Author Topic: Can you live on 30k a year?  (Read 15467 times)

2Birds1Stone

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6264
  • Location: Earth
  • K Thnx Bye
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #100 on: December 20, 2020, 01:22:54 PM »
I've never heard of anyone counting income taxes during accumulation as an expense.

ETA: Individual spending for 2020 will be ~$8,500 =D

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #101 on: December 20, 2020, 03:44:31 PM »
I may need to improve on my budget tracking, as I don't count our withheld taxes from paycheck, but I just made an IRS payment of $1,220 as my work didn't withhold enough money, and I added that $1,220 to our budget as an expense, I also add IRS/state refunds as income to our budget. I wonder how others tack this on their budget?

If you are going to stop working, you need to include tax payments in your retirement budget, unless you will live exclusively off Savings accounts and Roth IRA distributions.
Or you are able to keep your taxable income at or below $12k/year per person or $24k per couple. At least for fed and Calif standard deduction. But agreed that most should include expected income taxes into their overall expenses the same as any other expense. Although for the $30k and under people it might he a fairly small amount each year.

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1382
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Maui
    • Arcadia Power
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #102 on: December 20, 2020, 05:48:22 PM »
I may need to improve on my budget tracking, as I don't count our withheld taxes from paycheck, but I just made an IRS payment of $1,220 as my work didn't withhold enough money, and I added that $1,220 to our budget as an expense, I also add IRS/state refunds as income to our budget. I wonder how others tack this on their budget?

If you are going to stop working, you need to include tax payments in your retirement budget, unless you will live exclusively off Savings accounts and Roth IRA distributions.
Or you are able to keep your taxable income at or below $12k/year per person or $24k per couple. At least for fed and Calif standard deduction. But agreed that most should include expected income taxes into their overall expenses the same as any other expense. Although for the $30k and under people it might he a fairly small amount each year.

That's true. I'm pretty sure the CA standard deduction is smaller than the federal one though. unlike Arizona, which has a standard deduction that is identical to federal.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #103 on: December 21, 2020, 09:56:04 AM »
I may need to improve on my budget tracking, as I don't count our withheld taxes from paycheck, but I just made an IRS payment of $1,220 as my work didn't withhold enough money, and I added that $1,220 to our budget as an expense, I also add IRS/state refunds as income to our budget. I wonder how others tack this on their budget?

If you are going to stop working, you need to include tax payments in your retirement budget, unless you will live exclusively off Savings accounts and Roth IRA distributions.
Or you are able to keep your taxable income at or below $12k/year per person or $24k per couple. At least for fed and Calif standard deduction. But agreed that most should include expected income taxes into their overall expenses the same as any other expense. Although for the $30k and under people it might he a fairly small amount each year.

That's true. I'm pretty sure the CA standard deduction is smaller than the federal one though. unlike Arizona, which has a standard deduction that is identical to federal.
Yes Calif is less. I looked it up and seems to around $5k single (including one exemption) but there must be some other reductions to income tax as I haven't paid state tax in a long time and my taxable income is higher than that.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2020, 10:00:03 AM by spartana »

Sandi_k

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 224
  • Location: California
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #104 on: December 21, 2020, 10:11:48 AM »
I've never heard of anyone counting income taxes during accumulation as an expense.


I do. How else would you categorize it? Our taxes are estimated, so it's not unusual to have a tax bill even after we've calculated the previous year's taxes. We need to have allocated funds for any miscalculation - or weirdness, like this year's stimulus check.

And yes, I have taxes - both Fed and state - as an estimated expense in retirement as well.

Sandi_k

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 224
  • Location: California
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #105 on: December 21, 2020, 10:13:23 AM »

That's true. I'm pretty sure the CA standard deduction is smaller than the federal one though. unlike Arizona, which has a standard deduction that is identical to federal.
Yes Calif is less. I looked it up and seems to around $5k single (including one exemption) but there must be some other reductions to income tax as I haven't paid state tax in a long time and my taxable income is higher than that.
[/quote]

I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

yachi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 440
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #106 on: December 21, 2020, 12:19:36 PM »
I've never heard of anyone counting income taxes during accumulation as an expense.


I do. How else would you categorize it? Our taxes are estimated, so it's not unusual to have a tax bill even after we've calculated the previous year's taxes. We need to have allocated funds for any miscalculation - or weirdness, like this year's stimulus check.

And yes, I have taxes - both Fed and state - as an estimated expense in retirement as well.

What if taxes end up negative?  With the Earned Income Tax Credit and the additional child tax credit, an income less that 30k and a few kids it easily can be.  The OP did qualify the 30k as "total expenditures".  Are taxes still an expenditure when negative...?

NotJen

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 957
  • Location: USA
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #107 on: December 22, 2020, 08:03:54 AM »
I've never heard of anyone counting income taxes during accumulation as an expense.


I do. How else would you categorize it? Our taxes are estimated, so it's not unusual to have a tax bill even after we've calculated the previous year's taxes. We need to have allocated funds for any miscalculation - or weirdness, like this year's stimulus check.

And yes, I have taxes - both Fed and state - as an estimated expense in retirement as well.

What if taxes end up negative?  With the Earned Income Tax Credit and the additional child tax credit, an income less that 30k and a few kids it easily can be.  The OP did qualify the 30k as "total expenditures".  Are taxes still an expenditure when negative...?
They'd be an income.

Technically, taxes are on the income side for me this year.  I had no 2020 withholdings because I quit my W2 job last year.  No estimated payments because I don't expect to owe anything in 2020.  I received about $200 in refunds when I filed my taxes in Feb, so my spending tracks $200 of income due to taxes.

When I file my 2020 taxes in 2021, I'll likely come out ahead again because of the stimulus payment that I didn't get automatically this year.  Or it might just offset some withholdings or estimated taxes if I end up earning some money next year.

billy

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 202
  • Age: 39
  • Location: CA
  • tech + mmm = lot's of savings
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #108 on: December 22, 2020, 12:22:32 PM »
I updated my budget and removed tax payments/refunds, while I have my w-2 job, so I can easily see my cost of living including medical and dental and plan appropriately. And it will be easier to share with others my yearly household spending, as peoples tax payments vary obviously. On a side note, I just updated my w-4 to try to break even next year.

I can see if you pay quarterly taxes/additional estimated tax payments, you definitely want to track that for record keeping separately.

American GenX

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 700
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #109 on: December 22, 2020, 12:25:51 PM »
Can you live on 30k a year or less? I'm talking total expenditures for the year.

LOL.  You say that like it's not much, but it's about double what I've spent from my take home pay yearly in recent years.

I'm a single person with no kids and a paid off home, and I would really have to ramp up my discretionary spending to spend $30K per y ear, and I don't plan to do that until I FIRE.

MyAlterEgoIsTaller

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 128
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #110 on: December 22, 2020, 01:18:19 PM »
I can't, because of my mortgage and student loan payments. 
I have the resources to pay off both, but the interest rates are low, especially for the mortgage, so it hasn't seemed like the best move.
Not counting those 2 payments, what I spent from take-home pay this year was $17,532.

fattest_foot

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 856
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #111 on: December 22, 2020, 04:23:56 PM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.

Retireatee1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 160
  • Location: Fort Mill, SC
    • Retireator.org
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #112 on: December 22, 2020, 07:00:22 PM »
I have some bare bones retirement plans worked up, and $30K/yr in expenses is pretty tight in the Southeast.

When you add in "hidden" expenses like home maintenance and vehicle depreciation, your average annual expenses can be higher than you think.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #113 on: December 23, 2020, 08:17:23 AM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.
Calif doesn't have too many deductions any longer - and I was initially talking about just the standard deduction plus exemption not itemizing - so wouldn't matter. In my case I have very low "taxable" income and haven't paid fed or CA state taxes since FIREing other then for house sale purposes. But it seemed that my taxable income was several thousand above the standard deduction plus exemption amount.

Malum Prohibitum

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 762
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #114 on: December 23, 2020, 11:01:00 AM »
Thanks to the PPACA, health insurance for my family for 2021 is close to $30,000 at the cheap end all by itself, and up to almost twice that if you want to purchase less cheap health insurance.

So, no.  I cannot possibly live on $30k a year.

dizzy

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #115 on: December 23, 2020, 12:05:00 PM »
Also Philly- recently across the bridge to NJ, never spent $30k a year.  Do not consider Philly HCOL.  Maybe moderate COL?
Hope to gawd I never spend $30k a year.  Right now maybe spending $750-800 a month, with $1k total budgeted (funsies).  Hearing people are spending $30k a year on health insurance is just nuts to me.  Why is it so high?  Mine has either been $0 or 40/month (I get a bronze plan with HSA, or medicaid in years I qualified).  I'm single without kids fwiw.  My partner has been unemployed since March so he qualified for a marketplace plan next year, I think he picked a silver one and is paying $40ish for that and $10 for dental.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2020, 12:06:57 PM by dizzy »

jim555

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2539
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #116 on: December 23, 2020, 12:08:46 PM »
Since I retired I haven't paid any premium for health cover due to low income.  Thanks PPACA.

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1382
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Maui
    • Arcadia Power
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #117 on: December 23, 2020, 06:16:02 PM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.
Calif doesn't have too many deductions any longer - and I was initially talking about just the standard deduction plus exemption not itemizing - so wouldn't matter. In my case I have very low "taxable" income and haven't paid fed or CA state taxes since FIREing other then for house sale purposes. But it seemed that my taxable income was several thousand above the standard deduction plus exemption amount.

Does that mean you are on MediCAL?

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1382
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Maui
    • Arcadia Power
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #118 on: December 23, 2020, 06:16:35 PM »
Can you live on 30k a year or less? I'm talking total expenditures for the year.

LOL.  You say that like it's not much, but it's about double what I've spent from my take home pay yearly in recent years.

I'm a single person with no kids and a paid off home, and I would really have to ramp up my discretionary spending to spend $30K per y ear, and I don't plan to do that until I FIRE.

The paid off home helps a lot with that.

brooklynmoney

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 659
  • Location: Crooklyn
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #119 on: December 23, 2020, 08:59:13 PM »
No, no I cannot not will I try to.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #120 on: December 23, 2020, 10:12:08 PM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.
Calif doesn't have too many deductions any longer - and I was initially talking about just the standard deduction plus exemption not itemizing - so wouldn't matter. In my case I have very low "taxable" income and haven't paid fed or CA state taxes since FIREing other then for house sale purposes. But it seemed that my taxable income was several thousand above the standard deduction plus exemption amount.

Does that mean you are on MediCAL?
Nope. I can use the VA for free/low cost medical because I have a military service connected disability. I also get some tax-free compensation for that ($630/month) that I don't need to include as income for taxes but would probably be used for MediCAL (Medicaid) calculations. Plus some already-taxed (Roth) investments within my state pension that I started tapping at 50. Before that mostly cash/laddered CDs. My current total income this past year will be exactly $30k but since I didn't travel much and have been car-free the whole year beside occasional rentals, I used less than half that amount. Most, maybe all, isn't taxable (yay).
« Last Edit: December 23, 2020, 10:53:29 PM by spartana »

stacheasaurus

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #121 on: December 23, 2020, 11:54:27 PM »
total 2020 spend will be right around 27k; includes major cross country move!  2021 should be 24k-26k

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1382
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Maui
    • Arcadia Power
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #122 on: December 26, 2020, 12:41:43 PM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.
Calif doesn't have too many deductions any longer - and I was initially talking about just the standard deduction plus exemption not itemizing - so wouldn't matter. In my case I have very low "taxable" income and haven't paid fed or CA state taxes since FIREing other then for house sale purposes. But it seemed that my taxable income was several thousand above the standard deduction plus exemption amount.

Does that mean you are on MediCAL?
Nope. I can use the VA for free/low cost medical because I have a military service connected disability. I also get some tax-free compensation for that ($630/month) that I don't need to include as income for taxes but would probably be used for MediCAL (Medicaid) calculations. Plus some already-taxed (Roth) investments within my state pension that I started tapping at 50. Before that mostly cash/laddered CDs. My current total income this past year will be exactly $30k but since I didn't travel much and have been car-free the whole year beside occasional rentals, I used less than half that amount. Most, maybe all, isn't taxable (yay).

Interesting - so does that mean are you just not covered if you travel within the US to somewhere that doesn't have a VA facility nearby?

Living in CA off $30k per year would certainly becomes drastically easier when one has no need to purchase health insurance, a non-taxed pension, and lives primairly off investment income and Roth accounts rather than wages...also if one purchased RE decades ago, that would help quite a bit too.


When I said I couldn't live off $30k per year in CA if I bought real estate, that's because, right now, a mortgage + HOA + property taxes for a 1BR that wasn't built 100 years ago, is pretty much $30k on the real estate alone.  Hence I won't be buying when i move back to CA, but I'll still probably be spending at least $20k/yr easily on rent, and probably another $20k on life. That doesn't include income taxes or retirement savings of course.


Life is much cheaper when you are not working though...unless you need health insurance and are pre-medicare age and have too much investment or retirement income to qualify for the ACA tax credits.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2020, 12:44:20 PM by tj »

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #123 on: December 27, 2020, 03:12:44 PM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.
Calif doesn't have too many deductions any longer - and I was initially talking about just the standard deduction plus exemption not itemizing - so wouldn't matter. In my case I have very low "taxable" income and haven't paid fed or CA state taxes since FIREing other then for house sale purposes. But it seemed that my taxable income was several thousand above the standard deduction plus exemption amount.

Does that mean you are on MediCAL?
Nope. I can use the VA for free/low cost medical because I have a military service connected disability. I also get some tax-free compensation for that ($630/month) that I don't need to include as income for taxes but would probably be used for MediCAL (Medicaid) calculations. Plus some already-taxed (Roth) investments within my state pension that I started tapping at 50. Before that mostly cash/laddered CDs. My current total income this past year will be exactly $30k but since I didn't travel much and have been car-free the whole year beside occasional rentals, I used less than half that amount. Most, maybe all, isn't taxable (yay).

Interesting - so does that mean are you just not covered if you travel within the US to somewhere that doesn't have a VA facility nearby?

Living in CA off $30k per year would certainly becomes drastically easier when one has no need to purchase health insurance, a non-taxed pension, and lives primairly off investment income and Roth accounts rather than wages...also if one purchased RE decades ago, that would help quite a bit too.


When I said I couldn't live off $30k per year in CA if I bought real estate, that's because, right now, a mortgage + HOA + property taxes for a 1BR that wasn't built 100 years ago, is pretty much $30k on the real estate alone.  Hence I won't be buying when i move back to CA, but I'll still probably be spending at least $20k/yr easily on rent, and probably another $20k on life. That doesn't include income taxes or retirement savings of course.


Life is much cheaper when you are not working though...unless you need health insurance and are pre-medicare age and have too much investment or retirement income to qualify for the ACA tax credits.
Yes on all fronts. I can use the VA anywhere and anytime while in the US but not overseas so would need travellers insurance. If I'm not near a VA facility somewhere in the US and have an emergency then the VA will allow me to go to a regular hospital until I can be sent to a VA facility. When I first retired I did pay for COBRA and, when that expired, then got a Blue Cross catastrophic policy. Had that until the ACA came along.and those kinds of policies vanished. However I did make sure to include medical insurance costs in my FIRE number so could cover a reasonably priced ACA policy if needed.

So all that helps me be able to live in a HCOL area on very little. Buying a house during the bottom of the Great Recession housing market helped too.  Having a couple of roommates and living very frugally too. For people wanting to live here who are just starting out then a roommate situation is just about the only way to save. Plus keeping taxable income low to qualify for ACA subsidies or Medicaid.

FWIW With a paid off house and no or low medical costs I can.actually live on less than $1000/month ($600 is barebones most months including annual expenses like house taxes and insurances). Throw in a roommate or two and all my expenses would be covered and I'd have some beer money left over ;-).
« Last Edit: December 27, 2020, 03:16:11 PM by spartana »

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1382
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Maui
    • Arcadia Power
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #124 on: December 27, 2020, 09:35:37 PM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.
Calif doesn't have too many deductions any longer - and I was initially talking about just the standard deduction plus exemption not itemizing - so wouldn't matter. In my case I have very low "taxable" income and haven't paid fed or CA state taxes since FIREing other then for house sale purposes. But it seemed that my taxable income was several thousand above the standard deduction plus exemption amount.

Does that mean you are on MediCAL?
Nope. I can use the VA for free/low cost medical because I have a military service connected disability. I also get some tax-free compensation for that ($630/month) that I don't need to include as income for taxes but would probably be used for MediCAL (Medicaid) calculations. Plus some already-taxed (Roth) investments within my state pension that I started tapping at 50. Before that mostly cash/laddered CDs. My current total income this past year will be exactly $30k but since I didn't travel much and have been car-free the whole year beside occasional rentals, I used less than half that amount. Most, maybe all, isn't taxable (yay).

Interesting - so does that mean are you just not covered if you travel within the US to somewhere that doesn't have a VA facility nearby?

Living in CA off $30k per year would certainly becomes drastically easier when one has no need to purchase health insurance, a non-taxed pension, and lives primairly off investment income and Roth accounts rather than wages...also if one purchased RE decades ago, that would help quite a bit too.


When I said I couldn't live off $30k per year in CA if I bought real estate, that's because, right now, a mortgage + HOA + property taxes for a 1BR that wasn't built 100 years ago, is pretty much $30k on the real estate alone.  Hence I won't be buying when i move back to CA, but I'll still probably be spending at least $20k/yr easily on rent, and probably another $20k on life. That doesn't include income taxes or retirement savings of course.


Life is much cheaper when you are not working though...unless you need health insurance and are pre-medicare age and have too much investment or retirement income to qualify for the ACA tax credits.
Yes on all fronts. I can use the VA anywhere and anytime while in the US but not overseas so would need travellers insurance. If I'm not near a VA facility somewhere in the US and have an emergency then the VA will allow me to go to a regular hospital until I can be sent to a VA facility. When I first retired I did pay for COBRA and, when that expired, then got a Blue Cross catastrophic policy. Had that until the ACA came along.and those kinds of policies vanished. However I did make sure to include medical insurance costs in my FIRE number so could cover a reasonably priced ACA policy if needed.

So all that helps me be able to live in a HCOL area on very little. Buying a house during the bottom of the Great Recession housing market helped too.  Having a couple of roommates and living very frugally too. For people wanting to live here who are just starting out then a roommate situation is just about the only way to save. Plus keeping taxable income low to qualify for ACA subsidies or Medicaid.

FWIW With a paid off house and no or low medical costs I can.actually live on less than $1000/month ($600 is barebones most months including annual expenses like house taxes and insurances). Throw in a roommate or two and all my expenses would be covered and I'd have some beer money left over ;-).

I'm definitely kicking myself for not buying somewhere coastal when I had bought inland. Oh well, i can't complain about how my life has turned out on that front. ;)

spaniard999

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 113
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
    • Longing for Travel
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #125 on: January 05, 2021, 09:10:15 AM »
Totally doable.

2019 I spent 26k and that includes trips to Whistler to ski, Spain to visit family and California for a family trip.
I also split rent with my SO but it is 7.2k a year each. We live in Chicago.

2020 I spent 16k including ALL my expenses. Didnt make that many trips due to covid :(

clarkfan1979

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2239
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Pueblo West, CO
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #126 on: January 09, 2021, 07:24:57 AM »
When I was in grad school, my living expenses were 18K/year from age 27 to 32. For full disclosure, my total expenses were 20K because I had to pay $1500/year for student fees and another $500/year for books/printing.  This was 2007 to 2011.

As a single person, I can definitely live on 30K/year. In my opinion, you need to attack the big 3 (housing, transportation, food). The simple answer to this is roommates, used car ($5,000 or less) and mostly eating at home. You can still travel if you use credit card points and stay with friends.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #127 on: January 09, 2021, 09:43:22 AM »
I believe that CA still allows the full deduction of SALT, unlike the Feds after the 2017 Tax Cut and Recovery Act.

Well, you obviously can't deduct the S portion of SALT, as you'd be deducting CA taxes from themselves. But I definitely write off things like property taxes and car registration fees on my CA taxes.
Calif doesn't have too many deductions any longer - and I was initially talking about just the standard deduction plus exemption not itemizing - so wouldn't matter. In my case I have very low "taxable" income and haven't paid fed or CA state taxes since FIREing other then for house sale purposes. But it seemed that my taxable income was several thousand above the standard deduction plus exemption amount.

Does that mean you are on MediCAL?
Nope. I can use the VA for free/low cost medical because I have a military service connected disability. I also get some tax-free compensation for that ($630/month) that I don't need to include as income for taxes but would probably be used for MediCAL (Medicaid) calculations. Plus some already-taxed (Roth) investments within my state pension that I started tapping at 50. Before that mostly cash/laddered CDs. My current total income this past year will be exactly $30k but since I didn't travel much and have been car-free the whole year beside occasional rentals, I used less than half that amount. Most, maybe all, isn't taxable (yay).

Interesting - so does that mean are you just not covered if you travel within the US to somewhere that doesn't have a VA facility nearby?

Living in CA off $30k per year would certainly becomes drastically easier when one has no need to purchase health insurance, a non-taxed pension, and lives primairly off investment income and Roth accounts rather than wages...also if one purchased RE decades ago, that would help quite a bit too.


When I said I couldn't live off $30k per year in CA if I bought real estate, that's because, right now, a mortgage + HOA + property taxes for a 1BR that wasn't built 100 years ago, is pretty much $30k on the real estate alone.  Hence I won't be buying when i move back to CA, but I'll still probably be spending at least $20k/yr easily on rent, and probably another $20k on life. That doesn't include income taxes or retirement savings of course.


Life is much cheaper when you are not working though...unless you need health insurance and are pre-medicare age and have too much investment or retirement income to qualify for the ACA tax credits.
Yes on all fronts. I can use the VA anywhere and anytime while in the US but not overseas so would need travellers insurance. If I'm not near a VA facility somewhere in the US and have an emergency then the VA will allow me to go to a regular hospital until I can be sent to a VA facility. When I first retired I did pay for COBRA and, when that expired, then got a Blue Cross catastrophic policy. Had that until the ACA came along.and those kinds of policies vanished. However I did make sure to include medical insurance costs in my FIRE number so could cover a reasonably priced ACA policy if needed.

So all that helps me be able to live in a HCOL area on very little. Buying a house during the bottom of the Great Recession housing market helped too.  Having a couple of roommates and living very frugally too. For people wanting to live here who are just starting out then a roommate situation is just about the only way to save. Plus keeping taxable income low to qualify for ACA subsidies or Medicaid.

FWIW With a paid off house and no or low medical costs I can.actually live on less than $1000/month ($600 is barebones most months including annual expenses like house taxes and insurances). Throw in a roommate or two and all my expenses would be covered and I'd have some beer money left over ;-).

I'm definitely kicking myself for not buying somewhere coastal when I had bought inland. Oh well, i can't complain about how my life has turned out on that front. ;)
From what I've seen you've done very well. Even a long work break/sabbatical to test out the FIRE waters. I was lucky to have been a good saver all my life so when an opportunity to buy a cheaphouse in a HCOL area came up (housing market down turn) I was in a position to buy. I was FI before I bought a house and even REd for a couple of years but went back to work after 2 years off to buy a place and pad the stash a bit.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #128 on: January 09, 2021, 09:51:41 AM »
When I was in grad school, my living expenses were 18K/year from age 27 to 32. For full disclosure, my total expenses were 20K because I had to pay $1500/year for student fees and another $500/year for books/printing.  This was 2007 to 2011.

As a single person, I can definitely live on 30K/year. In my opinion, you need to attack the big 3 (housing, transportation, food). The simple answer to this is roommates, used car ($5,000 or less) and mostly eating at home. You can still travel if you use credit card points and stay with friends.
Probably medical insurance too. That's likely to be a larger expense then food or transportation unless you have employer insurance or a big ACA subsidy.

Dreamer40

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 62
  • Location: Portland, OR
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #129 on: January 09, 2021, 12:21:58 PM »
I have before out of necessity, but wouldn’t want to for the future. I live in a high-ish cost of living area in my dream house very near family, which is exactly where I want to be. I also want more flexibility and luxury than that budget would allow. I frickin’ love my giant TV and good quality wine. But have always been perfectly happy to share a car with my hubby and wear jeans from Target until they fall apart. Just depends on what feels worth it to you!

Garrett B.

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 288
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #130 on: February 01, 2021, 05:06:51 PM »
Here's my proposed retirement budget, once I have no mortgage. I live in Canada so no health care expenses.

$365 property tax
$100 Car insurance
$300 Vehicle fund (maintenance & new car)
$500 vacation fund
$120 TV & Internet
$130 Hydro
$60 Cell phone
$500 gas & groceries & food
$50 water
$100 miscellaneous
$100 home maintenance
$75 home insurance
Total: $2400/month = $28,800/year

Thoughts?

Malcat

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5061
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #131 on: February 01, 2021, 06:31:57 PM »
Here's my proposed retirement budget, once I have no mortgage. I live in Canada so no health care expenses.

$365 property tax
$100 Car insurance
$300 Vehicle fund (maintenance & new car)
$500 vacation fund
$120 TV & Internet
$130 Hydro
$60 Cell phone
$500 gas & groceries & food
$50 water
$100 miscellaneous
$100 home maintenance
$75 home insurance
Total: $2400/month = $28,800/year

Thoughts?

I would probably start a new thread for this if you want the most effective answers.

However, I see nothing for clothing, entertainment, or gifts. The home maintenance amount seems low to me, unless you live in an apartment or condo and don't have any roof or outside elements to maintain. Also, don't assume no healthcare expenses. Prescriptions, dental, glasses, physio, massage, etc can all add up if you develop some very common, age related issues and don't have private insurance. Even if you do, they can still add up.

I used to make a lot of money off of patients for uninsured services, often to the tune of thousands in a given year.

Garrett B.

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 288
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #132 on: February 01, 2021, 07:22:26 PM »
Here's my proposed retirement budget, once I have no mortgage. I live in Canada so no health care expenses.

$365 property tax
$100 Car insurance
$300 Vehicle fund (maintenance & new car)
$500 vacation fund
$120 TV & Internet
$130 Hydro
$60 Cell phone
$500 gas & groceries & food
$50 water
$100 miscellaneous
$100 home maintenance
$75 home insurance
Total: $2400/month = $28,800/year

Thoughts?

I would probably start a new thread for this if you want the most effective answers.

However, I see nothing for clothing, entertainment, or gifts. The home maintenance amount seems low to me, unless you live in an apartment or condo and don't have any roof or outside elements to maintain. Also, don't assume no healthcare expenses. Prescriptions, dental, glasses, physio, massage, etc can all add up if you develop some very common, age related issues and don't have private insurance. Even if you do, they can still add up.

I used to make a lot of money off of patients for uninsured services, often to the tune of thousands in a given year.
Good idea to start it's own thread. Thanks!

I've got a government pension so prescriptions will be 90% covered.

Malcat

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5061
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #133 on: February 02, 2021, 06:33:01 AM »
Here's my proposed retirement budget, once I have no mortgage. I live in Canada so no health care expenses.

$365 property tax
$100 Car insurance
$300 Vehicle fund (maintenance & new car)
$500 vacation fund
$120 TV & Internet
$130 Hydro
$60 Cell phone
$500 gas & groceries & food
$50 water
$100 miscellaneous
$100 home maintenance
$75 home insurance
Total: $2400/month = $28,800/year

Thoughts?

I would probably start a new thread for this if you want the most effective answers.

However, I see nothing for clothing, entertainment, or gifts. The home maintenance amount seems low to me, unless you live in an apartment or condo and don't have any roof or outside elements to maintain. Also, don't assume no healthcare expenses. Prescriptions, dental, glasses, physio, massage, etc can all add up if you develop some very common, age related issues and don't have private insurance. Even if you do, they can still add up.

I used to make a lot of money off of patients for uninsured services, often to the tune of thousands in a given year.
Good idea to start it's own thread. Thanks!

I've got a government pension so prescriptions will be 90% covered.

Definitely start a thread, there are probably more details like this that people need to actually be able to help you. Budgets aren't as simple as looking at a stranger's list and saying "yep, that looks good", the whole benefit of asking a place like this is so that people can ask you a ton of questions to see if there's anything you might have missed.

Digger1000

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #134 on: February 02, 2021, 06:48:53 PM »
I live on 14k a year. I retired 4 years ago at age 51. $0 state and federal income taxes and $0 health insurance premiums with ACA. I have everything I need or want.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #135 on: February 03, 2021, 11:36:51 AM »
I live on 14k a year. I retired 4 years ago at age 51. $0 state and federal income taxes and $0 health insurance premiums with ACA. I have everything I need or want.
What's your housing situation? Rent or own? Roomates? Van down by the river ;-)? Same with transportation cost. I can technically live on the same (but spend more fun stuff)  but that was with a paid off house that had low prop taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintence. Ditto for a vehicle.

Digger1000

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #136 on: February 03, 2021, 03:52:23 PM »
I live on 14k a year. I retired 4 years ago at age 51. $0 state and federal income taxes and $0 health insurance premiums with ACA. I have everything I need or want.
What's your housing situation? Rent or own? Roomates? Van down by the river ;-)? Same with transportation cost. I can technically live on the same (but spend more fun stuff)  but that was with a paid off house that had low prop taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintence. Ditto for a vehicle.
I pay $695 a month in rent for a 1 bed RM apt. In a Cleveland suburb. I'm not a cord cutter, I have directv. I drive a 1997 accord which I bought 10 years ago last Sunday for $3200. The car before that I bought in 1989, a new Toyota Tercel for 7k. I shop at Aldi and spend on average  around $55 every 2 weeks. I never eat out. I've ate out once in 3 years, I bought 3 dollar burgers at BK when travelling out of state in 2019. My net worth is up 61% in the 4 years since retirement.

caleb

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 356
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #137 on: February 03, 2021, 04:57:42 PM »
When I was in grad school, my living expenses were 18K/year from age 27 to 32. For full disclosure, my total expenses were 20K because I had to pay $1500/year for student fees and another $500/year for books/printing.  This was 2007 to 2011.

As a single person, I can definitely live on 30K/year. In my opinion, you need to attack the big 3 (housing, transportation, food). The simple answer to this is roommates, used car ($5,000 or less) and mostly eating at home. You can still travel if you use credit card points and stay with friends.
Probably medical insurance too. That's likely to be a larger expense then food or transportation unless you have employer insurance or a big ACA subsidy.

I was looking over our tax documents the other day, and I noticed that the total cost of our employer sponsored health plans was about $17k for two adults.  I'm guessing most people aren't including their employer's contribution in their spending, but it's really just compensation that's spent before the employee sees it.

Whether I live on more or less than $30k depends entirely on what and how I decide to count as a living expense.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 05:02:12 PM by caleb »

ixtap

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2929
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #138 on: February 03, 2021, 05:26:39 PM »
When I was in grad school, my living expenses were 18K/year from age 27 to 32. For full disclosure, my total expenses were 20K because I had to pay $1500/year for student fees and another $500/year for books/printing.  This was 2007 to 2011.

As a single person, I can definitely live on 30K/year. In my opinion, you need to attack the big 3 (housing, transportation, food). The simple answer to this is roommates, used car ($5,000 or less) and mostly eating at home. You can still travel if you use credit card points and stay with friends.
Probably medical insurance too. That's likely to be a larger expense then food or transportation unless you have employer insurance or a big ACA subsidy.

I was looking over our tax documents the other day, and I noticed that the total cost of our employer sponsored health plans was about $17k for two adults.  I'm guessing most people aren't including their employer's contribution in their spending, but it's really just compensation that's spent before the employee sees it.

Whether I live on more or less than $30k depends entirely on what and how I decide to count as a living expense.

We don't count it in our current spending but we do use it as a stand in for COBRA payments for the first year.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #139 on: February 05, 2021, 09:06:58 AM »
I live on 14k a year. I retired 4 years ago at age 51. $0 state and federal income taxes and $0 health insurance premiums with ACA. I have everything I need or want.
What's your housing situation? Rent or own? Roomates? Van down by the river ;-)? Same with transportation cost. I can technically live on the same (but spend more fun stuff)  but that was with a paid off house that had low prop taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintence. Ditto for a vehicle.
I pay $695 a month in rent for a 1 bed RM apt. In a Cleveland suburb. I'm not a cord cutter, I have directv. I drive a 1997 accord which I bought 10 years ago last Sunday for $3200. The car before that I bought in 1989, a new Toyota Tercel for 7k. I shop at Aldi and spend on average  around $55 every 2 weeks. I never eat out. I've ate out once in 3 years, I bought 3 dollar burgers at BK when travelling out of state in 2019. My net worth is up 61% in the 4 years since retirement.
I was going to ask if you are lean FIRE and if you had contingencies in place if your circumstances changed and you needed more money. But then I saw in another thread that your investable assets (stash) is over a million so you are obviously living well under the 4% rule so doing good!! Any desire to spend more? Or do you plan to leave a large amount as an inheritance after you die? I don't have kids or much family so was planning on spending more now on travel (haha) but anythi g left will go to a charity.

jim555

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2539
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #140 on: February 05, 2021, 11:43:13 AM »
I live on 14k a year. I retired 4 years ago at age 51. $0 state and federal income taxes and $0 health insurance premiums with ACA. I have everything I need or want.
You sound very similar to me financially.

Digger1000

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #141 on: February 05, 2021, 12:01:58 PM »
I live on 14k a year. I retired 4 years ago at age 51. $0 state and federal income taxes and $0 health insurance premiums with ACA. I have everything I need or want.
What's your housing situation? Rent or own? Roomates? Van down by the river ;-)? Same with transportation cost. I can technically live on the same (but spend more fun stuff)  but that was with a paid off house that had low prop taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintence. Ditto for a vehicle.
I pay $695 a month in rent for a 1 bed RM apt. In a Cleveland suburb. I'm not a cord cutter, I have directv. I drive a 1997 accord which I bought 10 years ago last Sunday for $3200. The car before that I bought in 1989, a new Toyota Tercel for 7k. I shop at Aldi and spend on average  around $55 every 2 weeks. I never eat out. I've ate out once in 3 years, I bought 3 dollar burgers at BK when travelling out of state in 2019. My net worth is up 61% in the 4 years since retirement.
I was going to ask if you are lean FIRE and if you had contingencies in place if your circumstances changed and you needed more money. But then I saw in another thread that your investable assets (stash) is over a million so you are obviously living well under the 4% rule so doing good!! Any desire to spend more? Or do you plan to leave a large amount as an inheritance after you die? I don't have kids or much family so was planning on spending more now on travel (haha) but anythi g left will go to a charity.
Yes I have a desire to spend more. But I am extremely happy to be spending what I am. I find not working to be extremely luxurious. I mean I did love the work part of my job. Absolutely adored that part of the job and planned on working until 65. But the people made it unbearable to deal with. So I pulled the plug. I am happier every single day that I did so. 3 1/2 months before I quit is the 1st I started looking into things if I decided to leave the work force. This site and earlyretirement website gave me the info I needed. But things have been even easier than I thought they would be. I thought I'd be paying $60 a month or more to ACA. Instead I'm paying $0 premiums. I also thought I would have state income taxes but I moved to Ohio and then after I moved here they changed their tax rates to 0% on the first 24k, plus I have a 3k longterm capital gains loss every year so I could make 27k and not pay any state income tax. I had no idea Ohio was going to change their tax rate.

I'm 99% stocks. So I need to be very careful in spending. And of course anytime your taking out instead of putting in you need to be very careful. In terms of the 99% stocks, I always view myself as having half of my net worth because stocks can certainly plummet at  least that far at anytime no questions asked.

But yes at some point in time I see myself spending much more if the money is there. For sure once I hit 65, if my net worth is large. At 65 I'd be on medicare. I plan on taking SS at 70, which itself will be more than I'm living on now. I'm converting 15k a year currently to a Roth. So for at least 3 years I see myself spending what I currently am. Maybe in 3-5 years I'll start spending a little more. But I would like to keep the $0 ACA premium until 65. So between 60 and 65 I'll just have to determine how much I want to spend because that could/would effect how much I can convert to a Roth tax free.


Digger1000

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #142 on: February 05, 2021, 12:18:47 PM »
I live on 14k a year. I retired 4 years ago at age 51. $0 state and federal income taxes and $0 health insurance premiums with ACA. I have everything I need or want.
What's your housing situation? Rent or own? Roomates? Van down by the river ;-)? Same with transportation cost. I can technically live on the same (but spend more fun stuff)  but that was with a paid off house that had low prop taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintence. Ditto for a vehicle.
I pay $695 a month in rent for a 1 bed RM apt. In a Cleveland suburb. I'm not a cord cutter, I have directv. I drive a 1997 accord which I bought 10 years ago last Sunday for $3200. The car before that I bought in 1989, a new Toyota Tercel for 7k. I shop at Aldi and spend on average  around $55 every 2 weeks. I never eat out. I've ate out once in 3 years, I bought 3 dollar burgers at BK when travelling out of state in 2019. My net worth is up 61% in the 4 years since retirement.
I was going to ask if you are lean FIRE and if you had contingencies in place if your circumstances changed and you needed more money. But then I saw in another thread that your investable assets (stash) is over a million so you are obviously living well under the 4% rule so doing good!! Any desire to spend more? Or do you plan to leave a large amount as an inheritance after you die? I don't have kids or much family so was planning on spending more now on travel (haha) but anythi g left will go to a charity.

So for the last 10 years before I pulled the plug at age 51 I had thought I would work until 65. I was always running numbers and thinking I can hit 3 or 4 million by 65. So I thought since the S&P 500 cagr is 9% that means I can spend 270k a year in retirement since the S&P returns 9%. Then I found out about the 4% rule a few years before I pulled the plug. I didnt understand it at 1st but I grew to understand and embrace it. When my work environment grew to a toxic level well above a sewer I realized hey I can live on well below 4% in retirement right now if I continue living like I have lived my entire life, I've always been very frugal. Since then I have come to be a believer in the 3% rule. My average yearly spending in retirement has been 2.3%.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2021, 12:21:02 PM by Digger1000 »

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #143 on: February 07, 2021, 09:38:41 AM »
@Digger1000 sounds like you are doing good and will be set for life even if you upped your spending more now. Is there any reason you are holding off doing some of the things you're planning to do once older and getting SS?

While I totally agree that not having to work is absolute luxury in and of itself, but life and often health is short and waiting too long to do the things you want can backfire. Like others here, I FIREd pretty young because there were many things I wanted to do (none that cost much but more than my barebones expenses) that I was unwilling (and probably unable in some cases) to put off until older. So if you are waiting for 10 or more years to do the things you want I don't think you need too. Even a 50% drop probably won't be traumadic to your retirement - especially if you have SS in the future.

Digger1000

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #144 on: February 08, 2021, 09:03:17 PM »
I finally got around to running the numbers on my 2020 spending. My total spending in 2020 was $13,205.94.

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #145 on: February 13, 2021, 12:27:46 PM »
2020 we got by *just* barely under 25k, but it was a really good year.  Averaging under 30k over a number of years would be tough.  Owning a house includes periodic $5,000 - $10,000 repairs that pop up and drive that average up.

firefoxes

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #146 on: February 24, 2021, 02:40:13 PM »
Hopefully someday! For now our household of two in a HCOL is hitting 36k/year. 50% of that is rent. Theoretically home ownership would greatly reduce that eventually, even with planning for major repairs/taxes/misc expenses.

Retireatee1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 160
  • Location: Fort Mill, SC
    • Retireator.org
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #147 on: February 24, 2021, 02:55:21 PM »
2020 we got by *just* barely under 25k, but it was a really good year.  Averaging under 30k over a number of years would be tough.  Owning a house includes periodic $5,000 - $10,000 repairs that pop up and drive that average up.

The number I use for long-term planning of home maintenance costs is 1% of the home value per year.  So most years you come out ahead, but eventually your time is up.  I think in the case of my house that percentage might be low.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2067
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #148 on: February 24, 2021, 04:16:37 PM »
2020 we got by *just* barely under 25k, but it was a really good year.  Averaging under 30k over a number of years would be tough.  Owning a house includes periodic $5,000 - $10,000 repairs that pop up and drive that average up.

The number I use for long-term planning of home maintenance costs is 1% of the home value per year.  So most years you come out ahead, but eventually your time is up.  I think in the case of my house that percentage might be low.
That doesn't seem very efficient as I would think costs would be too varied depending on size of home and location. A $5 million dollar 1000 SF home in Aspen isn't going to cost much more maintenance-wise than a $100k house of the same size in Fargo would.

Sydney9

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • Thrifty Introvert
Re: Can you live on 30k a year?
« Reply #149 on: February 25, 2021, 02:01:36 PM »
Geez, just ran my numbers and I've been spending less than $20k a year this past year. My monthly budget is around $1600 per month. Perks to no healthcare costs (in UK) and being a public transit lover, I suppose. But maybe I'm taking this frugal thing way too seriously haha...