ebonypearl (ebonypearl) wrote,

Can You Live On...

$39,000 a year?

What is it with these people? Don't they realize half of Americans live on less than $25,000 a year? Living on $39,000 a year would be a dream for them.

I should know, as I'm in that bottom half of wage-earners in America.

I don't have a lot of luxuries, like - oh precious gem jewelry[1], yachts [2], private jets [3], designer shoes [4], vacations homes [5], new cars [6], heating or cooling [7],or my own bed [8].

I do have things people in my income group supposedly don't have: I own my house, I have zero credit card debt, I have zero medical bill debt, I have not one but three working computers (well, one was damaged last night by the dogs, I'm not sure how badly yet) and a wireless internet connection, and I can take several small vacations each year (MedFaire, Conestoga, SoonerCon, FenCon) - half include a hotel stay and half are volunteer jobs that cost me more than a hotel stay would. All my bills are paid in full each month and I can afford groceries and gasoline and car repairs and the occasional toy. I have enough left to put a bit into savings and to use for charitable purposes.

I'm pretty sure if I lived anywhere else in the country, I wouldn't be as well off as I am on my current income, even if it was adjusted for the cost of living in the area. Oklahoma is just a really cheap place to live. Housing is affordable (we were hardly bothered by the mortgage fiasco), gasoline is affordable (I still hate how expensive it is, but It is less than elsewhere), food is affordable if not greatly varied, utilities are reasonable if you're frugal, there's a lot of cheap or free entertainment (if you're not too picky), and we have some decent flea markets and the annual FotL Book Sale. It's not high living, but it's really pretty good.

$39,000 a year is more than twice my current income, including book royalties. It just gives me giggle fits when I see articles asking people if they could manage to live on such large sums of money, as if it were a struggle or a serious hardship.

What would be a struggle is trying to live on $12,000 a year. That would be hard. What I live off of is pretty much the minimum for a decent living in a relatively safe neighborhood and with a few conveniences such as the charity work, computer and internet service, the mini-vacations, and the occasional shopping spree. But I realize my income is on the edge. If it falls by another $1,000 a year, I will not be frugal or tight, I'll be struggling.

[1] I have a few inherited pieces, mostly rubies and emeralds.
[2] I was born on one and that's the last time I've ever been on a yacht. I have been on floaty things - rubber inner tubes, a kayak, a bass fishing boat, but I have never owned any of them.
[3] OK, so you usually don't get into private jet ownership until your income exceeds $100,000 a year, but I do know some guys that have little Cessnas and they have annual incomes of around $60,000
[4] Just because my shoes are specially made doesn't make them "designer" - designer shoes don't come in my size. Most shoe styles don't come in my size, which is why my shoes are specially made.
[5] Although apparently, I am in the minority by actually owning my home. I know plenty of people who earn considerably more than I do who not only don't own their own homes but still live with their parents because they claim they can't even afford to rent their own place. Vacation home is just not happening, though.
[6] Currently, I don't have a car, as mine was totalled a year ago and then fell apart slowly so as to become undrivable. I'm driving a borrowed car because I can't yet afford a new car. Once every 20 years is my speed for car buying, not every year or three.
[7] I'm saving to get the wiring redone so I can install heating and cooling, but until then, I bake a lot in the winter and stay outside a lot in the summer.
[8]Tragic, isn't it? This one, however, is my own fault as I'm picky about the bed I want and it will be a while before I have saved enough money to buy it. I need to get the wiring done in my house first, then I can indulge in luxuries like beds and fireplaces and remodeling.

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