Impulse Buying: Sleep On It

We’ve all heard that we should sleep on it when we are contemplating a major purchase. How many of us actually do it? What is considered a major purchase?

Whether we are in a financial bind or wanting to accumulate money, one of the actions we need to take is to spend less. One of the ways that will help us to spend less is to put a brake on buying costly products or services without really analyzing our actual need for it.

  • Is it a need or is it something that we merely want?
  • Will buying this product or service prevent me from paying my bills or not being able to save any money this month?
  • Will I need to purchase the product or service on credit?

The answers to these questions will be different for each of us because our incomes, living expenses and circumstances are different due to the amount of money we earn and the lifestyle we live. That being said, we still need to answer these three questions.

Impulse buying is very hard to overcome for many people who have not overcome that that silent voice in their head that says “buy me now” or you’re going to miss out on a great deal.

My wife and I have been married for 34 years. Our finances were tight when we married because both of us had just gone through a divorce. That prompted us to promise each other that we would:

  • Sleep on it if a purchase cost over $100.
  • We would talk it over and jointly decide on the purchase if it cost over $250.
  • We would never make a lifestyle purchase if we didn’t have the actual cash to pay for it.

We still follow this promise today … 34 years later.

Just this week I was contemplating on buying a service that cost $168. I slept on it overnight. I then slept on it for a second night. I woke up this morning knowing that I didn’t really need or sincerely want the service.

I overcame the impulse to buy. Many people would not have been so successful. A contributing factor in not being able to curb our impulse buying is advertising. It is estimated that U.S. companies spent $240.7 billion dollars on advertising in 2019. That is a lot of power we have to fight against to maintain our financial well-being. As we see around us every day, these companies are much better at getting us to spend our money than we are at not spending it. We have to realize the psychological manipulation that these companies utilize in their advertising to make us think that we need more, new or better to be happy.

I encourage you to overcome impulse buying. It’s your financial health that is at stake.


Please share your success in overcoming impulse buying. Please use the comment section below.


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Personal Bartering

Barter
To trade goods or services without the exchange of money.
— American Heritage® Dictionary

Many people are in a financial bind right now due to the global economies being nearly destroyed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of jobs have been lost … some temporarily, some permanently. Even for those who still have work, many are seeing their wages reduced. Money is tight and the immediate financial outlook doesn’t look very promising for the next year or so.

That being said, all of us still have a personal need for products and services. The reality is that many people don’t and won’t have the money to pay for the products and services they need. Forget about what is wanted. For many, life is down to fighting daily to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, medicines and other necessities. There are many articles to be found on the Internet that give good advice on how to:

  • Reduce your living expenses
  • Increase your income by taking a gig job or a second job, work longer hours or by starting your own micro-business
  • Sell unused or unneeded personal belongings
  • Move to a smaller, cheaper home

I have yet to read an article that mentions barter as way to get the products and services you need but don’t have the cash to pay for. Yet, barter has been around for centuries.

Selecting Services and Items to Barter

Consider your skills and talents
The most obvious bartering options is a service you already provide in your job, or have provided in the past. Everything from repairing small engines to making clothing alterations to baking goods can be offered in bartering. But, potential bartering partners need to know you have the skills and experience in which you are willing to offer in bartering. Showing examples (actual or photos) or other type of documentation of what you have done in the past will accomplish this important aspect of bartering.

Identify skills related to your hobbies
If you enjoy cooking and baking, you can offer people a home-cooked meal. Some art and craft items are in high demand, especially if you offer to create a piece customized to the interests of the bartering partner. If you can’t think of a good or service created by your hobby, ask family members or a close friend for suggestions.

Tip – Think about hobbies related to home upkeep or maintenance, such as gardening, cleaning out the gutters or repairing a sagging wood bookshelf.

Offer less specialized tasks that others dislike doing themselves
Many bartering trades involve pet sitting, garden weeding, errand running, house cleaning, grocery shopping, and other services that some people can perform more easily or better than others. If you enjoy any of these common tasks, consider offering them for barter. You will be surprised at how many people will readily accept a barter for these types of services.

Find items you no longer want or need
Look around your home and garage from a bartering perspective; there may be things that would be hard to sell but easy to barter in small barter transactions. Unwanted books and clothing, an extra toaster or other appliance, or even unopened wine bottles or food items can be exchanged in small trades. Don’t forget about collectible items, collections and vintage items.

Finding Barter Partners

Look for bartering websites
Websites where bartering connections range from the all-purpose to specialty products and services. A few examples are:

Craigslist – General merchandise and services
SwapStyle – Clothes
ThreadUP – Kids clothes
BookMooch – Books

Tip – Make sure to read and understand the instructions, process, membership fees, or fees to receive or send items before you sign up.

Join or start a time bank to trade services
If you are interested in trading services more than goods, join a time bank in your area or start one yourself in your locality. Anyone who joins the time bank can “hire” someone else for any type of work. Instead of getting paid, the person who does the work gets the number of hours she worked recorded in the database. She can then “hire” another member of the time bank for that number of hours. In a standard time bank system, one hour of work is always worth the same as another hour of work, regardless of how much hiring someone to do that work would normally cost.

Find bartering partners in your community
Searching the Internet for bartering groups in your town or area may lead to a community forum where you can make deals with people near you. Also check out your local newspaper, community message boards or locations where flyers are posted to find out about products and services being offered. One major advantage to local bartering is the ability to trade items or services face to face. It’s also great for bartered items that are too heavy or delicate to mail or ship.

Advertise in your local area
Advertising locally is a great way to draw attention to bartering. Put up flyers around your community, talk to neighbors, or organize a meet-and-greet swap. Finding regular or long-term bartering partners this way can be a great way to save money on recurring needs such as lawn care, handyman services and housecleaning. It also allows you to build relationships with your neighbors.

Ask If A Barter Is Possible
It never hurts to ask whether someone is open to a barter arrangement … as long as you take”no” for an answer. Most people are not used to bartering, but may be willing to accept a barter under the right circumstances. Mention what services or goods you’re offering, ask if there’s anything specific they’re looking for. Drop the subject if they aren’t interested.

Securing a Better and Safer Barter Transaction

Do research on the potential barter partner before you commit to a transaction
If a friend referred you to a barter partner, ask that friend about the partner’s integrity and reliability. Request that the bartering partner show examples or samples of his work (if possible), and ask about his experience, certification or licensing, when applicable. The more valuable the transaction, the more important it is to make sure you’ll be receiving a high-quality barter.

In detail, each barter partner needs to describe their service or item
It’s critical to be exact about what you are offering before you get too far into the negotiating. Does “yard work” mean trimming the hedge, or a full landscaping job planting new trees and shrubs? Are the items you are offering fully functional, or are there non-functioning parts the other person needs to know about? It’s difficult to negotiate a barter transaction if the two parties have a different understanding of what’s being offered and what isn’t.

Come to agreement on the value of each service or item
For personal casual trades between friends, you might quickly decide in a conversation that one French lesson is worth one gallon of homemade vegetable soup. When dealing with strangers, or conducting more valuable barters, it’s wise to discuss the value more formally. Each party needs to explain how much they would normally charge for the items or service they are providing. Be open to haggling over this amount or reducing the price if it still results in a barter that saves you money. Once you’ve agreed, for example, a used lawn mower is worth $100, and an hour of garden work is worth $20, finding a barter that is fair to both parties will be much easier.

If you can’t come to an agreement, add something extra to sweeten your offer
This can be cash, another item you can throw in, or an additional service.

Verify that you have the following details covered
For larger transactions, or transactions with strangers, it’s a good idea to have written agreement or contract. For many small barter trades, an oral agreement or a confirmation email may be sufficient. Either way, make sure you agree on the following points before you close the deal:

  • Which barter partner is responsible for providing tools and small supplies, ingredients, or materials? If something additional needs to be purchased, who pays for it, and who gets to keep any newly purchased tools or excess materials after the barter transaction is completed?
  • If applicable, how much follow-up service is included or expected? For services which usually require an undetermined amount of additional time, such as website maintenance, it’s a good idea to agree on a maximum number of hours that is included before a new agreement needs to be in-place.
  • If your barter partner is providing a service in your home or garden, should an advance notice be given before she comes over, or is she allowed to stop by and work even if you aren’t at home. In many cases, it’s better to have a set day and time to perform the service each week.

Following the steps and tips above will put you in a position to have successful bartering experiences in which everybody involved is happy with the bartered transaction.


Do you have experience in bartering on a personal basis? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below.


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Contentment

“Contentment makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor.”
— Benjamin Franklin

Contentment is a vital ethical value if we are to be happy. The kind of contentment I’m referring to is when there is the absence of greed. With this kind of contentment, we know “what is enough” and knowing “when to be contented.” It means being able to find happiness and satisfaction without needing or wanting more.

Contentment is something like the virtue of moderation. It implies a certain thrift of ambition, or having limited desires. By living frugally and setting reasonable limits, we free ourselves from the sense of insecurity and insufficiency brought on by incessant craving.

Happiness doesn’t come from wealth but from setting limits on our desires and living within those limits with satisfaction. Our materialistic society puts us under constant pressure to want more and to spend more long after our basic needs are met. Advertising is designed to stimulate the imagination and to generate a perception that it is material goods (more is better) that make us happy, and that we are somehow missing out on life unless we have the latest accessory, gadget, or fashion item.

The materialism of today’s society makes the practice of moderation and contentment a daily necessity if we are to resist falling victim to a sense of personal dissatisfaction brought on by unrealistic craving.

Wealth alone does not bring happiness, and the sooner we learn to live simply and frugally, the better off we will be when it comes to our happiness.


Do you have a question or comment about this post? Please use the comment section below or you may contact me by email at mbrown.ec@mail.com.
Thank you for visiting the Frugal Plan Blog!


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Primary Fear in Retirement

You spent decades saving and sacrificing to make sure you could retire. Now you are starting to enjoy your retirement years but you have one major fear — running out of money before you run out of life. What can you do to make sure you don’t run out of money? Following these steps will get you on the path to know:

Get intimate with the numbers

It’s practically impossible to look at your retirement savings and have the confidence to know that it’ll last you for the rest of your life. There are just too many unknown variables in play.

It is possible to calculate a reasonably based outcome based your assets, spending, rates of return, inflation and income. With detailed knowledge and planning, you will be able to gain a sense of your financial well-being and confidence to overcome your retirement fears. Certified Financial Planners, your investment broker, and/or reputable computer software programs are good sources to assist you.

The numbers need to be conservative so that you have a very realistic picture of your financial future. As an example, it’s better to use an assumed 7% instead of a 12% average annual rate of return on stock portfolios or stock mutual funds. You won’t be in trouble if your actual rate of return is 8.5%. However, you’ll be between a rock and a hard place if your plan assumed a 12% average rate of return.

Regardless of what anyone tells you, history is not a good predictor of future results unless the future market and economic conditions are identical to those in the past.

Know and understand the real risks to your future security

Research from Transamerica found that fear of running out of money, concerns about the viability of Social Security and not being able to afford health care are the three biggest retirement fears.

Other factors that might put your financial security and future in jeopardy include inflation, economic markets, emergencies, falling real estate values, an environmental disaster, a catastrophic health event or perhaps even another unpredictable pandemic like COVID-19.

Get the expertise of a reputable financial adviser

Have you ever sold a house before? Did you try to sell it on your own, or did you seek out an experienced professional that sells dozens of homes each year? Most people use an experienced reputable Realtor.

Why? It’s simple. You were attempting to make a transaction with the largest asset you had at the time, and it wasn’t worth the risk of getting it wrong.

Another piece of advice, don’t risk what you can’t afford to lose. That’s why your retirement savings and investments need to become more conservative as you age.

Commit to the right kind of spending

Money is everything — at least, that’s what you might have thought when you were younger. That’s why you sacrificed and saved! You believed that money would give you financial security, create options and maybe even give you some happiness.

While that’s not too far off, it’s not entirely true. Money, all on its own, doesn’t really do that much for us. It’s how we use that money that can lead us toward happiness.

If you can shift your spending from owning things to experiences, spending your retirement savings becomes fun and meaningful instead of being a retirement fear.

It’s not about fancy cars or a big house — it’s about experiences and making memories.

Live off the interest and dividends

You want to live off the income from your retirement savings and investments. This leaves your capital intact to keep producing income so you won’t ever run out of money. When your end of life nears, you will have the money needed for a terminal illness, nursing home care and the transfer of your wealth according to your will.

Don’t let your money wither away

Many people continue to add to their wealth during retirement. For some, the income they receive from their retirement plans are more than they need to live on. Consequently, they continue to add money to their overall savings.

I am in this position now. Because I am more conservative with my money than most people, my retirement plans assumed a 6% annual rate of return. In actuality, my total retirement funds are earning a guaranteed* annual rate of return of 8.38%. This allows me to continually increase my capital savings which also increases the income produced.

(*) All my retirement savings are in 380-day CD’s in several institutions in Ecuador, South America — my country of residence for the last 8 years. All the institutions have financial safety rating of A+.


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Talking Money

The only money tree you will ever see.

On this blog we’re going to talk about money and money related topics. Most people earn money. All people spend money. Many people spend more than they earn and that’s where this blog enters the discourse. We will discuss topics like:

  • Income
  • Spending
  • Debt
  • Borrowing
  • Tracking expenses
  • Budgeting
  • Saving
  • Investing
  • Interest
  • Rate of return
  • Frugality
  • Thrift

The purpose of this blog is to educate. My objective is to provide you with the knowledge you need so you don’t make the mistakes I made over the years. While my parents managed their money well, they never taught me how to do the same. Hence, the only way I learned was through the experience of making bad financial decisions.

The principles I will present are based on my actual experience … not theory. Some concepts follow tradition and common sense. Others are contrary to what some financial “experts” advocate.

Other than spending less than you earn, there is no single way to attain financial stability and well-being. You will need to pick and choose the financial actions that are suitable for you based on your circumstances and objectives. I will present the basics. You will need to adjust and expand upon the basics to develop a personalized plan of action that fits your lifestyle and objectives.

It’s never too soon or too late to get on the right path to financial stability and success. I didn’t get my financial head on straight until I was in my early forties. I sincerely hope that you get on the right path sooner than I did.

Thank you for visiting my blog. You are always welcome to comment or ask questions in the comment sections provided. I look forward to reading your comments and shared experiences.


“The more your money works for you, the less you have to work for money.”
― Idowu Koyenikan


No Ads Promise

  • You will never see any advertisements on this website.
  • I will not endorse or recommend any company, product or service.
  • Occasionally, a company, product or service will be mentioned in a published article. The company, product or service mentioned is for informational purposes only. In no way should you consider that an endorsement or recommendation.

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The Poverty Trap

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”  
— Mahatma Gandhi

What is a poverty trap?

A poverty trap is a situation that creates a never-ending pattern of poverty. Unless something dramatically is done to change the situation, the cycle cannot be broken, leaving generation after generation ‘trapped’ in a constant state of poverty.

The reality is that the effects of poverty lead to even more poverty. And this condition can be passed from generation to generation depending on the underlying cause(s).

What are the causes of a poverty trap?

When many people think about poverty, they think about the lack of an adequate income. While low wages certainly contribute to poverty, there are many other conditions that can cause poverty traps.

  • Lack of good paying jobs: In densely populated urban areas or remote rural areas, it is usually difficult for people to even find a job, let alone finding a job that pays well.
  • Inability to pay for higher education or specialized job training: Without money, people cannot pay for the education they need to get a better job.
  • Violence: Many poverty-stricken areas are so stuck in a poverty trap that people are forced to fight for the basic necessities which creates a very dangerous and violent environment. Violence can inhibit education, industry, and an individual’s ability to excel.
  • The cost of products and services: In poor areas, certain products and services (including food, housing, transportation and medical care) can be unaffordable for large portions of the population.
  • Lack of business and industry growth: In extremely poor areas, even if there is room to build buildings for large industries, the corruption of government, the price of power, and the lack of skilled labor can deter business and industry growth.
  • Poor sanitation: Poor sanitation, or tainted resources (like bacteria tainted water or high levels of air pollution) can lead to disease which spreads quickly and can be difficult to control in areas that are already lacking essential resources.
  • Access to quality medical care: Due to the lack of money or medical insurance, people do not get the medical care they need. Hence, many become chronically ill or die from starvation, malnutrition or a chronic disease.

Taxation and welfare systems can jointly contribute to keep people trapped in poverty because the withdrawal of means-tested benefits that comes with entering low-paid work causes there to be no significant increase in net income. An individual sees that the opportunity cost of returning to work is too great for too little a financial return, and this can create a perverse incentive to not work.

Hence, the government systems that were designed to lift people out of poverty actually institute the barriers that keep people from being able to climb out of poverty.


A Look at Global Poverty Today

Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined from 36 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2015. But the pace of change is decelerating and the COVID-19 crisis risks reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty. New research published by the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research warns that the economic fallout from the global pandemic could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8% of the total human population. This would be the first time that poverty has increased globally in thirty years, since 1990.

More than 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. The majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, the poverty rate in rural areas is 17.2 per cent—more than three times higher than in urban areas. 

For those who work, having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 8 per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018. One out of five children live in extreme poverty. Ensuring social protection for all children and other vulnerable groups is critical to reduce poverty.

COVID-19 and Poverty

Developing countries are most at risk during – and in the aftermath – of the pandemic, not only as a health crisis but as a devastating social and economic crisis over the months and years to come. According to UNDP income losses are expected to exceed $220 billion in developing countries, and an estimated 55 per cent of the global population have no access to social protection. These losses will reverberate across societies; impacting education, human rights and, in the most severe cases, basic food security and nutrition.

Facts and Statistics

  • According to the most recent estimates, in 2015, 10 percent of the world’s population or 734 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day.
  • Even before COVID-19, baseline projections suggested that 6 per cent of the global population would still be living in extreme poverty in 2030, missing the target of ending poverty. The fallout from the pandemic threatens to push over 70 million people into extreme poverty.
  • In 2016, 55 per cent of the world’s population – about 4 billion people – did not benefit from any form of social protection.

Section Source: The United Nations


This post is the second post on poverty. To read the first post, Understanding Poverty, please click here.


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Understanding Poverty

Poverty is the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor; indigence.
— Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary

This definition follows most people’s thinking. However, it doesn’t acknowledge the existence and distinction of the two different types of poverty….

  • Extreme poverty (also called deep poverty, abject poverty, absolute poverty, and destitution)
  • Relative poverty

Extreme Poverty

Extreme poverty is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic personal needs, such as food, clothing, and housing. The threshold at which extreme poverty is defined is always about the same, independent of the person’s permanent location or era.

In 2019, extreme poverty widely refers to an income below the international poverty line of $2.16 set by the World Bank. The vast majority of those living in extreme poverty reside in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. As of 2018, it is estimated that the country with the most people living in extreme poverty is Nigeria, at 86 million.

In the past, the vast majority of the world population lived in conditions of extreme poverty. The percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty fell from over 80% in 1800 to 20% by 2015. Despite the significant number of individuals still living below the international poverty line, these figures represent significant progress for the international community, as they reflect a decrease of more than one billion people over 15 years.

Relative Poverty

Relative poverty is having a low income relative to others in a country. An example would be having to live on an income that is 60% below that of the median income of people in that country.

Relative poverty measurements, unlike extreme poverty measurements, considers the social economic environment of the people. The threshold for relative poverty is considered to be at 50% of a country’s median disposable income after social transfers. Thus, it can vary greatly from country to country even after adjusting for purchasing power standards.

A person can be poor in a relative term but not in an absolute term. The person might be able to meet their basic needs but it is not able to enjoy the same standard of living as other people in the same country. Relative poverty is thus a form of social exclusion that can effect peoples access to decent housing, education or job opportunities.

Relative poverty better reflects social exclusion and inequality of opportunity.

Once economic development has progressed beyond a certain minimum level, the rub of the poverty problem is not so much the effects of poverty in any absolute form but the effects of the contrast between the lives of the poor and the lives of those around them.

The problem of poverty in the industrialized nations today is a problem of relative poverty.


This post is the first of two posts on poverty.
The next post will address the Poverty Trap.


What are your thoughts on the two different types of poverty? Please use the comment section provided to share your thoughts … or experience.

If you prefer to contact me directly, feel free to email me at mbrown.ec@mail.com.


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A Living Wage and You

This post is targeted to workers in the United States because income information is readily available and it’s where I owned a business for 32 years. Similar information is most likely available in the country you reside. I encourage you to seek out this information.

Living Wage – Definition
A wage adequate to permit a wage earner to live and support a family in reasonable comfort.
— Collins English Dictionary

There is a lot of talk about a minimum wage and how much it should be. Yet, not much is discussed about a living wage and how much it should be using actual numbers.

  • A minimum wage is the lowest amount an employer can legally pay an employee for the mental and physical labor performed by that employee. Included are the skills and talents of the employee applied on the job to financially benefit the employer.

    Paying the minimum wage is mandated by law.
  • A living wage is the income paid to an employee to fairly compensate an employee for their contribution of their physical and mental labor, and the application of their skills and talents on the job that financially benefit the employer. And as a result, the employer pays the employee well above the minimum wage established by law as the employer recognizes the benefits to the business of paying employees a fair, living wage.

    Paying a living wage is voluntary.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of working adults get to the point of actually earning a living wage that provides them with the financial resources they need to realize a life without constant financial stress.

Another perspective of a “living wage” is that it is the income you need to cover necessary and discretionary expenses while still contributing to savings. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 50/30/20 budgeting rule — which allocates 50% of your income to necessities, 30% to discretionary expenses and 20% to savings.

Many “advisors” (myself included) do a great job at addressing the need for budgeting, tracking expenses and saving money. We also make the “spend less than you make” and the “live within your means” mantras seem realistic by anyone earning an income. But….

What do you do when your “means” (income) just isn’t enough?

Here’s the truth, many of those “falling short” simply don’t have an adequate income to save any money other than a dollar or two between paychecks. The money simply isn’t there once their bills for their basic needs are paid.

  • Why is this the case for the many Americans?
  • Isn’t anyone working contributing to the benefit and betterment of society?
  • Shouldn’t every man and woman working a full-time job be worthy of being paid a living wage that allows them to live comfortably as long as they spend their money wisely?

We hear a lot about a living wage. However, there isn’t much detailed discussion about how much income equals a living wage. As you can readily imagine, a living wage in Iowa wouldn’t come close to being a living wage in New Jersey.

In an effort to address this issue, let’s look at the median wage, average wage, and the amount needed to earn a living wage in each state.

But before we get started, we need to understand the difference between the average salary (wage) and the median salary (wage).

Calculating an Average Wage
You can calculate the average base, mean salary, or average salary by adding all the salaries for a select group of employees and then dividing the sum by the number of employees in the group.

Average Wage Example:
Employee 1 earns $40,000, Employee 2 earns $50,000, Employee 3 earns $100,000. The total of $190,000 is divided by 3, providing an average salary of $63,333.

The average wage represents what the “typical employee” earns and can be pulled higher or lower by high salaries or low salaries at the extreme ends of the distribution.

Calculating the Median Wage
You can calculate the median base salary by arranging the salaries for a group of employees in descending order and then locating the salary that represents the midpoint of the distribution. Fifty percent of the salaries are less than the median and fifty percent of the salaries are greater than the median.

Median Wage Example:
Employee 1 earns $40,000, Employee 2 earns $50,000, Employee 3 earns $100,000. The salary in the middle, or the median salary is $50,000.

As the median wage represents a specific point in the distribution, it cannot be pulled higher or lower by salaries at the extreme ends of the distribution. It is therefore considered a more neutral measure of central tendency, especially in a small group of salaries where one extreme value can disproportionately affect the calculation of an average.
Source: Salary.com, Adapted


Alabama
Median Income: $33,740
Average Income: $51,347
Living Wage Income: $60,016

Alaska
Median Income: $48,680
Average Income: $69,789
Living Wage Income: $91,996

Arizona
Median Income: $37,020
Average Income: $57,422
Living Wage Income: $68,504

Arkansas
Median Income: $31,850
Average Income: $48,164
Living Wage Income: $59,461

California
Median Income: $42,430
Average Income: $75,400
Living Wage Income: $99,971

Colorado
Median Income: $42,310
Average Income: $62,375
Living Wage Income: $74,215

Connecticut
Median Income: $46,920
Average Income: $74,405
Living Wage Income: $90,278

Delaware
Median Income: $39,900
Average Income: $62,427
Living Wage Income: $71,254

Florida
Median Income: $34,560
Average Income: $52,728
Living Wage Income: $67,614

Georgia
Median Income: $35,950
Average Income: $58,280
Living Wage Income: $62,074

Hawaii
Median Income: $42,480
Average Income: $59,231
Living Wage Income: $136,437

Idaho
Median Income: $34,260Illinois
Average Income: $49,763
Living Wage Income: $66,486

Illinois
Median Income: $39,950
Average Income: $66,600
Living Wage Income: $66,847

Indiana
Median Income: $35,730
Average Income: $56,754
Living Wage Income: $62,086

Iowa
Median Income: $37,100
Average Income: $52,468
Living Wage Income: $63,397

Kansas
Median Income: $35,950
Average Income: $54,101
Living Wage Income: $62,090

Kentucky
Median Income: $34,650
Average Income: $50,701
Living Wage Income: $63,086

Louisiana
Median Income: $33,390
Average Income: $53,095
Living Wage Income: $63,842

Maine
Median Income: $37,120
Average Income: $50,441
Living Wage Income: $80,336

Maryland
Median Income: $44,690
Average Income: $69,893
Living Wage Income: $92,227

Massachusetts
Median Income: $48,680
Average Income: $76,437
Living Wage Income: $93,895

Michigan
Median Income: $37,620
Average Income: $58,132
Living Wage Income: $67,712

Minnesota
Median Income: $42,630
Average Income: $62,156
Living Wage Income: $68,944

Mississippi
Median Income: $30,580
Average Income: $44,285
Living Wage Income: $58,321

Missouri
Median Income: $36,040
Average Income: $54,580
Living Wage Income: $60,858

Montana
Median Income: $35,080
Average Income: $46,424
Living Wage Income: $70,719

Nebraska
Median Income: $37,130
Average Income: $56,147
Living Wage Income: $65,162

Nevada
Median Income: $35,550
Average Income: $54,842
Living Wage Income: $75,902

New Hampshire
Median Income: $39,870
Average Income: $62,427
Living Wage Income: $74,415

New Jersey
Median Income: $43,600
Average Income: $71,959
Living Wage Income: $86,244

New Mexico
Median Income: $34,120
Average Income: $50,893
Living Wage Income: $63,629

New York
Median Income: $44,990
Average Income: $80,640
Living Wage Income: $95,724

North Carolina
Median Income: $35,750
Average Income: $56,343
Living Wage Income: $64,406

North Dakota
Median Income: $41,340
Average Income: $55,447
Living Wage Income: $69,085

Ohio
Median Income: $37,360
Average Income: $57,764
Living Wage Income: $63,204

Oklahoma
Median Income: $34,560
Average Income: $55,204
Living Wage Income: $60,318

Oregon
Median Income: $39,580
Average Income: $60,306
Living Wage Income: $93,285

Pennsylvania
Median Income: $38,450
Average Income: $64,706
Living Wage Income: $68,581

Rhode Island
Median Income: $42,040
Average Income: $59,055
Living Wage Income: $83,942

South Carolina
Median Income: $33,740
Average Income: $51,670
Living Wage Income: $65,953

South Dakota
Median Income: $33,450
Average Income: $49,827
Living Wage Income: $67,657

Tennessee
Median Income: $34,890
Average Income: $59,121
Living Wage Income: $60,682

Texas
Median Income: $37,100
Average Income: $62,230
Living Wage Income: $63,469

Utah
Median Income: $36,790
Average Income: $54,075
Living Wage Income: $67,807

Vermont
Median Income: $39,720
Average Income: $50,826
Living Wage Income: $83,878

Virginia
Median Income: $40,820
Average Income: $64,517
Living Wage Income: $69,886

Washington
Median Income: $46,100
Average Income: $74,016
Living Wage Income: $77,207

West Virginia
Median Income: $32,640
Average Income: $51,679
Living Wage Income: $62,635

Wisconsin
Median Income: $37,970
Average Income: $56,302
Living Wage Income: $67,667

Wyoming
Median Income: $40,240
Average Income: $55,018
Living Wage Income:

Data Sources
Median and Average Incomes, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 via Wikipedia.
Living Wage, GOBankingRates.com


The glaring takeaway from the income data shown above is how large the gap is between the median income in the State and the living wage needed live comfortably and save money. It’s no wonder there is a huge percentage of the population that is struggling every month to just pay for necessities. It also explains why so many Americans are buried in debt. The only way these people can have anything more than the necessities of life is by using credit … and usually by using a high-interest credit card because they don’t qualify for a credit card with a lower interest rate.

Let’s face it, if you are earning less than the median income, you are among the working poor in the United States. In fact, you may be eerily close to living in poverty.

Conclusion

As the median and average income data clearly illustrates, only a small percentage of the working population in the United States earn a living wage. For the rest, getting to the point of being able to earn a living wage may be a life-long struggle. That being the case, you still have bills to pay. That is why it is critical to:

  • Track your expenses so you know where your money is going.
  • Have and follow a monthly budget.
  • Live below your means so can faithfully and frequently save a little money for future use.
  • Avoid any additional debt.
  • Start saving for an Emergency Fund with a minimum of $1,000 but working towards 3 – 6 months of your net (bring home) income.
  • Live a simple life so your lifestyle doesn’t require more money than you make.
  • Don’t allow peer pressure from your friends and family to cause you to live beyond your means.

What do you think about a living wage? Please share your thoughts in the comment section provided.

If you prefer to contact me directly, please email me at mbrown.ec@mail.com.


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Keeper of Things

Waste not, want not.

My parents pounded this idiom into my head all through my childhood. My wife came from a similar background. Neither one of us throw anything away that has a potential use until we ask the other one if they might have a need for it. This doesn’t mean we are pack rats. We have limits on how many of a certain type item we save for a future use.

My wife saves glass jars of different sizes to put homemade trail mix in for Christmas gifts. Last year she gave away 20 of these jars of trail mix to friends and neighbors. Since her childhood she has saved wood boxes. These are just two examples out of about thirty types of things she saves. Many of her saved things go back to her childhood six plus decades ago.

I, on the other hand, am not so picky. If I think I may need an item in the future, I keep it … at least for a while. You would be surprised at how many times I’ve needed something that I’ve had saved for years. Just a few of the things I keep for a future need are:

  • Plastic containers (no more than 20)
  • Quality rubber bands
  • Rope
  • Screws, bolts, nuts, nails, washers, anchors, electric connectors, etc.
  • Paint
  • Plasters and putty

My wife and I are do-it-yourself type people. Some couples have a hobby that they share. We build, remodel or repair things together. As a result, we have over 30 years worth of leftover hardware from projects that we have tackled over the years. We almost always have any size or type of screw, bolt, nut or anchor we would ever need.

Three years ago I had an on-demand water heater break down. Since it was going to take 10-14 days to get the repair parts, we bought a new one. However, I still had the broken water repaired and put it in storage as a backup unit. The repair cost was $120. The cost of the new one was $492.

Two weeks ago the on-demand water heater broke down at a rental property we own. After having the unit looked at by a repair man, he told us the unit was too old and worn to put any money into it. So, I installed the on-demand water heater that we had stored for the last three years for such an event. At least for a few years, we saved $372 by having a backup water heater.

Another aspect of this story is that on-demand water heaters are difficult to find right now in Ecuador due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Since many parts of the world were locked down for two months, units were not being manufactured or shipped. Hence, the marketplace inventories are mostly depleted.

This is a perfect example of why repairing things instead of throwing them away is not only frugal … it’s also the smart thing to do. You may not need it not need it now, but you may need it badly down the road.


Do you have a story about saving things? I would love to know about it. Please use the comment box below to share your story.

If you prefer to contact me directly, please email me at mbrown.ec@mail.com.


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Money and Individuality

I think nearly everyone wants to achieve financial stability. I don’t think there is a person alive who prefers to be buried in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and not having any money saved. Yet, many people find themselves in this dreadful situation.

With all the financial advice and planning techniques readily available, why is barely surviving the most common financial position in life with so many helpful resources available? Some experts say it is as simple of not being committed to doing the actions required to achieve financial stability.

I say it is more complicated than that. There is a problem with much of the financial advice and programs offered … they don’t fit you. It’s like you trying to get into a small size jacket when you require an extra large. The advice and the programs offered are not individualized to your specific:

  • Motivations
  • Goals (early retirement, a new house, etc.)
  • Life circumstances
  • Financial obligations
  • Reasons to get up every morning
  • Non-financial dreams

Is the lack of non-individualized advice and programs a reason you have not started doing what it takes to stop being buried in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and not having any money saved?

Guess what? Only you can provide the motivation. Only you can put together a plan that fits you. No one else can to this for you. You are the one that must create the opportunity for financial stability and well-being.

There is, however, a central truth that is included in all plans to achieve financial stability and well-being:

  • You must spend less than you make and save the rest.

This is a great opportunity for you. You are in control. You get to put together the things you need to do to make it happen … based on what fits you. You have no one else to answer to other than yourself.

You can do this!


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