The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: memorytoast on June 26, 2017, 06:59:48 PM

Title: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 26, 2017, 06:59:48 PM
I've been lurking and reading for awhile now and it seems that most mustachians are solidly middle-class.

My husband and I live frugally, but mostly that just means we're managing not to go into debt and save a small fraction of our income. After discovering college was really not managable for him, my husband took a bit of searching to find how he could be gainfully employed using the skills he has. He decided to open his own handyman business. Between my teacher's salary and his fledging business we made just under 40k last year.

Thank G-d, we're moving in a week  (I'd like to post for advice on some moving topics when I have he time!), which will mean a salary hike for me and hopefully more business opportunity for him, but some of our expenses are going up with the move too. The move was mainly prompted by health concerns (he needs a warmer climate) and wanting to be closer to family - not economic reasons, so I guess I'm still looking for some kinship.

Any mustachians for whom just saving 150 a month is something to be proud of?
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on June 27, 2017, 05:50:27 AM
I started out low income, but recently moved into a higher tier. I think you'll find that your income is going to increase as you internalize the Mustachian mindset and start making more opportunities for yourself. Like anything, it does take some time to accumulate the new skills and thought patterns, but it makes a massive difference once it happens.

I started out living in low income housing with no money in the bank, no investments, a 15 year old car, making $8.25/hr working in a convenience store, with no health insurance, and owing thousands of dollars on high interest credit cards. Now I have a large emergency fund, approx. $26000 in investments (and growing), a low mileage car, making $120,000/yr, fantastic health insurance mostly paid for by my employer, no credit card debt, and a valuable middle-class suburban house. It can be done.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 27, 2017, 06:35:33 AM
Not sure if I qualify as I changed jobs earlier this year and my salary jumped to $48,000 but before that I was around $40K for quite a while.

I appreciate your posting! As far as "qualifying" I was just looking for someone else who was making a lower income and could relate to trying to live a mustachian lifestyle anyway.

I save more than $150 though, both as pre-tax retirement contributions and in the form of paying off student loans.

If you post your budget people might be able to help you see where you can save more.

For the past couple years we probably could have saved a little more than that, but not much. I'm not unhappy with that idea though, because most of our most expensive choices have been/are religiously related.

Since our budget is about to change drastically - if a little unpredictably - I'm not sure if it makes sense to post now to have people critique. Maybe it still does to see if my mindset is off?
I started out low income...

Wow! That's fantastic! I'd love to hear more of your story. Do you have a journal?
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on June 27, 2017, 08:31:49 AM

I started out low income...

Wow! That's fantastic! I'd love to hear more of your story. Do you have a journal?

Yes, the link is in my sig line. It's been quite a journey so far. :-)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: catccc on June 27, 2017, 09:11:58 AM
My husband was a low income mustachian before we got married.  He earned about 20K a year in various jobs.  18K as a zookeeper, around the same in retail, 20K in farming.  He has a bachelors degree but it is unrelated to any job he's wanted to do.

He was a good saver, but he didn't deprive himself.  We ate out, we went to the movies, we drove 2.5-3 hours every weekend to see one another (slightly long distance).  He quit his job at the zoo so we could spend a month backpacking in Europe.  When he was working in retail he saved enough to buy a new 05 Toyota matrix with cash ($15K) and still had savings left over.  We did trips to China, Europe, a few cross country vacations.  I was the higher earner, but I did not subsidize any of the travel, I just paid my half, and he paid his half.  He probably picked up the tab on dates more often than I did.  He did this all without going into debt.  He just generally lived a frugal lifestyle and had enough leftover for this stuff.  He almost always lived with roommates and saved what he could, and even started contributing to a Roth IRA when I explained the retirement contribution credit that was available to him.

(btw, that Toyota Matrix is now our family car, getting us and our 2 kids around.  Still going strong at around 185K miles!)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 27, 2017, 10:03:44 AM
My husband was a low income mustachian before we got married.  He earned about 20K a year in various jobs.  18K as a zookeeper, around the same in retail, 20K in farming.  He has a bachelors degree but it is unrelated to any job he's wanted to do.

He was a good saver, but he didn't deprive himself.  We ate out, we went to the movies, we drove 2.5-3 hours every weekend to see one another (slightly long distance).  He quit his job at the zoo so we could spend a month backpacking in Europe.  When he was working in retail he saved enough to buy a new 05 Toyota matrix with cash ($15K) and still had savings left over.  We did trips to China, Europe, a few cross country vacations.  I was the higher earner, but I did not subsidize any of the travel, I just paid my half, and he paid his half.  He probably picked up the tab on dates more often than I did.  He did this all without going into debt.  He just generally lived a frugal lifestyle and had enough leftover for this stuff.  He almost always lived with roommates and saved what he could, and even started contributing to a Roth IRA when I explained the retirement contribution credit that was available to him.

(btw, that Toyota Matrix is now our family car, getting us and our 2 kids around.  Still going strong at around 185K miles!)

Thanks for taking the time to reply. It's good to hear other people's success stories - very heartening :) Also, thanks for mentioning the car - one of the things about our move is that I'm probably going to need a car to get to work. Still hoping I might be able to work out a carpool and we won't be living super far from food and stuff, so maybe I won't need one after all. If we do, I'm leaning toward buying a used electric, but I guess I'll check into the Matrix as well!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: TimmyTightWad on June 27, 2017, 10:31:28 AM
I didn't notice it until recently, but I think there is a slight hint of elitism on this site in regards to low income individuals. It's way more common to see someone say they are inheriting millions of dollars or already have millions saved/invested than it is to see someone describe a poverty scenario. I'm interested in hearing more from people who have lower incomes because I feel like they will have to 'hack' the approach to FIRE a bit more.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: mcneally on June 27, 2017, 10:57:48 AM
There's a subreddit, r/leanfire for people who want to FIRE on really small amounts, most of them I'm sure because of being low income. I've never been a reader of the Early Retirement Extreme Forums, but similar situation there.

Then there's the early-retirement.org forum mostly for people who want to retire early at 55 with $3mm.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: JanetJackson on June 27, 2017, 11:54:08 AM
Ok I have to jump in here so that I can follow this thread.
I am a low-income individual who grew up poor in the rust belt on one very shakey (my father was laid off 3x during childhood, but there was only one steel shop in town, so he waited it out all three times (and got re-hired every time, eventually retiring from that shop) and did yardwork and odd jobs for neighbors) and has not yet been higher than ~250% the poverty level and more often closer to it (yet just high enough not to be eligible for many programs assistance. 

I've lived in a camper, rented a laundry room to live in, and worked on a horse farm in exchange for rent.  I've been scraping my way up from the bottom my whole life... and I see little flickers of light at the end of the tunnel.
I'm working hard to reduce my expenses and increase my income (two jobs right now + side hustles (all amassing around 30k, saving around 35-40%) and going to school [trying to pay for classes outright] right now) while maintaining some level of relative sanity and it would be great to connect with others who are doing the same!
I'm not at the point of investing or doing much with my savings yet, just trying to get my whole body, not just my head above water- then I'll go from there.

I too, have sensed the elitism on this forum, but the pillar values sit so well with my own ethics that I still find this forum and site very useful....

So long story short, we're here!!!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: LittleWanderer on June 27, 2017, 12:39:52 PM
I'm not sure if you'd classify me as middle class or low income, but I make around $40,000 (pre-tax) a year in medium cost of living city.  I have finally dug myself out of debt.  Student loans paid off, car paid off (Honda Civic with 53K miles...should last me for a long time) and now the credit card companies pay ME money. 

I'm contributing 10% to my 401K and am attempting to build up a 6-12 month emergency fund right now.  Once the EF is built up, I hope to increase my 401K contributions.  It's a very slow process.  I feel so behind.  Rent is expensive and buying a house seems unobtainable.  I'm not sure I'll ever be able to retire early, but the hope is that I can save enough to actually retire and avoid being a Wal-Mart greeter in my old age! Thankfully I don't need much to be happy and can live off of $22K/year or so (at least that's what I'm doing right now.)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on June 27, 2017, 12:46:25 PM
Yep! My income has ranged from literally $0 at points (living on the streets), peaking at about $55k 1-2 years, and now at about $40k, which is very high for my lifetime average. I've done and am doing extremely well, while having a disability and raising a child with a disability alone.

My journey and tips are in a book, linked to from my sig.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: JanetJackson on June 27, 2017, 01:12:37 PM
Yep! My income has ranged from literally $0 at points (living on the streets), peaking at about $55k 1-2 years, and now at about $40k, which is very high for my lifetime average. I've done and am doing extremely well, while having a disability and raising a child with a disability alone.

My journey and tips are in a book, linked to from my sig.


Great Job so far- 40k is a lot to me too, I'm glad there are peers here I can relate to.  Also, huge kudos to raising a child, I can't imagine the extra knowledge and balance needed to do so on a mindful budget.  Keep kicking butt!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 27, 2017, 03:34:26 PM
Wow, thanks everyone for posting!

The truth is I'm not sure our income next year will be in the "low income" category anymore either, maybe "lower middle class" - alot depends on how my husband's business does after our relocation and if we're able to make anything form side hustles. I still wanted to post this because I felt like there had to be people out there putting these principals into practice, but who can't save quite as much as most mustichians that I've seen posting, because they make less.

Kudos to everyone - whatever your income level or personal challenges are - for aiming to live within your means!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on June 27, 2017, 03:54:17 PM
I'm in the low income category. I take a lot of what I hear on this forum with a grain of salt. I think there's quite a bit of self-aggrandisement and also quite a few smug youngsters that are in for a short sharp shock when life actually happens to them - injury, illness, children, economic downturns etc. I also think it's about making the most of YOUR circumstances, whatever they are. We're not all in a position to save 50%, for whatever reason. My attitude is to take the information here, learn from others here and try to apply what I can to my situation in order to do better than I would have had I not found this site! For me, that doesn't translate to saving 50% - yet.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Freedomin5 on June 27, 2017, 05:41:48 PM
If you had asked me five years ago, DH and I would have been in the low income level. We were able to save 25% ($500) of after tax income by:

Renting a basement apartment
Buying the cheapest cellphone plan - we shared one cell phone since I didn't need a cell phone at work
Keeping groceries to a minimum
Driving a 10-year old car that we bought used
Biking as much as possible
Living close to work (30 min bike ride)
Paying ourselves first (the $500 came out automatically each month)

We also tithed regularly. As someone mentioned already, Mustachian principles hold true no matter your income level. Many principles and suggestions can be accomplished at any income level. So I take what works in my situation and try not to care so much about other people's numbers.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Cali Nonya on June 27, 2017, 06:07:18 PM
I'd also say don't forget the age part of the equation.  Some of the elitists got there from small beginnings, the older crowd does tend towards higher net value, but that's what you are also hoping for, right? 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Ocinfo on June 27, 2017, 07:06:32 PM
I think one of the reasons you see so many high income folks on here is that MMM focuses as much on the income side as the frugality side of things. The message appeals to engineers, like me, who make way more money than makes sense but who like to optimize. MMM himself has waded into the income debate with his various career lists that get $50k starting salary, in part to make the point that there are a lot of options. However there are many very important jobs that pay under $50k and that's an unfortunate reality (some teachers, park ranger, etc...).

I grew up poor (bottom quintile with an often unemployed dad) so I understand the struggle and stress of low income, you're way ahead by being here versus my parents that didn't understand anything money related.


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Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 27, 2017, 08:08:37 PM
If you had asked me five years ago, DH and I would have been in the low income level. We were able to save 25% ($500) of after tax income by:

Renting a basement apartment
Buying the cheapest cellphone plan - we shared one cell phone since I didn't need a cell phone at work
Keeping groceries to a minimum
Driving a 10-year old car that we bought used
Biking as much as possible
Living close to work (30 min bike ride)
Paying ourselves first (the $500 came out automatically each month)

We also tithed regularly. As someone mentioned already, Mustachian principles hold true no matter your income level. Many principles and suggestions can be accomplished at any income level. So I take what works in my situation and try not to care so much about other people's numbers.
Renting a basement apartment - check for where we are - it's the cheapest apartment for our area that I know of, where we're moving this isn't an option
Buying the cheapest cellphone plan- we shared one cell phone since I didn't need a cell phone at work - almost check, my husband doesn't want a smartphone or any phone with internet - so RepublicWireless doesn't work for him like it does for me; however his $25 a month is only a bit more than my average of $16.33
Keeping groceries to a minimum - not sure if we do this. Is $215 a month for two people kind of high?
Driving a 10-year old car that we bought used - we don't have a car at all here, may change when we move
Biking as much as possible - I don't bike, but my husband does and I walk most places. About once or twice a month I take an uber for a total between $10 - $15
Living close to work - check - I was a 24 min walk and my husband did his business only within biking distance
Paying ourselves first (the $500 came out automatically each month) - haven't done this, but maybe we should consider

 Tithing is one religious expense, but we have others as well. Like I said, not trying to be a complainypants, I'm okay with these choices.

I'd also say don't forget the age part of the equation.  Some of the elitists got there from small beginnings, the older crowd does tend towards higher net value, but that's what you are also hoping for, right? 
Thanks for the boost, Cali Nonya. I'm not necessarily aiming for wealth. I would like to put in the requisite effort to maintain having an emergency fund. Also, we hope to have kids, so obviously higher net value is somewhat a goal to make that dream financially viable, but I really don't need to be wealthy or FIRE. I love my job. 

I think one of the reasons you see so many high income folks on here is that MMM focuses as much on the income side as the frugality side of things. The message appeals to engineers, like me, who make way more money than makes sense but who like to optimize.
Huh, interesting. I hadn't stopped to consider that....

MMM himself has waded into the income debate with his various career lists that get $50k starting salary, in part to make the point that there are a lot of options. However there are many very important jobs that pay under $50k and that's an unfortunate reality (some teachers, park ranger, etc...).
Yup, I read that list, and hopefully my husband is headed in that direction, but I opted to become a teacher at religious private schools knowing full well that my salary would never get very high. *pokes response to Cali Nonya*

I grew up poor (bottom quintile with an often unemployed dad) so I understand the struggle and stress of low income, you're way ahead by being here versus my parents that didn't understand anything money related.
Thanks Ocinfo. I grew up with middle class, frugal parents, who saved enough to put myself and my brother through college without any debt, own both their cars and their house, clip coupons, keep the heat on low in the winter, etc., so I did have a little head start. They got badly burnt in stocks when I was young, so they became very risk averse, and while they gave me a pretty solid personal finance education, I've only recently begun to learn about investing. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Freedomin5 on June 27, 2017, 09:14:34 PM
If you had asked me five years ago, DH and I would have been in the low income level. We were able to save 25% ($500) of after tax income by:

Renting a basement apartment
Buying the cheapest cellphone plan - we shared one cell phone since I didn't need a cell phone at work
Keeping groceries to a minimum
Driving a 10-year old car that we bought used
Biking as much as possible
Living close to work (30 min bike ride)
Paying ourselves first (the $500 came out automatically each month)

We also tithed regularly. As someone mentioned already, Mustachian principles hold true no matter your income level. Many principles and suggestions can be accomplished at any income level. So I take what works in my situation and try not to care so much about other people's numbers.
Renting a basement apartment - check for where we are - it's the cheapest apartment for our area that I know of, where we're moving this isn't an option
Buying the cheapest cellphone plan- we shared one cell phone since I didn't need a cell phone at work - almost check, my husband doesn't want a smartphone or any phone with internet - so RepublicWireless doesn't work for him like it does for me; however his $25 a month is only a bit more than my average of $16.33
Keeping groceries to a minimum - not sure if we do this. Is $215 a month for two people kind of high?
Driving a 10-year old car that we bought used - we don't have a car at all here, may change when we move
Biking as much as possible - I don't bike, but my husband does and I walk most places. About once or twice a month I take an uber for a total between $10 - $15
Living close to work - check - I was a 24 min walk and my husband did his business only within biking distance
Paying ourselves first (the $500 came out automatically each month) - haven't done this, but maybe we should consider

 Tithing is one religious expense, but we have others as well. Like I said, not trying to be a complainypants, I'm okay with these choices.

I'd also say don't forget the age part of the equation.  Some of the elitists got there from small beginnings, the older crowd does tend towards higher net value, but that's what you are also hoping for, right? 
Thanks for the boost, Cali Nonya. I'm not necessarily aiming for wealth. I would like to put in the requisite effort to maintain having an emergency fund. Also, we hope to have kids, so obviously higher net value is somewhat a goal to make that dream financially viable, but I really don't need to be wealthy or FIRE. I love my job. 

I think one of the reasons you see so many high income folks on here is that MMM focuses as much on the income side as the frugality side of things. The message appeals to engineers, like me, who make way more money than makes sense but who like to optimize.
Huh, interesting. I hadn't stopped to consider that....

MMM himself has waded into the income debate with his various career lists that get $50k starting salary, in part to make the point that there are a lot of options. However there are many very important jobs that pay under $50k and that's an unfortunate reality (some teachers, park ranger, etc...).
Yup, I read that list, and hopefully my husband is headed in that direction, but I opted to become a teacher at religious private schools knowing full well that my salary would never get very high. *pokes response to Cali Nonya*

I grew up poor (bottom quintile with an often unemployed dad) so I understand the struggle and stress of low income, you're way ahead by being here versus my parents that didn't understand anything money related.
Thanks Ocinfo. I grew up with middle class, frugal parents, who saved enough to put myself and my brother through college without any debt, own both their cars and their house, clip coupons, keep the heat on low in the winter, etc., so I did have a little head start. They got badly burnt in stocks when I was young, so they became very risk averse, and while they gave me a pretty solid personal finance education, I've only recently begun to learn about investing.

I personally think $215 for food isn't too bad. Sounds like you're doing a pretty decent job!

 If you're a teacher for a religious private school and are willing to live abroad for a couple years, your income/savings could go WAY up. The good international schools here in China pay approx. USD $60k+ per year. They also provide housing, health insurance, and round trip flights, so your savings rate goes WAY up. Even if your spouse is not a teacher, the schools can sometimes find a position for the trailing spouse. If you're interested, take a look at Andrew Hallam's book "The Millionaire Teacher". I believe ShanghaiMMM on the forums is an international school teacher in (obviously) Shanghai; his journal may provide more info as well.

* Edited for clarity.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Frugal Lizard on June 28, 2017, 05:43:08 AM
I chose a low income so that I could be at home while my kids were young.  Things were ticking along albeit with no savings, but I thought this would be a short term thing (4-6 years).  Then my husband was laid off.  He started over in a new career at an entry level salary. The time demands of going back to school and building a new career meant that I couldn't focus on getting back into the work force quite yet.  Now nine years later his salary exceeds what he made in 2008 and I am working on increasing my income.  Kids are almost grown up and don't need me so much. 

I started my own consulting practice to keep in the profession in 2005 and that is growing slowly in terms of income and prestige.  I don't work a lot of hours but am very well paid and do really interesting work with great people.

We found MMM in Dec 2015. We had definitely started to experience lifestyle creep.  All our friends seem to getting way ahead of us while hubs wasn't working and it was pretty hard to not try and catch up with some fancy trips and joining them for drinks and dinner out. There has been a lot of pondering if we belong here or not.  Most certainly, we are not typical.

We are older and our combined income is relatively low and will not likely get as high as many on this forum. But my work is not something I have to do the way I do it.  I choose to do it.  I could probably find a way to making more money working for someone but it would take more of my time and would mean I have less time making the lifestyle we enjoy now.  It would mean less good meals, a messier house and less pretty garden and less time doing stuff for my community and looking after my extended family and huge friend network.  My hubs works very hard to make this all possible. So we have less freedom and more freedom at the same time. 

I grew up with a single mom and we lived in very straightened circumstances.  Then on weekends we went to stay with Dad in very spendy luxury.  It has meant that there are certain parts of frugality that I can not live with.  (must have a full fridge and not ration food and hate that poor feeling of worn clothing and shoes)  And it has also meant that I will not send my kid to school feeling poorly because I have somewhere else to be. 

So I think what we have done is skipped the building a big 'stache' part and are kind of limping along - not fully committed to the ultra frugal lifestyle, or fully able to really save for total financial independence.  I think we will ultimately work a little bit, keep the scaled back lifestyle and enjoy the time that our approach gives us.  MMM has helped us realize that our consciously chosen path was exactly that: a choice we made.  Reflecting on what we value truly has also helped us understand a way forward through the situation we now find ourselves in.

 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: ElleFiji on June 28, 2017, 07:58:18 AM
We're here. Last year was my highest earning year ever. Around $34 000. I might beat it this year, or my body might decide not to cooperate (also a disability issue).

I feel rich, because I'm rich for me. But I'm also in a very high cost of living area. I don't save 50-70% and won't retire extraordinarily early, but I should be able to go part time when I need to, and to retire eventually, and to do a few expensive things like big trips. I'm still at the beginning of this process, and can very much see how my life is richer, and how I have more support making my choices here.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Bicycle_B on June 28, 2017, 08:02:58 AM
Like Spartana, older, no job now, long history of saving on modest and medium income jobs.  No military in my case.

Relatable elements in 30 years of working, saving, and sometimes in my case not working despite being working age:

-Early jobs were dishwasher, prep cook, biscuit maker, sandwich maker in numerous restaurants.  I suck at restaurants, those were my hardest jobs ever.  Respect in the highest to all food service workers.
-My first "good" job was managing a sandwich shop.  I didn't own a car, took all the money to the bank on my bike.  It was fun.  I made $350/week (think 1990, was like $600/week now.  HUGE money!), kept my lifestyle the same (rented room in house of 4 roommates) and saved about half my pay.  Restaurant owners were crooked, job ended after 6 months.  :(
-Many crappy "temp" jobs for a while, just above minimum wage.  With savings from the sandwich shop, bought a small used 12 year old sedan for cash.  It ran 9 more years.  Minimum then was $3.35/hr, I made $4 to $5.25 for several years.  Any time I had a job, I saved.  Grocery food (which has never changed), usually rented rooms. Moved from small town to the big city; chose a place with lots of jobs and, at that time, low cost of living.
-Telemarketed.  A new kind of crappy job!  First one was $5.25/hour, with bonuses of, well, about 50 cents an hour.   Bars at night, pretty ladies, stylish friend who stole my TV.  One drink per night. Bank account slowly rising.
-Big break: telemarketing job with fat bonuses!  Averaged $2,000/mo for four years.  Kept same lifestyle, then bought the house where I was renting a room.  I still live in that house.  Rented out all the extra bedrooms, maxed out 401k (limits were lower then), bank account grew muscles.  Started using this new internet thing.  It's the mid-1990s. 
-Blew a quarter of my savings ($4000) on a friend's harebrained business scheme, which failed.
-Quit job to start a business.  It failed, due to my own lack of guts and effort.
-Next business, same thing.  Thank God, my businesses didn't need much capital investment.
-Did lots of volunteering and dance lessons for fun until the money ran out.  3 years.
-Out of money (bank account $1000, no debt but mortgage, 401k untouched), back to crappy temp jobs.
-From volunteering, got an entry level job in a politician's office. High status, low money.
-Politician lost office
-Got full time job as government office worker.  Wow, steady benefits and no hassling people over the phone!  $11 to $13/hour.  Bank account grew.  People are using cell phones now.
-Started taking school classes to prepare for higher govt jobs.  Spent too much money on the "best" night school, should have used community college classes.  Hindsight 20/20.  No savings during this period due to tuition.  Property tax rising faster than rents, still had renters in my spare bedrooms though.  Have driven old used cars all this time, a new-to-me one every 6 to 9 years. 
-Doubled down on the education by seeking master's degree in full time program.  No income, planned the finances poorly, ran out of money.  Predictable, I just didn't predict it.  Borrowed against the house after running up credit cards, my first debt fiasco in 20 years.  Credit rating fell, but mortgage payments were steady.  Graduated.
-Got fancy govt job thanks to the new degree!  45k, just before the crash of 2008.  I'm over forty by this point.
-Poured all spare cash into 401k. Good move.  TARP, bailout, stock market bounces back.
-I blow it via lifestyle inflation. 2010. Car manufacturers are desperate.  If I'm ever going to buy a new car, it's now.  Meant to research wise Japanese sedans, compared with VW Jetta, got sidetracked by low end luxury vehicle.  Midlife crisis car.  $30k down the drain.  Had 25k gone into stocks and 5k into another used car, would have been 50k.  Hindsight 20/20 again.  Stayed unmarried anyway.  People like riding in the car, though.
-Bored, I fail to replace renters.  Now I'm living in my house all alone.  Peaceful, high status.  Pleasant, but not ecstatic. Not much better than living with good roomies, just more expensive.
-A couple of poorly researched international vacations. 
-Crap, I'm making 55k now but not saving anything.  At all.  I had made my post-crash 401k contributions as one-offs, setting only a very low default level.  Hindsight says, automate high contributions when you can!
-Grudgingly, I add a couple roommates back in, restart the savings habit.
-Oops, got fired from stable govt job.  Shit.
-Discover MMM.  Procrastinate a lot, implement a few suggestions.  Sell some stock, but remaining stock goes up.  House value goes up.  Family concerned about my joblessness.  On my paper my net worth is rising, but... not enough to make it sustainable.
-Dad has Alzheimer's, I become his guardian. He has his own money to pay for care, thank God (neither of us could 24/7 of me taking care of him).  I take him to the doctor, monitor the assisted living facility, with much help from my sister.  We all grow closer.  Dad dies.  Estate is still resolving, but I gradually inherit another $100k or so.
-I add a third renter, notice my expenses keep getting a little lower. 
-Combining the inheritance with my now-inflated previous investments, plus 3 roomies, in theory I'm at FI just barely. Subtract 10% for vacancy, I need maybe $2000/year more.  If Obamacare goes up, I need to cover that too.  I really should get a job.
-I have been training for some techie jobs and and interviewing, but not getting in so far.  Maybe one day I will join the Fancy Techies despite being 50+.  Wish me luck.


Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on June 28, 2017, 08:10:14 AM
Bicycle_B, what a deliciously convoluted journey to "just barely FI." lol. Lots in common with mine. We seem to have gotten there despite ourselves!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 28, 2017, 08:12:05 AM
I personally think $215 for food isn't too bad. Sounds like you're doing a pretty decent job!

 If you're a teacher for a religious private school and are willing to live abroad for a couple years, your income/savings could go WAY up. The good international schools here in China pay approx. USD $60k+ per year. They also provide housing, health insurance, and round trip flights, so your savings rate goes WAY up. Even if your spouse is not a teacher, the schools can sometimes find a position for the trailing spouse. If you're interested, take a look at Andrew Hallam's book "The Millionaire Teacher". I believe ShanghaiMMM on the forums is an international school teacher in (obviously) Shanghai; his journal may provide more info as well.

* Edited for clarity.

Thanks, Freedomin5, I'm glad you posted that, because it seems like it could be a really good option for someone willing to go to China. My religion is not one that many people are practicing in China, and having a religious community is very important to us, so I think moving there would probably not be an option - but maybe someone else who can use the information will see it!

I'm probably one of the lower income FIREees here....

That's impressive! Also, thank you for your service to our country. I'm really glad to hear your story and hope you enjoy your retirement.

 
I chose a low income so that I could be at home while my kids were young.  Things were ticking along albeit with no savings, but I thought this would be a short term thing (4-6 years).  Then my husband was laid off.  He started over in a new career at an entry level salary...

Your story is one that I'll be happy to share with my husband. Losing a job or having to dropout of college can be really disheartening, but hearing about people a little bit ahead of us turned themselves around after a tough kind of situation like that is really helpful!

I'm in the low income category. I take a lot of what I hear on this forum with a grain of salt. I think there's quite a bit of self-aggrandisement and also quite a few smug youngsters that are in for a short sharp shock when life actually happens to them - injury, illness, children, economic downturns etc. I also think it's about making the most of YOUR circumstances, whatever they are. We're not all in a position to save 50%, for whatever reason. My attitude is to take the information here, learn from others here and try to apply what I can to my situation in order to do better than I would have had I not found this site! For me, that doesn't translate to saving 50% - yet.

Hey, AnnaGrowsAMustache, sorry I missed your response before. You're absolutely right about the emphasis on learning and applying what you can for your situation. A good lens to wear in general :)

We're here. Last year was my highest earning year ever. Around $34 000. I might beat it this year, or my body might decide not to cooperate (also a disability issue).

I feel rich, because I'm rich for me. But I'm also in a very high cost of living area. I don't save 50-70% and won't retire extraordinarily early, but I should be able to go part time when I need to, and to retire eventually, and to do a few expensive things like big trips. I'm still at the beginning of this process, and can very much see how my life is richer, and how I have more support making my choices here.

Good point! Being rich is  way more about state of mind than it is about any amount of money.
Like Spartana, older, no job now, long history of saving on modest and medium income jobs.  No military in my case.

Relatable elements in 30 years of working, saving, and sometimes in my case not working despite being working age):

-Early jobs were dishwasher...

Yeah, hindsight does tend to be like that...wishing you success!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Bicycle_B on June 28, 2017, 08:15:15 AM
PS.  Somewhere I read that at at class reunions, the people with good jobs show up to brag and the people without them stay home.  So what you see and hear at the reunion is not accurate, it's just the slice that people are proud of.

I think the same thing happens on this board.  The people with high incomes exult in their fabulous savings rates.  The people who are master cooks with $90/month grocery budgets post about that.  We're all here to learn something, but not everybody makes big bucks or perfect decisions. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on June 28, 2017, 08:18:17 AM
I was born to low income immigrant parents who eventually did succeed and improve their economic situation.

My SO and I went to college but neither graduated with a BA/BS. Our combined income has always been lower middle class until 2 years ago.

By starting out at entry level jobs, retail myself, supermarket for her we have slowly climbed the income ladder. It's important to have a growth mindset, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at your income climb post move.

Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: coolistdude on June 28, 2017, 08:51:10 AM
Thin mustache here. I found MMM a couple years ago. Back then I made $40-$45k with good benefits in California (single income). Things have improved at work though and I am about to cross $60k at the same job. The discouraging part is that I am having a much harder time saving.
A couple years ago we were renting out a very cheap duplex half and started saving $1000/month. Life blew up and we lost all physical possessions due to mold. Now we live in a on-the-border-of-shady house (bought) and are cleaning up the debt. At this point we've only been able to pay off about $500/month. When the raise goes through it will probably rise to $700.
We are probably about 1 year from paying off the debts we accrued in the 3 month period of hell (our only car also broke in that period and needed replacing).
Through this all, DW and I have decided to go to two incomes (we have one kid). She is in a low cost but good reputation school for teaching (good income and flexible schedule in local parts of CA) and should be done in slightly under 2 years. At that point, I should be at almost $70k/yr, and the wife should start at about $45k/yr, which pretty much doubles the income of what we have now. Hopefully at then we can start saving at least $25k+ a year. Really, I'd love to start saving half since I know we can live on $50k income without issue. That's the dream...that's the dream.
If you are super lean then it isn't hard to save while not making much. It just takes longer and you have to be more stubborn about not spending money.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: wenchsenior on June 28, 2017, 08:55:40 AM
Wow, thanks everyone for posting!

The truth is I'm not sure our income next year will be in the "low income" category anymore either, maybe "lower middle class" - alot depends on how my husband's business does after our relocation and if we're able to make anything form side hustles. I still wanted to post this because I felt like there had to be people out there putting these principals into practice, but who can't save quite as much as most mustichians that I've seen posting, because they make less.

Kudos to everyone - whatever your income level or personal challenges are - for aiming to live within your means!

I'm not sure this will make you feel better or worse (better, I hope), but in terms of raw numbers, 40K is still considered middle income in the U.S. (though the range of income in the middle 3 quintiles is pretty broad...~25K-115K, so I'm  not sure 'middle class' is that useful a term really. But median household income in the U.S. is ~55K, so you are aren't that far under what is typical.

There's definitely a world of difference in ability to save at one end of the middle versus the other, though...and I see two things commonly on this board: 1) the assumption by many that members are mostly all earning near or above the 'six figure'  mark; and 2) the accompanying weird self identification as middle class by people earning 150K and up. 

The fact is, the 'rich' income bracket (upper quintile) in the U.S. starts at a household income of about 115K, shocking as it might seem to many.

Personally, I think the frugal, thoughtful-spending mindset of the board is the most valuable thing, but there is absolutely no doubt that it became a lot easier for DH and I to save more as our income climbed from just under 50K when he got  his first professional career track job (which required 3 science degrees plus a 2 year postdoc LOL, now there is a salary mismatch for you!) to a combined household income of about 130K after 17 years.

So your frustration over not being able to save much is completely understandable. On the other hand, I now realize that we could have saved a lot more than we did (very little) back when we were starting out...we didn't carry credit card debt, so we felt virtuous...but it never occurred to us to forgo the house/furniture/second car/clothes/eating out/etc once we got stable income.  So we could be much further ahead than we are now.

If you have the proper mindset in place, then you can jump on every increase in income going forward and allocate it properly in service of your long term plan.  It took us 10 full years of 'adulting' to get to that point!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Cali Nonya on June 28, 2017, 09:17:52 AM

Huh, interesting. I hadn't stopped to consider that....

MMM himself has waded into the income debate with his various career lists that get $50k starting salary, in part to make the point that there are a lot of options. However there are many very important jobs that pay under $50k and that's an unfortunate reality (some teachers, park ranger, etc...).
Yup, I read that list, and hopefully my husband is headed in that direction, but I opted to become a teacher at religious private schools knowing full well that my salary would never get very high. *pokes response to Cali Nonya*

[/quote]

Drat, I was poked. 
Well I don't comment too much since my opinions aren't main-line MMM.  My personal opinion is you guys are doing great.  As long as you are in positive territory (which you are), I would focus more on being happy and avoiding lifestyle creep as you age.  I'm in my 40's, and I am now in a stupidly high paying job, but the root of all my investments were from when I was making $42k and saving over half in my mid-20's. 

I'm actually typical for what I would call a natural saver.  I never was in debt, and was always cautious with money.  But my father died when I was 10, and my mother as a widow managed the family on very little after that, since I had a very traditional family with a working dad and stay at home mom.  Living the experience of knowing that the world can be random (bad things do happen), can make you a financial conservative.  The reason my family was okay after my dad's death was that my mother and father were people who had been living below their means.

But I personally think the trap that gets most people isn't the budget or saving or investment approach.  It's life-style creep.  That one is really hard to fight.  I had over 10 solid years of holding the line on life-style creep which netted me huge returns (I kept my very simple just-out-of-college lifestyle till my late-30's).  I get jumped on a little in the investment forums, but as a woman, my approach was I started very small, $1000 stock investments when I could in different companies in a self directed account (these were a new thing back then).  I didn't trust mutual funds or stock index fund or all the other "advised" tactics.  I was just going to put money straight in and manage it myself with all the risk on me but also all the returns on me.  Women tend to be good long term investors, and I fit that.  I just slowly kept at it.  I usually went for industrial companies that paid moderate dividends, I would collect the dividends and buy into another company.  My original goal was to save enough to match the dividends but I quickly surpassed that.

But, like many people point out.  Good, stable, hard-working people usually get promoted and have good income increases, I had a few years of really high salary increases as I promoted up and took the lead on high dollar (successful) projects.  I actually respect your decision to focus on a job you care for over chasing income.  But a slower rate just means it will take more time, not that you can't be a successful investor. 

Well, loving numbers and statistics helps.  I'm a hard-core math nerd, so just the act of studying numbers and making spread-sheets and tracking things slowly over time is fun in my strange little world.  That might not be a helpful comment for you, but I think most people can find a slow & steady approach that fits their personality.  It's the long term sticking with it that's hard and I think accepting the personal reality and working with that, is much more important than following an "advised" or "correct" path.

And saying that, I guess I would say more so than incomes and budgets, what are your social pressure points?  The need to help others, the need to match family expectations, the need to fit in, the need for excitement or comfort or ... 
In my humble opinion is that these types of things should be looked at harder than budgets. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Moonwaves on June 28, 2017, 11:15:43 AM
Posting to follow and be able to come back and catch up later when I have a bit of time.

I'm definitely low-income. Until 2015 I was actually making a fairly good salary but after years of trying to get out of debt and struggling with depression I finally bit the bullet and quit my job (was earning about 2,600 net/month there - I tend to give net figures as it seems easier to compare across countries with different tax/social insurance ystems that way). I had paid off all my debt and had a couple of months worth of expenses saved, started working on the side translating and lucked into a huge contract the first month, which gave me enough to cover the final month before unemployment kicked in. I had four months of unemployment before starting my new job, in a new much lower stress environment. That environment comes with a hefty paycut though, added to which I actually only got a job working 50% (20 hours a week). Which translated to just short of 1,000 net per month. That's just enough to cover barebones expenses so for the past year I've been very dependent on getting translation work. Somehow it just seemed to work out every month so that I was earning on average 300 per month (pre tax though, I'll have to pay approx. 30% on that income). Some months nothing, other months a nice big contract. If I had posted this yesterday I'd be talking about how almost all translation work has dried up since March but then this morning I managed to win a big contract. I'll be working flat out until Monday to get it done but that's the name of the game.

Thankfully, starting in April, I was able to increase my hours to 75% (30hrs/wk) and now I make 1,350 net per month - so I only had one very tight month, where I had no side income but my salary increase hadn't kicked in. 1,350 is enough to me to pay all the bills and save enough for annual expenses with not a whole lot left over. At the moment I'm just adding 50/month to my private German pension and, since May, have finally started investing in an ETF fund, also just 50/month.

Although the dole office covered a portion of my moving costs I did end up racking up a pile of debt in order to move here for my new job and I haven't managed to pay off most of that yet. But with my newly increased salary any money I now earn translating will go straight to that.

All that rambling though to say, yep, low-income but SO much happier than I was before. I was so stressed and often depressed in my old job that the money I was earning was often frittered away on convenience foods, eating lunch out, and all the usual silly things people do. I just didn't have the mental strength to stay there for another five or ten years with a view to trying to achieve 50% savings. When I first discovered MMM I didn't think I'd ever be able to FIRE but aimed for maybe saving enough to be able to half-retire by the time I was 50 and fully retire by 60. But the way things turned out, optimising the expenses side of thing after I moved was almost enough to allow me to achieve at 41 what I thought I'd have to wait until 50 to get to. So, now I know that, and I just need work on optimising expenses a little bit more and increasing earnings enough that when I get to 50 I can very comfortable reduce to just working 50% without needing to earn extra side-income. Which seems very doable. Maybe I'll even decide by 50 that I can afford to work even less than that. Who knows. At least I'm planning on having some choices, even if I never make it to FI. And the difference now, as well, being that I actually like the place I'm working and the people I'm working with.

FWIW I don't really feel like there's any elitism on these boards but I did (and still do) find myself sometimes slipping into a mindset of "I'm never going to earn that much, none of this applies to me, it's all useless anyway" because of the very high salaries most here enjoy. So it's nice to have this thread as a reminder that there are other low-income folks out there. I knew there were, but it's still nice to have it openly addressed. And, don't forget about people like arebelspy and his wife, neither of whom were very high earners and who FIREd at 29. If you're not familiar with their story, it's really interesting because of exactly how unflashy it all was, IMO.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: biotechgirl on June 28, 2017, 01:59:54 PM
Hello! I make about 1k net a month from a full time temp job I've been at for over a year. If it wasn't for my parents letting me live with them rent free, I don't know where I would be right now. I try to save at least $100 a month but it's challenging some months. I also have some student loans to pay down.


 I am frustrated with my career path, I am trying so desperately to obtain a permanent position. At least I'm out of the crappy fast food jobs. My parents say that I'm young and I should not worry if I have to bounce around from temp job to temp job. I worry that I might have to go back to retail or being a server again if I don't find a permanent job soon.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Bicycle_B on June 29, 2017, 08:55:27 AM
@Biotechgirl, good luck with your job search.  It's often hard to break in to a field but it's important to keep trying. If you persist, odds are that you will succeed.  And it will make a huge difference.

As far as worry goes, action counts more. I urge you to practice interviewing, keep your skills sharp through any professional groups and connections you can access, thank everyone you contact.  If you do all that and still need more results, start with What Color Is Your Parachute and do every exercise.  Persist in building yourself and reaching out.  (Not that you're not already.  I've just known a lot of people who tried job search method X and failed, because they didn't try method Y and Z.  And then they gave up when they could broken through.)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 29, 2017, 09:04:29 AM
First, I just wanted to say: while I don't have [edited because I missed a key word here] time to respond to everyone who's posting, I'm reading everything and I feel like everyone's contributions are building another corner of confidence and inspiration on the forum.

I'm not sure this will make you feel better or worse (better, I hope), but in terms of raw numbers, 40K is still considered middle income in the U.S. ...
If you have the proper mindset in place, then you can jump on every increase in income going forward and allocate it properly in service of your long term plan.  It took us 10 full years of 'adulting' to get to that point!

Thanks for the reminder! I think I knew those figures somewhere in the back of my brain, but I had allowed my reading of the forum to shift my thinking of what middle class truly is. You're right, we're actually quite blessed to be earning the income we are. Also, thanks for the reminder about mindset. I was falling trap to the idea that "everyone" has a car where we're moving and public transportation is awful, so we must get a car when we go, but that's not necessarily true. It's crucial to keep that non-compartive, needs vs. wants mindset.

Drat, I was poked. 
*laughs* I wasn't poking you! I was poking my response to you! But I'm really glad you took it as an invitation to write, because I super-enjoyed your response and bet other somewhat atypical mustachians did too.

But I personally think the trap that gets most people isn't the budget or saving or investment approach.  It's life-style creep.  That one is really hard to fight.  I had over 10 solid years of holding the line on life-style creep which netted me huge returns (I kept my very simple just-out-of-college lifestyle till my late-30's).  I get jumped on a little in the investment forums, but as a woman, my approach was I started very small, $1000 stock investments when I could in different companies in a self directed account (these were a new thing back then).  I didn't trust mutual funds or stock index fund or all the other "advised" tactics.  I was just going to put money straight in and manage it myself with all the risk on me but also all the returns on me.  Women tend to be good long term investors, and I fit that.  I just slowly kept at it.  I usually went for industrial companies that paid moderate dividends, I would collect the dividends and buy into another company.  My original goal was to save enough to match the dividends but I quickly surpassed that.

But, like many people point out.  Good, stable, hard-working people usually get promoted and have good income increases, I had a few years of really high salary increases as I promoted up and took the lead on high dollar (successful) projects.  I actually respect your decision to focus on a job you care for over chasing income.  But a slower rate just means it will take more time, not that you can't be a successful investor. 
Thanks for the encouragement. I found this part of your post really interesting, because we decided to hold off on investing until after our move and we figure our expenses down in FL (that's where we're heading). After the dust has settled, we'd like to see how much we have in savings and take a portion of that and invest it, but we're still deciding whether to go it on our own or go with in an index fund.


Well, loving numbers and statistics helps.  I'm a hard-core math nerd, so just the act of studying numbers and making spread-sheets and tracking things slowly over time is fun in my strange little world.  That might not be a helpful comment for you, but I think most people can find a slow & steady approach that fits their personality.  It's the long term sticking with it that's hard and I think accepting the personal reality and working with that, is much more important than following an "advised" or "correct" path.

I do love numbers and spreadsheets, but I also had some really bad experiences with math in high school that left me a little scarred. I'm slowly regaining my confidence ...

And saying that, I guess I would say more so than incomes and budgets, what are your social pressure points?  The need to help others, the need to match family expectations, the need to fit in, the need for excitement or comfort or ... 
In my humble opinion is that these types of things should be looked at harder than budgets. 

Great question, but are any of those actually needs? Or are they just strong desires? Hmmm, I guess they're all a spectrum. We all need to help others, and match family expectations, fit in, etc. to a certain extent, but they quickly cross over into desire. I guess our three biggest social pressures right now are going to be the "everyone has car"mentality in the community where we're moving, familial expectations of getting together for holidays (my family is mostly in MD, so that means plane tickets, and there are a lot of important holidays in our religion), and the pressure to have two bedrooms so people can come visit and we can live "normally" once our family, G-d Willing, starts to expand. I'm not sure what I think of each of those pressures, but I can lay them out. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Fire2025 on June 29, 2017, 11:52:10 AM
Posting to follow.  I was a "broke/ starving" artist most of my life earning under $30,000gross.  Then 5 years ago got a grown up job $60,000gross, and didn't know what to do with all that extra money.  Thank goodness I was pointed to MMM, so I'm able to save 50% of my money and can go back to being a fully funded "broke/ starving" artist in 8ish more years. 

So although I'm no longer low income, I really feel out of touch with the majority of posters, these days.  When people talk about how you "can't" live on the money I gross, I just think "what, where am I?"  I don't remember it being that way when I joined, a couple of years ago, but there is definitely some MMM forum lifestyle creep going on around here.  HAHAHA!!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Unique User on June 29, 2017, 01:10:55 PM
We were low income for years - mostly due to only working 6 months out of the year.  My income is high now and I'm poised to FIRE in 4 years, but I'm also 47.  We limped along saving very little for years, but then when our incomes went up, we had only one year of creep before we buckled back down. Those habits die hard and it's good to learn them as you never know what will happen down the road.   
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: JanetJackson on June 29, 2017, 06:44:40 PM
This is the most encouraging thread on MMM for me right now.  Since I'm finishing school and my income won't go up just yet, I am working on crunching in other ways.  My next steps are asking my gym coach if he'll sponsor my membership for me in exchange for ambassadorship for the gym, and doing a second assessment of my meal planning to trim costs up more.
Knowing there are more of us here makes me feel A LOT better when I see others in the forum recall the days when they were "low income" at 70k, etc. 

Could someone explain lifestyle creep?  I've seen it mentioned here a few times.  Is that basically diminishing frugality/minimalism over time in correlation with increasing income? 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: biotechgirl on June 30, 2017, 06:23:45 AM
@Biotechgirl, good luck with your job search.  It's often hard to break in to a field but it's important to keep trying. If you persist, odds are that you will succeed.  And it will make a huge difference.

As far as worry goes, action counts more. I urge you to practice interviewing, keep your skills sharp through any professional groups and connections you can access, thank everyone you contact.  If you do all that and still need more results, start with What Color Is Your Parachute and do every exercise.  Persist in building yourself and reaching out.  (Not that you're not already.  I've just known a lot of people who tried job search method X and failed, because they didn't try method Y and Z.  And then they gave up when they could broken through.)

Thank you for the encouragement. If I get this job I'll be making around 28k a year. It'll be a job with the state government so I probably will not make more than 45k in my hopefully less than 20 year career. I'll need to keep my frugal ways to reach FI.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: JanetJackson on June 30, 2017, 07:23:58 AM
This is the most encouraging thread on MMM for me right now.  Since I'm finishing school and my income won't go up just yet, I am working on crunching in other ways.  My next steps are asking my gym coach if he'll sponsor my membership for me in exchange for ambassadorship for the gym, and doing a second assessment of my meal planning to trim costs up more.
Knowing there are more of us here makes me feel A LOT better when I see others in the forum recall the days when they were "low income" at 70k, etc. 

Could someone explain lifestyle creep?  I've seen it mentioned here a few times.  Is that basically diminishing frugality/minimalism over time in correlation with increasing income?
basicly you start out with a used Hyundai Accent and as income increases you upgrade (often continuously) to new and fancier car because you can afford it. Same with everything else in your life. Read up on the blog post about hedonistic adaptation. The good news is that once you are aware of hedonistic adaptation and lifestyle creep you can keep both in check easily no matter what your income. And if you've already succumbed to them, they are easily reversed.

Got it, thanks!  Pretty much what I thought it was. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on June 30, 2017, 07:49:59 AM
I think it's important to remember that a lot of Mustachians didn't start out making $100k+ and having $1 million Vanguard portfolios. Many on here started out with low incomes, no assets, and massive debts, but patiently and consistently followed Mustachian principles which in time led to better financial outcomes.

So chin up if you are taking the first steps on your journey. FIRE might seem insurmountable now, but you will get more and more confident as you reach each goal you set and you watch your debts disappear and your investments grow. :-)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 30, 2017, 08:28:28 AM
This is the most encouraging thread on MMM for me right now...
Knowing there are more of us here makes me feel A LOT better when I see others in the forum recall the days when they were "low income" at 70k, etc. 
This is a very reassuring thread. Reminds me not everyone here was grossing $150k at age 25, or whatever.

We're in this together :)

I think it's important to remember that a lot of Mustachians didn't start out making $100k+ and having $1 million Vanguard portfolios. Many on here started out with low incomes, no assets, and massive debts, but patiently and consistently followed Mustachian principles which in time led to better financial outcomes.

So chin up if you are taking the first steps on your journey. FIRE might seem insurmountable now, but you will get more and more confident as you reach each goal you set and you watch your debts disappear and your investments grow. :-)

To watch our investments grow we'd have to have investments  *laughs* G-d Willing, after the move we will get more on top of that 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: MVal on June 30, 2017, 08:45:08 AM
I'm glad to see this thread. I am single and make around $45K when you add up bonuses and stuff. I had an advantage for the last 8 years when I lived with a roommate which kept my expenses extremely low. I paid off my student loans, car and have no debt now. However, I was getting really tired of not having a private space and I moved out to rent my own house this year. My living expenses have effectively doubled, driving my savings rate way down, but I still managed to cross into $100K NW recently and hope to find some ways to make up the difference in higher costs. One thing I do is dog sitting which gets me a few hundred extra dollars a year and is easy to work into my schedule. I'm hoping to find some time to do ESL teaching online soon, if I can.

Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Double Yu on June 30, 2017, 08:56:50 AM
I haven't had a chance to read the whole thread yet, but wanted to post to say how glad I am you asked. I recognize that the target audience here is higher-earning folk (it's been stated outright) and while I'm always flirting around the edges of the Mustache crew, our relatively modest situation has kept me sidelined from some of what's going on. We're pretty frugal but don't anticipate any retirement, let alone an early one, as far as things are going up until now - and the problem is mostly one of being income challenged. I'll post more details later as I work up my courage for a case study, but just wanted to add that yes, there are others without big salaries attempting to bring some mustache flair to things :)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: teen persuasion on June 30, 2017, 09:23:59 AM
Our family income was $30-35k for a long time, we've only just broken past $50k in the last 2 years.  I was SAHM to our 5 kids, until youngest reached school age.  Now I'm working part-time, I'm gradually getting more hours and better $, and DH left his teaching job a few years ago, and his new position is beginning to pay better, too.

When the kids were young, we were living a mustachian lifestyle thru necessity.  I focused on paying down our mortgage (an ugly 9.75%) with freed up money and tax refunds before investing anything beyond DH's 401k match.  When his employer cut the match, he wanted to stop contributing, but I wanted to double his contribution to replace the match.  I tweaked his withholdings to keep take home close to the same.  When that worked, I realized the effect of increasing pre-tax contributions on our tax refundable credits - I started a plan to keep increasing his rate of contribution gradually.  So I kept doubling it: 5% to 10% to 20% to 40%.  Partially it worked because of taxes avoided and increased refundable credits like EITC and CTC (that our state partially matches, too), and partially because some expenses went away with time (student loans) or with better frugality, and partially as I began working (very low income at first).  It was a snowball, getting bigger with each year.  Within a few years we were nearly maxing DH's 401k!  When we got the mortgage paid off (in less than 15 years) we increased DH's 401k contribution to 55% to max it, and redirected the tax returns to funding Roth IRAs for both of us.  DH cut back working, too - no more summer school.

Now we have only one kid left at home full time (2 in college, 2 out), and we are shifting more of our increased income to maxing the HSA and DH's higher 401k level (just turned 50).  At the same time, our refundable credits are shrinking with fewer kids, so more of our larger Roth IRA contributions come from earned income now.  We still can't quite max everything, despite me having no 401k option at all.  We'd like to be FIRE in about 5 years, but health insurance is a big unknown at this point, and college FAFSA implications for DS5 on income sources and financial maneuvers like Roth conversions have us treading carefully.  Still, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, now, and have options beyond the binary work/retire.  DH could retire, I keep working part-time (it's still fun now).  He shifts to a fun part-time "job".  We downsize and relocate, and see what we stumble upon.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Cali Nonya on June 30, 2017, 09:58:50 AM

To watch our investments grow we'd have to have investments  *laughs* G-d Willing, after the move we will get more on top of that

Actually I want to say something quickly here,  you *do* have investments; just not stock market investments.  As soon as you are netting more than you are spending, and you have a small stache of cash, that *is* an investment.  You have material goods, cars, your education, your husband has his own business, those are all assets.  You have investments you are nurturing (your career, his business, etc (and I assume some savings as you mentioned you had for the move)).

I guess part of the time line that some of us somewhat older folks might skip over is that yes there usually is a several year gap between the getting savings going, and getting into stock market type things (or real-estate).  But just because you are at the start of that process doesn't mean that what you are building up is not investments.  For me, I started with my corporate job out of university in 1999, but it was in 2004 when I started my brokerage account, that was 5 years of building up savings accounts (for a house down-payment), and a bit of just living young.  But the savings are the first part of assets, for me I won't put money into the Market, unless I have enough cash to be able to by at least a used car in cash and live for 3 months.  It took me right at about 5 years to get my other savings goals met before I started with market investments.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on June 30, 2017, 10:11:48 AM

To watch our investments grow we'd have to have investments  *laughs* G-d Willing, after the move we will get more on top of that

Actually I want to say something quickly here,  you *do* have investments; just not stock market investments.  As soon as you are netting more than you are spending, and you have a small stache of cash, that *is* an investment.  You have material goods, cars, your education, your husband has his own business, those are all assets.  You have investments you are nurturing (your career, his business, etc (and I assume some savings as you mentioned you had for the move)).

I guess part of the time line that some of us somewhat older folks might skip over is that yes there usually is a several year gap between the getting savings going, and getting into stock market type things (or real-estate).  But just because you are at the start of that process doesn't mean that what you are building up is not investments.  For me, I started with my corporate job out of university in 1999, but it was in 2004 when I started my brokerage account, that was 5 years of building up savings accounts (for a house down-payment), and a bit of just living young.  But the savings are the first part of assets, for me I won't put money into the Market, unless I have enough cash to be able to by at least a used car in cash and live for 3 months.  It took me right at about 5 years to get my other savings goals met before I started with market investments.

Thanks again, Cali Nonya. You keep on saying things that are such great mindset boosters! As I was writing that post I was thinking about how actually we have seen our bank accounts grow since we got married, (just about 3 years ago now), even if it has been at a rate much slower than stock investments, but I was like - nah, so small it doesn't count. Which is not true! It's still positive.

 Any comment on the social pressures I mentioned above (in my last response to you)? I'd love to hear your take. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Cali Nonya on June 30, 2017, 12:18:00 PM
Well you sort of restated my point.  Really strong desires are basically "needs".   We're human, we are affected by social pressure.  I sort of mentally picture the people who are immune to social pressure (or claim to be) as weird androids (and I just assume they are lying).

So for you it's two cars, travel for family, church, and a 2 bedroom living space (I'll just assume a  3bd/2bath house).  When you think of it, that's not really that much.  Yes yes, one car is cheaper (but a hassle), travel is an indulgence (but I get that one, I love my family and I don't care how long I have to work, I am not going to not go home and help out my mom), and more than one bed-room!  On no!  Spendy!  (Sarcasim)

But joking aside, I can relate but mine were a little different.  I was really house focused, so my priority was getting a house (which I did).  My first house was built in 1920 and cost me 74K.  (No really, these were REALLY BIG numbers to me at the time).  Savings for the down-payment took 2 years and that 20k check was the largest chunk of money I had ever handled on a single transaction (handing over that cashier's check was traumatic).  BUT I got to that comfy place I wanted,  I had a paid off car (my base model Ford Ranger, 9k new), I had a house (almost no furniture).  And I was So Happy.  I got to my level of "need" (yes yes these are not really needs, but they were my needs).   But I knew what I wanted.  When I got there, I was Happy.  I stayed in my Happy Place and that was my base level of "need" (which I said , I'm a spread-sheet person, yearly cost was 22-23k).  So that was it.  Actual spending of 22k (at around 2002) is what made me feel like I had what I wanted, that's a pretty reasonable amount, and once I got that line, is when I started learning about markets and such.  (And yes, that has creeped up to about 36k of spending by now)

And for me, the part was staying happy and busy.  Yes most people I worked with had much nicer cars, lived in much nicer areas, and had probably had more "toys".  But I love travel, so I always had a budget of one big trip per year (and two trips home to mom).  But that cost about 2k, and was part of my budget.  The lack of extras for me was I always had internet, but never TV or cable.  I never had a gym membership (since I cycled and mowed my lawn with a push-reel mower, and was always in the middle of some "house" project.  I brown bagged lunches.  And I think the big thing as mentioned is the life-style creep.  We do live around and work with and are related to people with normal acquisition mentality.  That is sort of hard-wired.  But if you want to be a saver, you get good at deflecting.  I always had one big trip per year, so that was something to talk about, I never knew what was going on with TV & Movies, but I would talk about news events (which I could read on-line for free).  I had a house, I would talk about my reno projects, my garden.  If you are happy and have happy things that fill your time you can push off that pressure to have something more.

I'm 42, I drive a Fiat 500 (base model Pop) I bought for cash for 14k.  In my last job, one of my peers who had just leased a top of the line Mercedes (traded in the BMW since it didn't have the features he wanted), would give me grief over my tiny car.  But I would talk about how much I loved my tiny car.  I love my dumb little small car, it makes me happy, it has a manual transmission and is fun to drive (and so easy to park!).  I have that happiness level with my goals that I don't feel pressure when parking it between the Mercedes and the Lexus at work (seriously I would do this intentionally).

You want 2 cars, a large enough living space, and some travel (and a life).  I would guess that at about ~30 to ~35k of actual out-lay per year.  That's very reasonable.  You're basically above that line already, things will most likely only go up from here on out.  If you are actually happy at that spending line, then great, that's it, hold the line, live a full life and be amazed at what compound interest has done for you 10 years down the line.

Now to tell on myself, I am very guilty of life-style creep on one front, and that's major house-creep.  I have moved 7 times and my houses have steadily inched up.  I'm pretty human, I do fall victim to some creep, just much less than the norm.  I think that's the other part of knowing what your wants are, one of those things on that list will be devil on your shoulder that's hard to resist. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Bicycle_B on June 30, 2017, 02:16:37 PM
Our family income was $30-35k for a long time, we've only just broken past $50k in the last 2 years.  I was SAHM to our 5 kids, until youngest reached school age.  Now I'm working part-time, I'm gradually getting more hours and better $, and DH left his teaching job a few years ago, and his new position is beginning to pay better, too.

When the kids were young, we were living a mustachian lifestyle thru necessity.  I focused on paying down our mortgage (an ugly 9.75%) with freed up money and tax refunds before investing anything beyond DH's 401k match.  When his employer cut the match, he wanted to stop contributing, but I wanted to double his contribution to replace the match.  I tweaked his withholdings to keep take home close to the same.  When that worked, I realized the effect of increasing pre-tax contributions on our tax refundable credits - I started a plan to keep increasing his rate of contribution gradually.  So I kept doubling it: 5% to 10% to 20% to 40%.  Partially it worked because of taxes avoided and increased refundable credits like EITC and CTC (that our state partially matches, too), and partially because some expenses went away with time (student loans) or with better frugality, and partially as I began working (very low income at first).  It was a snowball, getting bigger with each year.  Within a few years we were nearly maxing DH's 401k!  When we got the mortgage paid off (in less than 15 years) we increased DH's 401k contribution to 55% to max it, and redirected the tax returns to funding Roth IRAs for both of us.  DH cut back working, too - no more summer school.

Now we have only one kid left at home full time (2 in college, 2 out), and we are shifting more of our increased income to maxing the HSA and DH's higher 401k level (just turned 50).  At the same time, our refundable credits are shrinking with fewer kids, so more of our larger Roth IRA contributions come from earned income now.  We still can't quite max everything, despite me having no 401k option at all.  We'd like to be FIRE in about 5 years, but health insurance is a big unknown at this point, and college FAFSA implications for DS5 on income sources and financial maneuvers like Roth conversions have us treading carefully.  Still, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, now, and have options beyond the binary work/retire.  DH could retire, I keep working part-time (it's still fun now).  He shifts to a fun part-time "job".  We downsize and relocate, and see what we stumble upon.

That's awesome!!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: PMG on June 30, 2017, 03:22:56 PM
Posting to follow!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Cali Nonya on June 30, 2017, 03:34:05 PM
Oh drat, I totally failed at trying to put this in a post due to the graphics.
See attachment.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 01, 2017, 02:28:57 AM
I didn't notice it until recently, but I think there is a slight hint of elitism on this site in regards to low income individuals.
Correct. But to be fair, people who are low-income are less willing to put their numbers out there and talk details than people who are high-income. We see this also in people talking about running their small business: some have a very small business (like me), it does make money but they won't talk details...
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on July 01, 2017, 06:26:48 AM
I didn't notice it until recently, but I think there is a slight hint of elitism on this site in regards to low income individuals.
Correct. But to be fair, people who are low-income are less willing to put their numbers out there and talk details than people who are high-income. We see this also in people talking about running their small business: some have a very small business (like me), it does make money but they won't talk details...

The elitism can be a little difficult to handle sometimes for people with low incomes, because people with low incomes often are coming from a bad place psychologically when they are trying to turn things around for themselves.

Sometimes, it feels like some people on this forum blame low income people for their circumstances. The "face punches" can be a little cruel sometimes. Yeah, there are things that low income people can do to improve themselves financially, but it can be hard to unlearn negative habits and find the courage to take financial risks. Also, there are many factors beyond the control of low income people that put them in a difficult situation.

I would encourage more low income people on this forum to tell their stories and I would encourage the high income people to be a little kinder and more supportive of people starting out on a difficult journey.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: farfromfire on July 01, 2017, 06:58:04 AM
I currently make a net income of 21K EUR, of which I save 25%, which is VERY mustachian compared to my peers. It *is* funny sometimes when people here or on various podcasts say things like "how could you NOT be saving 50+ percent of your income"? Or how ANYONE can achieve higher incomes, regardless of life situation - my net income is 10% below the average here, obviously the economy could not sustain everyone doubling their income without massive inflation.

At the end of the day, if one can live on 75% of their net income, they'll save 25x spending in 25 years assuming 8% real growth. If 90%, then 38 years, still much better than other folks in the same position who do not save.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Jaguar Paw on July 01, 2017, 09:37:49 AM
Just dropping in to post in regards to "not everyone on here makes 6 figures at 22".

When I graduated school, I moved across country to join Teach For America. Quickly realized that it was not for me, so I quit and actually owed the school district money when I quit. I lived off frozen burritos for a few months while working in sales before I got my current job. Still at 22, I think starting salary was around 35k...Annnnd of course, because I was 22, stupid, and hadn't heard of this site, I bought a brand new 25K car..and wasted a ton of money on electronics and not mustachian crap.

Fast forward 10 years, married with a high household income, and we still have the same fairly cheap lifestyle from before.

Hats off to everyone grinding through the mustachian lifestyle on a low income. Keep up the good work!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on July 01, 2017, 10:40:44 AM
I didn't notice it until recently, but I think there is a slight hint of elitism on this site in regards to low income individuals.
Correct. But to be fair, people who are low-income are less willing to put their numbers out there and talk details than people who are high-income. We see this also in people talking about running their small business: some have a very small business (like me), it does make money but they won't talk details...

The elitism can be a little difficult to handle sometimes for people with low incomes, because people with low incomes often are coming from a bad place psychologically when they are trying to turn things around for themselves.

Sometimes, it feels like some people on this forum blame low income people for their circumstances. The "face punches" can be a little cruel sometimes. Yeah, there are things that low income people can do to improve themselves financially, but it can be hard to unlearn negative habits and find the courage to take financial risks. Also, there are many factors beyond the control of low income people that put them in a difficult situation.

I would encourage more low income people on this forum to tell their stories and I would encourage the high income people to be a little kinder and more supportive of people starting out on a difficult journey.
Also many low income earners are purposely choosing professions they find more altruistic then a job that may earn them big bucks. For some people turning their backs on high paying jobs in lieu of one with more meaning and purpose is what's important to them rather than saving a massive $$ amount for a champagne-fuelled FIRE life.

Altruism is all well and good -- I do a lot of charity work myself -- but it's beneficial for people to increase their earnings as much as possible because that will allow them to do more good with their wealth. I have been able to help so many people, especially the poor and hungry, because I was able to improve my financial situation. There are literally a whole lot of people who are fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated only because I increased my income.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on July 01, 2017, 11:23:55 AM
I didn't notice it until recently, but I think there is a slight hint of elitism on this site in regards to low income individuals.
Correct. But to be fair, people who are low-income are less willing to put their numbers out there and talk details than people who are high-income. We see this also in people talking about running their small business: some have a very small business (like me), it does make money but they won't talk details...

The elitism can be a little difficult to handle sometimes for people with low incomes, because people with low incomes often are coming from a bad place psychologically when they are trying to turn things around for themselves.

Sometimes, it feels like some people on this forum blame low income people for their circumstances. The "face punches" can be a little cruel sometimes. Yeah, there are things that low income people can do to improve themselves financially, but it can be hard to unlearn negative habits and find the courage to take financial risks. Also, there are many factors beyond the control of low income people that put them in a difficult situation.

I would encourage more low income people on this forum to tell their stories and I would encourage the high income people to be a little kinder and more supportive of people starting out on a difficult journey.
Also many low income earners are purposely choosing professions they find more altruistic then a job that may earn them big bucks. For some people turning their backs on high paying jobs in lieu of one with more meaning and purpose is what's important to them rather than saving a massive $$ amount for a champagne-fuelled FIRE life.

Altruism is all well and good -- I do a lot of charity work myself -- but it's beneficial for people to increase their earnings as much as possible because that will allow them to do more good with their wealth. I have been able to help so many people, especially the poor and hungry, because I was able to improve my financial situation. There are literally a whole lot of people who are fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated only because I increased my income.
and there are an equal amount of people who are doing the actual clothing, sheltering, feeding, educating, supporting, and care giving on low incomes. I agree earning more money and donating it to charitable causes is always a good thing but there needs to be boots-on-the-ground people doing the actual physical work to make things successful. I also wasn't just talking about charitable work but those lower income jobs (like caregiver, daycare worker, EMT, rescue workers, social workers, military, law enforcement, environmental fields,  teachers,  ministers, etc...) who aren't paid much but do important work.

If there's one big overarching important lesson that I've learned about life, it's "Don't Be A Martyr". Honestly, do charity work because you are a good person, but don't make it your occupation. It hurts you. It hurts your cause. It hurts everybody. Get money because it makes everything better.

Sounds cold, I know, but it's helpful advice.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on July 01, 2017, 11:29:41 AM
Quote
I also wasn't just talking about charitable work but those lower income jobs (like caregiver, daycare worker, EMT, rescue workers, social workers, military, law enforcement, environmental fields,  teachers,  ministers, etc...) who aren't paid much but do important work.

That's how I had read you.

Totally agreed. People in these fields are doing charitable work, by offering essential services at low rates or free, often at the cost of personal real estate, etc. I do feel like this key matter is often missed in Mustache land, i.e., that a focus on high-income (only) seems to forget that most of us on the planet are relying on the people who help their neighbours, strangers, clients, patients, etc -or the next generations of health care workers, etc- for free or very low wages.

It concerns me when I see a version of Mustachianism that relies on other people working for low wages, without recognizing that or aiming to redistribute some of the gains from that.

Giving money is also critically important, though, yes.

Both essential.

Having gone the path of the accidental martyr, I do urge my kid to aim for high income for 6-10 years, then spend the rest of his life self-funding such good work. The ideal thing about this is that it frees one to work in a principled way vs compromised way, which I think is also a wonderful difference.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Anydaynow on July 01, 2017, 04:00:18 PM
This thread is great.  I also find that the low income folks are more tight-lipped around here (myself included). I read some threads and think .... well, I *feel* a sense of self-inflicted "othering."  Last year was my highest earning, ever, at 39 000 pre-tax.  Other years have been 30 000 or less, usually much less.  I felt downright rich when I finally earned 25 000 - I had enough money for my needs, most of my (humble) wants, and there was still some left over for savings?! Sweet!  I definitely do not fit the target demographic here, and likely I never will as my chosen field is in social work.  Currently, I am juggling 4 jobs just to crack that 30 000 mark, and I am paying out of pocket for school, up front (at 34 years old) in an effort to eventually boost my earning potential.  On paper, I have never been so successful in my entire life. This forum results in me feeling the bad kind of face punch (as in, ugh, my best is considered failure for a lot of people), but I stay because the principles are sound and I have seen a lot of financial growth as a result (knowledge and dollars).  I just no longer click on "help, I can't find savings on 100 000/yr" threads because... what planet are they on to be so incredibly wealthy and have nothing? There's nothing for me to learn there.  A thread like this one, however, has sparked my interest big time.  I'm really appreciating all of the posters.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Jaguar Paw on July 01, 2017, 05:00:34 PM

[/quote] and there are an equal amount of people who are doing the actual clothing, sheltering, feeding, educating, supporting, and care giving on low incomes. I agree earning more money and donating it to charitable causes is always a good thing but there needs to be boots-on-the-ground people doing the actual physical work to make things successful. I also wasn't just talking about charitable work but those lower income jobs (like caregiver, daycare worker, EMT, rescue workers, social workers, military, law enforcement, environmental fields,  teachers,  ministers, etc...) who aren't paid much but do important work.
[/quote]

Hooray!! I have done two of these jobs (teacher and law enforcement). The only slight correction is that from my experience, the jobs are not lower income. Teachers in the area start around 50K and after 9 years in Law Enforcement, with a bit under ten hours per week of overtime, an Officer can make 90K.. Thanks for thinking those jobs are important, but for anyone out their contemplating the field, you can still make some good money doing it.

Also, in reference to another comment, the Randian in me hates the word and idea of altruism, but now I'm just nitpicking.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Paul der Krake on July 01, 2017, 05:47:17 PM
I currently make a net income of 21K EUR, of which I save 25%, which is VERY mustachian compared to my peers. It *is* funny sometimes when people here or on various podcasts say things like "how could you NOT be saving 50+ percent of your income"? Or how ANYONE can achieve higher incomes, regardless of life situation - my net income is 10% below the average here, obviously the economy could not sustain everyone doubling their income without massive inflation.

At the end of the day, if one can live on 75% of their net income, they'll save 25x spending in 25 years assuming 8% real growth. If 90%, then 38 years, still much better than other folks in the same position who do not save.
With a few exceptions, professionals in the US are paid vastly more than their European counterparts. The safety net is lower, granted, but it's usually a much better deal for a motivated young professional with a clean slate.

The target audience of the FIRE podcasts is the healthy US college grad with minimal debt, no kids, who makes 40k/year or more in an average area. It's not hard to save 50% of your income under those circumstances.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Fire2025 on July 01, 2017, 06:07:28 PM
This thread is great.  I also find that the low income folks are more tight-lipped around here (myself included). I read some threads and think .... well, I *feel* a sense of self-inflicted "othering."  Last year was my highest earning, ever, at 39 000 pre-tax.  Other years have been 30 000 or less, usually much less.  I felt downright rich when I finally earned 25 000 - I had enough money for my needs, most of my (humble) wants, and there was still some left over for savings?! Sweet!  ... I stay because the principles are sound and I have seen a lot of financial growth as a result (knowledge and dollars).  I just no longer click on "help, I can't find savings on 100 000/yr" threads because... what planet are they on to be so incredibly wealthy and have nothing? There's nothing for me to learn there.  A thread like this one, however, has sparked my interest big time.  I'm really appreciating all of the posters.
Anydaynow, I loved your post.  I felt the same way when my wage actually got over $30,000 per year, I was like wow I'm so rich, what does one do with all this money!!???  And the site has really really helped me to save every penny of the extra and for that I'm super grateful, but the "if you can't make more you're a failure" attitude that flies around some of the threads, can really get to me sometimes. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: farfromfire on July 02, 2017, 02:01:06 AM
I currently make a net income of 21K EUR, of which I save 25%, which is VERY mustachian compared to my peers. It *is* funny sometimes when people here or on various podcasts say things like "how could you NOT be saving 50+ percent of your income"? Or how ANYONE can achieve higher incomes, regardless of life situation - my net income is 10% below the average here, obviously the economy could not sustain everyone doubling their income without massive inflation.

At the end of the day, if one can live on 75% of their net income, they'll save 25x spending in 25 years assuming 8% real growth. If 90%, then 38 years, still much better than other folks in the same position who do not save.
With a few exceptions, professionals in the US are paid vastly more than their European counterparts. The safety net is lower, granted, but it's usually a much better deal for a motivated young professional with a clean slate.

The target audience of the FIRE podcasts is the healthy US college grad with minimal debt, no kids, who makes 40k/year or more in an average area. It's not hard to save 50% of your income under those circumstances.

First point is 100% correct, and my income is expected to be much higher when I move back to the US in a few years - and the positive habits I have learned from the FIRE community over the past year will help me save most of that income.

To the second - depends on the podcast (I believe the relatively new ChooseFI guys said they target anyone making above 30k at one point). Limiting your audience to a US college grad with minimal debt does not leave many people though, given the average student loan debt accumulated during college.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: BobTheBuilder on July 02, 2017, 03:36:38 AM
I currently make a net income of 21K EUR, of which I save 25%, which is VERY mustachian compared to my peers. It *is* funny sometimes when people here or on various podcasts say things like "how could you NOT be saving 50+ percent of your income"? Or how ANYONE can achieve higher incomes, regardless of life situation - my net income is 10% below the average here, obviously the economy could not sustain everyone doubling their income without massive inflation.

At the end of the day, if one can live on 75% of their net income, they'll save 25x spending in 25 years assuming 8% real growth. If 90%, then 38 years, still much better than other folks in the same position who do not save.

That is almost exactly what I make... 23K EUR net income. Keeping my student spending levels until I finish this Ph.D. which is quite the unmotivational hell-hole right now (machines not working, software not working, politics...). But from here on, it only goes up! 1 more year at this income. After this, to inifinity and beyond :-D
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: farfromfire on July 02, 2017, 03:49:56 AM
I currently make a net income of 21K EUR, of which I save 25%, which is VERY mustachian compared to my peers. It *is* funny sometimes when people here or on various podcasts say things like "how could you NOT be saving 50+ percent of your income"? Or how ANYONE can achieve higher incomes, regardless of life situation - my net income is 10% below the average here, obviously the economy could not sustain everyone doubling their income without massive inflation.

At the end of the day, if one can live on 75% of their net income, they'll save 25x spending in 25 years assuming 8% real growth. If 90%, then 38 years, still much better than other folks in the same position who do not save.

That is almost exactly what I make... 23K EUR net income. Keeping my student spending levels until I finish this Ph.D. which is quite the unmotivational hell-hole right now (machines not working, software not working, politics...). But from here on, it only goes up! 1 more year at this income. After this, to inifinity and beyond :-D
May I ask where you live? Mine is an Austrian PhD income.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: GrumpyPenguin on July 02, 2017, 06:18:52 AM
This thread is great.  I also find that the low income folks are more tight-lipped around here (myself included). I read some threads and think .... well, I *feel* a sense of self-inflicted "othering."  Last year was my highest earning, ever, at 39 000 pre-tax.  Other years have been 30 000 or less, usually much less.  I felt downright rich when I finally earned 25 000 - I had enough money for my needs, most of my (humble) wants, and there was still some left over for savings?! Sweet!  I definitely do not fit the target demographic here, and likely I never will as my chosen field is in social work.  Currently, I am juggling 4 jobs just to crack that 30 000 mark, and I am paying out of pocket for school, up front (at 34 years old) in an effort to eventually boost my earning potential.  On paper, I have never been so successful in my entire life. This forum results in me feeling the bad kind of face punch (as in, ugh, my best is considered failure for a lot of people), but I stay because the principles are sound and I have seen a lot of financial growth as a result (knowledge and dollars).  I just no longer click on "help, I can't find savings on 100 000/yr" threads because... what planet are they on to be so incredibly wealthy and have nothing? There's nothing for me to learn there.  A thread like this one, however, has sparked my interest big time.  I'm really appreciating all of the posters.

Makes me a little sad to hear low income folks might be excluding themselves from some conversations here.  I think it's important for Mustachians with low incomes to talk about their experiences here -- their experiences may uniquely help new readers/visitors in a way that folks in other income brackets might not be able to.

I'm one of the folks who went to grad school and lived off of $15-20k a year for a good long while. When I started working after school, my income increased substantially while my spending has barely inflated (wellllll, about 50% more, but still low all things considered).  The school/work transition like this makes saving 50%+ relatively easy, but for new readers and visitors, talking about my experiences probably won't help many of them.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on July 02, 2017, 07:45:53 AM
I didn't notice it until recently, but I think there is a slight hint of elitism on this site in regards to low income individuals.
Correct. But to be fair, people who are low-income are less willing to put their numbers out there and talk details than people who are high-income. We see this also in people talking about running their small business: some have a very small business (like me), it does make money but they won't talk details...

The elitism can be a little difficult to handle sometimes for people with low incomes, because people with low incomes often are coming from a bad place psychologically when they are trying to turn things around for themselves.

Sometimes, it feels like some people on this forum blame low income people for their circumstances. The "face punches" can be a little cruel sometimes. Yeah, there are things that low income people can do to improve themselves financially, but it can be hard to unlearn negative habits and find the courage to take financial risks. Also, there are many factors beyond the control of low income people that put them in a difficult situation.

I would encourage more low income people on this forum to tell their stories and I would encourage the high income people to be a little kinder and more supportive of people starting out on a difficult journey.
Also many low income earners are purposely choosing professions they find more altruistic then a job that may earn them big bucks. For some people turning their backs on high paying jobs in lieu of one with more meaning and purpose is what's important to them rather than saving a massive $$ amount for a champagne-fuelled FIRE life.

Altruism is all well and good -- I do a lot of charity work myself -- but it's beneficial for people to increase their earnings as much as possible because that will allow them to do more good with their wealth. I have been able to help so many people, especially the poor and hungry, because I was able to improve my financial situation. There are literally a whole lot of people who are fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated only because I increased my income.
and there are an equal amount of people who are doing the actual clothing, sheltering, feeding, educating, supporting, and care giving on low incomes. I agree earning more money and donating it to charitable causes is always a good thing but there needs to be boots-on-the-ground people doing the actual physical work to make things successful. I also wasn't just talking about charitable work but those lower income jobs (like caregiver, daycare worker, EMT, rescue workers, social workers, military, law enforcement, environmental fields,  teachers,  ministers, etc...) who aren't paid much but do important work.

If there's one big overarching important lesson that I've learned about life, it's "Don't Be A Martyr". Honestly, do charity work because you are a good person, but don't make it your occupation. It hurts you. It hurts your cause. It hurts everybody. Get money because it makes everything better.

Sounds cold, I know, but it's helpful advice.

Wow, that's quote the discussion that I missed! WhiteTrashCan, which of these defintions (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/martyr) of "matyr" did you mean:
1.a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.
2.a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause:
a martyr to the cause of social justice.
3.a person who undergoes severe or constant suffering:
a martyr to severe headaches.
4.a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.?
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Fire2025 on July 02, 2017, 08:11:08 AM
I really love this thread and I want to tip my hat to the $30k - 40k crowd around here.  I have never spent more than 30k a year because until 5 years ago, I had never made more than that, 47 and spent my life as a failing artist, not one regret. 

But I can say spending 30k now that I make 60k is a totally different world.  The constant fear of the unknown when you are only saving maybe 25 or 50 bucks a month is so hard, so exhausting.  Congratulations, you are killing it!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on July 02, 2017, 08:18:31 AM
I wanted to say thanks Cali Nonya for those nice graphs. They highlighted the importance of increasing savings as you get older and sticking it out when psychologically it feels like you're getting nowhere, but the math says you're getting somewhere.

I also wanted to thank you for your long post. It certainly did make me feel better, because my short-term dreams are even more modest than that!

Well you sort of restated my point.  Really strong desires are basically "needs".   We're human, we are affected by social pressure.  I sort of mentally picture the people who are immune to social pressure (or claim to be) as weird androids (and I just assume they are lying).
But before I show you how, totally with you on the android point - do you like the topic of behavioral economics?

So for you it's two cars, travel for family, church, and a 2 bedroom living space (I'll just assume a  3bd/2bath house).  When you think of it, that's not really that much.  Yes yes, one car is cheaper (but a hassle), travel is an indulgence (but I get that one, I love my family and I don't care how long I have to work, I am not going to not go home and help out my mom), and more than one bed-room!  On no!  Spendy!  (Sarcasim)

Well, actually we're just thinking of going from 0 cars to 1, yes, travel to my family,( but at that's a little better than a before, because we were traveling from NY to visit my parents in MD and his parents in FL, and now we'll only have to travel to see mine), our other religious expenses (not having to do with chruch though, because we're not Christian), a 2 bedroom apartment (up from our sort of 1 bedroom, sort of studio), and up to 1 car from 0.

But joking aside, I can relate but mine were a little different... I have that happiness level with my goals that I don't feel pressure when parking it between the Mercedes and the Lexus at work (seriously I would do this intentionally).
You made areally good point here about knowing which of your wants are really needs. Meeting those wants can contribute to a feeling of happiness that makes spending pressure easier to deflect.

I really love this thread and I want to tip my hat to the $30k - 40k crowd around here.  I have never spent more than 30k a year because until 5 years ago, I had never made more than that, 47 and spent my life as a failing artist, not one regret. 

But I can say spending 30k now that I make 60k is a totally different world.  The constant fear of the unknown when you are only saving maybe 25 or 50 bucks a month is so hard, so exhausting.  Congratulations, you are killing it!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on July 02, 2017, 08:42:07 AM
Quote
Makes me a little sad to hear low income folks might be excluding themselves from some conversations here.  I think it's important for Mustachians with low incomes to talk about their experiences here -- their experiences may uniquely help new readers/visitors in a way that folks in other income brackets might not be able to.

+1.

Blurting my circumstances and resulting income on this forum has had a wonderful affect on my life (and savings!). Highly recommend. Yes, there are a few silly people who think "anyone can do x" or "everyone can bring in $100k/yr", but there is also a super strong contingent (of all income levels) bolstering, encouraging, and celebrating folks navigating life with low income and/or tricky circumstances.

I had one long journal whose title noted my "$15k, 2 ppl" spend per year. Some of us have discussed the idea of us a bunch of us lower-income people including our spending or income level in a journal title, just so people know there are a bunch of us.

Definitely include yourself :)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: pachnik on July 02, 2017, 10:24:11 AM
I don't think I am a low income MMM; I made $55,000.00 last year which AFAIK is middle income.  My husband makes about the same as I do.  I am enjoying this thread too. 

I can relate more to low or middle-income people here.  For me this is because, I never bought into an expensive lifestyle.  I mean I could have if I had decided to use my credit cards.  Instead, I always owned modest vehicles, lived in cheaper rentals - wasn't trying to "make a splash".   But unfortunately, until I found this website, I frittered my money away on stuff like take-out coffee, buying lunch out rather than brown bagging etc.

Also, I don't think anyone can bring in $100,000.00 a year. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Dicey on July 02, 2017, 10:25:43 AM
I'd also say don't forget the age part of the equation.  Some of the elitists got there from small beginnings, the older crowd does tend towards higher net value, but that's what you are also hoping for, right?
^^^This^^^

I have an AA, DH has an AAA, which stands for Almost an AA. His work is considered blue collar. I was single and made less than 45k for the majority of my career, in a HCOLA to boot. I am FIRE now, but DH still works. He's at the peak of his company's wage scale, with three years to go to reach his full Defined Benefit Pension age. He earns well under 100k. We live and still save on his salary. Yet to outward appearances, we are the elitists you scorn (Sorry OP, see JJ quote and apology below). Our 1+M house is paid for, as are the nice-looking cars in the driveway. We have a few rental properties (with cheap mortgages). We have more money in investments than we ever imagined possible.

I too, have sensed the elitism on this forum, but the pillar values sit so well with my own ethics that I still find this forum and site very useful....

Yes, we are the "elitists" you scorn, JanetJackson, but only because we started early-ish, used mortgages as leverage to create wealth, lived below our means, saved and invested. Then we waited. TIME is the most important factor once you start investing. Set your goals, keep to them, then let compound interest do its magic and you will get there, too.

I love this line: The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.

As Cali Nonya said, we're older and planted our trees twenty years ago. Today is your chance to plant yours. Don't miss it because you scorn the "elitists".

ETA: I wrote this a couple of days ago. Today, I see it didn't post and that there are 25 new replies. I'm going to post it anyway. I suspect others have already said this, but IMO, it bears repeating.

ETA2: Whoops! Full apologies to the OP, who did NOT use the word "elitism". I have added the comment to this post, for clarification.

SORRY to have put words in the wrong person's mouth. Note to self: if you finally find your not-an-iPad thingy after searching for days for it and you see there's a post that you didn't publish, perhaps there was a good reason for that. Gah!

Despite this brain lapse, I love the tree story, and the fact that my story is one of encouragement, so I'm going to simply add this apology rather than delete the whole post.

Perhaps it also proves that one doesn't even have to be all that smart to get to FIRE, i.e. me. Gah!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Anydaynow on July 02, 2017, 10:53:51 AM
I'm so much more inspired by you lower income folks.  My "reach" income goal for my lifetime is 60 000/yr.  Id be jazzed about 50 000. Money would be piling up to my ears with zero effort.  I don't even know what people spend it on past about 40 000, because I always had basically everything I wanted with 30 000+. 

My current life circumstances are somewhat (although not totally, I've found!) unique around here so I feel out of place posting. This is actually my first contribution outside of the "off topic" section.  I sponge up what is applicable to me, try to adjust the rest to fit into my own context, and leave whatever else behind.  I have learned a lot here - about investing,  about saving, about attitude, and about how to get ahead (even if I'm coming from somewhere way behind most).  I wish there was an entire subforum for those making less than 50 000/yr (total! It totally turns me off when I read about a 30 000 income but then find out a partner is making 80 000, for a combined "I'm riiiiiiich" amount).
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Anydaynow on July 02, 2017, 11:21:14 AM
My comment above was in no way targeting anyone, especially the post that snuck in right before mine! It just doesn't apply to me and I am unable to relate to financial plans that have that kind of money involved.  I appreciated the above post, particularly the quote about planting a tree. That's been my attitude since finding this place :)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Fire2025 on July 02, 2017, 11:34:42 AM
Yes, we are the "elitists" you scorn,

I don't think anyone on this thread has scorned anyone for having more, and that is not elitist.  Elitists are the people who have more and assume there is something wrong with those of us who have less.  If you judge others because they have less; less education, less money, less talent you are an elitist.

If you just have more then you are definitely elite, but being elite is good, it means you have achieved something special and no one on this thread, of any income bracket, has poopooed anyone for being elite.

Some of us have poopooed people on the forum who assume they are a little better than those of use working in the under 100,000 camp.  And I'm guilty of poopooing people who swear you "just can't" live on 45,000/year in blahblahblah city.  When people of all incomes live in those cities.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on July 02, 2017, 02:09:10 PM
Quote
I wish there was an entire subforum for those making less than 50 000/yr (total! It totally turns me off when I read about a 30 000 income but then find out a partner is making 80 000, for a combined "I'm riiiiiiich" amount).

You could request exactly this! :)
Just ask a mod. Maybe the team says yes, maybe the team says no, but you can propose/request it.
And I think it's a great idea.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Channel-Z on July 02, 2017, 02:42:13 PM
At $52k/year, I would consider myself low-income. It feels that way, especially when a lot of people I know are taking fabulous vacations and moving to bigger houses (I know, I know, Facebook). When I graduated college, my first job paid $19,000. I'm 40 now, so my income hasn't increased dramatically, but it has increased nonetheless. The biggest reason I've been able to crack the $200,000 net worth mark this year is the lack of family, children in particular. I'm just an ordinary, average single guy with an old car. I can save about $1,400 maximum per month, not counting the 401(k) contribution. That varies depending on what bills come due. By comparison, some of my co-workers at similar salaries often speak of money problems. Some work second jobs. At least one asked me if she could contest an overdraft charge.

My biggest mistake was probably not buying a house. Had I known I would be in one city for so long after two layoffs in two other cities, I would have taken the plunge on some small 2BR place.

Regardless of income, we are here because of our creativity, and goal-oriented mindsets. I don't anticipate ever being married or having a family, so I want my next job to be my last, and I would like it to be in an area where I can retire in place. I hope MMM can assist me in new ideas so that I may find that peaceful existence, even if it's not really "early" retirement.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Dicey on July 02, 2017, 03:11:51 PM
Note to FIRE2025 and freshstache: You're right. It was Janet Jackson who used the term, not the OP. I have amended my original post. Thanks for calling out my error so politely.

P.S. I didn't delete it, because then the comments don't make sense. Meanwhile cuppa (which is autocorrect for Mea culpa).
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: life_travel on July 02, 2017, 03:46:24 PM
Personally I loved the tree analogy Dicey, I've been in low income camp so I understand those folks ... Then by chance I was in a high income camp ( but couldn't save that much because of circumstances ) then back into average income camp .
I want to leave my work " yesterday " but alas I'm still planting trees :)

When I look at your age and your accomplishements it feels somewhat " fair" but when I look at so many threads with " I'm 23 with 95k salary " or I'm 27 and FI " sometimes it feels unfair . I know I know that's irrational but we are all humans and have our emotions after all ... IRL I'm a positive person and always believe there is no point comparing to others to be envious , we all have our own unique lives to live .
Having been in both of income camps it would be great to see subforum for lower income people , to balance all other engineers with 100k plus salaries :)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: JanetJackson on July 02, 2017, 06:23:58 PM
I don't know if I was the first person on the thread to use the term "elitist," but I certainly did not mean it in a scornful way, simply noticing a feeling of an invisible separating line of income that caters a large part of the forum conversations overall to high earners. 
It was a poor choice of words on my part, and I apologize if I offended anyone- I'm here to learn and share ideas, just like everyone else. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Fire2025 on July 02, 2017, 06:30:37 PM
Note to FIRE2025 and freshstache: You're right. It was Janet Jackson who used the term, not the OP. I have amended my original post. Thanks for calling out my error so politely.

P.S. I didn't delete it, because then the comments don't make sense. Meanwhile cuppa (which is autocorrect for Mea culpa).

I'm glad you didn't delete your story it's totally inspirational and I really liked reading it.

Got to love autocorrect!!!!  I cuppa all the time.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: sultee on July 02, 2017, 06:46:28 PM
...

Any mustachians for whom just saving 150 a month is something to be proud of?
You HAVE to remember than any savings is good saving mustachianism is a way of life, it isn't about income. My DW and I are teachers, but we don't waste money and we don't buy unnecessary things. THAT is what saves us money. Read the productive comments on here and don't give into the people talking about upper vs lower class. That conversation is only fixed mindset individuals who need to place blame and can't take a step back to evaluate their situation and make the best of it. Anything you do to make next month better than this month is progress. That progress will grow and grow until you look back and think, "I can't believe that is where we started." You've got this!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on July 03, 2017, 08:39:26 AM
Note to FIRE2025 and freshstache: You're right. It was Janet Jackson who used the term, not the OP. I have amended my original post. Thanks for calling out my error so politely.

P.S. I didn't delete it, because then the comments don't make sense. Meanwhile cuppa (which is autocorrect for Mea culpa).
I don't know if I was the first person on the thread to use the term "elitist," but I certainly did not mean it in a scornful way, simply noticing a feeling of an invisible separating line of income that caters a large part of the forum conversations overall to high earners. 
It was a poor choice of words on my part, and I apologize if I offended anyone- I'm here to learn and share ideas, just like everyone else. 

I just wanted to jump in here and say I appreciate Dicey noticing that I did not use the term elitist and I appreciate that JanetJackson apologized for her use (though she definitely was not the first nor only poster to use the term). I did not make this thread to bash anyone. I recognize using words like ďlowĒ and ďhighĒ automatically makes a division and could cause someone to feel excluded, but my intention in making this thread was not to say ďAll you people making lots of money are so snobby and mean Ė poor meĒ (because that is so not true Ė this forum is full of many nice people of all income brackets!), rather it was to say ďIt seems like a lot of people here are making way more money than I am and it sometimes feels hard to relate to your stories. Other times it feels hard to celebrate my own successes, because I donít see anyone else calling the same thing a success. Is there anyone out there to whom I maybe could relate to on this level?Ē (Parenthetically: yes, intellectually I know comparing is not getting me anywhere positive, but I have to acknowledge my current view of reality in order to be able to grow from where I am.)
Yes, we are the "elitists" you scorn,

I don't think anyone on this thread has scorned anyone for having more, and that is not elitist.  Elitists are the people who have more and assume there is something wrong with those of us who have less.  If you judge others because they have less; less education, less money, less talent you are an elitist.

If you just have more then you are definitely elite, but being elite is good, it means you have achieved something special and no one on this thread, of any income bracket, has poopooed anyone for being elite.

Some of us have poopooed people on the forum who assume they are a little better than those of use working in the under 100,000 camp.  And I'm guilty of poopooing people who swear you "just can't" live on 45,000/year in blahblahblah city.  When people of all incomes live in those cities.

Also thanks, Fire2025. My sentiements - well, not exactly, but pretty much!

We all have a lot to learn from each other and itís so wonderful and refreshing to see people willing to reconsider what they said. Letís celebrate this dialogue!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Cali Nonya on July 03, 2017, 09:27:15 AM
Actually some of the people on this tread might be able to understand this concept (and might come up with a better way to phrase it).

I have noticed there are people who take a very almost militaristic approach to MMM, and other people who take a more laid-back approach.  What I think is one of the big divides is not social-economic background but the difference between people who are self or individual focused verses people who have a community focus.  If you are only worried about yourself and your immediate family, some of the "badassity" tenants are pretty straight forward, but if you have a mind-set where you have obligations/cares/ties into a larger community that concept of I have enough at X, doesn't really hold up that well.

Of course this is one of those cases where it is hard to break apart causation vrs correlation.  But I just wanted to tip my toe in that there could be other roots to some what is being commented on.  (And there are relational biases, with both youth and male tending towards more individualistic, and female and older tending towards more community focused).
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on July 03, 2017, 09:56:53 AM
Not sure...

I feel responsible for 4 individuals, and then also to my larger community (local and global). I also felt I had "enough" at a certain (lowish) point, because I'm simply not buying a house. That one move leaves me able to achieve my caring goals. So "enough", while having my immediate and global family at the forefront of my mind, heart, and lifestyle daily.

Some of the care for others I seek to achieve via cash, other care via writing grant proposals, locating housing for, other volunteering on behalf of.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Fire2025 on July 03, 2017, 10:06:07 AM
I have noticed there are people who take a very almost militaristic approach to MMM, and other people who take a more laid-back approach.  ...If you are only worried about yourself and your immediate family, some of the "badassity" tenants are pretty straight forward, but if you have a mind-set where you have obligations/cares/ties into a larger community that concept of I have enough at X, doesn't really hold up that well.

I think one of the great things about the MMM approach, as I read it, is that X is always enough, for anyone.  But my X and your X are very different and that will lead us to use the principles differently.  Also there is a strong element of respecting your priories and aligning spending, intensionally, to fit those priorities.  A great community could easily be a part of someones priorities and that will effect their spending and their X, but their X will always be enough "for them".

i.e. I think most people on this forum do not bike commute, even if it's an MMM badassity staple.  I bike to work, not just for the cost savings, that's definitely a part of it, but mostly because I'm older (47) and I think "I'm buying my freedom, I also what to be healthy enough, at 55, to enjoy that freedom".  So I align those two priorities into a win win, for me, but it's not for everyone and that's cool.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Moonwaves on July 03, 2017, 10:09:18 AM
Actually some of the people on this tread might be able to understand this concept (and might come up with a better way to phrase it).

I have noticed there are people who take a very almost militaristic approach to MMM, and other people who take a more laid-back approach.  What I think is one of the big divides is not social-economic background but the difference between people who are self or individual focused verses people who have a community focus.  If you are only worried about yourself and your immediate family, some of the "badassity" tenants are pretty straight forward, but if you have a mind-set where you have obligations/cares/ties into a larger community that concept of I have enough at X, doesn't really hold up that well.

Of course this is one of those cases where it is hard to break apart causation vrs correlation.  But I just wanted to tip my toe in that there could be other roots to some what is being commented on.  (And there are relational biases, with both youth and male tending towards more individualistic, and female and older tending towards more community focused).
I think this would partly tie in to a certain type of person being attracted to MMM (think of the large proportion of engineers, especially software engineers). There have been a couple of threads over the year about personality types, although I can't remember off the top of my head which it is that's most common here. INTJ maybe? I know it's not my type anyway.


FWIW I don't think there should be a separate sub-forum for low-income mustachians. I just can't see there being many topics just for low-income people that wouldn't fit perfectly into already existing sub-forums. It just doesn't seem like creating a division would achieve anything helpful.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on July 03, 2017, 10:20:52 AM
Quote
FWIW I don't think there should be a separate sub-forum for low-income mustachians. I just can't see there being many topics just for low-income people that wouldn't fit perfectly into already existing sub-forums. It just doesn't seem like creating a division would achieve anything helpful.

I agree that most topics for LIP fit in the existing subforums. Spending lower is spending lower; increasing one's savings is increasing one's savings.

At the same time, I see the following as potential advantages to a LIP category:

1. Newbies would locate it immediately, know right off the bat that there are in fact plenty of us. Right now, this awareness is relying on a new thread like this one being started every few months, leading each time to a collective sigh of relief. What happens to the folks who don't ask that question or locate the latest LIP thread? Do they slither away in discouragement and shame?

I'd love all the LIPs to find us as early in their journey as possible.

2. People with knowledge of how to navigate a LIP life can congregate there (as well as hang everywhere else too). Fewer LIP threads will be missed; more LIP threads will receive responses; responses will be more relevant (e.g., student loan forgiveness per low-paying teaching job; subsidized housing; how to access free counselling).

3. People with high-income can observe (or participate!), increasing understanding of the obstacles experienced by LIP.

4. Every $10 saving will be celebrated, proportionate to how a HIP's $3k tax saving is celebrated.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Fire2025 on July 03, 2017, 10:57:43 AM
1. Newbies would locate it immediately, know right off the bat that there are in fact plenty of us. Right now, this awareness is relying on a new thread like this one being started every few months, leading each time to a collective sigh of relief. What happens to the folks who don't ask that question or locate the latest LIP thread? Do they slither away in discouragement and shame?

I'd love all the LIPs to find us as early in their journey as possible.

2. People with knowledge of how to navigate a LIP life can congregate there (as well as hang everywhere else too). Fewer LIP threads will be missed; more LIP threads will receive responses; responses will be more relevant (e.g., student loan forgiveness per low-paying teaching job; subsidized housing; how to access free counseling).

3. People with high-income can observe (or participate!), increasing understanding of the obstacles experienced by LIP.

4. Every $10 saving will be celebrated, proportionate to how a HIP's $3k tax saving is celebrated.

I love all of these and also think there should be a LIP.  Also I have lived on and earned 15,000 - 25,000 and I have lived on 20,000 - 30,000 while earning 45,000 to 60,000 and I can say these two things are super different.  Emergency funds are different for LIP and how to invest outside a 401k, with small amounts, is different.  I think there are enough differences that it makes great sense.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: TheInsuranceMan on July 03, 2017, 02:53:06 PM
I didn't read through all of the responses, but I just wanted to chime in that my wife and I are low income (+2 kids and a mutt), grossed $67,899.43 last year, according to our w2's.  So, I'm sure after health insurance and taxes were taken out of that, I'd be we were close to netting $45k.  I'd consider that low income, as we weren't pulling in $4k a month, daycare was just shy of $1k a month, paying down student loans, and paying a mortgage (plus your other regular bills) and we still contributed to our retirement accounts (10% for me, she has the state retirement program, so they set hers).  We are typically cash poor, but at 29 and 28 years old, we have just over $60k in our retirement accounts, which I'm pretty satisfied with.  Plus, we have two cds open for the kids that gets funded every month.

Yes, we could be adding that extra to our savings account, but I ended up paying for my own schooling, and I know what kind of burden that can put on a young family.  Luckily, both my parents and my inlaws have accounts open for our children as well, and if all goes well, they'll have at least 50% of their schooling paid for.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Holyoak on July 03, 2017, 04:20:06 PM
So although I'm no longer low income, I really feel out of touch with the majority of posters, these days.  When people talk about how you "can't" live on the money I gross, I just think "what, where am I?"  I don't remember it being that way when I joined, a couple of years ago, but there is definitely some MMM forum lifestyle creep going on around here.  HAHAHA!!

I've been FIRE'd going on four years with a very low income, but a nice stache (for me at least), and my lifestyle is on counter-creep...  I shun buying stuff more than ever, and not because of financial constraints.  I see so many articles about ER folks who seem to thrive on lokee-me syndrome.  You know, every day is filled with tales of unquenchable, never ending excitement, no moss growing on our busy behinds doing the Appalachian trail in the morning, then Mt. Everest in the evening, filling our Facebook pages and blogs with zillions of selfies, with a heads-up to our next Kodachrome perfect adventure. 

It's almost as if, if you don't want to travel the world, sleep in hostels, go on a yoga retreat, live on the road, or stay constantly busy (god I hate the busy), or have every second of your day engineered toward maximum efficiency, you are wasting ER.  I'm lucky; a bit of exercise, time in nature wherever I happen to be, good coffee and tea, decent food and a quiet place is pretty much all I need or want to be very, very content...  I couldn't care less if I seem "boring", "lazy", or squandering my time.  I know there are others like this here, which brings a smile to my face.

"A Samurai could contemplate the beauty of a single cherry blossom for an entire lifetime, and it would not have been a life misspent"
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Double Yu on July 03, 2017, 04:54:17 PM
+1 for Holyoak!
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Dicey on July 03, 2017, 05:09:05 PM
Plus, we have two cds open for the kids that gets funded every month.
Can you clarify this sentence, please? Do you really mean "cds" as in "Certificates of Deposit"?
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: monstermonster on July 03, 2017, 05:11:10 PM
Yup. Making around $25,000 annually right now. Highest of my life was $39,000 and was saving 52% of that. My last MMM journal was called "Less than $40K is perfectly okay."
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Holyoak on July 04, 2017, 06:47:54 AM
Yup. Making around $25,000 annually right now. Highest of my life was $39,000 and was saving 52% of that. My last MMM journal was called "Less than $40K is perfectly okay."

How do you go about living in Portland OR, on your current $25k income?  That would seem to be quite an admirable feat, if  the COL stats I see for the area are true.  Truly fascinated to learn how it is done.

Thanks Double yu.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on July 04, 2017, 07:56:30 AM
Holyoak, there are a number of us pulling this off in the highest COL areas :)  At least two of us do it in Vancouver, BC, for example. I was spending $15k for two people there. My biggest variable is housing. Instead of spending market rate on standard housing, I did different housing hacks to keep costs way down. When we do that, then just buy groceries (also higher in Vancouver than in most of the US), etc, we're good to go.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: monstermonster on July 04, 2017, 08:10:54 AM
Yup. Making around $25,000 annually right now. Highest of my life was $39,000 and was saving 52% of that. My last MMM journal was called "Less than $40K is perfectly okay."

How do you go about living in Portland OR, on your current $25k income?  That would seem to be quite an admirable feat, if  the COL stats I see for the area are true.  Truly fascinated to learn how it is done.

Thanks Double yu.

You can see all my monthly income and expense reports (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/bikes-bowie-and-business-using-glitter-to-double-my-net-worth-by-30/msg1535399/#msg1535399) in my journal (link below) they have pretty graphs. This is actually a pretty big income earning year for me, I average around $15K. Portland is much more expensive than it was 10 years ago (I paid less than $300 in rent for many years for my own room, now I pay $615 to share a room), but I: don't have a car, share a (way too expensive) apartment, don't eat out much (though here and there I get a burrito), don't drinks alcohol or smoke, and mostly, don't buy shit I don't need. But I also travel internationally each year and I maintain a gym membership. So like anyone, I choose to splurge where it matters to me and don't spend where it doesn't.

About 1/5 my monthly income goes towards health insurance ($231 per month) and I spend about $150 per month on groceries, which could be lower but the nearest grocery store is Whole Foods. I don't eat meat and mostly cook at home, but I do subscribe to a farm share, which averages out to $20 a month and gives me farm-fresh vegetables each week 8 months a year.

My savings rate is around 15% right now, but by this time next year I hope to be back to my former income of $39K and saving over half again. Learning how to run a business right now.

2017 expenses reports/graphs: January (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/bikes-bowie-and-business-using-glitter-to-double-my-net-worth-by-30/msg1486789/#msg1486789), February (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/bikes-bowie-and-business-using-glitter-to-double-my-net-worth-by-30/msg1488002/#msg1488002), March (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/bikes-bowie-and-business-using-glitter-to-double-my-net-worth-by-30/msg1503054/#msg1503054),  April (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/bikes-bowie-and-business-using-glitter-to-double-my-net-worth-by-30/msg1535399/#msg1535399), May (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/bikes-bowie-and-business-using-glitter-to-double-my-net-worth-by-30/msg1585495/#msg1585495).
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: briesas on July 04, 2017, 08:26:35 AM
an additional resource:
Mini Mustachians (Lower Income/Newbies/ Newer Practicing)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1192606450817773/
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 04, 2017, 05:37:54 PM
It's funny, because I've been low-income for most of my life, now I'm not (or rather, I am, but rental of our old house plus wife's income makes us as a household well-off), I still think of myself as low-income. I guess that's why we're able to save money!

There was an article recently talking about young footballers, who earn well but not as much as most imagine, so they get a lot of hangers-on (especially women) who expect them to spend big. So they do, and they're broke a few years after their football career ends. This is a pretty common thing in our society, pretending to be richer than you are.

I guess I'm the reverse.

Consumerism is acting richer than you are. Frugality is acting poorer than you are.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Moonwaves on July 05, 2017, 02:38:48 AM
Not sure if everyone here is already aware of it - I saw this thread yesterday. It might appeal to some here. Saving to $10K (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/saving-to-$10k/). The person who started it started last November with $8.70 the first month, so definitely the kind of amounts some of us are dealing with.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Holyoak on July 05, 2017, 07:25:42 AM
Tip my hat to you folks who have low incomes, thriving in HCOL areas.  Gives hope to many by the example you guys set, and the how to's you share.  Bravo. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: TheInsuranceMan on July 05, 2017, 01:18:32 PM
Plus, we have two cds open for the kids that gets funded every month.
Can you clarify this sentence, please? Do you really mean "cds" as in "Certificates of Deposit"?

Yep, waiting until there is enough money in them to open accounts with Vanguard.  I think it had a $1k minimum when I looked last, so we'll ride the CD's out until they come due and then transfer the money.  They each have a 529 and an investment account as well.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on July 05, 2017, 01:39:50 PM
Not sure if everyone here is already aware of it - I saw this thread yesterday. It might appeal to some here. Saving to $10K (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/saving-to-$10k/). The person who started it started last November with $8.70 the first month, so definitely the kind of amounts some of us are dealing with.

Thanks, Moonwaves! That is a thread I'm glad to know about :)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: thriftyc on July 08, 2017, 11:40:35 AM
I think it's important to remember that a lot of Mustachians didn't start out making $100k+ and having $1 million Vanguard portfolios. Many on here started out with low incomes, no assets, and massive debts, but patiently and consistently followed Mustachian principles which in time led to better financial outcomes.

So chin up if you are taking the first steps on your journey. FIRE might seem insurmountable now, but you will get more and more confident as you reach each goal you set and you watch your debts disappear and your investments grow. :-)

+1
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Timothymaxy on July 10, 2017, 09:14:11 PM
Haven't saving any money due to I always got sick..kind of low income because spent lots of on medicine :(
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: MoonLiteNite on July 12, 2017, 03:09:45 AM
I am not sure if i am "low" anymore, my base pay is only 40k so that puts me at below average. But i work 60-80 hours a week, so the double time puts me at a more average income most of the time.

But even when i was making 7$/hr 8 years ago, i lived just the way i do now :) At the time i was only saving around 20% of my income, and it all was being dumped into my, now paid for, house.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: ElleFiji on July 12, 2017, 05:57:58 AM
Haven't saving any money due to I always got sick..kind of low income because spent lots of on medicine :(
Hey, this is a hard place to be in. I can't tell if you're low income and low savings, but I'll assume you are.

Are you in a place with medical insurance? because even if you can't get everything covered by government medical insurance, it made a huge difference to me when I realized I spend about $140 on insurance plus about 40 on my partial payments, vs without insurance I would spend $250 on meds.

Paying that much for insurance wasn't easy - but when I did the math it actually saved me money. Sometimes if you look around for ideas about how really low income people are living, you find ways to save money. My rent includes water/hot water, so I hand wash about half my laundry loads and save money instead of going to the laundromat. BUT, as opposed to my able bodied friends, I spend more on eating out, because of fatigue. Other friends have given up cell phones if they are usually reachable by landline.

It's hard when the numbers add up so slowly, and then get wiped out fast by bills or unexpected sick days. But overtime you might eventually find that there is a balance in the bank.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: SailorGirl on July 12, 2017, 08:07:38 AM
My first job (about 30 years ago) started at $18,000.  I started out putting enough into the 401k to get the company match (it was along the lines of - 10%my money matched by 15% company - no way I was passing that up) even though some meals were slices of bread dipped in free ketchup and mustard from the cafeteria.  I increased the contribution as I got raises to keep taxes low and quit after five years to go back to school.  I managed to save money on a grad school stipend (I am that cheap) and joined the Peace Corps after getting my masters.  Came back to get a job making $50-60K and I stayed around there for eight years, eventually dropping hours to take (free because I worked for the university) classes.  I bought a house in an expensive area by choosing a cheaper, non-updated structure and put in my own labor to improve it.  Eventually I lost my job but by that time I was living on about $25k and saving the rest (potentially for another degree that I didn't bother to pursue).

I suppose $60k isn't low income, but it was in the Seattle area, and with school and PC I have a lot of near-zero years in my 35-year ss reckoning. 

I also traveled to Europe several times and around the US a few times.

The 401k from my first job now makes up about half of my retirement portfolio with the rest from the last job (mandatory 7.5% contribution matched by the U). 

TL;DR:  Saving even a little makes a difference over the long haul, and, you can save even on a low income.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Lmoot on July 12, 2017, 11:19:58 AM
 I believe I am lower income by MMM standards. I have barely reached over $55k (and this is combining a full-time job, part-time job, and rental income from one property), and don't plan on increasing my active income much, if any. However only saving $150 a month, even per week, would give me anxiety. I take home less than 45K per year but save on average $2000 per month (right now that's about 65% of my income). Next year I am hoping to push myself to $2500 per month in savings, as some expensive bills drop off.

 Sometimes it can be discouraging here, not because so many others make so much more, but sometimes I don't think those who do, think of the limitations of those of us who make much less. For example the common assumption that everyone should be maxing out all retirement accounts, and if you are not, then it must be because of mal allocation of funds, instead of inability to save that much.

Because of how little I make, extreme early retirement is probably not within my grasp. I am currently 33,  cracking 100 K net worth, and do not earn enough to make much quicker headway. I am trying to bridge this gap though by investing in rental properties, which will hopefully provide enough passive income to allow me to at least live the working life I dream, which is a low-paying but highly fulfilling job, on part-time or seasonal basis. To me that is just as good as or better than early retirement. I think those that get the most turned on and passionate by extreme early retirement, are those for which it is more easily in grasp.  If I had to make the choice of retiring by age 50 instead of 67, or being a part time worker earning mostly passive income, with lots of downtime and extra cash for traveling and doing other things I enjoy, by age 39....the FIRE light gets dimmer. If I earned enough to be able to project in early retirement in my 30s, or even 40s, then FIRE might end up being more of a goal for me. Alas it is not, and retirement at age 50 is not a big enough carrot for me.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: ministashy on July 12, 2017, 02:33:09 PM
Not sure if I would qualify as 'low income' or not, but this thread inspired me to delurk, so ...

I'm an artist with a day job (and have been for quite some time.)  Currently only make anywhere from $3-5K a year from art (which is the best I've ever done), so majority of my income is from the day job.  I've spent most of my life hovering around the $30-40K mark in a very HCOL area (greater Seattle area), but always managed to make it work.  I've always been conservative with money--never took out big loans, always saved up for things.  But I didn't understand investing or anything other than having a few hundred saved for a rainy day, for the most part.  My mindset from my 20's to mid-thirties was that if you weren't saving up FOR something (a move, Christmas presents, a car, whatever), or spending it, then what was money for anyway? 

Then in 2006, with the urging of the parental units, I bought a condo.  This turned out to be the worst possible time to buy--at the height of the market, right before the crash.  If I'd only waited two more years--but, as other posters have said, hindsight is 20/20.  I also lost my job two months after buying, which turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise.  I lined up a new job quickly, but being jobless with two mortgages for even that brief period of time 'scared me straight', as it were.  I started researching how to live on a budget, went from The Simple Dollar to Get Rich Slowly to MMM, which many side stops along the way at Bogleheads, Vanguard, etc.  Started realizing that I could save 'for' something after all--the chance to be a full-time artist, rather than trying to squeeze it around a 40 hr a week job. 

So I started cutting the fat, and  putting whatever I had left over in an IRA/401K/emergency fund.  MMM forums also started me aggressively pursuing salary bumps and better jobs, to the point that as of this year I'm making closer to 60K a year than 40 (which still doesn't go as far as I'd like as far as savings, but I love my HCOL area, so ....)  Approx. 10 years later, am now very grateful for my condo because rents are skyrocketing around here, and thanks to some additional cashflow from an inheritance, may actually have it paid off in a few more years, at which point I could afford to go part-time on the day job.   

I'm currently sitting at about a 30% savings rate (give or take--I'm HORRIBLE with numbers, even when the computer's doing all the work).  I'm not a monk--I take at least one low-cost vacation a year, and buy the occasional techie toy or other indulgence (mostly off of Craigslist or Amazon).  Occasionally I think of all the other fun toys/trips I could be buying with that 30% rather than socking it away where I can't touch it--but honestly, I'm very comfortable where I'm at, and I'm hoping my plan will pay off in the long run.  *crosses fingers and hopes the ACA sticks around*
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: memorytoast on July 12, 2017, 06:05:33 PM
Not sure if I would qualify as 'low income' or not, but this thread inspired me to delurk, so ...

So good to hear your story, ministashy! Glad you decided to "delurk" and wishing you much success :)
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: SwordGuy on July 12, 2017, 06:15:05 PM
I believe I am lower income by MMM standards. I have barely reached over $55k (and this is combining a full-time job, part-time job, and rental income from one property), and don't plan on increasing my active income much, if any. However only saving $150 a month, even per week, would give me anxiety. I take home less than 45K per year but save on average $2000 per month (right now that's about 65% of my income). Next year I am hoping to push myself to $2500 per month in savings, as some expensive bills drop off.

 Sometimes it can be discouraging here, not because so many others make so much more, but sometimes I don't think those who do, think of the limitations of those of us who make much less. For example the common assumption that everyone should be maxing out all retirement accounts, and if you are not, then it must be because of mal allocation of funds, instead of inability to save that much.

Because of how little I make, extreme early retirement is probably not within my grasp. I am currently 33,  cracking 100 K net worth, and do not earn enough to make much quicker headway. I am trying to bridge this gap though by investing in rental properties, which will hopefully provide enough passive income to allow me to at least live the working life I dream, which is a low-paying but highly fulfilling job, on part-time or seasonal basis. To me that is just as good as or better than early retirement. I think those that get the most turned on and passionate by extreme early retirement, are those for which it is more easily in grasp.  If I had to make the choice of retiring by age 50 instead of 67, or being a part time worker earning mostly passive income, with lots of downtime and extra cash for traveling and doing other things I enjoy, by age 39....the FIRE light gets dimmer. If I earned enough to be able to project in early retirement in my 30s, or even 40s, then FIRE might end up being more of a goal for me. Alas it is not, and retirement at age 50 is not a big enough carrot for me.

I don't understand your conclusions.   With a savings rate of 65% and a stash, today, of $0, you should be fire in about 10.5 years, which would put you at age 44.  And you've already gotten a stash built up, it should take you les time!  If you do a good job on the real estate, you might do even better!

I don't understand why you think you need to wait until your 50s.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Lmoot on July 12, 2017, 06:30:44 PM
I believe I am lower income by MMM standards. I have barely reached over $55k (and this is combining a full-time job, part-time job, and rental income from one property), and don't plan on increasing my active income much, if any. However only saving $150 a month, even per week, would give me anxiety. I take home less than 45K per year but save on average $2000 per month (right now that's about 65% of my income). Next year I am hoping to push myself to $2500 per month in savings, as some expensive bills drop off.

 Sometimes it can be discouraging here, not because so many others make so much more, but sometimes I don't think those who do, think of the limitations of those of us who make much less. For example the common assumption that everyone should be maxing out all retirement accounts, and if you are not, then it must be because of mal allocation of funds, instead of inability to save that much.

Because of how little I make, extreme early retirement is probably not within my grasp. I am currently 33,  cracking 100 K net worth, and do not earn enough to make much quicker headway. I am trying to bridge this gap though by investing in rental properties, which will hopefully provide enough passive income to allow me to at least live the working life I dream, which is a low-paying but highly fulfilling job, on part-time or seasonal basis. To me that is just as good as or better than early retirement. I think those that get the most turned on and passionate by extreme early retirement, are those for which it is more easily in grasp.  If I had to make the choice of retiring by age 50 instead of 67, or being a part time worker earning mostly passive income, with lots of downtime and extra cash for traveling and doing other things I enjoy, by age 39....the FIRE light gets dimmer. If I earned enough to be able to project in early retirement in my 30s, or even 40s, then FIRE might end up being more of a goal for me. Alas it is not, and retirement at age 50 is not a big enough carrot for me.

I don't understand your conclusions.   With a savings rate of 65% and a stash, today, of $0, you should be fire in about 10.5 years, which would put you at age 44.  And you've already gotten a stash built up, it should take you les time!  If you do a good job on the real estate, you might do even better!

I don't understand why you think you need to wait until your 50s.

Half of my net worth is in my rental property. Most of the other half is in 401(k)/ROTH which I can't touch until 59 1/2.  I only have 20K in cash, which I'm saving up to pay down 0% debt ($35k) and invest in future rentals.  I don't earn enough income to both invest in rental income and stash cash at a high rate, the same time. I think your calculation is assuming I would put all of my resources or most of them, into stashing. I had to make the decision to focus hard on one or the other, in order to make any respectable headway in either; I chose real estate. For me to stash and invest in real estate, would likely put me at 50 for FIRE. Today almost every single one of my dollars is marked for near future expenses for at least the next few years as I grow my crop of properties.

Also I am hoping for a lifestyle change while still in my 30s, even if it's 39, and something as minor as taking a break from working full time to go back to school. Stashing at my income level won't give that to me in that time period I'm afraid.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: monstermonster on July 12, 2017, 10:31:11 PM
You can get access to your 401K and your Roth earlier, look up "Roth ladder".

But if you have that many rental properties, hopefully they can pay your expenses before retirement age?
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Timothymaxy on July 13, 2017, 01:43:43 AM
Haven't saving any money due to I always got sick..kind of low income because spent lots of on medicine :(
Hey, this is a hard place to be in. I can't tell if you're low income and low savings, but I'll assume you are.

Are you in a place with medical insurance? because even if you can't get everything covered by government medical insurance, it made a huge difference to me when I realized I spend about $140 on insurance plus about 40 on my partial payments, vs without insurance I would spend $250 on meds.

Paying that much for insurance wasn't easy - but when I did the math it actually saved me money. Sometimes if you look around for ideas about how really low income people are living, you find ways to save money. My rent includes water/hot water, so I hand wash about half my laundry loads and save money instead of going to the laundromat. BUT, as opposed to my able bodied friends, I spend more on eating out, because of fatigue. Other friends have given up cell phones if they are usually reachable by landline.

It's hard when the numbers add up so slowly, and then get wiped out fast by bills or unexpected sick days. But overtime you might eventually find that there is a balance in the bank.

Thank u..I got insurance before, but the problem is I got sick every time that I got my monthly salary, the rent, the daily life fee is big cost too. But I will take care myself, after all, half of the sickness trouble is psychological.

Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Lmoot on July 13, 2017, 04:30:42 AM
You can get access to your 401K and your Roth earlier, look up "Roth ladder".

But if you have that many rental properties, hopefully they can pay your expenses before retirement age?

Yeah, I questioned how possible it was to get money out early as I wrote that, bc I remember reading different strategies on here. I only have the one rental property now, so that's why I am expecting most of my resources for the next 5 years will be going towards getting more. I want to earn enough income through the properties and a replacement job at lower pay, to save the equivalent of about 50% of my current earnings, plus maintain a $5k/year/property expense and buffer fund, before even thinking of quitting my current full time job.

I know holding off on market investing is pretty much the opposite of MMM goals, and I think at the beginning of my journey which started, like for many, around the recession,  my intention was to work hard and retire early. But as I get older, I have been losing that desire, and instead I'm merely seeking a more rewarding working life, with more free time. It also seems like it's easier to achieve than extreme early retirement, so that could be it too LOL. Also has to do with the fact that the type of career I seek is extremely physical, and typically requires a science degree (I have an English degree), and if I wait until I am FIRE, add on several years for education, internships, and seeking jobs, I will be over 50 by the time I get there.  Not that there aren't some badass, fit 50-year-olds out there, but the earlier the better. Luckily I have already invested five years of my life to this "next" career, and currently work part time at one of the employers I hope to work for post-degree (currently in a position I do NOT feel qualified in, but have happily been growing into; I treat it as a paid internship and am learning as I can both on my own and using resources at work).
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: RamonaQ on July 14, 2017, 11:03:58 AM
I didn't notice it until recently, but I think there is a slight hint of elitism on this site in regards to low income individuals.
Correct. But to be fair, people who are low-income are less willing to put their numbers out there and talk details than people who are high-income. We see this also in people talking about running their small business: some have a very small business (like me), it does make money but they won't talk details...

The elitism can be a little difficult to handle sometimes for people with low incomes, because people with low incomes often are coming from a bad place psychologically when they are trying to turn things around for themselves.

Sometimes, it feels like some people on this forum blame low income people for their circumstances. The "face punches" can be a little cruel sometimes. Yeah, there are things that low income people can do to improve themselves financially, but it can be hard to unlearn negative habits and find the courage to take financial risks. Also, there are many factors beyond the control of low income people that put them in a difficult situation.

I would encourage more low income people on this forum to tell their stories and I would encourage the high income people to be a little kinder and more supportive of people starting out on a difficult journey.
Also many low income earners are purposely choosing professions they find more altruistic then a job that may earn them big bucks. For some people turning their backs on high paying jobs in lieu of one with more meaning and purpose is what's important to them rather than saving a massive $$ amount for a champagne-fuelled FIRE life.

Altruism is all well and good -- I do a lot of charity work myself -- but it's beneficial for people to increase their earnings as much as possible because that will allow them to do more good with their wealth. I have been able to help so many people, especially the poor and hungry, because I was able to improve my financial situation. There are literally a whole lot of people who are fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated only because I increased my income.
and there are an equal amount of people who are doing the actual clothing, sheltering, feeding, educating, supporting, and care giving on low incomes. I agree earning more money and donating it to charitable causes is always a good thing but there needs to be boots-on-the-ground people doing the actual physical work to make things successful. I also wasn't just talking about charitable work but those lower income jobs (like caregiver, daycare worker, EMT, rescue workers, social workers, military, law enforcement, environmental fields,  teachers,  ministers, etc...) who aren't paid much but do important work.

If there's one big overarching important lesson that I've learned about life, it's "Don't Be A Martyr". Honestly, do charity work because you are a good person, but don't make it your occupation. It hurts you. It hurts your cause. It hurts everybody. Get money because it makes everything better.

Sounds cold, I know, but it's helpful advice.
Sorry to hear you feel this way especially after reading your post in the "Stories from the Poor" thread where it seemed you had a lot of people who choose lower income jobs (social workers, teachers, counslors, etc...) who helped you get to where you are today.

In any case my point was that people choose career paths for many other reasons besides money. And some of those career paths are low income but may have more meaning and/or interest to those people than higher income careers. I would never consider those people "suckers" or "unmotivated slackers who should strive to do better" if their career choices align with their interests and values regardless of the pay. There are a lot of paths to FI and taking a longer route to get there so you can do what you love is a pretty damn awesome thing to do IMHO.

I'm one of those people who is doing lower paid work because I love it and think it's important.

About 6 years ago I was working in marketing, making about $80k.  I'm sure I could be making over $100k now if I stayed in that field.  But I hated it.  I woke up every morning and my first thought was "I hate my job".  It was soul crushing.

I am now a librarian and make around $43k from my primary job (I also have some side hustles).  While there are frustrations at any job, I like what I do now.  I feel like I really get to impact the lives of children and teens in a positive way.

I understand the logic of saying that if I stayed working at a higher paying job, I could get to FI faster and donate more to libraries and literacy organizations and that would have a bigger impact.  But I would be miserable.  I am interested in MMM and FI because I want the freedom to do what makes me happy.  Part of what makes me happy is doing work I find meaningful. 
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: SwordGuy on October 03, 2019, 09:43:22 PM
I've started a low income Race to FI where you track your FI % -- the % of the passive income you need to FIRE that you already have.   

I think it would be great for folks to have a common place to track progress and encourage each other.

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/race-to-100-fi-(only-if-below-median-household-income!!!)/
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Lmoot on October 04, 2019, 03:32:57 AM
I believe I am lower income by MMM standards. I have barely reached over $55k (and this is combining a full-time job, part-time job, and rental income from one property), and don't plan on increasing my active income much, if any. However only saving $150 a month, even per week, would give me anxiety. I take home less than 45K per year but save on average $2000 per month (right now that's about 65% of my income). Next year I am hoping to push myself to $2500 per month in savings, as some expensive bills drop off.

 Sometimes it can be discouraging here, not because so many others make so much more, but sometimes I don't think those who do, think of the limitations of those of us who make much less. For example the common assumption that everyone should be maxing out all retirement accounts, and if you are not, then it must be because of mal allocation of funds, instead of inability to save that much.

Because of how little I make, extreme early retirement is probably not within my grasp. I am currently 33,  cracking 100 K net worth, and do not earn enough to make much quicker headway. I am trying to bridge this gap though by investing in rental properties, which will hopefully provide enough passive income to allow me to at least live the working life I dream, which is a low-paying but highly fulfilling job, on part-time or seasonal basis. To me that is just as good as or better than early retirement. I think those that get the most turned on and passionate by extreme early retirement, are those for which it is more easily in grasp.  If I had to make the choice of retiring by age 50 instead of 67, or being a part time worker earning mostly passive income, with lots of downtime and extra cash for traveling and doing other things I enjoy, by age 39....the FIRE light gets dimmer. If I earned enough to be able to project in early retirement in my 30s, or even 40s, then FIRE might end up being more of a goal for me. Alas it is not, and retirement at age 50 is not a big enough carrot for me.

I don't understand your conclusions.   With a savings rate of 65% and a stash, today, of $0, you should be fire in about 10.5 years, which would put you at age 44.  And you've already gotten a stash built up, it should take you les time!  If you do a good job on the real estate, you might do even better!

I don't understand why you think you need to wait until your 50s.

Half of my net worth is in my rental property. Most of the other half is in 401(k)/ROTH which I can't touch until 59 1/2.  I only have 20K in cash, which I'm saving up to pay down 0% debt ($35k) and invest in future rentals.  I don't earn enough income to both invest in rental income and stash cash at a high rate, the same time. I think your calculation is assuming I would put all of my resources or most of them, into stashing. I had to make the decision to focus hard on one or the other, in order to make any respectable headway in either; I chose real estate. For me to stash and invest in real estate, would likely put me at 50 for FIRE. Today almost every single one of my dollars is marked for near future expenses for at least the next few years as I grow my crop of properties.

Also I am hoping for a lifestyle change while still in my 30s, even if it's 39, and something as minor as taking a break from working full time to go back to school. Stashing at my income level won't give that to me in that time period I'm afraid.

Clarifying my post from 2 years ago lol! Just bc I can put 65% of my income into savings (right now itís dropped to around 50%). Doesnít mean itís allocated for early retirement. Most of it is to pay off nearly $50k in debt (0% interest). Some is efund, and a growing portion is for upcoming expenses. So I guess itís technically short term savings. I just park it in a high yields account earning 2% until I am ready to use it. That is another thing I feel higher earners donít get.

Many of us do not have the luxury of keeping our savings rolling forever. Because we donít earn enough to pay for large future expenses through our paycheck. So often times our savings are constantly revolving in and out, to pay for things. But the assumption around here as always when you say savings that you are referring to money thatís there forever for retirement. Right now the only cash I can guarantee will be there in 10 years is whatever I send to my 401(k), up to the company match.

Aside from my emergency fund, I literally have a short term plan for every single dollar currently in my savings account. And none of it is for early retirement, unless I plan on retiring in five years which I donít.

So yes, if I applied everything I am able to carve out of my paycheck and set aside each month, I could retire in 10 to 15 years. But that ignores Doing anything else. Anything else like traveling to visit family, or paying a $12,000 plumbing and sewer repair bill, or last week it was a $3000 driveway repair bill. Or one day replacing my 17-year-old car. I donít have the luxury of setting tons of money aside just for retirement. Because life happens between now and retirement (even early retirement). Life that costs money that my paycheck I canít cover so I need to get it from savings.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Dicey on October 04, 2019, 07:10:46 AM
Clarifying my post from 2 years ago lol! Just bc I can put 65% of my income into savings (right now itís dropped to around 50%). Doesnít mean itís allocated for early retirement. Most of it is to pay off nearly $50k in debt (0% interest). Some is efund, and a growing portion is for upcoming expenses. So I guess itís technically short term savings. I just park it in a high yields account earning 2% until I am ready to use it. That is another thing I feel higher earners donít get.

Many of us do not have the luxury of keeping our savings rolling forever. Because we donít earn enough to pay for large future expenses through our paycheck. So often times our savings are constantly revolving in and out, to pay for things. But the assumption around here as always when you say savings that you are referring to money thatís there forever for retirement. Right now the only cash I can guarantee will be there in 10 years is whatever I send to my 401(k), up to the company match.

Aside from my emergency fund, I literally have a short term plan for every single dollar currently in my savings account. And none of it is for early retirement, unless I plan on retiring in five years which I donít.

So yes, if I applied everything I am able to carve out of my paycheck and set aside each month, I could retire in 10 to 15 years. But that ignores Doing anything else. Anything else like traveling to visit family, or paying a $12,000 plumbing and sewer repair bill, or last week it was a $3000 driveway repair bill. Or one day replacing my 17-year-old car. I donít have the luxury of setting tons of money aside just for retirement. Because life happens between now and retirement (even early retirement). Life that costs money that my paycheck I canít cover so I need to get it from savings.
Having those savings, no matter what they are labeled, is still a huge help. It keeps your head above water when life hands you shit sandwiches. It also gives you confidence in your ability to be in control of your life. I used to do the same thing. That money was never invested in equities, because I knew I was going to need it. I kept contributing to my 401k, slowly ratcheting up my contributions a tiny increments. In time, it grew to be real money. Just keep on keeping on. You're doing the right things. It may take a little longer to get there, but get there you will.
Title: Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
Post by: Lmoot on October 09, 2019, 03:28:28 AM
Clarifying my post from 2 years ago lol! Just bc I can put 65% of my income into savings (right now itís dropped to around 50%). Doesnít mean itís allocated for early retirement. Most of it is to pay off nearly $50k in debt (0% interest). Some is efund, and a growing portion is for upcoming expenses. So I guess itís technically short term savings. I just park it in a high yields account earning 2% until I am ready to use it. That is another thing I feel higher earners donít get.

Many of us do not have the luxury of keeping our savings rolling forever. Because we donít earn enough to pay for large future expenses through our paycheck. So often times our savings are constantly revolving in and out, to pay for things. But the assumption around here as always when you say savings that you are referring to money thatís there forever for retirement. Right now the only cash I can guarantee will be there in 10 years is whatever I send to my 401(k), up to the company match.

Aside from my emergency fund, I literally have a short term plan for every single dollar currently in my savings account. And none of it is for early retirement, unless I plan on retiring in five years which I donít.

So yes, if I applied everything I am able to carve out of my paycheck and set aside each month, I could retire in 10 to 15 years. But that ignores Doing anything else. Anything else like traveling to visit family, or paying a $12,000 plumbing and sewer repair bill, or last week it was a $3000 driveway repair bill. Or one day replacing my 17-year-old car. I donít have the luxury of setting tons of money aside just for retirement. Because life happens between now and retirement (even early retirement). Life that costs money that my paycheck I canít cover so I need to get it from savings.
Having those savings, no matter what they are labeled, is still a huge help. It keeps your head above water when life hands you shit sandwiches. It aldo gives you confidence in your ability to be in control of your life. I used to do the same thing. That money was never invested in equities, because I knew I was going to need it. I kept contributing to my 401k, slowly ratcheting up my contributions a tiny increments. In time, it grew to be real money. Just keep on keeping on. You're doing the right things. It may take a little longer to get there, but get there you will.

Thank you for the encouragement Dicey. I know I can be doing more (learning about indexes and carving out some money aside to invest), but for the time being as long as I am going in the right direction, I'm not stressing over optimization. I'll get there. I've given up on early retirement, fortunately mostly because I determined it wasn't for me. But I still want to live a life of optional leisure, so I'm working towards that.