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Old 05-23-2012, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MO
3,275 posts, read 2,389,796 times
Reputation: 2169
Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeexplorer View Post
When can you write the article? I am really curious to learn. I make pretty good money but hardly feel I am rich or well off.
I don't think I'm going to, but what I was going to do is show real estate listings that are absolute bargains and extremely low-mileage used cars for sale that are like new. There are 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom condos in Kansas City's most coveted areas for $60K-ish on a regular basis with HOA's below $300 per month. There are also 3-bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1-car garage 50's ranches or 20's bungalows in the same areas that can be had for $130K-ish. I'm talking highly-stable, coveted areas in which the larger area is our established upper-middle/upper class area. You have to have vision. Focus on quality of quantity.

Then as for cars, you can find 12-year old Mercedes C-classes with less than 50K miles that are in like-new condition for $7K-ish, which get about 25 mpg city and over 30 on the highway. They're great, solid cars, reliable, and go to very high mileages. If taken care of, they will last longer than brand new car that costs twice as much, all while being much more of a pleasure to own. With a little bit of research about the particulars of a given car, you can do preventive maintenance and of course I would suggest keeping $2000 or so in reserve just in case you need to fix something. The insurance premiums on a used car are much cheaper too. All in all, a lot of money can avoid being needlessly spent. I believe this to be true, despite the common rhetoric that used cars are money pits. People don't give it a chance. They typically have the rigid mentality of everything having to be new. Buying used takes work, you have to research and learn how certain models of cars evolve, when they have new features, facelifts, etc. You have to learn things like buying a generation of car toward the end of its run right before the replacement model comes out - and not buying something prior to it's first facelift - the reason being that the kinks get worked out. You have to know to have the car inspected by the actual dealer, using a carfax, and that you need to have all the fluids and scheduled maintenance done for a fresh starting point, including rear-differential fluids, transmission flushes, fuel filters - stuff most people don't think of and depend on the dealer to tell them, which dealers aren't the best at. I should add I've seen model year end Kia Fortes for $9,995. Brand new decent cars with warranties!

As for cellphone plans, I find it ridiculous people pay $70-$100+ per month with extra fees on running over data or texts, when they could have something like Virgin Mobile, which is part of Sprint and uses the same network for $45-$55 per month with unlimited data and with the latter plan, unlimited talk time. No, I don't expect anybody to forgo a solid smart phone with a touchscreen and keypad, but a $500 smartphone or locking yourself into an expensive plan for 2 years to get get a deal on an overly expensive phone is unnecessary. The last phone I bought, the Samsung Intercept (Android) with bluetooth, wifi, etc. was $80 on sale at Best Buy. It was being phased out because a new model was replacing it. It was originally $199.

Something I forgot to mention in my rant in my previous post is I see people wasting food at an incredible rate, even people who are think they are supposedly poor and have such a hard time. If they were really that poor, they wouldn't be throwing out massive quantities of food and would either be eating leftovers the next day for lunch OR not buying and cooking excessive in the first place. Not only is wasting food financially wasteful, but I think it's immoral. Even coffee, especially after I visited a coffee plantation and saw the work that goes into producing it. Too many Americans take our low prices for everything for granted.

As for dining out, one thing that I do is order water - not a soft drink. I only dine out twice a week most weeks, but it's needless spending that I don't do and I'm better for it. To save money on food dining out, no matter what caliber of restaurant, you can learn the specials of each restaurant and learn which restaurants are the nicest with the highest quality food but that are bargains, which there are a lot of. As for waste, I see a lot of folks waste leftovers from restaurants - so not ordering excessive there is a good thing, or at least eat the food the next day for lunch, which I was I do. I see too many people take home leftovers and leave them in their refridgerator to get old and then throw it out. I spend $12-$13 average. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Only occasionally do I eat upscale, and for that Sunday brunches are nicer restaurants are the way to go. Prime rib, smoked salmon, even unlimited house wine can be had at some places. For $20 on average. Ordering alcohol out can really add up. I don't do that, but the way to do it woud be house wines or beer on special. And have one drink. I don't partake, but I see happy hour specials that seem like really good deals advertised all the time.

As for vacation, putting a bit in reserve each month and once a year, you can easily go to a place like Puerto Vallarta or on a cruise. Just as examples, but you can do whatever floats your boat. $200 per month is $2400 a year.

I've developed my habits and practice them naturally, but I believe it's common that personal finance gurus typically will have you plot out your budget on paper and then go by it. I know if you make a certain amount, it's hard to not just buy the maximum of everything you can afford for that amount. As you make more, your concious of money and what you can afford tends to naturally expand, but with a concious effort you can avoid being excessive. The fact is, some people live on $30K (or whatever), live decent, and still are wasteful! So if you make a higher salary, there's no reason you can't plot out your budget as if you were making less. In that case, you'll have hundreds of dollars of extra income to do with what you wish, rather investing in retirement, going on a big vacation, saving up for a big ticket item, or a combination of all of the above.

All that said, you just have to be concious of what you're doing. Come up with a plan and live it. What I've stated is basically living a middle-class lifestyle on a budget. Some of what I stated is excessive. You don't have to buy a Mercedes, you could have a newer simple car with less mileage for $7K or even find a car for less. You don't have to live in the very best, posh areas. You can live deeper in the suburbs, which in Kansas City, there are places you can have a 5-year old house for under $120K that's much bigger than what I described above, or an older suburban house for $80K. Or a condo in a built-up, nice suburban area for well under $50K. All in safe, decent areas of course, even with good school districts. I don't expect anybody to live in a dangerous neighborhood or the ghetto or be too far from a nice grocery store and other retail. But if one is a bit of an urban pioneer, there are areas that aren't quite ghetto or dangerous, but that are kind of sandwiched inbetween better areas and the actual ghetto, where you can get an absolute steal on houses. Of course, just like the retarded mentality that everything has to be new, there's a strong rhetoric and steering of people away from areas that are not at all bad, but more average, where they could save a bundle on houses. Rising above the rhetoric, naysayers, and doing your own thorough research can reap tremendous benefits.

What I was going to illustrate, anybody can do for themselves. But for most people, to actually do the research and come up with the possibilities of living well on X amount would require either a professor setting them out to do a report and find out how you can live well for X amount OR something similar of a competitive nature. I think people who were set out to do that would surprise themselves on just how much you can have for so little. A reporter here in Kansas City did something like that, but only for houses, not the whole package. I wish I could find that report, but it's been a few years ago.

I should add that quality food can't be sacrificed or even wine, if you so choose. The grocery stores have great deals all the time. Paying attention to prices and what you're doing pays off. The same goes for clothing and other retail. Any store has great deals on sales racks and sales, but then we have places like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, DSW, Off Broadway, among others. There's always a deal out there and no reason to pay retail unless something is very specifically what you want. Avoid paying inflated prices and making other people richer at your own expense. The internet is great for this. It covers the market. Every store has a website, even that will isolate the sale items for you, so you can research before you go to the actual stores.

Last edited by MOKAN; 05-23-2012 at 12:41 PM..
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Old 05-23-2012, 12:38 PM
 
304 posts, read 244,159 times
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It's all relative! Yes, the big cities cost more - one with a family cannot live "well" in Miami or San Francisco (unless their house is paid off already) on 40K. Could they live in a small rural town on that? Maybe - but their salary would be greatly reduced, so in the end, it's the same balancing act.

Rent/mortgage is the biggest expense, so if you are paying more than around 35% of your net pay for that, you are going to have things be tight.

Personally, as a single woman, I could live like a Queen on 40K.
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Old 05-23-2012, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MO
3,275 posts, read 2,389,796 times
Reputation: 2169
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1brokegirl View Post
It's all relative! Yes, the big cities cost more - one with a family cannot live "well" in Miami or San Francisco (unless their house is paid off already) on 40K. Could they live in a small rural town on that? Maybe - but their salary would be greatly reduced, so in the end, it's the same balancing act.

Rent/mortgage is the biggest expense, so if you are paying more than around 35% of your net pay for that, you are going to have things be tight.

Personally, as a single woman, I could live like a Queen on 40K.
Absolutely! And I think a family could live decent on $40K even in suburban areas of major metropolitan areas outside of the coastal or largest inland cities. As for living in more expensive places, I'm pretty sure they're always going to be more expensive as a proportion of your income because of the high cost of living, especially for the average person, and you're not going to have the really inexpensive options like I described in Kansas City. It's a balancing act and you'll make more in the bigger city, but in reality I think you can always live better and have more in an average city despite the lower salary.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Mile High City
10,153 posts, read 10,358,324 times
Reputation: 8701
Sorry but this doesn't apply to all over the country

Let's come back from la la land please
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:17 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MO
3,275 posts, read 2,389,796 times
Reputation: 2169
Quote:
Originally Posted by himain View Post
Sorry but this doesn't apply to all over the country

Let's come back from la la land please
No doubt. But it certainly applies to the majority of the country, and outside of the coastal areas, my example, Kansas City, is pretty middle of the road.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Mile High City
10,153 posts, read 10,358,324 times
Reputation: 8701
^^True but that isn't going to fly in FL especially Miami
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:34 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MO
3,275 posts, read 2,389,796 times
Reputation: 2169
Quote:
Originally Posted by himain View Post
^^True but that isn't going to fly in FL especially Miami
I don't know much about Florida, but somehow I think that could fly just fine outside of the Miami region.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:37 PM
 
Location: Mile High City
10,153 posts, read 10,358,324 times
Reputation: 8701
You need to think again seriously. The property taxes and insurance are high in this state due to Hurricanes so rent is higher than other states due to having to cover it by landlords. Forget it if you want to actually own your own house
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Aiken, South Carolina, US of A
1,219 posts, read 1,091,499 times
Reputation: 2146
Himain,
Then move.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Mile High City
10,153 posts, read 10,358,324 times
Reputation: 8701
^^What's your problem?? I live in FL and have lived ALL over state of FL so I have first account of knowledge that a family on $40K will be very, very tight here.

Pipe down newbie
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