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Old 04-08-2013, 02:08 PM
 
3,187 posts, read 1,051,564 times
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Lifestyle creep is a problem for the budget conscious single-income family. It's very easy to see a good portion of one's monthly income eaten away by modern essentials (e.g., cable, internet, and smartphones w/ data contracts), especially in a time of increasing insurance costs, expiration of tax breaks, and stagnating incomes.

That said, it's hard to walk away. I recently stepped back to a regular cell phone from a smartphone to reduce our Verizon bill, and I'm ashamed to admit that my ego took a bit of a hit. I just keep reminding myself that the $360/year for the data contract is not a necessity.
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 29,820,803 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randomparent View Post
Lifestyle creep is a problem for the budget conscious single-income family. It's very easy to see a good portion of one's monthly income eaten away by modern essentials (e.g., cable, internet, and smartphones w/ data contracts), especially in a time of increasing insurance costs, expiration of tax breaks, and stagnating incomes.

That said, it's hard to walk away. I recently stepped back to a regular cell phone from a smartphone to reduce our Verizon bill, and I'm ashamed to admit that my ego took a bit of a hit. I just keep reminding myself that the $360/year for the data contract is not a necessity.
It amazes me how much things have gone up in the past five years while income remained stagnant or fell. I cannot think of anything that has not soared by a shocking percentage. All the major bills have just soared (insurance, utilities, groceries, entertainment (movies), non-covered medical costs/co-pay, taxes), everything has climbed at an unbelievable rate. (Natural Gas prices supposedly fell to a five or ten year low just now, but we have not seen it yet). Another huge shock is the cost of kids sports. If they excel, it gets even worse. Although some claim we are paying less taxes than ten years ago, it is simply not true. Maybe they are giving the taxes a different name, but I now make less but pay out more than I did ten years ago. I do not even want to start into cell phones (Honey, please explain to me again why a 12 year old needs a smart phone?" Another area where there has been a shocking increase in cost is veterinarians. The vet expenses appear to be more than double over the past five years. Mechanics have jumped form about $45/hour to over $100.

Still even with a loss of 1/3 of our income, and all these increased expenses, we do not seem to live all that much less well. We just make cheaper choices and postpone major purchases.
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:29 PM
 
6,090 posts, read 5,233,502 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ram2 View Post
In 1950, the cost of a black-and-white tv was a huge expense for an average family.
Which is exactly why many didn't have a television in 1950.
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:42 PM
 
Location: San Marcos, TX
2,574 posts, read 2,229,939 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickL28 View Post
4 + kids on a single income in 2013?? Not happening.. If you want to live that close to the edge and have to feel guilty if you dare want to buy anything nice and current such as the latest IPAD, Smartphone, go out for dinner a few times a week then that is fine, but the reality is most DO NOT. Why is it always suggested that someone cancel high speed internet which is almost as essential as electricity or go without a smartphone which IMHO you absolutely need now.
I'd like to hear why a smartphone is absolutely needed?

Some people don't feel guilty if they can't buy an Ipad, go out to dinner a few times a week... what you are talking about is stuff and stuff is not what's really important. My kids grew up not expecting to go out to eat several times a week and a basic decent computer with internet has been plenty. There was certainly no sense of deprivation because there are so many other things you can do, shared activities with family, that don't cost an arm and a leg.

Besides, there are ways to have nice things without spending the same as everyone else.

Like you said, most do NOT but it's a choice they are making, isn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by randomparent View Post
Lifestyle creep is a problem for the budget conscious single-income family. It's very easy to see a good portion of one's monthly income eaten away by modern essentials (e.g., cable, internet, and smartphones w/ data contracts), especially in a time of increasing insurance costs, expiration of tax breaks, and stagnating incomes.

That said, it's hard to walk away. I recently stepped back to a regular cell phone from a smartphone to reduce our Verizon bill, and I'm ashamed to admit that my ego took a bit of a hit. I just keep reminding myself that the $360/year for the data contract is not a necessity.
We actually do have 3 smartphones in our family. All were refurbished and we have a no-contract phone service. We have internet at home and we don't pay for data plans for the phones, because they all connect to available wi-fi which is pretty much anywhere we go. We pay $60 a month for service for 4 phones, which includes unlimited texting but very limited 'talk time' after we realized none of us likes to actually talk on the phone much at all but primarily uses texting. We have enough talk time for mandatory calls, for example if the school needs to call us to pick up a sick kid and we just limit it to that sort of thing, no chit chatty phone calls -- for that we Skype or text.

Not a slam against you but I am honestly perplexed at how self worth and ego is so tied up in what 'stuff' a person has. It's just not a thing I am familiar with and it is hard for me to fathom. I am thankful that my kids are not wrapped up in that either. My son had a basic flip phone for the 1st year he was allowed to have a phone, the he was upgraded to a smartphone after proving he could keep track of the basic phone, but honestly he couldn't care less as long as it functions for what he needs and that's primarily for texting me when he wants to go somewhere or is going to be late, or brief texting with his friends. He doesn't seem to have any peer pressure about the coolest gadget even though some of his friends are in much higher income brackets, it's not what they value I guess.

Up thread there was a comment about the average house size in 1950 being under 1000 square feet. That's another thing. All you have to do is spend a few hours here on CD to see how horrified the average person would be at the suggestion that they live in a smaller place or that kids share a bedroom. My older 2 always shared a room. When they did have separate rooms, they ended up spending all their time in each others rooms anyway so it was wasted space. They are five years apart but still have always been close and so it wasn't an issue. It's just another thing people now think is necessary. It's all perspective. There are different definitions of "living well" than what we are fed by the media.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:17 PM
 
933 posts, read 2,433,325 times
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What is the big deal about a smartphone?? Believe me in 2013 buying a new smartphone say once a year and pay around $100 a month for the plan with data is hardly frivolous considering the amount of real conspicuous consumption that you see out there (his and hers BMW's, designer clothes everywhere even to walk the dog, $200 a month gym memberships, I can go on and on. People need to take responsibility, if you want to have 'that kind of lifestyle' you will likely be working 80 hours a week and be one layoff away from losing everything or have to rough it on a $75,000 a year job and have tens of thousands in credit card debts
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:57 PM
 
Location: The great state of Texas
15,048 posts, read 6,706,274 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sally_Sparrow View Post
I'd like to hear why a smartphone is absolutely needed?

Some people don't feel guilty if they can't buy an Ipad, go out to dinner a few times a week... what you are talking about is stuff and stuff is not what's really important. My kids grew up not expecting to go out to eat several times a week and a basic decent computer with internet has been plenty. There was certainly no sense of deprivation because there are so many other things you can do, shared activities with family, that don't cost an arm and a leg.

Besides, there are ways to have nice things without spending the same as everyone else.

Like you said, most do NOT but it's a choice they are making, isn't it?



We actually do have 3 smartphones in our family. All were refurbished and we have a no-contract phone service. We have internet at home and we don't pay for data plans for the phones, because they all connect to available wi-fi which is pretty much anywhere we go. We pay $60 a month for service for 4 phones, which includes unlimited texting but very limited 'talk time' after we realized none of us likes to actually talk on the phone much at all but primarily uses texting. We have enough talk time for mandatory calls, for example if the school needs to call us to pick up a sick kid and we just limit it to that sort of thing, no chit chatty phone calls -- for that we Skype or text.

Not a slam against you but I am honestly perplexed at how self worth and ego is so tied up in what 'stuff' a person has. It's just not a thing I am familiar with and it is hard for me to fathom. I am thankful that my kids are not wrapped up in that either. My son had a basic flip phone for the 1st year he was allowed to have a phone, the he was upgraded to a smartphone after proving he could keep track of the basic phone, but honestly he couldn't care less as long as it functions for what he needs and that's primarily for texting me when he wants to go somewhere or is going to be late, or brief texting with his friends. He doesn't seem to have any peer pressure about the coolest gadget even though some of his friends are in much higher income brackets, it's not what they value I guess.

Up thread there was a comment about the average house size in 1950 being under 1000 square feet. That's another thing. All you have to do is spend a few hours here on CD to see how horrified the average person would be at the suggestion that they live in a smaller place or that kids share a bedroom. My older 2 always shared a room. When they did have separate rooms, they ended up spending all their time in each others rooms anyway so it was wasted space. They are five years apart but still have always been close and so it wasn't an issue. It's just another thing people now think is necessary. It's all perspective. There are different definitions of "living well" than what we are fed by the media.
BRAVO!

Both my daughters live in one income families. One has four kids and the other has three. One is 28 and the other is 30.

I also stayed home with my kids when they were small, in a one income family. This has been a PRIORITY for us all - NOT to put the kids in daycare, but to raise them ourselves.

In order for this to work, both spouses have to buy into and support the plan. It takes sacrifice. It may even mean having only one car - or one family car and one beater. It means that kids may have to share a room (believe me, it won't kill them). It means you may not be able to have 400 channels (one of my daughters decided to forego cable TV but instead she spends $20 a month on Netflix/Roku). It may mean that the husband and wife SHARE a cell phone (GASP) or have a very limited plan, and the kids don't get cell phones. It may mean that eating out is a rarity, a real treat, rather than a weekly (or even daily) thing. It may mean shopping at thrift shops and resale shops before you look elsewhere, having four pairs of shoes instead of twenty four, learning to cook, even hanging clothes on a clothesline rather than using a dryer.

In other words, it requires sacrifice. But WOW is it ever worth it!
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:05 AM
 
Location: San Marcos, TX
2,574 posts, read 2,229,939 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickL28 View Post
What is the big deal about a smartphone?? Believe me in 2013 buying a new smartphone say once a year and pay around $100 a month for the plan with data is hardly frivolous considering the amount of real conspicuous consumption that you see out there (his and hers BMW's, designer clothes everywhere even to walk the dog, $200 a month gym memberships, I can go on and on. People need to take responsibility, if you want to have 'that kind of lifestyle' you will likely be working 80 hours a week and be one layoff away from losing everything or have to rough it on a $75,000 a year job and have tens of thousands in credit card debts
There is no big deal about a smartphone if you are not trying to be frugal, not trying to live on one parent's income, etc.

The smartphone becomes "frivolous" when you add it to other unnecessary expenditures and then claim you can't possibly live on one income or you can't cut back.

My issue was with your earlier comment that a smartphone is something "you absolutely need now" and I am saying no, you don't. If you want it and can afford it that's fine but the truth is, plenty of people get by just fine with a regular basic cheap cell phone and no data plan. Or, as KathrynAragon suggested, a shared phone. My wife and I shared a cell phone for the past two years because our schedules allowed it to work and we were attending the same school together. We only added another phone recently when things changed and we are apart most days and need to be able to get in touch because we share a car and if some emergency were to arise w/one of the kids.

We also share a computer, and we are both full time students who also take online classes. Yeah it's a bit of a pain in the butt, but when my (second hand, refurbished, $125) laptop died after 2 years of use it made more sense to share for now rather than spend on another computer when the university library is full of available computers as well as the public library should we ever both absolutlely NEED to be using the computer at the same time for assignments/school stuff.

We certainly don't live our lives based on "needs only" because that would be just food/water/shelter and 3 outfits a piece.. but I do like to be purposefully conscious of the difference between needs and wants. A smartphone is a want for a lot of people.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:42 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
21,468 posts, read 26,869,030 times
Reputation: 8577
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sally_Sparrow View Post
... My issue was with your earlier comment that a smartphone is something "you absolutely need now" and I am saying no, you don't. If you want it and can afford it that's fine but the truth is, plenty of people get by just fine with a regular basic cheap cell phone and no data plan.
I agree.

"... buying a new smartphone say once a year and pay around $100 a month for the plan with data is ..." IS extremely frivolous. $100/month ! ! ! That is a lot! Half your monthly food budget going to a phone?



In 1992, my employer mandated that I carry a cellphone. I asked them to put their mandate into writing. After 6 months they did, and I included my cellphone expenses into my tax write-offs.

Having a cellphone has allowed us to drop landline phones. We do not 'need' two different bills nor two different ways for people to call us.

I can not imagine many 'need's that would require a smart phone.



Quote:
... A smartphone is a want for a lot of people.
I agree.



My Dw wrote a book, it was picked up by a publisher, and now she goes to book-signing events. She got a smart-phone, so she could swipe CCs and sell her books.

The simplest smart-phone that can take CCs, the lowest 'plan' and she only turns it on when she is selling books. It is powered off most of the time. Her Smart-phone is purely a business 'need'. Without that business, she would not own a smart-phone.

If it is required for your profession, then it goes onto your taxes and may be a 'need'. Otherwise, no.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:47 AM
 
3,874 posts, read 2,933,392 times
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My household has always been 2 income. We could make it on one but feel we can get further ahead more easily on two.

On my street, there are two households that I know are single income and always have been. Wife is a college graduate with a bunch of kids at one (making her working a hassle) and the other is a high school graduate but probably can't get a job that pays anything worthwhile.

My thought, two incomes/two retirement plans (401K etc) gives you quicker accumulation of wealth, gives independence in the event of death/divorce and doubles your benefits. It can also make a household less stressful if the spouses are equal contributors/spenders. I would be "MENTAL" if I was struggling at work only to find my spouse was at the mall emptying the bank account! I don't know if I would want a stay at home spouse, it would make getting up for me very hard!
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:56 AM
 
3,874 posts, read 2,933,392 times
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On the Smart Phone argument.....4 phones cost me $260 a month

1. I took more pictures on my Iphone than any camera I have ever owned. I truly enjoy having that capability and the ability to send/receive photos.
2. Email is convenient to send/receive on the phone
3. $8+ a day, 3K a year is insane, that is 30K after 10 years plus the costs of accessories and the phone itself.

But then again, I don't smoke/drink at the bar/go to Starbucks/Dunkin/casino gamble/can't remember the last time I shopped at the mall.....don't lease cars, own my home (well after 44 more payments I will ) and you have to pick your battles.
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