Can you live on $50,000 a year?

https://www.wsj.com/podcasts/your-money-matters/starting-out-on-50k/9fe2450d-a9c4-402e-aa64-bf96916fa8e6
[filed under: I listened to this so you don’t have to, money]

This is a short segment, only about 5 minutes long. They interviewed five millennial graduates in different cities, who did not live with their parents, who are starting out at jobs paying in the neighborhood of $50K. Based on recent stats, this is what the average grad will make . The burning question here – “Is $50,000 enough to live on?”

The interviewees reported that things are tight but they manage to save and have 401Ks. Some do what’s referred to as “creative” things … like hunting instead of buying red meat.


Half of Americans live on less than $50,000 so it seems like the better question is HOW do people live on less than the average income when $50K is reported as being a little tight?

My household income has averaged around $32K for the past 5 years and we can’t make it without borrowing money (paid back at Taxmas) and assistance from food donation network and occasional donations from actual strangers on the Internet, even being barebones frugal.
We no longer get SNAP because we make just too much for a family of four after my husband’s last 25cent/hour raise last November.
We’re not unique nor doing as poorly as many. People who live on disability or SSI might make $10K a year and that’s not a temporary thing, that’s all they have ever.
$50,000 is used commonly as an indicator in financial advice and money blogs, usually with the statement being that $50K is a modest earning but you can live on it if you know how to budget correctly. It’s frustrating to see this being used as the standard of budgeting when half of America, recent grads and not, are living on less. Below $50K, buy less lattes is the best advice we get.

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