Author Topic: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford  (Read 5920 times)

Plugra

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NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« on: March 20, 2017, 10:08:41 AM »
Here are some tough stories about people who are earning at or below the median income.  They're all struggling.  In most of these cases it's hard to say what they could be doing differently, as few financial details are provided ... 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/your-money/budget-what-you-can-afford.html?

... but in a few cases they would surely have benefited from some education in financial matters:

Quote
Her months of “unemploycation,” as she calls it, began when she lost a teaching job just a month after making a down payment on a $162,000 townhouse. “I ran up about $9,000 on my credit cards that I couldn’t pay,” she said. Soon she was in crisis, facing a 30-year mortgage, $15,000 in student debt and her credit-card bill.

madgeylou

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 10:53:09 AM »
Sigh, the proper term is FUNEMPLOYMENT. These kids today and their non-melodious portmanteaus!

Warlord1986

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 12:15:58 PM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?

Slee_stack

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 02:08:32 PM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?
They also receive 48K per year in disability payments... $48k!!!  Holy cow!  Really sounds like someone is living too large...

pachnik

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 03:17:27 PM »
I know I take things too literally but I looked at the headline 'Basing life on what you can afford' and I thought, well, that's reality.  For most people anyway.  I also make the median income and very recently my salary went a little above.  I can't just spend, spend, spend and I have to make choices.   For example, last year my husband and I prioritized travel and we took a trip to Paris and London.  So I saved a little less in my RRSP for 2016.  This year we'll take a 'smaller' vacation as we call it and save more.  In 2018, we're thinking about Europe again. 

I am not saying that I am unsympathetic towards the situations.  Some of them have had some strokes of bad luck but that too is part of life.   

doggyfizzle

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 03:20:08 PM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?
They also receive 48K per year in disability payments... $48k!!!  Holy cow!  Really sounds like someone is living too large...

And they've got their healthcare covered through the VA; I don't understand how they aren't in a much, much better financial situation.

BFGirl

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 03:21:25 PM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?
They also receive 48K per year in disability payments... $48k!!!  Holy cow!  Really sounds like someone is living too large...

Yeah.  Any sympathy I had went out the door with that revelation.

WildJager

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 04:49:52 PM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?
They also receive 48K per year in disability payments... $48k!!!  Holy cow!  Really sounds like someone is living too large...

And they've got their healthcare covered through the VA; I don't understand how they aren't in a much, much better financial situation.

Unfortunately, that's how most people in the military are.  Come out of the gate young and into an aggressive field and mentality of work hard/ play hard.  The job security allows you to get easy loans from the banks for fancy cars and big houses.  It's definitely a culture thing.  Some people grow out of it, but others stay that way their whole lives and work multiple careers (with the pensions) and still can't make ends meet.

Travis

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 05:02:08 PM »
I read the military-couple article three times and I keep coming to the same question: what was the point of that article?  They obviously live beyond their means, life is difficult, and something Trump. And...?  There didn't seem to be an actual conclusion we were supposed to draw.

As far as the teacher article...
Quote
She says she will not change to blend into her upper-middle-class Briargate neighborhood

Holy Shit, Briargate!?  Colorado Springs is on the higher side of average for cost of living, but across from the Academy is definitely on the high side unless you're living in a small townhouse.   I wonder where in the city she works? That bit about "conservative" (which is debatable) Colorado Springs and some pastor who got caught being naughty had absolutely shit to do with her financial situation and story.

The rest of the examples I just flipped through. That was a long read. I find myself circling back my original question. What was the point here? Some people financially struggle? While most of the folks in the article don't make much, a number seem to be doing okay.
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Just Joe

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 05:36:14 PM »
An article for people commiserating about having debt? (i.e. we're all in this together...)

Villanelle

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 02:33:09 AM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?

There are very, very few programs that repay loan debt for service members.  So anyone who went to college and then enlisted or accepted a commission would have the same student loan problems as a civilian. 

There are ways to get your degree paid for, though they can be pretty competitive, but that is while you are actually getting the degree, or while you are active duty and pursing a degree.  And there are programs that pay tuition for vets after they get out, but none of those help at all if someone goes to college on their own dime before any military affiliation. 

(I'm not excusing the couple from the article, but the student loan debt is no more unusual than anyone else having student loan debt.)

Warlord1986

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2017, 06:31:04 AM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?

There are very, very few programs that repay loan debt for service members.  So anyone who went to college and then enlisted or accepted a commission would have the same student loan problems as a civilian. 

There are ways to get your degree paid for, though they can be pretty competitive, but that is while you are actually getting the degree, or while you are active duty and pursing a degree.  And there are programs that pay tuition for vets after they get out, but none of those help at all if someone goes to college on their own dime before any military affiliation. 

(I'm not excusing the couple from the article, but the student loan debt is no more unusual than anyone else having student loan debt.)

Huh. I seem to recall some stuff about tuition debt repayment plans back when I was in, but maybe I'm misremembering.

Either way, that particular couple should be set to pay off their debt and lead a very good life. I'm side-eyeing them.

Hargrove

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 05:26:32 PM »
An article for people commiserating about having debt? (i.e. we're all in this together...)

It's a lot more complicated than that. But it doesn't tell you what to think, which I would call a strength of the article - if it told you what conclusion it wanted from you, it would probably be dismissed by people who didn't already subscribe.

It's a slice of working Americans. As for "why"... why should it be surprizing? If this were about celebrities, nobody would be asking what it's for.  It's a story about people struggling to make ends meet, most near median incomes. By Mustachian standards, these people are not trying very hard. The only luxury was a (snort) Jeep Commander and a massive home entertainment system...? But by American standards, that's a telling portrait of median-income life that was very different in decades past. So whether you sympathize or not, there is a factual change in what median income does. There is also an apparent undervaluing of people many consider community pillars. Social workers, teachers who do the hard assignments because they want their work to matter...

On the one hand, we say doctors need to be good so they need to be well paid, then we say teachers should just love their work.

The point of the article may be in part getting you to ask the point of the article. :p

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2017, 08:09:16 AM »
I know I take things too literally but I looked at the headline 'Basing life on what you can afford' and I thought, well, that's reality.  For most people anyway.  I also make the median income and very recently my salary went a little above.  I can't just spend, spend, spend and I have to make choices.   

I think it all comes down to what the individual's philosophy of "afford" is. Most people use a "top down" approach and scale their spending based on their income, i.e. I earn $3,000 a month so I'll spend the MAXIMUM amount I can on rent/mortgage, see if I can fit a car payment in there too even though I don't need a car, oh hey that new iphone looks fancy and I have a few extra bucks... why not, I can "afford" it!

Whereas the mustachian approach is typically more of a "bottom up" approach to budgeting. Start at zero, add on as little spending as possible (while maintaining happiness and sanity), thus leaving more of a spread between income and expenses and more $$ to invest.
Every single decision you make with money either shortens or lengthens your working career.

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2017, 10:20:05 AM »
The problem is that instead of basing life on what one can "afford", people base it on what they can afford in the future. And that future income is always assumed to be significantly higher than present income.

And based on false inputs, people go into debt.
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pachnik

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2017, 10:56:43 AM »
I know I take things too literally but I looked at the headline 'Basing life on what you can afford' and I thought, well, that's reality.  For most people anyway.  I also make the median income and very recently my salary went a little above.  I can't just spend, spend, spend and I have to make choices.   

I think it all comes down to what the individual's philosophy of "afford" is. Most people use a "top down" approach and scale their spending based on their income, i.e. I earn $3,000 a month so I'll spend the MAXIMUM amount I can on rent/mortgage, see if I can fit a car payment in there too even though I don't need a car, oh hey that new iphone looks fancy and I have a few extra bucks... why not, I can "afford" it!

Whereas the mustachian approach is typically more of a "bottom up" approach to budgeting. Start at zero, add on as little spending as possible (while maintaining happiness and sanity), thus leaving more of a spread between income and expenses and more $$ to invest.

You know before I found this website, I was more "top down" in my approach to spending.  Maximum frittering away was my thing.  I kept rent/mortgage low, car stuff low and then spent the difference on little odds and ends.   To my credit, I did stay out of debt though and never had any credit card debt.   Then four years ago, I came across MMM and decided to try it.  I now feel huge satisfaction in not being a consumerist sucka and investing the difference rather than frittering it away.  Now I am saving about 40% of my income whereas before I saved maybe 15%. 

AMandM

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2017, 11:33:13 AM »
Based on the other stories that get shared on the Wall of Shame and Comedy, lots of people never think about their spending at all in terms of choices.  I took this article as a snapshot of several families that are making choices in a slightly more conscious way--trading more salary for time with kids, trading savings for current experiences, etc.

paddedhat

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2017, 04:21:50 PM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?
They also receive 48K per year in disability payments... $48k!!!  Holy cow!  Really sounds like someone is living too large...

And they've got their healthcare covered through the VA; I don't understand how they aren't in a much, much better financial situation.

Unfortunately, that's how most people in the military are.  Come out of the gate young and into an aggressive field and mentality of work hard/ play hard.  The job security allows you to get easy loans from the banks for fancy cars and big houses.  It's definitely a culture thing.  Some people grow out of it, but others stay that way their whole lives and work multiple careers (with the pensions) and still can't make ends meet.
Jesus, you just described one of my kid's MIL&FIL.  They are sixtyish, both did their 20 in the services, are on second and third careers, and broke. So broke they had to steal cash from their son's student loan to keep the wolves at bay. Not broke enough to give a single thought to the fact that they live in a trophy house in a gated high end community, lease a new $50K  eurotrash mobile, or "LOVE" to travel.  When it comes to rational adult financial decision making, they are just a giant basket of WTFs.  At some point it seems like "be all you can be" morphed into " borrow all you can get"

exterous

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2017, 08:33:51 AM »
There are a few stories in there that are difficult and unavoidable situations - like becoming a widow and single mother. However I question a lot of the choices being made, like the family already having financial problems but then deciding to have another kid. I'm also not sure how having an architectural degree would save anyone during the recession since it had at least an 11 year streak of having the highest unemployment rate of any major degree program (2004-2015). The pay is also crazy low for the amount of schooling and training you need.

I did think it was funny that they portrayed a 2007 car with 140k miles on it as a negative. By MMM standards its finally done being broken in!

redbird

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2017, 11:40:40 AM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?
They also receive 48K per year in disability payments... $48k!!!  Holy cow!  Really sounds like someone is living too large...

And they've got their healthcare covered through the VA; I don't understand how they aren't in a much, much better financial situation.

Unfortunately, that's how most people in the military are.  Come out of the gate young and into an aggressive field and mentality of work hard/ play hard.  The job security allows you to get easy loans from the banks for fancy cars and big houses.  It's definitely a culture thing.  Some people grow out of it, but others stay that way their whole lives and work multiple careers (with the pensions) and still can't make ends meet.

The military does have lots of free classes in personal finance for military members and families. How good it is, I can't really say. But I do know that too many young military do make poor financial decisions. You hear them complaining about how they don't make much money and how they're jealous of their civilian counterparts like I was at the time for making more money. But as they're complaining, you see multiple energy drinks and snacks and sodas on their desk behind them. You see them go out to grab lunch at fast food and restaurants every day. You see them walk out to the parking lot at the end of the day to their brand new BMW. Meanwhile I sat next to them with my packed peanut butter and jelly lunch, drinking water out of a mug that I would fill up with the water fountain in the hallway, and driving a 10 year old small gas efficient car that I bought used. Sure, I had more money than them, but I was also making much more frugal choices - choices that I would try to encourage them to do for their own lives, but they would not.
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Plugra

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2017, 11:45:02 AM »
Quote
I did think it was funny that they portrayed a 2007 car with 140k miles on it as a negative. By MMM standards its finally done being broken in!

I just had that conversation with my mother.  She told me her car was really old ... a 2004 with 105k miles.  In other words, early middle age.

Travis

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2017, 12:10:09 PM »
The one dude has a degree in engineering, but rather than get a job with that he's trying to build up a freelance photography business. I mean, follow your dreams and all, but maybe do that on the side while working as an engineer?

How do U.S. veterans have student loan debt?
They also receive 48K per year in disability payments... $48k!!!  Holy cow!  Really sounds like someone is living too large...

And they've got their healthcare covered through the VA; I don't understand how they aren't in a much, much better financial situation.

Unfortunately, that's how most people in the military are.  Come out of the gate young and into an aggressive field and mentality of work hard/ play hard.  The job security allows you to get easy loans from the banks for fancy cars and big houses.  It's definitely a culture thing.  Some people grow out of it, but others stay that way their whole lives and work multiple careers (with the pensions) and still can't make ends meet.

The military does have lots of free classes in personal finance for military members and families. How good it is, I can't really say. But I do know that too many young military do make poor financial decisions. You hear them complaining about how they don't make much money and how they're jealous of their civilian counterparts like I was at the time for making more money. But as they're complaining, you see multiple energy drinks and snacks and sodas on their desk behind them. You see them go out to grab lunch at fast food and restaurants every day. You see them walk out to the parking lot at the end of the day to their brand new BMW. Meanwhile I sat next to them with my packed peanut butter and jelly lunch, drinking water out of a mug that I would fill up with the water fountain in the hallway, and driving a 10 year old small gas efficient car that I bought used. Sure, I had more money than them, but I was also making much more frugal choices - choices that I would try to encourage them to do for their own lives, but they would not.

In the Army they have very bare bones budgeting and TSP classes when you get to a new duty station, but they're so short as to be meaningless.  Most troops don't pay attention or seek out other classes until they're already in trouble.  It kills me to see an E-4 driving around in a vehicle that cost more than his annual salary and after years of seeing this and the behavior you described above I just can't support the concept of "our troops are underpaid."  When you consider the starting salary of a service member right out of high school and virtually no expenses for someone living in the barracks they're doing just fine.
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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2017, 01:02:16 PM »
In the Army they have very bare bones budgeting and TSP classes when you get to a new duty station, but they're so short as to be meaningless.  Most troops don't pay attention or seek out other classes until they're already in trouble.  It kills me to see an E-4 driving around in a vehicle that cost more than his annual salary and after years of seeing this and the behavior you described above I just can't support the concept of "our troops are underpaid."  When you consider the starting salary of a service member right out of high school and virtually no expenses for someone living in the barracks they're doing just fine.

It sounds as though their paychecks are smaller but a greater portion of their income is disposable due to support systems like free housing. Would that be an accurate statement?
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Travis

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2017, 01:47:04 PM »
In the Army they have very bare bones budgeting and TSP classes when you get to a new duty station, but they're so short as to be meaningless.  Most troops don't pay attention or seek out other classes until they're already in trouble.  It kills me to see an E-4 driving around in a vehicle that cost more than his annual salary and after years of seeing this and the behavior you described above I just can't support the concept of "our troops are underpaid."  When you consider the starting salary of a service member right out of high school and virtually no expenses for someone living in the barracks they're doing just fine.

It sounds as though their paychecks are smaller but a greater portion of their income is disposable due to support systems like free housing. Would that be an accurate statement?

Yes.  Nearly all junior enlisted single soldiers live on base in barracks where their housing, medical, and meals are all covered by the military.  Take a look at this chart for the actual numbers: 

https://www.navycs.com/charts/2017-military-pay-chart.html

The troops Redbird and I are referring to specifically are E-1 thru E-4 with 0-4 years of service and no dependents.
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Mac_MacGyver

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2017, 11:38:17 AM »
A lot of the junior enlisted I work with all go into town for breakfast and lunch. The DFAC is about two blocks away from work and in the midst of the barracks. Dinner is the same scenario except they also have drinks.

TrudgingAlong

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2017, 12:36:45 PM »
Military pay is pretty complicated, and housing isn't "free". It's more like part of the compensation package. When you live in the barracks, you don't get BAH, and most singles aren't allowed to live in town unless they are E5 and win a petition to the command. Otherwise, if they choose to not live there, they pay for it out of their base pay.

All that not to argue with the financial stupid in the military, but nothing is "free", just factored into lower base pay. The biggest bane fit really is how much can be tax sheltered. My husband is an E6, and his command can't seem to fathom he has no desire to push for E7 before retirement (which means extra unpaid hours and other things to "stand out" - he cares more about family time, which I appreciate! His duty hours are painful enough as is).

They also keep harping on what he's going to do after retirement, which is in five years for us. We have been smart and have a plan that he won't need to do anything more than part time work between our savings and retirement pay. The concept of planning like this seems beyond their capacity to understand. It's crazy to that the military is one of the few remaining places you can make a good living with no degree, but so many people piss the advantage away.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 01:28:54 PM by TrudgingAlong »

Sofa King

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #26 on: March 26, 2017, 04:18:18 PM »
However I question a lot of the choices being made, like the family already having financial problems but then deciding to have another kid.

There is alot of this going on. I feel ZERO sympathy for people who keep breeding when they can't even afford to take care of themselves. But for some reason if you question this then you are the bad guy in the conversion.

Travis

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #27 on: March 26, 2017, 10:49:56 PM »
Military pay is pretty complicated, and housing isn't "free". It's more like part of the compensation package. When you live in the barracks, you don't get BAH, and most singles aren't allowed to live in town unless they are E5 and win a petition to the command. Otherwise, if they choose to not live there, they pay for it out of their base pay.

All that not to argue with the financial stupid in the military, but nothing is "free", just factored into lower base pay. The biggest bane fit really is how much can be tax sheltered. My husband is an E6, and his command can't seem to fathom he has no desire to push for E7 before retirement (which means extra unpaid hours and other things to "stand out" - he cares more about family time, which I appreciate! His duty hours are painful enough as is).

They also keep harping on what he's going to do after retirement, which is in five years for us. We have been smart and have a plan that he won't need to do anything more than part time work between our savings and retirement pay. The concept of planning like this seems beyond their capacity to understand. It's crazy to that the military is one of the few remaining places you can make a good living with no degree, but so many people piss the advantage away.

You're right that our benefits are factored into our compensation package, but "free" is a short and easy term to describe the situation with most laymen when discussing a soldier's personal expenses.

That whole "what are you going to do after the military" discussion pisses me off to no end because instead of it being a question of concern, or ensuring your departing soldier has a financial/education plan it's used as an intimidation tactic to get them to reenlist. I always asked my soldiers who were seriously thinking of getting out those questions just to make sure they've thought about it.  I was so proud to watch an E-6 in another shop basically tell the sergeant major he had enough F- you money saved up that he wouldn't have to work the entire time he was in college and no discussion of money was going to dissuade him from his plans to get out. He didn't use that particular financial term, but he was so visibly annoyed at the discussion I'm certain he wanted to say that to the man himself (nobody liked this sergeant major anyways).
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TrudgingAlong

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2017, 09:42:04 AM »
Fair enough, Travis! I think I bristle a little at "free" at this point because the military ALWAYS demands its pound of flesh. After fifteen years, I'm definitely done dealing with it.

I suppose that is why they are harping on him, the whole reenlistment factor. They can't keep him unless he makes E7 at this point (thank god!). It just really irritates me that being a solid worker, never being in trouble, fulfilling your duties in a timely manner, and staying late when absolutely necessary are not enough to get the over-zealous Chiefs off his back. Can't wait to be out of this shitshow.

Travis

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2017, 09:47:57 AM »
Fair enough, Travis! I think I bristle a little at "free" at this point because the military ALWAYS demands its pound of flesh. After fifteen years, I'm definitely done dealing with it.

I suppose that is why they are harping on him, the whole reenlistment factor. They can't keep him unless he makes E7 at this point (thank god!). It just really irritates me that being a solid worker, never being in trouble, fulfilling your duties in a timely manner, and staying late when absolutely necessary are not enough to get the over-zealous Chiefs off his back. Can't wait to be out of this shitshow.

I hit 18 years in the Army yesterday.  When I first discussed enlisting (I'm an O-4 now) with my parents, my mother threatened to disown me if I joined the Navy (they had a similar experience). 
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Just Joe

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #30 on: March 27, 2017, 10:00:12 AM »
A lot of the junior enlisted I work with all go into town for breakfast and lunch. The DFAC is about two blocks away from work and in the midst of the barracks. Dinner is the same scenario except they also have drinks.

Also depends on where you are stationed. I was in Europe on a base that did not have a mess hall. The mess hall was all the way across town at an annex. Not an option for us while we worked and not convenient after work either if you lived off base (on base housing shortage).

I literally laughed at the Master Chief who wanted to discuss reenlistment with me way back when.   
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 10:02:59 AM by Tasty Pinecones »

Travis

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #31 on: March 27, 2017, 10:42:21 AM »
A lot of the junior enlisted I work with all go into town for breakfast and lunch. The DFAC is about two blocks away from work and in the midst of the barracks. Dinner is the same scenario except they also have drinks.

Also depends on where you are stationed. I was in Europe on a base that did not have a mess hall. The mess hall was all the way across town at an annex. Not an option for us while we worked and not convenient after work either if you lived off base (on base housing shortage).

I literally laughed at the Master Chief who wanted to discuss reenlistment with me way back when.

We have a battalion in Europe where their mess hall only serves breakfast and lunch during the week and nothing on the weekends, but they all receive a COLA to make up for it.  It's the guys here in the States who do BK for every meal who have no excuse.
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Slow2FIRE

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #32 on: March 27, 2017, 10:54:42 PM »
I have student loan debt (about $4500 left).  I served a 4 yr enlistment and signed up for the college fund.

This was all pre-frugal days for me so the $30,000 (roughly $15K gi bill and $15K college fund) didn't quite cover college costs for me and I was even working a job through most of college.  Furthermore, I decided the interest rates looked really great, so taking loans seemed like a good deal (I pay 1.675% interest after refinancing, but not too much higher before I refinanced and consolidated).

Villanelle

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #33 on: March 27, 2017, 11:07:50 PM »
I find that the "free" housing actually costs us money.  We are currently living on base, for the first time, and only because it is 100% mandatory.  Our past two duty stations were also overseas but we were allowed to live off base.  Even with OHA, where they pay your rent rather than giving you a flat fee so there's no pocketing any overages, we were able to save some of the utilities allowance.  Here, we live a shitty >1200 sqft place.  If we had something similar in the States, we'd likely be pocketing hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month, even with the newly decreased BAH system.  And there's not even a utilities allowance from which we can save.  So we are far less well off with "free" housing, and we have shittier house as well. 

Travis

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Re: NYTimes - basing life on what you can afford
« Reply #34 on: March 28, 2017, 08:02:29 AM »
I find that the "free" housing actually costs us money.  We are currently living on base, for the first time, and only because it is 100% mandatory.  Our past two duty stations were also overseas but we were allowed to live off base.  Even with OHA, where they pay your rent rather than giving you a flat fee so there's no pocketing any overages, we were able to save some of the utilities allowance.  Here, we live a shitty >1200 sqft place.  If we had something similar in the States, we'd likely be pocketing hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month, even with the newly decreased BAH system.  And there's not even a utilities allowance from which we can save.  So we are far less well off with "free" housing, and we have shittier house as well.

For families in base housing - absolutely.  Too many rules, bad customer service due to maintenance and management being contracted out, and I've even heard of a couple Marine bases where the utilities are charged on a bell curve rather than actual usage.  I remember my one time living on base I was living next to someone who rated half of what I made in BAH, but we were living on the same street.  I'm sure it was a great deal for him, but I could have done much better on the economy if that assignment permitted me to live off post.  My original comments were directed at single soldier barracks where utilities and BAH aren't factors.
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