan is to bust out of here once the degree is done.

Thanks for the kind words and ego boost. :)

Anonymous said...

I just paid $4 per gallon for regular gas today. But it warms my heart to know that I could contribute to the salary of a well paid housekeeper for a millionaire family. If I pick the right presidential candidate maybe we can even keep up the fun times. YeeHaw!!!!

Anonymous said...

*sigh* I wondered how long it would be before someone attacked anon who had the sheer AUDACITY to tell the truth about her husband earning $1 million this year by working in the oil industry.

It bears repeating: let's all try to sit back and really listen to the wide variety of stories here rather than make mean-spirited comments about each other. It is a brave act to state how much we and our S.O.s earn and inherit. It's such a taboo subject that, honestly, not even my closest friends know what I have disclosed to all of you.

Snarky comments like 9:52PM are disappointing; I thought we were all encouraged to share. Yeah, even those whose household incomes are a heck of a lot higher than mine.

Well done, Decorno, for creating a space where over one hundred readers feel safe typing freely about a subject that causes so many of us enormous anxiety.

Anonymous said...

Nicely phrased, 1:50 AM!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that people are never satisfied, whether financially, intellectually, aesthetically, etc. All sorts of great things are born of that dissatisfaction.

This is a decor blog. Let's face it, we're all here to look at beautiful objects. If it wasn't for the feeling of dissatisfaction driving the designers to make more, we wouldn't have all those beautiful things to slobber over.

Anonymous said...

I am 24, an admin asst. making $33,000 in an entry level postion, with a yearly bonus around $2k. I also have a part time job that can rack in around $10k depending how much I work. I live outside a large midwestern city with my boyfriend. We own a home but keep our finances seperate. I'm pretty sure he took home $55k last year, but we don't talk about it exactly. I'm always broke, I have a car payment, a $1000 bank loan that gets paid off next year and 1/2 our mortgage. I put the normal 6% into my 401k and save $200 a month, but feel like I have no savings. I do feel the need to compete with people from work or my neighbors, but have to remind myself that I am a good 5 years younger than most of them and my time will come.

Anonymous said...

I am a government attorney living in the Midwest making 64.5K and will make 69.8K by the of the end the year (10th year anniversary). My husband is a public school teacher with a master's degree. I think he makes 60K (including the extracurricular stuff he teaches). We have decent health benefits, but no 401K matching kind of stuff like private-sector employers. No maternity leave other than what I saved up for in sick and vacation. I pay $1000 per month for my law school loans. I also have a lot of credit card debt. I have one of the smallest homes out of my group of girlfriends, so I spend a lot to decorate it stylishly (retro-modern) so I'm not embarrassed when they come to visit. Stupid, why do I care? I'm curious to hear what other working parents are paying for daycare. I pay 150/week for my three year old. I can't afford to have another kid until this one goes to all-day kindergarten, and I'm 35! No family money to speak of, but our parents did pay for a private college education, where we met. We did inherit a small lake cabin which we share with my husband's siblings.

Anonymous said...

I read that Dooce makes 40K per month selling ads on her website. Anyone think that's true?

Anonymous said...

What a fun topic!

I'm a single journalist in my mid 30s living in D.C., and I make about $63K. I don't work for the paper you're thinking of.

My biggest salary bump was about $15K, moving from one job to another; that's about the only way you can get big raises in my profession. My only debt is my little ol' condo -- it's small, but it's mine. I have money in savings and retirement; probably not enough, but I"m getting there. I haven't gotten financial help from my parents in terms of inheritances or large gifts, but they did allow me to move back in with them for a year, which helped me save up the down payment to buy this place. That alone was a wonderful gift to me.

I feel like I live a comfortable lifestyle now, and I guess the minimum I could make and still maintain a similar comfort level is $55K.

I feel like I'm watching my chosen profession crumble around me, though. The field is changing so quickly, so many layoffs, newspapers closing...I thought I'd win a Pulitzer and retire from journalism in a blaze of fame and glory. :-) Not so much now, though.

Anonymous said...

great topic & posts!
so, I just left a job where I was making about $45K working part time. Now I make nothing to devote full time to building up my own business. My husband makes about $150K but wants to leave his job, his whole work field has burnt him out & he wants down time (scary, but I support changes). We live in nyc but couldn't afford to buy a home in the city bigger than a postage stamp so we bought a home outside of the city in the country. We are trying to have a baby, with problems and the doctors are eating us alive. (one of my shots costs $5,000 and even though we have insurance, they won't cover it!) We are struggling to not go further into debt. Which is 10K plus mortgage. Some months we can squeeze a bit into savings but not enough... After some projects with my home business, I will be looking for paying work.
And I miss buying new designer shoes : )

my little apartment said...

breaking the anonymous trend...

i'm a Media Coordinator in the Publicity office for a major record label. i think i make $35,000-ish after overtime and bring home about $24,000 a year (meaning I live off $2000 a month).

I rent a studio apartment in Los Angeles. I inherited my Benz, but I pay for everything else on my own. I don't have school or credit card debt, but I am paying off a 2K bank loan and 4K to the IRS (ugh). my parents own an in-town house and a farm in Kentucky, but they do not support me financially (just buy me a few plane tickets home each year).

I live paycheck-to-paycheck and have a pitiful $200 in savings. I spend far too much on decorating my apartment, but I plan on being finished with it come June and will start saving more.

I do wedding planning, housesitting, and interior design on the side, but usually end up spending that money at the flea market, on drinks, or going out to dinner.

living in LA is expensive.

wow, that felt good. :)

Anonymous said...

i was amazed that i am not the first doctoral student in the biomedical sciences, from the east coast, commenting here. i get a stipend ~32K, and i live in manhattan. i would probably scrape by fine on that, but the retarded administration of the graduate sometimes is up to ten months late in getting checks to me for things that don't go thru normal payroll channels, such as reimbursements for conferences i'm required to attend and pay for up front, as well as 'bonuses' (also known as portions of grants). they act as though these are gifts that i am being greedy about and complaining only makes them drag their feet more. so my husband usually fronts me the money until the grad school comes through. luckily he makes very good money as a truck driver to support my overeducated ass. most days i really feel he is the more useful member of society. much more useful than whoever is supposed to be cutting me those freaking reimbursement checks.

Anonymous said...

it's funny, I like the way people sound when they tell their financial stories--human, funny, candid, vulnerable, wistful. It's much more gratifying than the conversation you get when people talk about decor (much as I love that subject). No name dropping, no bossiness, surprisingly little showing off.

Sneaky Chic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sneaky Chic said...

What do I make?

Right now, just enough to pay my bills. I was laid off last August and was fortunate to receive a package that paid me through March. But now I am on unemployment, which I am grateful for, but it really cuts into my shopping money, ya know?

I *was* making 52k as a Financial Analyst for a large (and evil) bank that shall remain nameless, but it rhymes with Nells Yargo. Now I get 455/wk (before taxes)from unemployment.

The worst part (besides lack of shopping $) is that I CANNOT find a job! I have applied for about 60 jobs and have not had one single interview. Not even an "F You!" Nothing. So depressing.

Anyway, I am now thinking of following my dream of starting my own business - a fabulous home boutique, but this seems like the dream of so many people out there. I am just hoping I can make it profitable.

WOW! I'm chatty. Sorry. I guess I needed to vent...

Anonymous said...

I work in PR (equivalent of an Account Executive for a boutique agency) and make 30k base, plus 10% in bonuses over the course of the year. I live on the west coast in a big city and probably work about 50 hours a week - it's not the best salary, but it's a great work environment with awesome women.

Anonymous said...

This is super odd, but...I honestly can't remember what I make. I know that I make more than double what my husband makes, so that puts me around the 89-90K market, maybe a little higher. We've been combining our finances so long, it doesn't matter much. That's sick maybe, but true.

I work in advertising. I'm a writer. Not all writers in advertising as paid this well, but a lot are. I am lucky in that 1) I am good (well, I am) 2) I am reliable with a minimum of prima donna bs that is rampant in advertising and 3) I have a long history with my current company (have worked there in the past but for a long time worked elsewhere) and am respected by the owners, so I don't have a lot of anxiety about being "the girl" and being paid as much as the boys in my comparable position. Which is a very, very good thing.

Incidentally I'm almost 42 and believe me, I had my share of jobs for years on end that made 13,000/year -- not kidding.

Anonymous said...

PS I'm the anon advertising writer from before. Forgot to mention I live in same city as Decorno, and while what me make has us comfortable, it's not rich out here. Our mortgage takes the majority of our cash.

Anonymous said...

oh for...I'm sorry, anon writer YET AGAIN.

Our combined income is 120K+

I do not read directions or follow them well. This is why I am in advertising.

none said...

Just read this on HOBAC's blog; a comment by Pigtown:

"I read through some of the comments on Decorno... she likes to be controversial."

Anonymous said...

I am 39, married, one toddler. I make $72K on first job as newspaper editor, about $8K at related part-time job. BA+MA. Hubby makes about $51K in sales. We live in suburbs of D.C. We are STRUGGLING to make ends meet responsibly. We have two 10-year-old cars, buy all my kid's clothes at thrift stores, no vacations, toys come from the curb or goodwill, etc. It's difficult to live here as we have a moderate ($360K) mortgage for the area and DAY CARE of about $1,000/month. We are right on track to be debt free sans mortgage by the end of this year w/$50K in savings thanks to gifts from family and stinginess, and about $60K in retirement funds. Though, honestly, we have to rent out half our house to make it. Once kid is in school, things will get MUCH easier, I pray. Finances have definitely strained our marriage, though they are looking up. Thanks to all who shared their stories.

kathleen said...

I’m 24 and work as a licensing coordinator (copyright stuff) for a cable TV network in Los Angeles. $44k for a 40 hour work week. Additional monies of about $1k-$1.7k/mo for teaching piano & from investments in a trust(which I am going to wean myself from so they can grow more). Not my life's passion, but took it SOLELY to fund my dream, which has cost about $15k over the year and is now finito!!

Save $400/mo, have $4000 in a Roth IRA, $2600 in savings, and $2550 in my 401k, to which I contribute 7% of my salary with a 5% company match. No debt, too!

Plenty for me to enjoy my life, eat out too often, fund my dream (the $15k project), go on fun weekend trips with the boyfriend, etc. I want for nothing except more free time to pursue my real passion!

Whew! Thanks decorno!!

Anonymous said...

My annual salary is $0 -- yes, I'm a stay-at-home mom. We live in Kansas, and my husband makes $100k. We have no debt (save for the house, that is), and we're smart with money and budgets and all that.

It is HARD to let my husband be the sole wage-earner. It's way harder than I thought it would be. I am ridiculously tight with a dollar to begin with, but now that I didn't earn any of the dollars, it's so hard to "justify" spending. Oh, sure, I spend on groceries without a thought, and I'll spend on the son, but it took me two weeks and a serious encouragement from my husband to go buy a t-shirt I fancied at Target. For $10. Part of that is just my personality, I suppose, but not earning any money while your husband earns it all, well, it messes with your head.

Still, though, I am glad we can afford for me to stay at home with our son, and I'm glad we made the decision to do so. But AMEN to the SAHM who said that when she goes back to work, she'll be starting at the bottom of the pay/vacation/perks scale again, even though it's not like she's been eating bonbons since she left the workforce.

Also, I really hate all those reports -- they tend to come out around Mothers Day -- that tally up what a SAHM is "worth" if she were to be paid. You know, $X for cleaning, $X for cooking, $X for being the "household CEO" or some such nonsense. Nobody calculates how much a single guy who mows his lawn is "worth" for doing that. Nobody calculates how much you are "worth" for holding the door open for the person behind you at the post office. A SAHM is providing a ton of services (plus love and support) for her family by choice, and part of that choice includes earning no money.

Sometimes you have to use a yardstick other than the one marked off in dollar signs.

Anonymous said...

I've been a self-employed transcriptionist for 16 years and take home approximately $43K a year ~~ but that's working my tail off 6 and sometimes 7 days a week. I was in hospital administration and killing myself with all the overtime and neglecting my (at that time) young children. The decision to work at home totally changed our lives. Since then, dinner is now always on the table, laundry washed and PUT UP, ended daycare/after school programs, and made me more accessible. Husband (now of 25 years) was happier, less guilt for me, terrific adult "children". Just a few of my "employee" benefits.

Anonymous said...

I'm 25 and I'm a social worker living in Australia. I'm a team leader of a disability program and I earn approx. $52k USD. I live very comfortably on that.. or at least I used to until my boyfriend moved in. He's a student and can only work part time. Although he does contribute some, I cover the majority of our living expenses. We're fortunate to live in cheap rental accommodation because my landlords are like, 80 and haven't realised that the market has moved up significantly while we've been living here. We could live an adequate life on $30-40k.

Social workers don't get paid nearly enough. There's very little chance for me to increase my salary from where it is now. Even a program manager wouldn't get paid more than $65k. Saying that, though, I'm satisfied with my wage as it is at the moment. It would be nice to have $5k more to put to savings and to be able to afford a house. I'm looking forward to my boyfriend finishing school and getting a proper job.

Anonymous said...

I could care less about how much y'all make. I'd much rather know how much debt everyone is carrying.

Anonymous said...

I don't care about debt, but I'd like to know what percentage of income people give to charity. Now THAT will make everyone defensive and ill-tempered ;- )

Anonymous said...

I'm 29, in NYC, work for big PR firm as a VP focused on New Biz Development, make $90k (with seriously shitty hours). Husband works in hedge funds and made 340k last year (half of that as a bonus so he took home like 170k roughly). In NYC we feel middle class. Scary but true.

Anonymous said...

I'm 25, live in North Carolina. Make 50 - 55K per year as a project manager at a consulting company with pretty good benefits. I own a small townhouse that I live in with my dog.

Anonymous said...

saw this on another blog and made me think of your "$500/month?" question:

http://creaturecomforts.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/web-help-advert.html#more

hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

I'm joining this party a little late but better late than never, right?

I'm a 31 year old trascational entertainment lawyer working for a movie studio in Los Angeles. I'm 6 years out of law school make around 150K a year (bonus included). I work a lot, but I love my job.

I used to work for a big LA law firm and at my current level I'd be pushing 250-275K (Gross Comp), but I traded it all in for a job I actually like. That's right, I took a 50% pay cut voluntarily. And I'd do it again.

To be honest, with my mortgage, CA property taxes, Car expenses (lease, insurance, gas), and a pretty mild social life, I don't have too much money left over. LA is very expensive. But I love it here.

P.S. Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

I am self-employed and freakishly made over $100K in the past 4 months through business deals.

Being an employee is for chumps - it's financial life support instead of thriving.

decorno said...

I work for a huge company and I love it. We are allowed so much freedom to think, blow up bad processes, build cool stuff. It's incredibly satisfying and has been very financially rewarding for me.

Maybe the best part is that our company's leadership does not treat any of us like "chumps."

I'd love to have my own business someday soon, but for now, the current job is too good to leave.

Anonymous said...

MCJ degree since "04", not working in field and making 44K. Single mom of two and struggling. Thought Master's would make our lives easier, guess I chose wrong field. Sad to see younger people in my department pulling in 50K or more. Don't understand where I went wrong.

Anonymous said...

Perpetually late to the party...my SO and I live in a Southern city. I am in my early 40s. I work in IT and he in Software Development. Combined our income is $230k. I have one car payment on a modest Honda; the other car is long paid off, equally modest. We own 2 homes (one a rental) worth almost $1m and owe about $500k on them. We have $1m in savings/401k. No other debt, although I plan to spend $100-200k on renovations to my residence in the next 2-3 years if our jobs hold out. My region is not experiencing the high rates of foreclosures and home devaluations seen in other parts of the US. Re: inheritances and family money. Neither of us have received anything from any family, and have very low expectations for future monies. We do spend money on vacations, dining, home furnishings, but not to the extent I see around me.

Anonymous said...

Love love love your blog!! - just discovered it this week and been reading the various posts. I know I'm way late...but thought I'd put in my 2 cents on this one ...I'm 40, live in SoCA, love my job as a project manager for a mid-size software co., and make 80K. I own a house, bought it before the real-estate market flew through the roof so my payment is not bad, no car payment, no kids... after years of spending pretty much on whatever I wanted, I've come to my senses and focusing now on paying off cc debt (10K) and put more in savings.

Anonymous said...

I work for an internet company (telephony) and make 70k as a project manager. This is the most I've ever made and I fervently hope I don't get laid off.

My wife is in the military (Army E-6) and takes home about $62k a year, which includes a housing allowance.

Anonymous said...

I am 28 and Australian.

I work in Melbourne as a Web Producer for an online lifestyle brand and make AUD$55,000 per year
If you include my super annuation it is a 58,000package.

I bought my first home this year with the help of some pre-inheritance money (my lovely grandmother wanted to see how it would be spent). I bought a small 2 bedroom apartment 30mins from the city center and it is HARD to afford much more than my mortgage and food. But i own a home and it makes my family proud and one day it will be easier than it is this year!

first home owner blues has come over me!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm 31 and live in Los Angeles.

I went to school as a graphic designer and work as a freelance designer/artist in the television industry. I have been doing this for 2 years now. First year I made $72K, this year I gave myself a hefty raise and will make about $96K..teehee :) Although I work on average 50-65 hours a week, I take 2-3 months off a year (to travel) and LOVE my job.

I went back to college (got accepted into a prestigious but wildly expensive art school - it was $45K for tuition alone per year) when I was 26 and without supportive parents, paid for school myself. I'm in over $100K in student loan debt. But strangely this doesn't bother me.

I don't own a house but am not in any hurry to as I'm trying to pay off my loans first. I'm really happy with the amount I make and know I'm very lucky.

Anonymous said...

I'm 21, right out of college, and make 38.5k. I'm a 10th grade English teacher at an independent school, live in faculty housing (my own 2br, 1 bath for $400/month), and have no commute. My school is paying for a bulk of my graduate education in whatever I want to study for as long as I want to study.

My apartment is cozy and I'm about 1.5 hours away from DC. I can afford to board my horse nearby. I can buy starbucks every day, but I eat lunch in the cafeteria. I have a great apartment with lots of hand-me-downs from the great grandparents and some basics from IKEA.

I love my job.

I love the week-long Thanksgiving break. I love my 3 week Christmas break. I love my 3 months of summer vacation.

Could I be making $50k selling my soul to corporate America? Yes. Would I be happy? No.

Anonymous said...

I just read all 157 comments. Awesome. Lights have been turned out on this topic but don't want to be a lurker:

Librarian, 33, $105,000. After a year on wall street was broke but my undergrad loans were all paid, and I despised $$$ and figured Librarian was what I needed to be. Somehow after starting at $42,000 at a very special library I've gotten about a $15,000 raise each of the last four years. My goal was $65,000 but it's farcically easy to spend the rest. No car, no travel. Time to pay down $60,000 in grad debt.

Anonymous said...

Latecomer...I am a IT consultant with a salary of 98K. I have jumped around a lot and went from 55K to 72K once and then from 72K to 98K...I guess it's all about just asking for what you want. :)

Anonymous said...

Very late comer. Fascinating reading. Love all the honesty. I work 3 half days a week for a total of about 12-15 hours. I'm a 51 year old esthetician. I work on commission and of course tips. I average $40-50 per hour. It's fun and I love my clients. Perfect part-time job. Hope my hands can hold up til I'm 60.

Anonymous said...

another super late comer...just found your blog over the holidays.

Interior Designer/Project Manager for a well known, very high end interiors firm in a mid size deep south city. $47,000 this year with bonus (that bonus was, by the way, a LOT less this year than in years past). Wish I made at least $60, (that's my reasonable wish anyway)think I might have my shit together then.

Anonymous said...

I'm 30 yrs old in LA.
Married with one 11 yr old kid.
I am a psychotherapist with an MA and a license.
That job pays about 58,000/yr with excellent benefits including health care for the whole family, flexible schedule and over 4 weeks of paid vacation time.
I also work for an art museum P/T and bring home an additional 300-600/mo for that.
Husband is a tattooer and his income varies greatly from 1500-4000/mo.
We don't have any inheritance and very little debt. We rent and are not interested in buying in LA.
Life is good.

Anonymous said...

I do have the dream job of owning my own home/garden antique & decor shop. I am 33 and was raised in an antique shop, so this business comes naturally, college was never really a consideration. Debt is/was seriously frowned upon in my family. I bring home very little- maybe 10K-30K. The biggie plus is that the shop is buying the building its in. We rent an apartment upstairs and the shop pays *rent*. This pretty much covers the mortgage,taxes, insurance, etc. Also most expenses- travel, trade shows, cars, are deductible.
My husband makes about 40K and we have two kids- who LOVE where they live. We live in a very rural area of the NE with lots of tourists driving through, so living expenses are fairly low. We don't spend money on entertainment, our family "vacations" always involve a tent, and buying high quality food is the biggest expense.
Its not always easy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Anonymous said...

I do have the dream job of owning my own home/garden antique & decor shop. I am 33 and was raised in an antique shop, so this business comes naturally, college was never really a consideration. Debt is/was seriously frowned upon in my family. I bring home very little- maybe 10K-30K. The biggie plus is that the shop is buying the building its in. We rent an apartment upstairs and the shop pays *rent*. This pretty much covers the mortgage,taxes, insurance, etc. Also most expenses- travel, trade shows, cars, are deductible.
My husband makes about 40K and we have two kids- who LOVE where they live. We live in a very rural area of the NE with lots of tourists driving through, so living expenses are fairly low. We don't spend money on entertainment, our family "vacations" always involve a tent, and buying high quality food is the biggest expense.
Its not always easy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Anonymous said...

I love that people are still commenting on this thread. I’m 23 and live in a big-ish city. I make 48k/year in an entry level job that I love. I am hoping to turn it into a no-longer-entry level job that I love this year. I don’t have any student loans, carry around $500 in credit card debt and I own my car outright. I am so happy my parents paid for college and taught me about saving.

I rent a reasonable 1br apt with my boyfriend who makes much more than I do. We split all living expenses but he pays for most of our “fun.” I put 11% of each paycheck in my 401k. I save another 35% of my take home to a high yield savings account, a portion of which is moved to a S&P500 mutual fund. The boyfriend is saving but not as much, he has a significant amount of debt from grad school and is trying to pay down the private loan aggressively. I don’t consider myself to be frugal. I’m not. I shop, buy random things I don’t really need always forget to make my morning coffee at home. When I spend a lot (December was a bad month) I spend less the next month.

My boyfriend and I hope to buy our first home in 2010 or 2011 and put a full 20% down. When we do own a home we don’t want to sacrifice our current lifestyle and have to stop eating out, traveling and exploring the city. We are looking at houses that need a little love and cost way less than a lender would approve us for. I am scared for my close friends who are still spending like crazy, charging everything and coasting through work. I hope they wake up soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm 28 and live in southern California. I'm in law school and make a living by temping, tutoring, and doing pretty much any odd (reputable) job. Last year my income was 10k, I took out 20k in loans. A scholarship pays most of my tuition.

Most of my friends are in the same situation, going to grad school (MBA, med school, etc.) but most of their parents help them out. Mine don't. They didn't even pay for college. I wouldn't have been able to go if I didn't get a fat scholarship and go to a junior college for my first 2 years. It's frustrating because they have the means- they just bought a second vacation home, and here I am about to graduate at least 40k in the hole.

I think most of those in older generations (in the US) don't realize how hard it is to get ahead. My mom got a job in the late seventies without a college education making about what I make now, my parents' first house in a now affluent southern California area cost about 50k in 1977. My dad's parents made the down payment. Strangely, my parents still have this idea that I should make it "on my own," without their help for anything.

The best way I can look at this is to learn from it, save lots, and be really prepared financially when I have kids so that I can give them a good head start.

Anonymous said...

I'm 30, live in Vancouver BC Canada, work in Architectural products sales and marketing. Have been in this job for almost 5 years. I'm making, after my bonus, roughly $48k CAD/year. I have only 3 years left to pay on an originially 28k student loan, and have paid off 12k in credit card debt over 3 years. I live paycheque to paycheque, but I don't starve, I love my job, and slowly feel like I'm actually getting ahead. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading how people who could be making lots of $$ are much happier making less, doing what they love. My dream is to own a boutique. I know it won't make me money, but it will make me happy. I'll get there one day...

Anonymous said...

Live in Brooklyn (Dumbo). Own apartment 1 bedroom $700K. Salary $169K VP Consulting company for fine jewelry industry. Previously worked for beauty company in product development as a Director for $125K. Husband makes $14K. No children.

I know this is totally atypical but to justify it all - we both have masters degree and work 60+ hours a week. Life is exhausting and the economy have really screwed with our 401Ks - down 40%+ this year.

Anonymous said...

Live in Brooklyn (Dumbo). 32 yo. Own apartment 1 bedroom $700K. Salary $169K VP Consulting company for fine jewelry industry. Previously worked for beauty company in product development as a Director for $125K. Husband makes $140K. No children.

I know this is totally atypical but to justify it all - we both have masters degree and work 60+ hours a week. Life is exhausting and the economy have really screwed with our 401Ks - down 40%+ this year.

Anonymous said...

TO THE LAST POST..I FIND IT VERY HARD TO BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVEN'T LOST YOUR JOB YET..I AM NOT TRYING TO BE MEAN BUT IN THIS DOWNTURN WHO THE HELL WILL BUY FINE JEWELRY??? I MEAN COME ON I AM A NEW YORKER AND HAVE MANY FRIENDS WHO HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS AS WELL AS MOST OF THERE SAVINGS...IN FACT AS I WAS READING THESE BLOGS I WAS WONDERING HOW MANY OF YOU ALL THAT HAVE POSTED SINCE AT LEAST APRIL HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS??? I MANY LOSE MY JOB FROM CITI ANY DAY SOOM AND I MAKE 150,00 DID GET A BONUS..UNTIL THIS YEAR ..GETTING NOTHING BUT MAYBE A PINK SLIP!

Anonymous said...

OOPS SORRY FOR THE SPELLING MISTAKES I MEANT THEIR JOBS AND SOON NOT SOOM!!! ANYWAY THIS WHOLE DOWNTURN HAS GOTTEN TO ME....EVERY DAY MANY OF US WALK INTO OUR OFFICES AND WONDER IF IT WILL BE OUR LAST..VERY TOUGH TO TAKE!
BUT I MEANT IT WHEN I ASKED THE QUESTION HOW MANY OF YOU THAT POSTED HAVE LOST YOUR JOBS?
OR HAVE SEEN YOUR PAY ?

Rachel H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am a corporate lawyer with 11 years experience working in-house at a small financial firm in DC. I make $100k (approx 40% less than what I made in my previous job at a big firm, but I am much happier).

My husband is a rocket scientist with a government agency for the last 26 years, and makes $140k. We have 2 big dogs, no kids, and two cars (9 yrs old and 3 yrs old). We have saved a fair amount and live in a modest but comfortable home in a working class neighborhood close to his work but outside DC.

I have never even thought about what our minimum necessary income would be, as it would require a daunting level of self-examination. I know that we are objectively doing fairly well, but I am appalled at the cost of living in DC. I am feeling decidedly insecure as we have watched our retirement savings lose close to half of their value (and therefore a lot of the choices we might have had as retirement approaches), but mostly I am grateful for what we have and the life we live.

Thanks for generating such an interesting discussion; I am quite surprised at how the comments made me feel.

Anon 7:12 am, please stop shouting.

Corey said...

I am a 29 years old and work as an engineer doing defense work. I make around $90k a year, and the live-in girlfriend pulls in around $75. Maryland is above average in terms of housing costs, but our income is plenty for our needs.

Anonymous said...

so, im 22, work as a research associate for a non profit in chicago. i graduated in june, and i started work in October...I'm making 40K. It works for me, because i have some serious student loans to repay

Anonymous said...

So I'm super, super late to the party, but I just found this awesome blog and now I'm addicted.

I live in the Bay Area and work at a financial company - but doing technology research. I make around $150-160K a year. Wow - I remember when I thought this would be like hitting the big time, but with my mortgage, it doesn't feel like it's as much as it really is. I'm single and own my own home - though the payments sometimes seem SO high... but I know that I am extremely blessed. People all around me are losing their jobs and homes are being foreclosed on.

I am super-blessed to work for a company that is doing everything it can NOT to lose talent. They are cutting costs everywhere and have made a commitment to use their $$ reserves to ride out this economic storm.

I really hope everyone is doing okay and that those who are seeking jobs will find them. Meanwhile, I'm trying to retrain myself to go back to living like a grad student so I can save more. I'm re-purposing furniture, clothes (consignment shops are my friend when I want to sell), and starting to cook more at home too.

Anonymous said...

I work as an English teacher in a small private school in small town Japan, and have a BA.

I earn 34,255 USD equilvalent annually, but only pay $1711.20 in income tax.

I'm able to save around $1000 USD a month if I'm not too flashy with my cash (read: very minimal spending).

Obviously these figures are variable with the exchange rates.

I have a standard 40hr a week job, but only teach classes for 25 of those hours - the rest are free (although I do use up 1-2 hours a day of planning, marking etc.)

I have $23,200 USD of debt from University etc., and don't own any assets.

HOWEVER - I am 23, living in a foreign country, having a kick ass time, I've travelled a lot, lived all around the world, and this job makes more travel possible - along with cutting out $5600 (ish) of debt by September (when my contract finishes) and saving around the same amount for more travel (fingers crossed!)

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I love this post.

Here we go. I am 34 and live in a small city in central Florida. I am an office manager for a national advertising company. My salary is 40k plus benefits. My husband and his father own a pest control business that has been successful for almost 30 years. He also makes around 40k.
We live in a wonderful older home that my husband stole in 2002 for 60k. My car payment is more than our mortgage. I have 16k in credit card debt thanks to my fabric and shopping obsession. However, my husband is tight as well digger's you know what and is debt free. We have no children (yet) and two large dogs. We have nice things thanks to my very generous parents.
We live well, but we never vacation. We were married in October for a mere 8k. I am thrifty, but I am spoiled by my mother.
I think we would be happy as clams on $100k. Then again, when the albatross that is my credit card debt is paid off, we may be much cozier.
My job is ok, I don't love it. I would love to own business designing custom bedding and draperies.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm a SWF living in a southern city as an attorney and make about $170,000, but I work insane hours and the stress is killer. I could live well enough on $60K. I'd LOVE to stop practicing law and go to design school, but I'm chicken to quit... especially in this economy.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit different from most of the posts on here - 25, graduated from a state university in May '07 with a degree in French. Two of those college years were spent studying abroad in Europe (France-expensive, Prague-cheap) and while I paid many of the daily expenses, my parents helped with the big ones (rent, tuition) for which I can not be grateful enough!! My (then boyfriend, now husband) was attending a private uni with student loans that now amount to about $700/month to pay back.
Immediately after college we fled to Taiwan to teach English, save, and avoid the "real world" some more, but the saving part didn't go as well (hard to save AND travel) and the distance from home was a bit too much so we're back in Maryland.
Currently we're both working in restaurants and he is lining up grad school which would start in the summer and defer the loans.
Our 10 year old car crapped out on us mid December and we bought a 30K 2008 car for 15k from my father (a dealer) on Dec 23. IT CAUGHT FIRE RANDOMLY Jan 9th and we're struggling to get a good settlement to at least pay back the loan on the new (DEAD) car we no longer have.
I make maybe $400/week working about 4 day/week about 8hrs/day and he is making next to nothing since his restaurant is seasonal and therefore dead in the winter. He's often sent home an hour after he goes in because they don't need him.
Needless to say, we're scraping by currently and really stressed out about the car situation, BUT we're world travelers, have a sketched long term plan/goal, and I just hope rich people keep going out for expensive steaks and tip 20%!!
ps. I cannot afford my design obsession and struggle to keep it in the "imaginary" state only

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the comments on this post have lasted throughout the months. Obviously hit a nerve here.

I'm surprised to learn that I make more money than I realized...always feeling fairly low on the rung of the ladder. Made 50K in Southern California as a marketing coordinator for a real estate firm. My company could no longer afford to keep me, so as of October, I've been on unemployment. Make $450/wk and can't afford to have taxes taken out. Very worried about next year's taxes.

Was very happy to be let go, so I could collect unemployment and spend the time figuring out what I want to do. Sadly, because of the economy, I'll likely have to go back to "working for the man."

Very surprised to learn how little I can live off of. It is tough and my boyfriend helps with groceries and emergency car expenses (driving a 10 year old car with almost 200k miles on it). He makes good money, but we don't live together and I try not to let him help me too much. Anyhow...I have an addiction to revamping my little apartment, so I must stop enjoying all this time off!

Anonymous said...

Oh...my post above. Forgot to include a few other scathing details. Can't imagine purchasing a house anytime soon. Went to a private university for BA and MA (English...good for nothing except teaching...what was I thinking?). I owe 63K in student loans. 3K to my bank. I sometimes feel like I'm drowning. One major emergency away from total financial devastation.

Anonymous said...

I am a 56 year old homemaker. I stayed at home with two children who are grown now. These days, I have two homes to care for (one is out at our farm) and we are building a guest house. I'm in charge of this building project and it takes the majority of my time.

Early in our marriage, I was a teacher--and we all know what their salaries are like. I am in a very happy and long marriage (32+ years) and my husband is the sole breadwinner. He is a lawyer with 30 years of experience. For the last three years, he has made about one million plus several hundred thousand a year. Before that, he made six figure salaries for quite a few years. Early in his career he did not make nearly as much.

How much could we comfortably live on? That is a hard question--and one I need to find an answer to.

Anonymous said...

I'm 29, female and living in LA. I work in Intellectual Property protection (legal contracts)and make $70K. My husband makes $90K in sales. We own a home (which we rent out) and have about $35K in debt (school loans = credit cards). We must be doing something wrong because we feel that we are just getting by.

Anonymous said...

i am 30,living in the miami area, making $41K as a design coordinator for a larger firm. i've been with this firm for 3 years. i also have 2 part-time bartending jobs, where i make around $7K a year plus tips. my live-in boyfriend is a jack of all trades who makes about $30K off the books.

we live budget-minded, but happily. we could live more comfortably and afford more travel on our salaries if we did not have credit card payments (i am in debt of $15,000, he $5,000), school loans, and child support payments.

sometimes i wish i could go back in time and slice up those credit cards before i used them as the devices that ultimately facilitated my downward spiral. life is good, but there are so many things i wish i could be doing that i can't afford. like fixing up our home, taking woodworking, sewing, and kung fu classes.

Anonymous said...

I am fascinated by this post and have read all of the responses so far. Money is such a taboo topic and it’s so nice to hear people talking so candidly and civilly about it.

I am 28 and have a master’s degree in art. I consider myself a full time artist, although I teach part time at a local university. Last year was my first “real” year of being self-employed and I grossed about $50k, although my expenses are likely to be close to $15k or more. My income as an adjunct added $12k. I often work 70-80 hours/week and really love what I do, even if it is stressful! In the years before I made between $12-30k.

My husband is an engineer and makes $65k. Our school loans (mostly his) are about $40k, which we are lucky to be paying down aggressively. We worked hard over the last few years to pay off all of our credit cards, which is a major relief. We own our house ($80k mortgage) in the north east.

I feel very lucky to be making this much money and living such a comfortable lifestyle, especially since none of our parents went to college and we both grew up lower-class households. There will never be an inheritance in our futures. We try to live debt-free and put 15-20% in retirement. I constantly feel guilty knowing that all of my friends make less. We give to charity, about $1200 last year, and I know it should be more.

Anonymous said...

I am a 23 yr old, living in Dallas. I have been working as a financial analyst in oil and gas banking for the past 1.5 yrs. I make $57K/yr plus $5K bonus. I live with a roommate in a rental in an upscale part of town. I have no school or loan debt, but I do have about $2K in credit cards I intend to pay with this year's bonus (which I got today! hooray!). I have about $3K in a Roth IRA and I contribute 6% (with employer match) to a 401K. Although I don't love my job (I would love to do something a little more creative), I feel incredibly lucky to have a good paying job in this financial environment.

I think a single woman could comfortably live in Dallas (or more likely a suburb) for $30K-$35K a year, but I am blessed to be able to enjoy the finer things like living in a high-end apt complex, shopping and eating out often. My goal this year is to put more away in savings in order to be better prepared for the uncertain financial times. My heart goes out to all those who have lost their jobs and I hope for the best for them in their job hunt!

Anonymous said...

I'm a software developer, married, living in a suburb of wash d.c. making $140,000. I've been working in the field for 15 yrs. I actively save the max in my 401K and IRA. My husband and I live comfortably, but are active savers and outside of the house have no outstanding debt. We both came from immigrant parents and as such were taught to save save save.

Anonymous said...

I am a 27 year old, sales rep for healthcare company. I make 100k in a good year, more like 75k this year due to the economy. My husband is and mechanical engineer and makes 55k this year, more like 100k in a good year. We live in Charlotte NC. We have a 1700.00 mortgage payment and one car payment. Other than those, no debt!!! We have 8 months salary in savings....in fear of losing our jobs! our 401k plans are in the dump... but will come back around. we are still contributing to them. I loved reading everyones info....so fun!

Anonymous said...

Publishing executive (books, not mags) and make roughly $125K. NYC is expensive but I'm frugal and live on less than 75% of our salary. I sock away as much money as I can and have a vacation home. I also donate to several charities on a monthly basis. I carry no debt with the exception of the mortgage and monthly apartment rent. I'd like to be in the $160K range so that I can keep my current lifestyle and save even more. Still, I think I'm in a good financial place for at least 2 years should things turn ugly with my job.

Anonymous said...

go check out glassdoor.com-- lots of salary information by city/sector/position.
fascinating how long people keep posting on this topic vs. the decorating stuff. great blog.

Anonymous said...

Wild. Look at how hungry everyone is to discuss - honestly and (mostly) without judgement - their financial situations. There is so little precedence for people, especially women, just talking openly and frankly about money.

Am I the only one who finds it rather sad that we live in a society where women feel more comfortable talking about Brazilian waxes and blow jobs than about their earnings and investments? I hope this will change some day soon.

heartbreakingly beautiful said...

word, anon 12:08 today!!

ley said...

22 year old art student = unemployable upon graduation. I still managed to take home 20k last year barista-ing in Seattle. Living the dream in a great rental looking for an excuse to continue my 3 day work week after graduation. I don't understand these people who stay unemployed for months after being laid off. Pick up a spontaneous part time job. Or leach off unemployment some more, whatever. I also made $40 on etsy last year :)

Anonymous said...

Decorno,
do you work for google?

Decorno said...

Hi - no, I do not. Great company, though, right? If only I had been in on it in the beginning... I would roll around naked in all that cash....

Decorno said...

Hey - and I just realized someone asked in a comment long, long ago:

Anonymous said...
Decorno: I understand that you can't discuss your own salary comfortably given that co-workers read the blog. But could you at least tell us what you'd need as a minimum $ ?

That's a fantastic question. The truth is, I was happiest when i had a studio apartment with about $750 rent and made about $42. I certainly enjoy making more, but your salary and your house become a kind of financial arms race and I can tell you that I would be fine making a lot less as long as my hours and stress were also greatly reduced. As long as I made enough for a nice trip each year and could pay basic bills, I would be happy in a 1 bedroom all over again. We'd have to get rid of a lot of shit, though. Maybe that's a sign, right?

I try to remind myself that there was a time when I paid $250 in rent and I would eat lunch every day at Escape From New York Pizza in Portland, and I figured the $2.75 for a slice and a Coke was worth it because I saved money reading the paper there in stead of having to buy it. I was so consumed with making more and getting ahead and building some kind of real adult life that I had no idea those lazy days would be some of my best. I would pay to get them back.

FFreshink said...

I love that this post keeps going - we really need it. I have been an independent writer all my life, making around $40 - $60 K. Put lots of money in savings, lived beneath my means (in Chicago). Married a lawyer 6 years ago (both in late 50s), second marriage for both, lived beneath our means (high 6 figures), put daughter through grad. school, son through college. We have saved scrupulously, paid off house, drive cheap car, etc. Now, blam - we have lost so much of our retirement savings, I'm wondering why the hell we were so frugal. Where's my sable coat? My boat? Anyway, the cozy retirement we envisioned will probably not happen - but I'm still writing, husband still has job, so that's something (all the lawyers in his firm had to take a 25% cut in pay this year). Brava, Decorno, for getting this discussion going.

tritesprite said...

Female, 38, PhD, making $80,000/yr. Husband also 38, PhD, $80,000/yr.

When we graduated, we thought we were suckers for going into academia instead of finance where our classmates were earning at least twice as much--especially because we live in CA where we *still* cannot afford to buy a house we're willing to live in. Now, we are both incredibly relieved to have followed our hearts instead of our bank accounts. The employment stability we have is unquantifiable in dollars.

How much do we need? That depends on our life choices. If we want to maintain our careers, continuing to put in 60+ hours each week while living in an overpriced state, we could be comfortable with a combined income of 100-120K. If we are willing to give up the careers and move, we would likely live comfortably on half that, doing many more things ourselves.

Honestly, I fantasize about that simpler lifestyle (one I had before going to grad school). But it feels so risky, especially after the years of suffering to get the damned PhD.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 24 year old College Grad making $30,000 (under the table) as a Nanny. I live in Chicago and if I were to stay in the area that I am right now (rather than move to the burbs to ease my commute) this would be the minimum salary that I could live comfortably on. My car is paid for, I live with two other girls, I have only $10,000 in student loans, and I eat breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner at work - so the only things that bump up my cost of living are health/car insurance and credit card debit ($6,000).

Eventually I would like to go to Law School (w/in the next two years), but for now I love what I am doing. The kids I work with make me laugh and I get to experience different things every day. The only problem that I have with what I do is that I don't feel like I am working toward any larger career goal (mearly working to gain financial stability). I feel like I lose the status game because unlike my friends (who are miserable at work) I don't have a "real job" in a cubicle, and I am "the help" to all the soccer moms that I run into...

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