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Poll: What would you consider low income for your family and circumstance?


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Poll: What do you consider low income for your family/cirumstance? (267 member(s) have cast votes)

What do you consider low income for your family/circumstance?

  1. $30,000 or less per year (82 votes [30.83%])

    Percentage of vote: 30.83%

  2. $40,000 or less per year (48 votes [18.05%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.05%

  3. $50,000 or less per year (71 votes [26.69%])

    Percentage of vote: 26.69%

  4. Voted $75,000 or less per year (42 votes [15.79%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.79%

  5. $100,000 or less per year (4 votes [1.50%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.50%

  6. $125,000 or less per year (7 votes [2.63%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.63%

  7. Other: Please Explain (12 votes [4.51%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.51%

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#1 Attolia

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:50 AM

Just for kicks.....I know the idea of "low income" varies greatly from one person to the next.  

 

I know there are sooooooo many factors, that why I said "just for kicks"

Is there a figure that comes to mind?

 

 

****Updated post and poll title to reflect more what I had in mind.

 

****Clarification #2 - I am really not talking about what you would need to make to be homeless or poverty stricken, but simply what would classify you as low income.  When I think of low income, I think of just above poverty level.  Nationally speaking, around the 150% poverty level, maybe 200%?



#2 Heigh Ho

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:53 AM

It depends on the COL of the area as well as the number of dependents.

 

Generally, the point where they can't feed and shelter the family while making responsible purchasing decisions.


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#3 Attolia

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:55 AM

It depends on the COL of the area as well as the number of dependents.

 

Generally, the point where they can't feed and shelter the family while making responsible purchasing decisions.

 

 

I know there are sooooooo many factors, that why I said "just for kicks"

Is there a figure that comes to mind?



#4 I talk to the trees

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:55 AM

It depends on the number of children/others in the household, and the area in which a family lives. 30k might be enough for our family of 3 to live in rural WV, but 125k would barely get us by in Northern VA/DC area. Where we are now, 30k would be considered very low income.


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#5 gardenmom5

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:56 AM

your poll disallows variables like cost-of-living and family size.


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#6 Amy in NH

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:56 AM

It depends on the family size and cost of living.

 

I think it means not able to afford basic necessities: food, shelter, clothing, and transportation.  Shelter should include things like rent or mortgage, electricity, water, sewer, and heat.


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#7 mytwomonkeys

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:59 AM

well, there are definitely a lot of variables, so i'll just base it on my own family. living on $30,000 or less would require me to get a job. it would be way too tight for us otherwise.  i'm honestly not sure.


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#8 Alessandra

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:02 AM

Besides COL and family size, I would add that it also depends on job-related benefits. There is a big difference between funding one's own healthcare and retirement vs. having it payed for/subsidized. Oh, and PROPERTY TAXES. 


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#9 elegantlion

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:03 AM

30k would not be poverty level for this area, I'm in a low COL and low paying area. Fifty miles away 30k would be closer to poverty level, as housing and utility expenses can be double of what they are here. I'm thinking of a smaller family 1-2 kids. 

 

Number wise anything under 22-25k/year is extremely tight, even on a frugal budget. 


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#10 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:07 AM

nm I am not qualified to answer


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#11 Meriwether

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:07 AM

When Dh started making 30,000, I thought we were in the money. It would be much tighter now with 4 kids, and we would have to downgrade on our housing significantly. We could make it work in our area, though.


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#12 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:09 AM

Wow, a couple of people voted $75K or less.  I don't think I'd want to live where they live.  ;)


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#13 LostSurprise

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:10 AM

Agreed with Elegantlion. 

 

My first thought was $23-27,000 would be low income. A lot would depend on the area and COL, but I know many families in the under $30,000 whom I would consider low income. Most of the time making over $30,000 means a little stability. 

 

I just looked it up and $24,000 is the poverty level for a family of four in my state. 


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#14 Heigh Ho

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:13 AM

I know there are sooooooo many factors, that why I said "just for kicks"

Is there a figure that comes to mind?

$10k.

 

under this and they can't pay the property taxes plus eat and get to work.

 

I'm in a state that provides a lot of bennies to low income; many jobs also provide bennies that aren't included in the low income determinations.  THe difference between an employee whose pension and health aren't included in their low income determination vs one whose 401k and health is included is enormous. 

 

ETA: what you don't want to be here is making $60k with no benefits.  That means you don't get your gov't bennies and you're in the zone where you're paying taxes.  Lots of working poor families in this range.  I've seen people quite these type of jobs, take a position as janitor in a public school district making minimum wage and doing much better after the tax reductions and other bennies are added in.


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#15 LucyStoner

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:14 AM

I didn't vote. Too many other variables.

Also, I CAN live on well under the poverty line but that doesn't mean that if I were able to, I wouldn't be low income. By that metric any homeless person not dying is making it.
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#16 mytwomonkeys

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:17 AM

i'm not thinking of survival when answering the poll. i'm thinking of what we actually need to enjoy our lives. that includes groceries, recreation, gas, giving, savings, etc.  those are things that matter to us. if we had to live bare bones, we could do with less. but i would only want that to be a temporary situation. if my husband cut his income in half, i would want to get a job. i have a degree & could add to our income, so i wouldn't want to live bare bones unless we had too.  i feel like we already live on a tight budget & make frugal choices with our income, so cutting it substantially would require big adjustments.


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#17 Attolia

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:18 AM

Again, I know there are variables in family size, cost of living, etc, etc....I was just curious if there is a number that pops in your mind for your area or your circumstance.  This is the number where you think having the basics met would be difficult if it were less than $XXX



#18 ThatHomeschoolDad

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:18 AM

Had to say "other."  Manhattan versus Wyoming just can't be compared.


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#19 Attolia

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:21 AM

I updated the title to reflect more what I was thinking.....I am not talking about a general, one-size fits all low income.  What would be low income for you, in your situation, in your area, etc.  What would that number be?  I am just curious.



#20 RoughCollie

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:24 AM

I voted $75,000 or less.  I think it depends on COL, family size, and on the cost of health insurance.  When we lived in Boston, we paid $25,000 a year to insure our family of 6, plus self-employment taxes.  We could not live on $75,000 a year in Boston.  Maybe if we had lived in a crime-ridden area in a much too small house, we could have ... but I would move first, and did!

 

Even now, we pay about $20K in medical bills every year (including dental, vision, and prescription drugs), plus health insurance costs of around $17,000.

 

It makes a difference where you live, too.  I pay $4000 to heat my home here during the winter:  $3,000 for oil, and $1,000 for wood pellets.  The cost was the same in Boston.  When we moved here, I spent $200 a week on food and household supplies, which was about $100 a month higher than in Boston.  Four years later,  I spend $300 a week, and my food choices have not changed.  I am feeding 6 adults, though.

 

The other difference lies in what a family is accustomed to in terms of lifestyle.  Some things I think are normal and/or necessary, other people think are extravagant. 


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#21 JFSinIL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:27 AM

We have gone from a bit over $100,000 to less than $30,000 (well less) in one year since hubby lost his job last Feb.  I voted  $75,000 or less as we were paycheck to paycheck before he lost his job - in our case, I can't work as our adult son with autism is my full-time job - unpaid.  We have three other kids, none totally independent (yet). 

 

 



#22 goldberry

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:28 AM

$10k.

 

under this and they can't pay the property taxes plus eat and get to work.

 

I'm in a state that provides a lot of bennies to low income; many jobs also provide bennies that aren't included in the low income determinations.  THe comparison between an employee whose pension and health aren't included in their low income determination vs one whose 401k and health is included is enormous. 

 

 

WOW.  A person could live on 10k in your area and have shelter and food and transportation to work?  Could you give a sample budget?

I'm seriously curious!

 

FYI, for our family of 3 in our living area, under 30K would be really tight.  Our line for "comfortable" was always 40k, that allowed the basics plus a few extras here and there.  30K would be tight, under would be missing some necessities. 


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#23 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:31 AM

nm I am not qualified to answer


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#24 goldberry

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:31 AM

It's interesting that people consider govt benefits or subsidies in determining what would be "low income".  Low income is what qualifies you for those, it doesn't change what low income IS.  Low income would be when you cannot provide your basic needs on that income.  If you need assistance, to me you are automaticaly in that category.


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#25 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:35 AM

We have gone from a bit over $100,000 to less than $30,000 (well less) in one year since hubby lost his job last Feb.  I voted  $75,000 or less as we were paycheck to paycheck before he lost his job - in our case, I can't work as our adult son with autism is my full-time job - unpaid.  We have three other kids, none totally independent (yet). 

 

Wouldn't there be social security benefits for your son, and possibly for you as his caretaker, due to his disability?  My aunt lived on social security because she had a severely autistic son.
 



#26 Sassenach

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:37 AM

I voted 75. Just to give context, to qualify for special below market housing in my county, a family of 6 would have to make 140k or less.

Our rent here is 1k more than our mortgage was in FL. The COL is just insane.
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#27 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:40 AM

It's interesting that people consider govt benefits or subsidies in determining what would be "low income".  Low income is what qualifies you for those, it doesn't change what low income IS.  Low income would be when you cannot provide your basic needs on that income.  If you need assistance, to me you are automaticaly in that category.

nm I am not qualified to answer


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#28 prairiewindmomma

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:47 AM

I wish I could find the website....it was a col assessment based on your city. It factored in the rental of a modest 3 br apartment if you had 3+ kids, the thrifty plan for food from usda, etc....a modest, but comfortable (ie--you can heat your house) kind of life. For my area, the number was $83,000/year. That's about right for where I live.

The average income in our area is much lower. They have had to expand the free medical and dental clinics, and unite the city food pantry system. Our city offers a daily hot meal through the charity arm of the local churches, and still the food banks run dry fairly regularly.

It's not cool when the city council talks about people relying on the library as a temperature controlled place in the day.

$30,000/yr here means a not safe 2br, no transportation, no healthcare, and relying on govt support and the food bank. Could we do it? Yeah. That's not my idea of a comfortable existence.
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#29 Murphy101

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:49 AM

Wow, a couple of people voted $75K or less.  I don't think I'd want to live where they live.  ;)


It said for your family and circumstance.

I voted $75k or less for a family of 12. If there'd been a $60k, I'd have chosen that instead. Though we have never made that much even.

In Oklahoma it is realistic that they would be very tight financially and *might* even qualify for a tiny amount of foodstamps. To me, qualifying for foodstamps = low income.
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#30 Ravin

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:49 AM

If we were bringing in $30K/yr, things would be tight, but we might be able to get by without public assistance. It would be really hard, though. So I didn't vote that way, but when I think about it, it's low income for our family of 3 adults and 2 kids. To get out of that box, we'd probably need about $50K/yr.


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#31 BarbecueMom

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:49 AM

I think $40K would be doable, but VERY tight, but would require us to move, sell a car, and cut down to the bare minimum.

My mom just moved in with us for financial reasons. As a working, single, non-disabled adult with no dependents, $30K wasn't enough. She had no debt, low-priced rental, no car payment, no cable, no cell phone bill (we were already paying it), decent health insurance from a union business... couldn't make ends meet. Forget health care costs, she was drowning in car repair and maintenance bills on an 8yo Honda Civic.
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#32 happypamama

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:52 AM

I understand that, but it bears noting that those benefits in fact boost real income, or you could say they significantly reduce cost of living for that family, depending on how generous the benefits are in the particular location. If you miss the "low income" threshold by $1, you are going to be materially worse off than someone who earns $1 less than you.


Yes. So I voted "other," because it really does depend on so many factors. It was easier to live comfortably in Boston 15 years ago on one income (that of a nanny) when it was just the two of us than it is now in south central PA because we have five children, a bigger place to live, and a hefty commuting cost. (And our commuting cost is still less than the additional cost of housing to live closer to DH's office. We can't downsize our housing, as we are already paying less for our mortgage than rent for a family of our size would be.)
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#33 LucyStoner

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:52 AM

Yeah, I almost forgot that "income" for most purposes doesn't include health insurance. For my family, health insurance is about $10K/year, because I'm essentially self-employed.

It's been a long time since I had to figure out what I really "needed" to live on. Before kids, I did a computation and came up with about $6K per year, given that I had a paid-off house and car, and not considering health insurance. My kids cost a lot because of the choices I make for them. Private school tuition, extracurriculars, out-of-pocket therapies, learning supplements, organic food and eating out, shopping for convenience rather than thrift. Strip all that away and we would probably be OK on $10K or $12K per yer plus health insurance. And that's considering we pay a chunk of property tax and don't get any tax credits etc.

Yet factors in nothing for housing. Believe it or not, most low income people don't hit low income levels with an asset like a free and clear house. It also doesn't account realistically for healthy food costs. Not that you even really seem to know what food costs (having loudly claimed to spend $300 a month to feed three, including daily eating out? Sorry, not really plausible.) without that house, in my area a family of three making $11k a year will be homeless but for public housing (1-4 years wait list) or the kindness of others. Many of the people with kids I know who are homeless or have been homeless have held jobs at or above that wage level the entire time they were homeless. You'd be in a shelter if you didn't have a house. Not factoring in housing as a cost for what constitutes low income is just plain ridiculous.

We have a lower income than before but it doesn't feel like a low income because we came into it with assets and savings after years of living on less than we earned at a higher income level. If that wasn't true for us, things would be extremely tight for a family of 4 in our area. But our situation is not typical for most families we know at our reduced income level. So I don't go around saying that everyone should be doing just fine at our income level. We have years of savings to smooth out the rough spots until my husband is done with school. While I don't feel poor, I don't dismiss how much tighter things are for families who have always made this or less.

And we certainly live more frugally than most.
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#34 Murphy101

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:55 AM

It's interesting that people consider govt benefits or subsidies in determining what would be "low income". Low income is what qualifies you for those, it doesn't change what low income IS. Low income would be when you cannot provide your basic needs on that income. If you need assistance, to me you are automaticaly in that category.


I guess. There are many people who qualify for food stamps who don't apply for it. (Myself included right now. And on any given day I'm torn about that bc we spend a LOT of money on groceries and a few hundred of money not out of his paycheck would indeed permit those funds to go to many things we don't do now for lack of funds.)

But whether they actually get the foodstamps or not, the income is the same, so are they not low income because they don't get food stamps? I'd say they are still low income even if they are able to squeeze out their basic needs without assistance.
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#35 Heigh Ho

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:58 AM

WOW.  A person could live on 10k in your area and have shelter and food and transportation to work?  Could you give a sample budget?

I'm seriously curious!

 

FYI, for our family of 3 in our living area, under 30K would be really tight.  Our line for "comfortable" was always 40k, that allowed the basics plus a few extras here and there.  30K would be tight, under would be missing some necessities. 

 

It's very common for those who have just arrived.  Employer provided shelter and transport; school district/gov't agency provided food for fam as well as clothing and child health care.  The health care is in walking distance of the public school; it's a clinic specificially for low income w/fees on a sliding scale.   The tight area comes when they are making more money and the gov't assistance drops.  The budget is essential clothing for the male (work boots) and food for the fam. 

 

There are also many retirees who are raising a family on a pension instead of taking a second job.


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#36 soror

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:58 AM

With no debts at all in a low(er) cost of living area we could live on significantly less than we do. We use extra money to save for retirement, pay for education, increase our standard of living(better food for ex) and have a bit of fun.
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#37 ThatHomeschoolDad

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:03 AM

I wish I could find the website....it was a col assessment based on your city. It factored in the rental of a modest 3 br apartment if you had 3+ kids, the thrifty plan for food from usda, etc....a modest, but comfortable (ie--you can heat your house) kind of life. 

 

There are a lot of sites -- State Dept. has a whole list.


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#38 Murphy101

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:06 AM

Yes, we went decades without debt other than the mortgage, but now we have quite a bit (at least to us) and that's absolutely made things considerably tighter financially for the next few years at least.
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#39 Dandelion

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:06 AM

$40k a year for a family of 4 in our area would be just scraping by (assuming no public assistance).
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#40 Jerico

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:11 AM

I voted 40k. We made less than that last year and felt like we were suffocating. But we did have debt (a car loan on a car that constantly had problems). We sold our car though and are completely debt free so we could do with less. I like that we are finally building up our savings as we have not had much the last 5 years.

We have lived on less (with little to no debt) and it was okay but many things got pushed back (like eye and dental care).
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#41 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:12 AM

Yet factors in nothing for housing. Believe it or not, most low income people don't hit low income levels with an asset like a free and clear house. It also doesn't account realistically for healthy food costs. Not that you even really seem to know what food costs (having loudly claimed to spend $300 a month to feed three, including daily eating out? Sorry, not really plausible.) without that house, in my area a family of three making $11k a year will be homeless but for public housing (1-4 years wait list) or the kindness of others. Many of the people with kids I know who are homeless or have been homeless have held jobs at or above that wage level the entire time they were homeless. You'd be in a shelter if you didn't have a house. Not factoring in housing as a cost for what constitutes low income is just plain ridiculous.

We have a lower income than before but it doesn't feel like a low income because we came into it with assets and savings after years of living on less than we earned at a higher income level. If that wasn't true for us, things would be extremely tight for a family of 4 in our area. But our situation is not typical for most families we know at our reduced income level. So I don't go around saying that everyone should be doing just fine at our income level. We have years of savings to smooth out the rough spots until my husband is done with school. While I don't feel poor, I don't dismiss how much tighter things are for families who have always made this or less.

And we certainly live more frugally than most.

 

nm I am not qualified to answer


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#42 LucyStoner

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:31 AM

SKL, I've lived barebones for most of my life. I've been homeless. Your estimates are "fuzzy math" at best. I know because I've lived it yet somehow managed to get out without getting judgmental towards those who have not. The thread is about what you consider low income, not the bare minimum required. If you actually had experience supporting a family of three on $12k methinks you'd be able to admit it is in fact "low income". The assistance you cite is not available in most areas immediately. Many areas have 4-5 year waiting lists for housing assistance. Nearly all have a 6-18 month wait.

#43 Attolia

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:33 AM

Actually, I did factor in the cost of my property tax and utilities, car repairs and insurance, which are not that cheap.  I also live with other people to share expenses, which is a possibility for most, even though not everyone wants to do that.  I also think you should stop calling me a liar about what I spend on food.

 

I didn't say every family of 3 could live on $10K, did I?  No, I did not.  Nor did I say you need to make $10K or less to be low-income.  And I also never said I actually live on $10K, though there was an extended time period when I was very frugal and spent about $12K/yr including my mortgage payment.

 

However, I think it is a worthwhile exercise to figure out the cost of a bare-bones existence and acknowledge that each additional expense is a choice that each family makes.  I'm not saying it isn't the right choice.  But given that it's a choice, it needs to be evaluated/prioritized.

 

PS, you might be surprised how many low-income people are free-and-clear homeowners or have low cost mortgages.  In my area, anyway.  People do inherit, and in some neighborhoods, houses sell for very cheap.  And for those who are not homeowners, if you made $10K and had a family, you would definitely get substantial housing assistance; while low-income homeowners can get energy assistance and subsidized mortgage loans.

 

 

Sorry if I missed this somewhere.  When you lived on $12,000 a year was that with government assistance?  How long ago was it?  The $300 a month is the total for groceries or is that in addition to food stamps?  Again, I am sorry if you addressed this and I missed it.  I am just curious.  



#44 elegantlion

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:34 AM

My bare bones budget is about 1k a month. Our housing expense is considerably lower due to some good planning a few years ago. I would double my payment if I had to move. Gas can be a huge money suck, so we try to stay local as much as possible. So, yeah, we're surviving on extremely tight budget. Internet and Netflix are our entertainment and recreation. Do I feel like I'm living in poverty? Not really, honestly. I feel like I am consciously making choices as I'm a full-time college student now. Do I count every penny? Just about. Will it always be this tight? Hopefully not. 

 

I haven't always been this broke, we made some choices a few years ago to lessen our long term debt, which turned out to be a great idea. So the family in poverty today may not have always been that way. They may have decent cars, nice clothes, and know how to spread out their thin financial resources. 

 

 


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#45 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:36 AM

Sorry if I missed this somewhere.  When you lived on $12,000 a year was that with government assistance?  How long ago was it?  The $300 a month is the total for groceries or is that in addition to food stamps?  Again, I am sorry if you addressed this and I missed it.  I am just curious.  

 

No government assistance, but that $12K was when I was single.


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#46 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:39 AM

SKL, I've lived barebones for most of my life. I've been homeless. Your estimates are "fuzzy math" at best. I know because I've lived it yet somehow managed to get out without getting judgmental towards those who have not. The thread is about what you consider low income, not the bare minimum required. If you actually had experience supporting a family of three on $12k methinks you'd be able to admit it is in fact "low income". The assistance you cite is not available in most areas immediately. Many areas have 4-5 year waiting lists for housing assistance. Nearly all have a 6-18 month wait.

 

Actually you are coming across as quite judgmental.

 

Again, I never said that $12K was not low income.

 

I was talking about what *my family* could survive on.  I said nothing about what anyone else should do.



#47 Attolia

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:44 AM

If I went barebones....modest mortgage, utilities, small grocery budget, gas to work and back, house insurance, car insurance, property taxes.

 

NOT a dime for clothes/shoes, gifts, homeschooling, office/household supplies, entertainment (definitely not a need, lol), health insurance, vehicle repair, etc, etc, etc

 

Then I come to $28,000

 

That being said, I would think anything under $40,000-$50,000 should be considered low income because even with my bare bones, many of the basics (clothes, etc) aren't met.



#48 Amy in NH

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:44 AM

We are in between two of the lower choices, and we really are there: flat scary broke right now with last month's utilities unpaid and not sure about making this month's mortgage.  Definitely doesn't help that food stamps were cut by 2/3 since last month.

 

Our area of the state is still in recession and my DH has not had a raise in 5 years.  We have felt blessed that he has a job at all, but the cost of everything just keeps going up!



#49 LucyStoner

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:45 AM

I specifically said not judgmental towards people who haven't been able to get out of poverty (make it out).

As for the claim that $3.33 per person per day is simply not a plausible budget for 1-2 meals out and healthy food, I stand by it. In my experience, it isn't and I will say so without feeling badly.

I have a low tolerance for people who underestimate the difficulties faced by those with low incomes. That's what living it and later working with many very poor and homeless people did for me. I make no apologies for that.
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#50 SKL

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:48 AM

I specifically said not judgemental towards people who haven't been able to get out of poverty (make it out).

As for the claim that $3.33 per person per day is simply not a plausible budget for 1-2 meals out and healthy food, I stand by it. In my experience, it isn't and I will say so without feeling badly.

I have a low tolerance for people who underestimate the difficulties faced by those with low incomes. That's what living it and later working with many very poor and homeless people did for me. I make no apologies for that.

 

No, you claimed to be not judgmental toward people who have not lived it.

 

I'm not sure why you decided to make this personal against me.  Everyone is talking about their personal situation.  I talked about mine.  Note that unlike you, I have never said a word about what I may or may not think of your financial wisdom or honesty.