Friday Question of the Day – How Much Do You Make? vs How Much Debt Do You Have?


Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

On Wed. the rant/revel veered onto a long discussion about one reader who makes $250k but did not feel rich due to the debt he and his wife are carrying. So a reader asked if others would share anonymously how much debt they carry vs how much they make? I know it’s awkward to talk about money and debt but it was very interesting to learn how much everyone pays for rent. So if folks are willing, here goes – how much do you make a year vs how much debt are you carrying? If you are carrying debt is it school debt, credit card debt, house debt (should house debt be included?) or other debt?

291 Comment

  • I didn’t count house debt because that won’t get paid off in full (until I sell) but did count my car loan because that will get paid off by me

  • I don’t think house/condo debt should be counted — if you’re paying a mortgage payment every month, you aren’t paying rent.

  • Primary mortgage debt should not be included.

    I have zero other debt, but my mortgage is 2.5 times my annual salary.

    • Wow, how do you swing that??

      • I dont think its that unusual. At 100k salary, thats only a $250k mortgage. I dont make 100k, but I think my ratio is pretty small. Less than 1/3rd of my paycheck goes to my mortgage.

  • unlike the ass from the other day, I make about 120k in a comfortable job that I’m beyond thankful for. Seriously, there are no words to describe how lucky I feel. And you know what, I feel rich as fuck for a 31 year old dude. I live a simple life, I pay my mortgage on my sweet ass Petworth rowhouse, and don’t worry about the rest.

    So to Mr 250k A Year Isn’t Enough, please, find a fire, and jump in it. You are in the top 5% and you are the reason the rich are despised. Be grateful… 95% of the population makes less than you, and a good chunk of those certainly don’t feel poor.

    • making 6 figs is still quite alot

    • what do you do?

    • Thats why I dont particularly feel a drive to marry a woman who aspires to be unemployed.

    • somebody must be holding a gun to your head, making you live in a neighborhood where you don’t like the schools. you sound incredibly defensive.

      • In fairness. Try living close in with a neighborhood in DC with good schools and then compare that to living in Petworth. There is a disparity in how much things cost. I just moved from Columbia Heights to a place with a decent public grade school in upper northwest and the home prices are a lot steeper.

        • where are these neighborhoods in DC with good schools? I always though Takoma Park would be nice, but the price of rentals there is way cheaper than living in Dupont where I am now.

        • Responding to anon. Our neighborhood school is now Murch. Janney is also supposed to be good, as is Lafayette, Eaton and probably a few others I am missing. They exist. Not sure about high schools. You can send your kids to these schools if you are out of bounds but only if you get in through the lottery.

    • Why the hell would I marry “dead weight”. That’s just, stupid.

    • How do you think it feels for those people who want their kids to get a good education AND not have to risk getting killed by a stray bullet on the way but they have no choice but to go to DCPS? I wish all folks would get involved in trying to improve and equalize the quality of public education instead of whining about “having” to send kids to private school. That is a luxury.

      • frankly, my fear of stray bullets is grounded in fact and likelihood, not irrational thought, so, I’m not worried about that at all.

        • Congrats on living in a safe neighborhood and not getting my point?

        • I get your point. But let’s be fair, anon at 927 made the reference to Petworth schools being bad so I took that to mean you should be afraid in Petworth. If that’s not what you meant, I apologize.

          That said, there are many people in this city and the metro area who are afraid of areas that there is no reason to be afraid of.

        • Indeed he referenced Petworth schools being bad and I pointed out that some families in this city (and most cities) have no choice at all but to send their kids to REALLY bad schools in dangerous neighborhoods and don’t have the luxury of shelling out for private schools. Public schools should be high quality for everyone regardless of the property taxes in the neighborhood.

        • +1

          People’s irrational fear of crime in this city (on this blog) is damned near hysteria.

          I could walk around the most dangerous part of this city without fear of being shot with a stray bullet. Is this city less dangerous or more dangerous than say Addis Ababa or Kandahar? Stray bullet killings are far more common there and I’m pretty sure people walk around every day and don’t get shot. I think you’ll manage in Petworth.

    • Does this “Dead weight wife” raise kids? My bet is she works as hard as her spouse just doing that, and if she works too, she probably works much harder between job and the imbalanced share of child rearing she does.

      I rarely enounter ‘stay at home wives’ — that’s something out of a Bravo series, not the real world. It may exist, but it’s not the norm.

    • Those of us who went to the DC Public Schools know how to spell ‘conscience”.

      • But maybe not how to use punctuation…

      • uh, thanks for using my handle – creepy much?

        • Hey jindc….i’ve been using this for a number of years, including on PoP and until today have never seen you post or use the name. Not trying to be creepy.

          Anon: you seem like a nice guy.

        • why is it registred to me then?

        • Hey jindc,

          I didn’t question whether you registered your nickname, I just pointed out that i’ve used it as well (here and in many other places) and never saw you in the comments before. I’m not sure why the comments system would allow two people to use the same name, but apparently it does. Don’t take offense. I won’t use it again here.

    • If you want good schools, move to the suburbs. Housing is cheaper in Fairfax County and the schools are the best in the country.

      Parents used to make sacrifices for their kids (e.g., long commutes, boring lives in suburbs, moving to smaller towns). Now they want to live in a hipster neighborhood and bitch about how their $250K annual salary makes them poor.

      If you’re planning on having kids, first grow up and act like an adult.

      • So the options, if you have kids, are

        1) live in Fairfax
        2) Be a hipster and live in the city?

        Ok.

      • I’m assuming by growing up you mean not making sweeping normative statements?

      • Sorry, the view that FCPS is a great school system is outdated. maybe in the 90s. Now, there are a few really good schools and several mediocre schools and a few really bad ones.

        I dont think its stretch to say that in 10-15 years, the schools in DC will be better than those in Fairfax.

        • I know a lot of graduates from FCPS and they’re not rocket scientists. They are a little neurotic, however, having grown up in an environment where there peers are their parents were super-competitive.

      • I think the view that housing in Fairfax County is cheaper is a little outdated too. It depends on what town/neighborhood you’re talking about, of course, but I can’t believe how expensive some of the houses are out there. If I wanted cheaper and bigger I’d look in the Maryland suburbs first.

        • Definitely depends on neighborhood. The townhouse I was renting in Annandale was only worth around $450k, but it was in a somewhat rundown immigrant neighborhood (e.g. the house next door was a boarding house full of day laborers) and it was right off of Little River Turnpike so the general area was clogged with traffic all the time. If you want to live in a clearner, more peaceful part of Fairfax County you’ll be paying prices that are comparable to the nicer parts of DC.

      • I suppose my kids would be better off if I had a two hour round trip commute each day so they could never see their father. I know people that have my job and live way out and their kids are in bed before they get home. No thanks. I’ll live in the city, be able to make it to little league games and soccer practices and generally just not want to blow my brains out because I sit in a car or on public transportation 10 hours a week.

      • spoken like someone who knows absolutely nothing about school options in DC Metro. Good schools? DC private schools are among the very best in nation for starters. Not to mention some very good public, parochial and public charter options. MoCo and Fairfax schools are also not uniformly great, and from my research in MoCo, some of the more sought after public schools are struggling with over enrollment (can you say 28 kids in a K class?).

        The whole “DC schools sucks arguement” is usually made by childless 20 and 30 somethings or people destined for the suburbs all along.

      • that is exactly why we still rent out my pre-marriage townhouse in Arlington which loses month each month. IF I can ever get pregnant, we will most likely move back to VA for the schools.

    • Seems a bit harsh, don’t you think? Why the class warfare?

  • I make 48k and have about 48k in student loan debt.

  • Perhaps net worth (assets minus debt) would be a better metric than debt.

    I have almost a million dollars of debt, but I have a net worth that is 5 times my annual income. Both courtesy of owning real estate. Compared to the poorest of poor grad students, my debt is off the charts. Compared to the average homeowner who bought between 2004 and 2008, I’m filthy rich. In reality, I have to be pretty careful with money, and raising a family would bankrupt me without a significant raise or a working spouse.

  • Another interesting question would be how much do you make vs. how much you have in savings. I’m in the 100K+ group and like eabod@11:10PM, I lead a simple life and I am incredibly grateful for the job I have.

    Income aside, I am incredibly debt-phobic. This governs why I choose to rent vs. own. I’m a firm believer in putting my money in a savings account vs. putting it into home ownership. Some might think this is an immature approach, but I just can’t get my mind around mortgage debt.

    Not trying to attack the homeowners but I find it very interesting that following a massive and very recent mortgage crisis, some of the early posters to this question are suggesting that mortgage debt should not be counted as debt for purposes of this poll. It’s definitely debt; substantial, 6-figure debt and to pretend that it isn’t seems to underscore a contributing factor to the housing crisis.

    • In understand the sentiment, but this is way too simplistic. Equity matters more than debt and you are more likely to have some equity if your debt happens to be real estate (In the District, anyway. Results vary in the burbs or in more economically depressed areas). And your rent may equal or surpass many homeowners’ principal payment plus debt service. It all depends, my friend.

    • I believe they are suggesting not to count mortgage debt in order to make the amount of people’s debts comparable between renters and homeowners (at least that would be my inclination).

      • Right. My PITI is less than many rent payments each month – around $2300. But, that translates into about $415,000 in debt. Yes, it’s debt – and a lot of it – but it’s markedly different from consumer debt, a car loan, even educational debt.

        @anonsequitor: I get being uncomfortable with mortgage debt – I don’t agree, as long as it’s maintained at reasonable levels – but I understand your sentiment. But . . . savings acounts? Surely you can find something better than that? Because these days, that’s only marginally better than keeping it under your mattress.

    • homeownership is leveraged debt and equity is key. I bought my house two years ago and it is now worth 125K more than what I paid for it.

      • PDMtP

        That’s the right answer, but leverage works both ways (which is how people got in trouble). To take a simple example, if you put 10% down and your house declines 5% the next day, you just lost 50% of your money.

      • I’m in the same boat. But don’t get too comfy. Whenever I say something like, “My house is worth 125K more than it was two years ago” I follow it up by , “Oh, sh*t, the economy is about to collapse again.”

        Gains like that are just not normal, stable, or confidence inspiring.

      • rh, how much money did you invest in renovating your house ito get an increase of 125K in value?

    • I’m also very averse to owning, perhaps because of my parents who now owe $100K more than their house is worth (in a large midwestern state). They pretty much have lost all of their life savings with that house. I know situation in DC is different, but I’m still scared.

      • mtpgal

        I don’t look at owning a house as something from which to make money, but rather I look at it as savings in retirement. We bought a house that we hope to live in until we retire and then downsize. That way, hopefully, with it fully paid off it will be one major expense that we won’t have to finance with our 401k/other retirement savings.

    • You are looking at a mortgage from the wrong perspective. It is not the same as student loans or credit card debt because you are building equity and have the possibility of price appreciation. If you intend on living in the District for more than 5 years, you are making a very poor financial decision by renting. Rental rates are exceeding monthly mortgage interest by a huge margin at this point.

      Since you are so fearful of debt, start looking at your rent expense as debt as well. Try to get an estimate of what your apartment would sell for, and then compare the monthly mortgage payment to the rent you are paying. My guess is you’ll find getting mortgage will reduce your living expenses 20% over five years.

      • We pay $1400 rent per month, split between 2 people. If we were to buy on the same street, I’m pretty sure that would at least double, if you take taxes and condo fees into consideration. Also planning to have a kid in next 5 years – which means we’d have to buy a 2 bedroom place now, and pay for an empty room for a few years. Doesn’t make much sense to buy now to me.

      • “If you intend on living in the District for more than 5 years, you are making a very poor financial decision by renting.”

        This is totally misguided thinking. Of the 5 places I’ve lived in DC, I would have been paying well over 3x as much in mortgage to own. You are assuming it’s cheaper because you think people can somehow come up with the $100k in savings for down payment.

        • You are either lying or just really bad at math. Let’s do the math for all of the political science majors out there.

          In logan circle, a mediocre studio rents for approximately $1400. That same studio will go on the market for $200k. Mortgage on a $200k house is about $1000 per month. Not to mention the tax advantage and equity.

          Second example. Two bedroom, 1000 sq foot luxury condo in Logan Circle will rent for $3,200 per month. Same unit will sell for $575k. Mortgage payment is going to be approximately $2,600, maybe lower if you have a decent down payment.

          If you provide an exact address, I’ll prove to you how renting is a fools game right now in DC regardless of the neighborhood

          • Why do you folks keep ignoring the teensy little detail called the down-payment? Oh yeah I just love being a lowly renter and not being a VIP with a rowhouse. No. It’s that not everyone has tens of thousands of dollars sitting around.

          • the anonymous arguing that it is a financial advantageous to buy because of the skewed rental prices:

            you are right with your math. However, some people might not plan on living in the city (or any city forever). I do, but I know I don’t represent everyone.

            As for the downpayment, you can still get downpayments with relatively small amounts, especially if you get a co signer. If you are in your late 20s/early 30s, your parents are secure, and you have solid career prospects, buy. That is all easier said than done. Career switches are common, burn out, moving for relationships, etc. The point being, there are more variables besides PV.

          • “That same studio will go on the market for $200k.”

            HAHAHAA! Show me ANY property that is livable and less than $400k in logan circle. And if you ever want to have kids and therefore want a 2br in a safe neighborhood you’re looking at 500-800. I’m not making this up. My husband and I were looking to buy last year and we saw a lot of properties.

          • I’ll give you some specific examples.
            • I rented a 1br in Dupont for $1700/mo. The same unit one floor down in my building went for $590k.
            • I then rented a 1br in Logan for $1100/mo. The landlord estimated it at $350+k.
            • I now rent a beautiful 9th floor 2br in Logan for $2300/mo. I have no doubt that my unit would go for well over $600k.

            There is no way I could afford any of these places if I were to buy.

      • I agree 100%. Like you said, if you plan on living in the area more than 5years, then home ownership is the way to go. At the end of the day you’re paying for a physical asset which has some value and hopefully you’ve built some equity. Plus the mortgage interest deduction can be huge.

        • This is completely untrue. If your rent is low, and you don’t intend to live in a house you could potentially buy forever, it may not be in your best monetary interest to buy. Check out the NY Time Rent vs. Own calculator for actual calculations on these things. When you buy you have to sink in a large down payment, which you may not recoup, depending on the market. Renting is sometimes the financially smart move, contrary to popular belief.

          • Good advice on the NYT rent vs buy calculator. Everything will depend. FWIT I did a very in depth analysis and concluded that if I was living in a house more than roughly 2 years buying was the right choice. Low interest rates play a part. But I also scored the $5k tax credit last year, which might not come back. That would add maybe a year to the cross-over point. Plus with all the rental units coming online in DC over the next year, rent prices might be more stable.

  • I earn 100K and my only significant debt is my mortgage (less than 20 K at this point). I’m also in my 50′s, bought before the housing boom and have been paying on my mortgage for almost 20 years. I feel very fortunate.

  • Between a half-time job and dividends, I make $80K gross a year. Being single and living in a studio in the Logan Circle area, I spend $36K a year (split evenly between rent and everything else) and put $30K into savings (increasing my future dividends). I owned a condo in the past, but sold in 2006 and have rented ever since; I find that the cost of rent (including utilities) is about the same as I would pay on mortgage interest, taxes, insurance, and condo fees, and I prefer to have my equity in dividend-paying stocks rather than illiquid real estate. So the only debt I have is about $5K remaining on very-low-interest-rate student loans.

    And yes, I feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to live comfortably in this neighborhood!

    • what about taxes on your gross income?

      • Dividend income is taxed at a maximum rate of 15% (like capital gains), so $40K a year in dividend income winds up netting you significantly more than $40K a year in earned income.

        • for someone to make 40k a year in dividend income they’d have to have a portfolio of at least $1,000,000 in very high dividend-paying stocks. something doesn’t add up.

    • Two problems with your logic. 1) Your rent will increase infinitely over time while your mortgage expenses will remain constant. 2) You can deduct your mortgage interest and taxes on your return. Over five years, you have cost yourself tens of thousands of dollars.

      Your investment strategy is also flawed. Dividends are nice, but most stocks yield less than 3%, which doesn’t even keep pace with inflation over time. Plus, you aren’t factoring how much your stocks have been decimated since 2006. It’s true that owning a home was an equally poor investment as stocks in the same period, but owning stocks for dividends in pretty moronic. You’ll get the same yield from Bond Fund without the risk of losing 40% of your principal.

      Also, studios in Logan Circle are a pretty goddamned liquid investment right now. Even if you can’t sell, you can rent it out to somebody as foolish as yourself if you really want to move.

      • Why is no one considering the cost of home maintenance and upgrades in this rent v buy arguement? You can easily drop and extra $6-15k/year into that for the first 5 years of ownership if you are a responsible homeowner with an older house. I own (and have rented in the past.) There is an incomprable value to waking up on Saturday morning with no naggin list of house work to be done, and no unexpected (or planned)massive cash outlays.

        • True, but repair costs will be factored into the price of the house. New construction will carry a premium over a 120 year rowhouse that hasn’t been renovated in 10 years.

          Also, a large percentage of units in DC are condo, so repair expenses will not come close to $10k per year. These expenses will be covered by your homeowners fees, and we are factoring these costs into the analysis.

          Even after factoring in mortgage interest, taxes, and fees (repair costs), renting is still a bad bet right now in DC.

        • I actually had more home maintenance when I rented. If it was an inexpensive/easy repair I’d sometimes do it myself because it was too much trouble to get the landlord to come out. The nice thing about owning is that, if your heater dies in the middle of winter, it will get taken care of right away. You’re not wasting money on a hotel while the owner takes his time getting it fixed.

          Of course, I always rented shitty places so I was able to save for a house that didn’t need any work. Your experience may vary if you took the opposite approach.

      • Check out pipeline master limited partnerships, such as EPB, SEP, OKS, WPZ, KMP, SXL, PAA, or MMP. These are generally yielding around 6% now, with distributions consistently growing every year around 5% (better than inflation) – and the distributions are generally tax-deferred. These have done much better for me over the past six years than real estate (my old condo, which admittedly was in the ‘burbs, but inside the Beltway, is now still 40% below what I sold it for in 2006).

  • wow. I am shocked at how much money people earn. I make $20,000 working full time as a (state) govt contractor. I mean, I guess I knew DC people were rich. . . but. . . folks, please appreciate just how rich you are.

    • DC people are also the most educated in the country. When I graduated college the average starting salary in my field was around $55k, regardless of where I chose to live. I was actually being underpaid given I was making $50k and the cost of living in DC is higher than the rest of the country.

    • Just curious… how do you get by on $20k? Where do you live? I can’t think of many places to rent around here that would be affordable on your salary. Sorry if I’m being nosy but it’s something I’ve always wondered.

    • I assume that means that you are not in the DC area? If not, you have to understand it is completely relative. Sure, we earn more, but everything is astronomically expensive here.

      I make 40K, my girlfriend makes slightly more. That combined income puts us well over the average income for the country, but even so, our lifestyle is far more modest than someone with that salary who lives almost anywhere else. For instance, there is absolutely no way we could do something like buy a house, or even own two cars.

      After rent, insurance, student loans, car payments, utilities, credit card bills, etc. I am lucky to actually hold on to $400 out of my bi-weekly paycheck. Groceries, Metro, gas, and the fact that an $8 beer or $14 cheeseburger is considered normal here means that I am down to pennies before my next paycheck, and sometimes I even have to put a few things on my credit card.

      If I could live in the middle of nowhere, buy a house for 50k, and drink $1 Buds when I go out, I could live just fine on 20k, and everyone else here could too. Too bad that same house here costs $800,000.

      • I live in Mt. Rainier, which is in PG County, a couple blocks from the DC line (between Brookland and Hyattsville). Rent for my group house is $400. I also have a science degree from an Ivy League university and have been working for 5 years. I live very frugally. . . for example, we don’t have air conditioning.

  • I guess I’ll jump into this discussion. I make aboout $75k annually and have about $44k in debt ($33k in student loans and $11k for my car). I too own property in the District but didn’t include my mortgage debt since my monthly payment is often far less than what most people pay for rent.

  • binpetworth

    After a decade of work, I finally broke through the $50k salary ceiling (having worked for non-profits my whole life) 2 years ago. Nevertheless, I’ve always lived within my means, paid off my student loans by age 30, then saved enough for a 20% downpayment on my $300k condo by age 35. It can be done–just takes some serious discipline.

  • I included my mortgage debt.

    • agree with others that it’s not any debt that counts but the kind of debt. mortgages on your house and on investment properties shouldn’t count.

  • I just (as in, this pay period) got promoted to the GS-12 level, so that’s about $74,000 with the DC locality pay. I have about $190,000 in educational debt from law school and my master’s degree. But thanks to income-based repayment and the promise of the public interest loan repayment program, my monthly loan payments are manageable. And no, I don’t feel poor. I feel extremely lucky that I can live in Dupont Circle, pay all my bills in full and on time, put money in savings every month, and still have some extra “fun” money. I also don’t own a car and I rent my apartment, just FYI.

    • If you stay in public service for 10 years, then your remaining (government) student loans will be forgiven. Not a bad deal.

      • Agreed….it’s an excellent deal, especially for people with buttloads of student loan debt.

        • My understanding of the 10-year public service student loan repayment program is that borrowers would essentially have to revert to an income-based plan. Standard 10-year plans are eligible, but would be moot since you would have paid off your loans in 10 years. The program would really only be beneficial if you have crushing debt load (150+) with a limited income (say as a pro bono attorney making 40K after 10 years). Anyone more familiar with the program can chime in?

          • That’s the situation I’m in. I’m on the 10-year plan and have less than 20K in student loan debt (Bachelor’s only– I had a scholarship and started paying off my loans while still in school). Public service loan forgiveness wouldn’t help me, but honestly I didn’t expect it to– my impression was that it was more for lawyers and others with advanced degrees.

            My agency did promise $6K/year (up to $18K total) of student loan repayment when I got hired, but of course in this budget environment, I haven’t seen any of it. I’m still doing okay, though– my loan payments are manageable.

          • Yeah, pretty much. It makes sense for someone in kac’s position (gs-12 with over $150K in debt), but not for everyone. For instance I currently owe about $30K in student loans. If my income were to stay flat those entire 10 years, only about $1-2K would be forgiven. Big whoop. It makes a lot more sense to try to pay it off in 5 years or so since the amount I’d save in interest payments would be significantly higher than that $2K.

  • I did not count my mortgage debt. I own 3 houses, 1 to live in and 2 rentals. Each rental makes $300 after mortgage, tax and insurance profit each month, so I don’t really consider them debt but I agree that they are not liquid.I had lived in each rental for a couple of years and paid down the note before I rented them out. I have 60k in student loans at a low fixed rate, which although a “good debt,” I considered it debt nonetheless. I make $130k before taxes. I don’t feel rich or poor but rather I feel lucky. I donate 10% of my income to charity.

    • ok I’ll bite: you have a great life, Mr. Smuggy McSumugerson! Now go fix your tenant’s broken AC, it’s gonna be a hot one!

      • Not sure that was warranted.

      • Is this what people get for candor? Not sure what you accomplished with that reply. Give people a break for being honest and simply answering the question.

      • Nanner-nanner names like that are pretty gratuitous. I didn’t read the OP as being particularly smug. Seems like a savvy and hardworking entrepreneur.

  • I counted my house debt so I have about 185k in debt and make $57,500 with a bonus structure that takes me to around $65k a year. I cannot believe someone feels poor and earns $250k…mind boggling. I feel pretty comfortable in my salary and proud of myself to be 27 and own a condo in DC.

  • I counted my mortgage, which is over 250K

  • Don’t mind participating, but there is a substantial difference, to me, between “less than 25k” for and “zero,” which is what I have and strive to maintain.

    I understand commenters who don’t want to include mortgage as debt, but it is a debt burden for many people, probably including the person who was originally saying his 250k income was not enough. If it’s something you owe that drains your income, then it’s debt. On the other hand, those who rent don’t count that as debt, but they certainly could–by, for instance, calculating how much they’d pay for a year’s rent.

  • A better measure of weath than income versus debt is how much you can spend without going deeper into debt. My family spends about $15,000 a month on everything (mortgage, student loan payments, car payments, food, entertainment, etc.). Most months it’s enough to keep us in the black. I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky and walk around muttering thank-you-thank-you-thank-you to no one in particular.

  • 200k in debt. make 65k. law school blows.

    • seriously; i have over 100K in debt from college and law school. and i had half-tuition scholarships to both! i will never be able to pay it off. :(

  • that debt question is crazy! I carry $0 and I think a lot of other people do too. starting with $25k as the lowest number sounds absolutely INSANE to me.

    • Agreed. I can’t imagine having that amount of debt.

      My debt is around $13k, and that’s only because I just had new windows installed in my whole house that cost that amount. No finance charges for 24 months. Niiice. Otherwise, my husband and I make around $200k/yr combined. No student loans.

  • I make $65K a year and currently have about $74K in student loans, (combined undergrad and grad school.) I don’t have any other forms of debt. I live by myself so most of my income goes to rent. After other necessities like food/utilities, I put whatever is leftover towards my loans. I also give myself a small “fun money” fund every month. It’s a tight budget but I make it work. Sometimes I wish I had more ‘wiggle room’ but I do have a nice emergency fund that I’ve built up over the past 5 years or so, which helps.

    Basically, even though my debt is greater than my income, I don’t really feel that poor. Although I am looking forward to the day when I no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars each month towards my loans. I will definitely feel much richer!

    • This is almost exactly my situation. Once in awhile I feel slight panic at having this much student loan debt, and how long it will take to pay off, but my payments are reasonable and I just accept the fact that that the debt is there.

  • Together, we’re at about $125k (I’m a GS12, he’s a contractor). We own two condos largely because I bought the first one with investments my family made for me when I was born and we use that as a rental property (for now), and we bought a bigger place largely off of the money socked away from my husband’s two deployments within 3 years, making the 20% downpayment attainable (so it was worth it, right?). I don’t see the other condo as debt, and we really don’t have student loans because he got a scholarship to undergrad and I went to a cheap state school (when it was still cheap) and free grad school.
    We spend WAY too much on groceries (but I love to cook and we only go out to eat once a week) but other than that, we’ve never really been on vacation together – no honeymoon – our crappy car is paid off, and if an emergency pops up, be it a high dog vet bill or the broken a/c at our rental property, we can pay cash for it. I feel VERY fortunate, though I think that even though we make a nice living, it’s still hard to enjoy ourselves because I live in fear of not saving enough money – if we had a kid, we’d be struggling. I wish I knew if we were saving enough. It irks me that in this developed of a country, I have to worry about what will happen if we have a child and we can’t get it a spot in day care and have to go without a paycheck, or how we’ll handle the added expense of day care (answer: we just will) without worrying more about how much we’re saving.

    • really? how much do kids really cost? I understand daycare is incredibly expensive, but if the one of you who makes less can stay home until they’re in school or find a flexible job, you’d be surprised how little you can really live off of. I live in a nice neighborhood with a relatively high rent payment, but I’m pretty sure my husband and I could live off of about 70k pretty easily with a kid. now, I don’t really know how much diapers cost, but with health insurance, I don’t see what the huge expense would be.

      • Easily $2600/mo for a kid between day care and expenses and saving for their future. One parent stays home means less earning potential in the long run, which is not good for retirement.
        I’d love a flexible job (mine is very unflexible, I can’t even work from 8-4:30 if I want meaning if you have a kid in day care, you are constantly rushing to pick them up on time), but as of today, we’d be stressing. Well, I’d be stressing. I’m a compulsive saver, but if we decide to have one, it’ll obviously work out. I’ll just be stressed all the time :)

        • hm, last I checked it was at most 2k/mo for daycare for a newborn which goes down by 400-500 after a few months. if you’re breastfeeding, your only other expense should be diapers and copays, right? (I’m obviously not counting the one time expenses of crib, etc… maybe b/c I know people get a lot of stuff for free when they register and have a shower.) Are you really adamant about putting $500/mo in savings for the kid?

          I guess I’m underestimating, but you also seem to be making it out to be so much more of a burden than it really is. People have many children on much less money and they all turn out fine.

          • Ha, ha, ha. Have you ever had a kid? Only expenses diapers and a few co-pays? Daycare goes down after the first few months? Where does that happen? In DC you are lucky enough to get a spot in a daycare let alone one that is clean with licensed care takers. When you have a kid, be prepared to pay the equivalent of a private university tuition each year until they are school age (assuming you go public). And there are no loan programs or 18 years to save- its right out the gate. Or be prepared for one parent to stay home which in a place like DC for most people means an even bigger hit on your income. And even in this scenario, be prepared to spend more than $100 a month on diapers.

        • Yup, I’d second that estimate. About $2600 a month- and per kid- daycare doesn’t offer any two for one deals. If one parent stays home you take away their income and add at least an additional $600-$1k a month depending on how much you are saving. And if you ever have any or the additional housing costs if you need to say, move out of your 1 bedroom condo to accommodate a little one plus it just makes everything you do, go out to eat, vacations, more expensive. It would be hard to raise a family in DC on $70k income- especially if you want more than one kid. Sure, people do it, but to suggest it would be easy or not require a lot of sacrifices is pretty unrealistic.

      • Also, health insurance doesn’t cover everything. My Aetna plan has a “calculator”. Out of pocket expenses for an uncomplicated regular delivery are estimated at $3500. Health insurance apparently doesn’t cover everything. Then you have to add your child to your plan, which for a fed basically x3′s it (we aren’t allowed TRICARE as feds even with a military spouse).

      • The other thing you really have to consider is whether the lower-paid parent is going to be able to get back into the workforce after 5-8 year out of it. Even if you’re not in a specialized field where staying current is important, that is not really a risk I would (personally) want to take, particularly in this economy. Finding those flexible jobs is a lot harder than you might think, especially in more specialized field. My husband may not always love his job, but has turned down two or three others in the past two years because it does offer him a ton of flexibility and vacation time. Mine, on the other hand, not so much. Very typical corporate attitude, although in that category of firms it’s pretty good in comparison.

        To give some more perspective, we’re about to be on the hook for over $3200 in monthly daycare expenses for two kids (going up from about $1400 for one). My husband’s job pays for our kid(s) health insurance premiums, which would otherwise be about $600/month (thankfully, that’s per family and not per kid). My understanding is that even once your kids are school aged, you’re not actually spending much less if you both work full-time because you have to pay for before and/or aftercare, plus camps or whatever for the 8+ weeks they’re out of school in the summer, plus all the activities/sports/etc. they want to do as they get older. Then add in diapers, wipes, formula if needed for the first year, and your grocery bill starts increasing and doesn’t go down–especially once you have two teen-aged boys in the house (which’ll be us eventually).

        We make good money and I am not complaining, really–I know my problems are 5-percenter/first world problems. But kids ARE expensive, surprisingly so in some ways.

        • interesting. thank you all for the insight. I do have a question, though….

          “we’re about to be on the hook for over $3200 in monthly daycare expenses for two kids”

          you’d have to make about six figures for it to be worth it to keep your job and put the kids in daycare right? I know this doesn’t account for lost retirement earnings and lower salary when returning to work, but still… I’m hoping to stay home because I can’t see it being worth it to really only be bringing home an extra $1k after daycare expenses. maybe I’m being naive thinking I can save the household a couple hundred each month by the time I’ll have to shop wisely and cook cheaply, but I do think parents end up eating out and spending more when they’re both so rushed. I thankfully work in a field where I should be able to stay in the game freelancing every now and then. I also just know a lot of couples who see their kids for one hour every day and it kind of depresses me. I realize I’m lucky that either my husband or I would make enough for us to live frugally if we have a kid (not sure about 2 yet) and one stays home… at least until they are school age.

          • I want to point out that not everyone wants to be a stay at home parent. We could get by with just my husband’s income but not just on mine. However, I love my job and make more than we pay as part of a nanny share ($445/ week plus taxes). So for now I continue to work and appreciate every waking minute I have with my kid.

        • Given the tremendous financial expenses for buying the services of other people to take care of your kids, it always makes me wonder if it really does make sense for most people to have dual incomes. It is one thing if you are are in love with your profession and want to stay in the workforce. But raising good kids is more important than making sure you can keep the Lexus and stay in the perfect neighborhood. I’m thankful I had a stay-at-home mom, who was there for the critical years when vocabulary is being developed and manners refined. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people spend so much money to dump their kids into the care of semi-literate, uneducated caretakers. There are consequences for that. If you don’t believe me, take this example. My psychology teacher in high school (after getting to know us for half a year) proceeded to identify every child who had a stay at home mother. She did this based on our behavior and mannerisms in the class. She was almost entirely correct in her guesses. That made a huge impression on me.

          • What a profoundly ignorant statement! My kids have college educated PS teachers working on MAs in education. Hardly “semi-literate” fwiw

            Early childhood education can be great — it teaches kids that they are not the center of the universe and they have to negotiate their needs with other kids. They adjust to elementary school much better than kids who do not get this opportunity. My kids are also close enough that I can be involved in their day, whether joining for lunch, going on field trips, or popping in when I have a little down time.

          • Ya, check back in when you actually have kids. There are so many wrong statements and assumptions in this that I don’t even know where to begin.

            And while in the short term you might not be bringing much extra home after paying for child care, but as others pointed out it is a long term investment. I work in career services and the amount of women struggling to get back into the workforce after staying home with kids is startling. It’s an uphill battle and many never make it back in or end up taking huge steps back. Beyond the financial hit, these women also face a lot of emotional/ self worth stress from this loss of identity.

            And most parents will say the more important time to step back in your career is the teenage years where having absent patents can be much more impactful.

            Anyway, I can’t understand why we are even debating whether kids are expensive. Whether its 1k, 2k or 5k a month, it’s one of the most impactful financial decisions you will make in your life.

          • To anon and Anon, I’m not quite sure you get my point. Child raising is expensive, but if you’re throwing away at least $3 K each month on services for other people to care for your kid, that means you have enough money to have a parent at home. You are not indispensable at your job, and most of us are not working jobs that are going to save the planet. However, your role in your child’s life is very important- more important than pointless paper pushing and the endless pursuit of the career ladder and material success. Fortunately, younger women are figuring that out- that we can’t have it all, and trying to do it all has serious consequences for the family and ourselves. There is a consequence for allowing your kids to be raised among a pack of children with supervisors who have NO real interest in your kid. Let’s be honest- paid daycare workers have no vested interest in your child’s development, their language skills, and manners. They act accordingly. It used to turn my stomach when I would see these uneducated daycare people walking their respective gangs of children downtown. I always thought, is it really worth it?

          • If dropping out of the labor force to be with your kids all day is so vital, then more men should get on that. Many SAHMs I know spend more time on Facebook and Pinterest than they do engaging their babies in any sort of enriching activities. What a load of crap.

          • Jesus, oversimplify much? I still remember the name of my favorite preschool teacher who was an amazing loving individual and very interested in language skills of her kids – she taught us how to read years ahead of our peers! And growing up in a pack of kids is actually fun and very beneficial, since most likely you’ll be living/working with other people around you for the rest of your life.

            I also respect my mother more for staying in the work force and being a primary bread winner of the family for years to come.

  • I hope the readers of this blog realize just how well off they are

    • They don’t, because they only compare themselves to their law school/business school classmates. It’s depressing as hell.

      • I don’t think that’s quite fair. Several commenters have said how lucky they feel. And even though I can’t afford to buy a place and so will probably never own my own home, I do feel lucky to have reasonable disposable income. It’s maybe skewed a bit around here, but there are still all kinds.

      • We have ONE lawyer friend in our circle (actually, she’s still in law school). We feel very fortunate and know that without my husband’s deployments, a lot of the savings we had (before we bought our new place) wouldn’t have happened. We live very frugal lives, give to charity and don’t compare ourselves to others because in DC that can be depressing. If you spend spend spend, it catches up with you. We are the extreme opposite, which is why it can feel tight

        One thing missing is how many people in DC still have mommy and daddy pay bills – I know WAY more people who have that situation than I know high-earners

        • All of our friends/acquaintances who’ve bought homes were able to do so because they come from money and mom & dad gifted them the down-payment or “loaned” it to them.

          • We aren’t friends with any other homeowners but one who did it herself, to be honest. Everyone else we know rents. And we don’t socialize with many people who deployed as much as much as my husband to be able to have saved up so much money so quickly in 3 years. War sucks, being apart sucks, but we have a home together because of the sacrifices we made – perhaps more should try it?

          • We bought our house without a single red cent from anyone else in this world. We are just frugal as shit (haven’t owned a car in 10 years, no cable, lived with roommates well into our 30s) and used an FHA loan. It was also a foreclosure and needed work but I love our house and wouldn’t change that decision.

          • We bought our house with no help. I was still in school, and the wife (then girlfriend) didn’t make great money. We were basically beneficiaries of the housing bubble in 2002 when credit was super easy. We broke every piggy bank we had to come up with a down payment, bought more house then we could afford, and got a roommate. Now we make enough to pay the mortgage, don’t have a roommate any more, and have a great house in Columbia Heights that cost less than most condos do today.

      • I don’t think that is fair either. I am doing really well right now but I struggled for years and am truly thankful that I am doing well. However, it is not like anybody handed it to me. I worked really hard, sure I had some breaks along the way but you can’t just say everyone that is doing well is some self entitled keeping up with the Jone’s type because it is not true.

        • PDMtP

          I worked really hard too and didn’t come from a fancy background, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t also really lucky. Working hard is necessary but not sufficient.

          • Agreed… I’ve worked hard (first-generation college grad), but I’ve also gotten a lot of lucky breaks (I went to good public schools, my parents stayed married & weren’t abusive/unemployed/drug addicts, I haven’t had a major health crisis). I’ve definitely played a role in my own success, but others have done more with the deck stacked far more against them.

    • as a kid who grew up in the south, joined the military out of high school to get the hell out of there, went to Iraq twice, yeah… I realize just how goddamn lucky I am.

    • Emilie504

      I sure do. I would not have the same standard of living in another city as I do here with my profession. I would still be comfortable, but not this comfortable. It’s one of the things that keeps me in DC, which I love, even though another city is calling my name.

  • I’m definitely debt phobic. for that reason I haven’t owned a car in 10 years (I see friends throw away hundreds of dollars every month on cars they really don’t need), rent my apartment, and didn’t go to grad school. in my field, going to grad school wouldn’t help you one lick anyway. I make 80k and carry zero debt. I live well within my means and it definitely makes for a stress-free life.

    • That’s my goal, right there.

    • Just get your job to pay for grad school– that’s what I did.

      • again, grad school isn’t useful in my field. I work with three people who have masters and I make more than all of them. I’m 4 years younger than one, 1 year older than the other two.

        I think sometimes a lot of people get into a pickle because they think they have to get a graduate degree. they don’t know what they want to do so they pick something and just assume they’ll make money when they graduate and it will be worth it. for many fields, experience is more important. granted, DC has a lot of professions that require advanced degrees, but I think that unless you have a fully formed vision of your future and you know you can make your student loan payments afterwards, grad school is a waste of time and money.

        • Grad school’s not useful in my field either, but I had motives for doing it besides an increase in salary. I guess you don’t.

    • Living debt free is awesome, but there is a point where the investment of, say, a mortgage or more education is worth the debt. I get that it’s often personal choice not to pursue those to particular big-ticket items (a master’s wouldn’t be worth the investment in my career either, and maintaining a home is expensive and often inconvenient), but “good debt” that are tied to investments I think are generally worth the monthly payment to the bank.

  • I make 700k including my bonus and stock. The interesting thing is that 80k was the point where I didnt need any more money. My raises since then have made almost no difference in my standard fo living or lifestyle. My last raise, my partner asked me that night how much it was and I couldnt remember, it made so little difference. Last month I bought a pair of 900 dollar shoes and I thought, OK, this is stupid (but I did it anyway). I dont live extravagantly at all but I have a modest weekend house and fly business on long flights. I think this sounds obnoxious, but my point is really that the wealth disparity in this country is totally unnecessary. I could make a third of what i make and still live luxuriously, maybe with slightly less fabulous shoes.

    • dang. what do you do?

      • I’m a middle manager at a big company

        • MIDDLE manager? wow. what company and are they hiring?

          I have a friend who does corporate litigation for a successful firm and she doesn’t make that much.

        • I’m calling bullshit on that

          • Yep. Director (the very definition of middle manager at most cases) is about $150-250k at most large companies. Maybe a bit more, but definitely not $700k.

          • Why? S/he said that included bonus and stock. I’m in comp design for a Fortune 10 company and that sounds high but not implausible at all. I have college friends at investment banks who manage no one and make more than this; my ex worked for Mobil and at age 40 made way more than this and managed 2 people. My best friend just interviewed for a job at a tech company that managed a lot of $$$ but no people and that paid almost this. Many big companies in competitive industries like tech, energy, healthcare have VPs and executives who receive a lot of stock and incentives but manage no one or small groups. Especially phDs and others with in demand skills. However, the stock is usualy restricted such that you have to stay 5 or more years to get it, hence the golden handcuffs.

    • I understand your larger point, but it’s undermined by failing to see that buying $900 shoes is indeed “living extravagantly” – perhaps not compared to some, but indisputably it is compare to most.

      • Agreed. Anyone who buys a $900 pair of shoes is, by definition, living extravagantly. Even if you only do it once.

        • by the same logic, the fact I just went out to a $600 dinner for two to celebrate a huge milestone means I live extravagantly… even though I don’t have a car or expensive clothes, I get my hair cut only twice a year, and I live in an incredibly cheap 1br apartment. I only make $75k and I have zero debt… I can’t live THAT extravagantly in DC.

          • You’re right about that. Spending $600 on dinner for two, even once, is extravagant.

          • hey more power to you! Enjoy your 600 dollar dinner and who cares what the others say. Don’t feel bad about it.

          • I make around $75k as well and thought the $600 dinner was extravagent… but then I thought about how I like to take trips overseas once every year or two, which is a lot more expensive. We all have different luxuries we like to spend our money on.

  • I agree that house/condo shouldn’t be counted unless you’ve taken a home equity loan.

    My spouse and I are 30 and we have 80k in education debt (undergrad and masters for both of us). Together we make about $160k.

    Yes – this is a healthy income. But with a mortgage (half of which is paid for by renting out our basement), childcare, car, and standard expenses it’s not near as much as it sounds. And believe me, we don’t live a fancy life by any means. That said, compared to many in this country and city, we’ve been lucky in terms of the recession and good job opportunities.

  • I counted my mortgage because debt is debt. I owe the bank money.

    • Yes – but you have some equity. Unlike consumer debt or education loans, you could actually sell your house and not be in the hole for the entire mortgage amount.

      • I hear you, I’m in this for the investment. And when I rented a room out, I covered most of my mortgage. But at the end of the day, I owe SunTrust about $200k, and I’m not prepared to pay that and make money off the investment. Therefore, I consider myself in debt, even if it’s good debt.

  • I think there are a couple of things that are overlooked here:
    1) I think how rich people feel is often times self defined as “disposable income.” But how do you define “disposable income”? Is having a car optional? For some (including me), it is; for others, it is not. Is saving for retirement optional? For me it is not. Which transitions nicely into:
    2) How aggressively do you save. I save over 20% of my gross annual income for retirement. While smart, this makes disposale income seem significantly smaller than if I only saved 10%.

    And here’s a big one:
    3) Do you have kids? Kids are a giant money suck. If I even had one kid (never mind the 2 or 3 that some of my friends have) I definitely would not feel well off because I’d be paying to feed, clothe, medicate, educate them.

    I do not feel “rich”, just comfortable. Our household income is $200K/year with $300K in mortgage debt. I paid $14K for my last used car. I do not take lavish vacations. If I had kids, I can guarantee, I’d feel poor.

  • I make $77k, but my partner makes $115k which makes our combined income pretty high. We have about $600k in mortgage debt and don’t owe anything else.

  • Seeing these incomes makes me wonder…what did I do wrong?

    • I have a M.Sc., make $48K between my two jobs, have $55K from undergrad, and a $90K mortgage.

    • It would really help to see what job, education level, and years of experience accompany these salaries.

      • Job: Defense Contractor
        Salary: $77k
        Education: BS and MS in Electrical Engineering
        Years of Eperience: Nearly 6 in this field and 1 year at an unrelated Federal agency

        • Well I think you have something here per my point below about opportunity. I don think opportunity exists in science and engineering but unfortunately we seem to be churning out more and more worthless liberal arts grads, myself included.

          • Worthless? What are you talking about? Although I’m not a professional dancer, as my degree would suggest I’d become, I leveraged my BA into a very well paying job that didn’t disappear in the recession.

          • Job: Attorney at big law firm
            Education: B.A., J.D.
            Exp: 10 years
            Salary: 280k base plus bonus.
            Level of good fortune: High given current state of legal job market.

          • Your leverage probably had nothing to do with your actual degree and more to to do with your individual strengths and talents. I am not trying to start a fight with you here but let’s be real about the value of a degree in the hard sciences vs. liberal arts in today’s economy. Do you think the experience of most Dance and English majors is similar or dissimilar to yours. Fast forward to today.

          • Judging by the number of “soft” degrees and salaries attached to them on this blog, and within my circle, yes, I think you can make a living that is competitive to the sciences. I think the difference is that there is more job security in the STEM fields – particularly in defense related industries. My firm, for example, has a really hard time staffing the bench with technical people, while those of us on the management track are a dime a dozen. At the end of the day though, a manager at my firm and a SME are earning about the same amount of money.

          • Anonymous dancer, I have to admit I was impressed to see you were able to get a job in the same industry as mine, with the same level of experience and similar salary, with a liberal arts degree. I’m guessing you started at a lower salary and worked really hard to get where you are today! That’s awesome.

          • Thanks, I appreciate that. I ended up getting a few certifications that help legitimize my resume – I get what TG is saying. Besides proving that I have a college education, the “dance” part at least makes my resume somewhat memorable. Six of the eight dance majors I went to school with are in unrelated fields making great money. Yeah, we work hard, but I think the farther out from school you are, the less people care what you majored in, unless you’re of the STEM disciplines.

          • “I think the farther out from school you are, the less people care what you majored in”

            Absolutely. I was shocked to find out one of the brilliant SMEs I work with was an art history major. He is so knowledgable about control systems that I assumed he’d studied them formally.

            What certifications did you get, if you don’t mind me asking? Now that I’m finished with my Master’s I’d like to get my engineering license and load up on certs.

        • My certifications are: PMP (like everyone else), IEEE (biometrics related), and ITIL. I also have a certification internal to my firm, and all it says is that I know, in theory, how to control a budget.

          Good luck with your license. As overrated as the PMP has become, I’d recommend obtaining it. It’s so valuable to know the intricacies of managing a project. If I could pair that with a technical degree, I’d rule IT consulting.

          • Thanks. It’s funny you mention the PMP– my girlfriend hates hers because she doesn’t like being a manager and when people see that you have a PMP that’s all they want you to do. She managed to get a job as an analyst, but her manager is always dumping his work on her because she has a PMP and he doesn’t. I do think it would be interesting to learn about program management, though.

          • I have the PMP certification…i do use it (conceptually) most days as a project director…But I got the certification (I agree it is overused) because most employers and a ton of govt contracts require it. If you are thinking about doing it, the hardest part was getting the application done. Get the test prep book by Rita Mulchay–if you know everything in the book, you’ll pass easily.

      • “It would really help to see what job, education level, and years of experience accompany these salaries.”
        Me: research scientist, 13 years experience, Ph D, $110K
        Significant other: support scientist, 13 years experience, MS, $90K

      • Actually this is so much more helpful! Kudos.

        Job: International Dev Professional
        Salary: $35k (but no cost-of-living expenses)
        Education: BS in Political Science
        Years of Experience: 2 Years of DC work; Now abroad in 3 yr

      • Job: Consultant (Defense)
        Age: 28
        Salary: $82k
        Education: BA in Dance and English
        Years of Eperience: Six years

      • Job: Contract Specialist
        Salary: $51K today, $62K with promotion to GS-11 next week
        Education: Bachelor’s
        Experience: 3 years (1 year as a temp, 2 years in government)

      • Job: occupational health and safety
        Salary: $65K
        Age: 27
        Education: MPH in occupational health and safety/hazardous materials management
        Years of Experience: 1 year of work experience at current job (started right after grad school), but before grad school I worked for 3 years in public health/epidemiology research

      • Job: Program analyst at Big Federal Agency
        Age: 29
        Salary: 92K
        Ed: BA & MPP
        Experience: 3.5 years

        • occupation: graphic designer
          degree: bs in Graphic design
          age: 30
          salary: $57K

          • Job: graphic designer too!
            Education: BA in fine art
            Salary: $80k
            Age: 33

          • yikes! i’m not doing something right…

          • I will say that graphic designers are notorious for getting abused. I don’t know many who work less than 60-70 hour weeks and they are generally paid poorly. I am still relatively unhappy with my position, but one trick I used was to switch jobs every 3 years or so. I unfortunately now have the bs job of managing people while designing so I can make more money and have a better title. Graphic designers need to stick up for themselves, learn how to ask for what they deserve, and say no to ridiculous requests. This will not hurt your career, it will only make people respect you. Seriously, they’re not going to fire you if you don’t work until 8.30 every night. It’s much more trouble for them to find someone else to abuse.

      • Job: Economist
        Salary: $62k (GS-11)
        Education: Bachelor’s
        No debt – paid off my $22k in student loans in 3 years by living with roommates in a non-Metro-accessible house, not owning a car, and spending smartly.

      • Job: IT Security Analyst
        Salary: $105k
        Education: BS in Information Systems
        Experience: 12 years, but only the last 3 have been in security

      • binpetworth

        Job: Writer/editor at non-profit
        Salary: $54k
        Education: BA in anthropology, MFA in writing
        Experience: 13 years

        I should add that though I could be earning more in gov’t/consulting, I love my job, and being able to use my education and experience.

      • Job: accountant at non-profit
        Salary: $115k
        Education: BS
        Years of Experience: 18 yrs

        hubby:
        Job: Tech director
        Salary: $210k
        Education: BS in computer science/engineering; MS in software engineering
        Years of Experience: 12 yrs

        1,000K mortgage debt (only debt) – yikes, I know!! 700k primary is a 15 year and $300k is a rental property.

        • Job: IT analyst at large non-profit
          Salary: $90k
          Education: BS in Marketing
          Years of Experience: 10

    • Probably nothing. DC used to have a ton of six figure jobs but they are fewer and farther between in this economy.

      • There are a lot of six-figure jobs, but most of them are terrible. My girlfriend was making that much, but the job was very stressful and many nights she would get home until 11pm. She had to take a leave of absence because she was completely burnt out. It made me appreciate my easy $75k job– it’s a 10-minute commute by bike and I rarely have to stay beyond the 8-hour day. Unless you are completely in love with your job it shouldn’t be consuming your life.

    • Ask for a raise. Do the research and see what you can do.

  • 140K = Mortgage, student loan, credit card – in that order. Salary is 62k. I feel lucky enough to have an affordable home and student loans under 15k that will hopefully be paid off by the time I’m 30. Truly thankfkul.

  • I counted the mortgage. Had a friend who had to do a short sale to get out of a condo to chase down a job that moved west. So, yes, your mortgage is real debt. At least with renting you can up and move without giving any thoughts to dealing with a bank, a realtor, or handimen to get the house ready for sale.
    We hope to pay off the house, provided we don’t do any major renovatons, in 15 years. It was bought cheap with a crack-dealer on the corner discount.
    Besides the mortgage, and a non-HELOC loan we took out for a home repair (high interest rate is an incentive to pay off quickly), we have no debt. Student loans were paid off in our late 20s/ early 30s, and we chucked our credit cards (debit cards work the same) about a year ago. We try to live within our means. We have a small emergency fund. We budget.

  • Allison

    Without getting into numeric details, husband’s and my plan is to continue living on his salary alone (somewhere in the GS-teens) after I complete law school, like we are now. 100% of my salary after contribution to 401K & taxes will be devoted to my student loans until they are paid off, which should be in about four years flat.

  • It’d be nice if people posted their age w/ salaries.

  • I make around 45k a year pre-tax and will come out of grad school with around 8k-12k in debt.

    I’d like to get better about saving/investing my money both for long term goals and shorter term goals. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good financial advisor in the area?

    • Without knowing how much you are wanting to invest, I can say that most finincial advisors (F/A) in this area probably want a minimum of $50K. Otherwise, they will probably brush you off. I have had good luck with USAA. Anyone can have an investment account with them (dont have to be military). Although they are in Texas, the F/As that I speak with on the phone when I call in seem knowledgable.

      • Thanks! Definitely don’t have 50k, more like 5k-10k, so I realize I may be out of luck finding a financial advisor in the area.

  • I make $72K per year. I am buying a very modest one-bedroom condo in Logan Circle. My only other debt is a couple credit cards. I drive a 15-year old Honda. I havent been on a vacation in 10 years and I do not buy new clothes unless I need them. I use coupons at the grocery store and limit myself to eating out for dinner to once per week.

  • ’09 college grad making a little over 40k between two jobs, and life is totally good! I have a minimal amount of debt from college thanks to parents, to whom I am incredibly grateful. After reading yesterday’s 1% rant, it’s awesome to find out that I’m actually richer than people making 9x as much as me. I don’t live paycheck to paycheck, I save a bunch, and even have money to go out and have fun from time to time.

    • +1 from a fellow ’09 grad. Here’s hoping we always feel this rich!

    • ’10 grad and I feel similarly. I make 46k with zero debt and it is plenty to pay my bills (including right now around ~$500/mo in health expenses not covered by my insurance, which is going to feel like SO MUCH MONEY when that ends in a few months) and still put a decent chunk into retirement and savings. I have enough money to go out with my friends, buy relatively nice groceries, only have to bring my lunch 2-3 days a week at work, and travel by plane 5+ times per year to visit friends and family whom I can stay with for free. I have to keep track of how much I’m spending, but overall I feel incredibly lucky — especially when I consider that vast majority of my friends I graduated with are not able to save much of anything or, worse, are actively going into debt.

      Life is good — I just keep crossing my fingers and saving just in case.

  • My problem with this conversation is that it tends to pit us against each other. People with less are made to feel envious and people with more are made to feel guilty or they come off looking too vain or prideful. This same conversation is playing out in politics with the pay your fair share type rhetoric. America used to be about opportunity, not economic equality. I guess the breakdown comes into play because there are so many that went to college and got advanced degrees and are still struggling to get their piece of the pie. The issue really is that the opportunities and good jobs are not what they used to be and I haven’t heard any good ideas from anybody about how to change that.

    • At least we all get healthcare!! Yay progressivism!

      • Yes but I fear that model is unsustainable economically. I think what is happening in Europe should serve as a warning to us, if it is not already too late. I am not saying I am Marie Antoinette, mind you.

        • Yep, to quote someone wiser than me: If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it is free.

        • PDMtP

          There is no other developed country in the world that does NOT have national healthcare. The UK, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan – you name it. And you’re not risking your life going to the hospital in Switzerland, Germany, or Sweden either. Either all the world is communist, or the American debate is incredibly parochial and myopic.

          • I hear you but I am pointing to the crisis in Europe as a harbinger of having too much reliance on governmental programs. They are on the verge of collapse over there (not just health care mind you) and a lot of it is because of their unsustainable government spending. They aren’t communists but they do have an unsustainable model and they now know it.

          • To reply to TG – it really bothers me when people simplyfy the Euro crisis into
            “they spend too much on social programs.” Germany has universal health care and has under 6% unemployment and is not having financial problems. The issues in Europe are related to the larger financial crisis started by greedy banks ect. Spain’s economy grew the last few years on the housing sector – which collapsed and the banks now need a bail out JUST like in the US. The problem with Greece was more so that it should have never been in the Euro Zone, but historical ties over powered certain economic indications. I am sure other people on here know a lot more about this than me, but SOCIALISM =/= ECONOMIC FAILURE. Poor over-site of financial risk does.

          • Elly2 – If you look at Germany, they have also been one of the driving forces behind austerity measures and getting their own spending under control. Two years ago they suggested that the rest of Europe do the same and nobody listened.

          • PDMtP

            Agree with Elly that this is oversimplified. Spain has a lower debt load than Germany, and Ireland was a free market poster child.

      • I’m cool with being taxed more to ensure everyone gets healthcare. So, yeah.

    • Yep. Not reading this thread anymore, because now I feel like shit.

      • Not to be an ass, but I’m not sure what you expected. The DC metro area is loaded in terms of the rest of the country. 10 of the top 25 highest income counties in the US are in the DC/Baltimore metro area. This combined with the self-selected group of readers/contributors to this blog explains why average salaries are pretty high.

  • i make a little over 50k working for a non-profit, my wife works part time from home and probably only pulls in 15k or so since we have a young child that she stays home with. a car loan of around 6k and a 300k co-op which im not going to count as debt, cause everybody has to pay for somewhere to live. was able to put down 20% with a bit of help from my parents, since only a fool pays mortgage insurance. but other than that no debt and a healthy savings account that i add to when i can (which happens much less now that we have the kid and a half (at best) salary from the wife.) but over all thorough cheapness will buy you a lot. or at least keep you breaking even.

    • Disagree that only a fool pays mortgage insurance. Many folks do not have the cash to put down a 20% down payment and still have ample cash reserves to cover 6months-1 year of living expenses in case of job loss, or worse. At today’s rates, even with the mortgage insurance required for 10% down or FHA, the APR far lower than historic rates at 20% down.

      One could easily say that only a fool carries a mortgage – simply pay cash for your house.

    • Yeah, I wanted to do FHA so we didn’t have to get my girlfriend’s family to help with the downpayment, but the mortgage insurance would have been insane.

  • I make $68k and I have about $35k in student loan & credit card debt and a $163k mortgage.

    Buying my condo was pretty scary, but it was probably one of the best financial decisions I’ve made as an adult. At the time I was working two jobs and making $53k a year. My parents didn’t help me–I sold my car, took advantage of two homeownership programs for low to moderate income DC residents, waited tables 4 nights a week in addition to my full-time job, and slept on my friend’s floor for two months to be able to come up with my down payment. Now, my mortgage, condo fees, and everything all amount to $1225 a month. I live in a neighborhood I love, where similar apartments go for $1600-$1700 a month. My other debt is higher than I would like it to be but I’m paying it down aggressively and can still live comfortably within my means.

    Am I lucky? Yeah, I’m really lucky in a lot of ways. But I also worked my ass of for what I have and I’m proud of that.

    • You are my hero!! I worked my butt off to say for a down payment. My parents (divorced) were not able to help me at all. Dad has only social security as income. My mom actually gets food stamps. I was dirt poor as a child. I grew up in a home with no indoor plumbing. I am proud of what I have accomplished—-buying my own place. I make less than $75K per year…but I am happy and at peace of mind.

    • I think the only lucky thing about your experience was being born in a country (if you were born here) which allows you the opportunity to do what you did. Everything else you mentioned was because of your own will and hard work.
      I applaud you.

      • Thanks. I hadn’t planned to buy, it was a weird convergence of a bunch of different circumstances that gave me the push. I did what I needed to do to make it happen.

        I would encourage anyone who doesn’t think they can buy in DC to check out DC’s Home Purchase Assistance Program and Lower Income Tax Abatement Program, particularly if your income in less than $60k (above that and you don’t qualify for much). HPAP provides down payment and closing cost assistance, and if you qualify for the tax abatement you don’t pay property tax for five years (or as long as your income is under the limit) OR recordation and transfer taxes at closing–saved me over $2k in closing costs. You do have to be a DC resident and a first-time homebuyer for both programs.

        HPAP:
        http://www.gwul.org/programs/housing/hpap

        Tax Abatement:
        http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/otr/frames.asp?doc=/otr/lib/otr/may_2012/rod-9.pdf

  • Not sure how to vote. Our mortgage debt is around 400k. But we financed it very low and and our monthly is about $2200. 12k in student loans total, no credit card debt.

  • i’m the same age as poster eabod, but make half as much money. my rent in DC is 44% of my take-home pay, much higher than i’d like it to be. only debt i have is the 8k left on my car loan. my one credit card has a 1k limit, so i don’t even count the couple hundred dollars i have on there, because i can usually pay it off in a month or two.

    what bums me out is that i have 26k in a money market savings account, and i’m not really able to contribute much to it anymore (because of the rent). only reason i have such an expensive apartment is because i work from home full time, otherwise i would have stayed in group houses.

    i want to own a house, but that will never happen in DC, or in most of the DC suburbs. i guess i screwed up by choosing a career that doesn’t really support my expensive tastes. but i don’t see myself living in DC for much longer, simply because my work situation means i can live almost anywhere, and my money would go a lot further in a less expensive city/small town. oh well.

  • ah well I included my mortgage. Well I guess after mortgage we have $35k in auto loans and $0 on credit cards

  • job: professor (sciences)
    education: MS, PhD (10 years grad school)
    years experience: 8
    salary: $54K

    Between what people are posting here and the federal government salary looker-upper, I now realize I’m a sucker to be working 70 hour weeks for this salary given my training and experience. Will be polishing off my CV this weekend!!

    • HOLY S***, YOU HAVE A PHD AND ARE MAKING $54K???? sorry for yelling, but that’s insane. in-fin’g-sane. and imagine all the money you missed out on making while you were in school. oh my god.

      • The worst part is that he/she probably had to compete with a lot of applicants just to get that job. It’s terrible– a third of my professors in grad school were adjuncts with regular day jobs like mine. The full-time faculty hardly get paid anything, and those jobs are becoming more scarce as universities have less expensive adjuncts and TAs doing the teaching.

    • Professors are, sadly, horrendously underpaid.

      • Agreed, professors (and teachers in general) are underpaid, but – is this salary based on a 9-month or 12-month appointment? Many academic contracts are based on 9 months, with the expectation that profs will pick up a fellowship/grant/stipend from somewhere during the summer.

        • It is theoretically salary for 9 months, but the expectations of the position preclude getting another job for the 2 months that I am not in the classroom (that third month “off” disappears in 1 week increments throughout the year) and I am in a field/job type where fellowships are not an option. And really, at this level, should I have to be a camp counselor during the summer to get a paycheck in the summer? Even if I got another 3 months salary at the same rate, this is grossly underpaid for the degree of training and experience I have and the hours required to perform the job. And sadly, yes, there will be hundreds of eager applicants when I do finally leave, and I have to count myself lucky given the number of my friends from grad school who have left the field not for being unqualified or uninterested, but for lack of employment opportunities.

          • I agree with you – my father and brother are both profs (though my dad is 12 mos). I only have a BA and I certainly make more than my brother with his multiple degrees. He wouldn’t trade it though – he loves his field, whereas I just have a job.

          • Brother I hear you. I am an adjunct professor who gets paid 6k per class, per semester. I teach 3 classes per semester, and there are 2 semesters a year so I make $36k before taxes. I do not get any sick days, 401k or health care. I have a phD have been a professor for 5 years. I teach at the undergraduate and graduate level. The whole system is broken. Students need to start asking, is this person who is teaching me being paid a fair wage? Why do my ever higher tuition dollars go to things that don’t directly benefit my education?

          • I feel for the adjuncts. It should be criminal to hire people long-term under those conditions.

            I went into academia knowing I would make less money than in biotech or other fields, and was willing to make the trade for some of the other intangibles. But at some point, those intangibles are not worth what they cost in terms of lost salary. I think that point is now.

          • “I feel for the adjuncts. It should be criminal to hire people long-term under those conditions.”

            I don’t really. They all have good full-time jobs with benefits that pay really well (or they’re retired) and are just doing it as a hobby, for the prestige, and/or for some spare cash. It makes me mad because, although they are passionate about teaching and usually pretty good at it, they don’t really need the work.

          • While some adjuncts are “hobbiests,” that is rare. Many others have cobbled together schedules like the commenter above to eke out a living, without health care or retirement funds. Universities take advantage of them because it saves them a huge amount of money, and sadly, someone else would be willing to do it.

            You can make the case that these long-term adjuncts should pursue another line of work, but the fact remains that a too-large portion of university course are staffed this way. But this is probably not the thread to discuss reasons for the glut of PhDs, higher education financial models, etc.

          • Of the adjuncts I had in grad school, one co-owned a defense contracting company, two were military analysts that seemed to be doing very well, and one was retired after a long career in energy. I’m pretty sure they didn’t need their adjunct pay to get by.

          • I don’t doubt that energy and defense-related fields are different, law school adjuncts often have high-paid jobs, etc. But for humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, this is not the case. And also away from the Georgetowns and other elite schools where the Madeline Albrights are not volunteering to teach.

          • I need my adjunct pay to get by because I have no other paid job. Like I said, I only make $36,000 and I work in the summer too, doing self-funded research to try to get out of adjunct ghetto and land a FT position doing what I love and contributing to society, which is teaching. I also hold office hours and sit on student committees and help develop the program, and that’s all unpaid. I’m in my 30′s and I live in a group house. I have a little money socked away for retirement from a previous career. I ride my bike everywhere. I’m a dude and seriously doubt anyone will want to date me due to my financial condition. Or maybe I should “marry-up” and find a nice lady with means who will build me a library!

  • I included my mortgage since it’s the only debt I have, but I am one of the fortunates who bought in DC back in the mid 90′s, so my “debt” is @$75K at this point, but my condo could be listed today for $320K. Annual salary now is $85K, but was only about $24K when I bought.

  • Just wanted to thank PoP for this post. It’s been enlightening on many levels. Truly.

  • Job: IT Middle Manager
    Salary: $130k
    Education: BA PolSci MBA
    Years of Experience: 14

    no debt

  • Household
    Job- Librarian/ Researcher
    Education- MLS, MA/ MLS
    Age- 42/ 43
    Income- 72,000/ 46,000 + 4,000 in investments
    Experience- 15 yrs/20 yrs

  • I make over 100K and I carry absolutely no debt. In Japan I learned, “It is not how much money you earn but how much money you save that matters.” I rent, drive a modest car, and have no debt. Live within your means really is a great adage. You just have to resist a lot of pressure to buy things. To that end, I do not have a TV in the house.

    • (Also, I pay cash whenever I can, avoiding credit cards. That is a good discipline I find).

      • “(Also, I pay cash whenever I can, avoiding credit cards. That is a good discipline I find).”

        My girlfriend and I thought so too, until we bought our house and were having a hard time getting accepted for a loan because we didn’t have sufficient credit history. Start using credit cards so you’ll be ready if you need to get a loan.

  • Me: 31
    Industry: Private Equity
    Education: JD
    Income: approx. $400k

    SO: 32
    Job: biglaw lawyer
    Education: JD
    Income: approx $250k

    It is obviously a ton of money for people who are pretty young. Yes it is true that we work very hard (at my slowest, 55 hrs a week; 70 hrs a week is more normal and my busiest 10% of weeks are probably 90+). We have a family and it gets more expensive the harder each of you work. A nanny is mandatory and you end up paying for quite a lot that we would otherwise do ourselves. We live in Columbia Heights where we bought a rowhouse for about $700k three years ago with a 15 yr mortgage. I think regardless of how much you make, the key is setting an aggresive saving goal and sticking with it. Having gone from grad students on less than $30k a year to where we are now, what is most amazing is how it can all end up leaking away (even as much as we earn) without discipline. We are able to save quite a lot, but only by direct depositing the large majority of what we earn to savings and pretending like it isn’t even there. And yes, we know we are very lucky.

    • no offense, but you don’t sound lucky to me. you just sound like you make a lot of money.

      • + 1000. i have a hunch your this “family” of your would rather you work a little less, make a little less, be stressed a little less, and be home more. lucky? hardly.

        • I say “lucky” because we have the choice. We have had the fortune of being able to decide to sacrifice big time in the short run and because of our savings choices it will pay off. This is not a long-term life path and by keeping our lifestyles (relatively) in check, it doesn’t have to be. Is it worth 5 years of busting our assess for a lifetime of financial stability? You bet.

      • C’mon. These comments are below the belt. The OP is giving helpful info. In DC, lots of people have trouble with balancing family with demanding careers. lay off.

        • Agreed. People get ripped for making “too much” but sounding ungrateful. Someone expresses gratitude for their situation and then gets ripped for working too much. Geez.

        • PDMtP

          +1. These say more about the issues of the people posting the replies.

          • I disagree. The people may be telling themselves now that this is only a temporary thing, but once you get used to the money it’s very hard to walk away from it no matter how much you want to. Besides, you can’t get back years spent away from your children.

  • 32- Consultant 90K MBA
    Spouse – 30, Middle Manager in Industry 125K, MA
    No debt other than $200K mortgage

  • Age: 23
    Job: Entry level at a small investment mgmt co.
    Education: BS Business Admin w/ second major in Int’l Studies
    Salary: Base 42K + ‘bonus’ 6k (essentially a predetermined part of my salary paid out once a year)

    No loan payments and I pay about $1,000 in rent. I was able to save about 20% of my take home pay my first year working and know that I am very lucky/privileged to start off on such a great foot. I also, however, keep an eye on my savings goals and set week to week budgets.

  • annual gross income ~$270k
    mortgage ~$600k
    student loans ~$100k
    car loan ~$20k

    taxes: 25%
    savings: 20%
    child care: 14%
    mortgage: 13%
    student loans: 12%
    car: 2%

    comfortable but certainly not extravagant

  • Me: 49
    Industry: Law, partner in midsize firm
    Education: JD
    Income: $180k/yr. plus bonus, which is usually around $140

    Wife: 45
    Industry: Law, partner in small firm
    Education: JD
    Income: $125k/yr.

    Our only debt is a mortgage of $380k on our house and my law school debt, which is around $100k. We both work about 50 hrs/wk and rarely on weekends, which leaves plenty of time for family (we have a young child). We have organized our finances so that we will have no debt, not even a mortgage, by the time I’m 64. Bottom line is that we are quite comfortable and have time to enjoy it. We are very very fortunate.

  • Job: writer-editor in government
    Education: B.A., M.A.
    Salary: GS-14 ($108K)
    Experience: 11 years

    My spending habits are about the same now as they were seven years ago, when I made half what I make now. I have no debt other than mortgage debt.

    I feel incredibly fortunate. (I don’t know if “lucky” is the right word, as that implies randomness and I worked very hard to get to where I am now.) I don’t feel “rich,” but I feel very, very well-off.

  • I didn’t count house debt. I make about $125 k in salary and about $20 k in income from renting a basement apt. in my row house in Columbia Heights and from investment income (mainly dividends).

    I have a stock and bond portfolio of about $65 k, but carry probably too much CC debt (about $25 k, mostly on a very low interest card). I think a rational person would liquidate some of the stock holdings and pay off the CC debt, but I find this psychologically difficult. In one year I will have paid off my car, which I intend to keep for many years (I don’t drive much and it has very low mileage.) I don’t have any other debts.

    I consider myself extremely fortunate, but not rich by any stretch. I save about 15 % of my income in retirement accounts per year and just refinanced from a 30-year mortgage to a 20-year loan to pay down my house debt faster and at a low fixed rate of 3.75 %.

  • Age: 29
    Occupation: Engineer
    Salary: 120+70 from my wife
    ~20k in student loans plus a small mortgage (thank you refi at 4%) and 2 kids

    Like many others, I feel quite lucky / accomplished, but won’t let that stop me from striving for more.

    • What kind of engineering do you do? I’m your age but my salary is more like your wife’s– maybe I need to switch fields.

  • saf

    I included the mortgage.

  • Why would you not include your house.. thats debt. YOu can’t walk away from a house the way you can an apartment.. thats the entire point… if you live in DC you probably make a lot but you pay out a lot.

  • I work as a consultant in international development, for the last few years my salary has been around $125K. I have a master’s degree and have been in the field for 20 years. Started out in non-profits so this has been a real change. My first job paid $11K.

    Outside of a mortgage that is almost paid off, I have no significant debt. I feel very fortunate, especially in this economy, to still have work coming in.

  • Age: 25
    Job: Fed Contractor
    Salary: $80k
    Education: BA in economics
    Years of Experience: 3
    Debt: 0, although i paid off ~$20k worth in my first 2yrs out of school

    I’ll be honest: I’m not satisfied and will probably be going back to school soon (assuming I get into a top MBA program) to speed things up. Not sure if I’ll stay in DC long term.

  • Bottom line, it takes 6 figures to live a dead center, middle class life in the District of Columbia.

  • Me:
    37
    Banking middle management
    Partner
    36
    Corporate insurance professional
    Jointly we bring 330k
    We live very comfortably in Petworth and love the neighborhood. We are very thankful daily of how fortunate we are.
    We carry no debt except our mortgage and car leases.

  • ok, i’ll bite:

    my partner and i (now legally married in dc) make a combined $375,000 annually. we owe $27,000 on a line of credit we got from the bank to pay for our wedding, and we’re each carrying about $10,000 in credit card debt any given month. our mortgage is around $700,000 and we’ve got about $275,000 in equity in the house, $60,000 in cash savings, $400,000 in 401Ks, and a giant barrel of change in my closet. i appreciate that we’ve been blessed, but it’s all relative. we somehow manage to spend almost every penny. mostly because he shops everyday and i splurged on a SUV we didn’t need.

  • Hello straight gentlemen,

    Are any of you still single? I would love to go on a date with you. I’m financially secure – own my own mortgage, stable government job, smoking hot personality. I would love to try a $600 dinner…

    Gold Digger

  • Age:26
    Job: Sales (not pharmaceutical sales)
    Edu: BA in Sociology
    Marital status: Single/no kids
    Income: on track to make about $60-62,000, which is about $10-12,000 more than I made last year, and on track to make about double that increase for 2013.(Getting a few big accounts in my field can really make a big difference…Definitely keeps me motivated!)
    Debt: $0 – Lucky to have parents who could pay for my college (+ athletic scholarship).
    Monthly costs – about $100 for car insurance

    I lived in DC for 2 years (09-11) paying $1350 a month. I know I could find something for less, but I lived in crappy shitholes all throughout college and I just really wanted something comfortable and a place I actually wanted to be in. Here was my thinking…I could afford the rent and all the other experiences (some unnecessary) that came with living in the city, but I was saving nothing! I turned 25 and started looking into going back to school and purchasing a new car (which I do need for my job) and realized I had no money in my saving and the thought of incurring a giant debt was making me suicidal (not really, but ya know). Sooo, I bit the bullet, moved back home and started to put money in the bank. I have now paid off and finished the school program I decided on (and could afford) and almost have enough money for the new (HYBRID!!) car I want. I know there is a stigma about grads, or in my case 4-5 years out of college, still living with your parents, but honestly I think it’s a smart move if you have the option and can tolerate it. Personally, it was one of the best decisions I ever made because for real…SHIT’S EXPENSIVE!

    Thoughts about the whole “I’m 26 and still live with my parents” situation?

  • Me: 33
    Small business owner
    Income: On track to make 300K this year
    Years experience: 9
    Education: MBA

    Both husband and I don’t have any student loans. My husband was in the military, and I went to school in Canada (lots cheaper)

    We pay off credit card debt every month. We did not take out a business loan for our business. We have a 650K mortgage- about 350 in equity, and 8 rental properties. The rentals pay for the mortgage debt they have, and we pay down the mortgage with the profits. Our plan is to be able to live off the rental income as part of our retirement. We do not have children.

    Yes, we are lucky. We take a good number of vacations every year. However, I will not pay more than 39.99 for an item of clothing- but do not mind dropping $200 on a really good dinner.

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