Author Topic: Any low income mustachians out there?  (Read 24444 times)

memorytoast

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Any low income mustachians out there?
« 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?

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #1 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.

memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #2 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?

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #3 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. :-)

catccc

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #4 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!)

memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #5 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!

TimmyTightWad

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #6 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.

mcneally

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #7 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.

JanetJackson

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #8 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!!!

LittleWanderer

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #9 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.)

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #10 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.

JanetJackson

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #11 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!

memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #12 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!

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #13 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.

Freedomin5

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #14 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.

Cali Nonya

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #15 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? 

Ocinfo

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #16 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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memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #17 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. 

Freedomin5

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #18 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.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2017, 09:18:13 PM by Freedomin5 »

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #19 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.

 

ElleFiji

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #20 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.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #21 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.


« Last Edit: June 28, 2017, 10:18:40 AM by Bicycle_B »

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #22 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!

memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #23 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!

Bicycle_B

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #24 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. 

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #25 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.


coolistdude

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #26 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.

wenchsenior

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #27 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!
« Last Edit: June 28, 2017, 08:58:14 AM by wenchsenior »

Cali Nonya

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #28 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. 

Moonwaves

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #29 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.

biotechgirl

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #30 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.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #31 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.)

memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #32 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. 
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 02:40:02 PM by memorytoast »

Fire2025

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #33 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!!

Unique User

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #34 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.   

JanetJackson

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #35 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? 

biotechgirl

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #36 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.

JanetJackson

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #37 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. 

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #38 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. :-)

memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #39 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 

MVal

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #40 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.


Double Yu

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #41 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 :)

teen persuasion

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #42 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.

Cali Nonya

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #43 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.

memorytoast

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #44 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. 

Cali Nonya

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #45 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. 

Bicycle_B

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #46 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!!

PMG

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #47 on: June 30, 2017, 03:22:56 PM »
Posting to follow!

Cali Nonya

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #48 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.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Any low income mustachians out there?
« Reply #49 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...