Family Living 4 Less

Saving Money Without the Sacrifice!

Can a Family of Four Live on a Salary of $150k in NYC?

Posted by flsquared on November 8, 2009

This was the title of an Urban Baby discussion last week that really got me thinking.  My quick answer was a resounding “Yes, and well!”, but many of the posters did not agree.

I suppose what surprised me the most was the tone of the responders.  They seemed to say: Don’t do it!  You will be sacrificing too much!

For me, it’s a given that if you live in Manhattan, you will, most likely, be living in a small apartment.  Even the “big” apartments are small.

On the other hand, in just 5 or 10 minutes walking you can find yourself in a park, a museum, a library, etc.  During the summer there are more festivals than you can imagine.  As the winter is closing in, it’s more difficult to find free activities but they are there.

For us, our major expenses are rent, health insurance, and food.  Next year, preschool will be included in that list.  We also try to go to Spain and Florida once/year to visit family.  Everything else that we spend money on is minimal and we don’t spend even close $150k/year.

We no longer have a car (and all that goes with it), our utilities are next to nothing, and entertainment is cheap.

I will say that I totally understand how you could spend even double that amount and feel like you are living a humble life.  Between eating out, endless forms of entertainment, preschools that cost more than my college tuition, nannies, housekeepers, etc, etc, etc. the money can just slip through your hands.

I have a friend who probably earns triple what we do and honestly feels poor.  She lives 2 blocks away, in a very nice, but not super-fancy, building.  She does not wear designer clothing or go out every night.  She has a part-time “mother’s helper” and someone to clean her apartment once/week.  They have a car and go away at least once weekend/month.  Nothing all too extravagant here, right?  Especially when she compares herself to her friends who have private jets and rent a place in the Hamptons for $30,000.

Saving (or just not spending) money in this town is hard work, but it is very doable.

I think the key to it is both simple and extremely complex.  Be happy from within.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Be content with your choices, and don’t even notice the Jones’.

What are your thoughts?  Am I missing something?  What are we sacrificing that everyone else seems to need?


8 Responses to “Can a Family of Four Live on a Salary of $150k in NYC?”

  1. S. Mojica said

    Amen Sister!

  2. j said

    i have no idea. it seems that you should have more than enough with that kind of money coming in. no car and insurance saves a lot of money as it is.

  3. bibsuv said

    I LOVE the concept of this blog. Frugality needs to be reincorporated in the American dictionary. There are so many fun little projects and things we can do to save money.

  4. cwnmamau said

    Truthfully, I still haven’t figured out how people manage to spend so much money. I live off of less than $20k a year right now. That includes paying off my student loan next year and I’m still working on my car note. Granted, cost of living here is very low and I have a roommate in one of the cheapest apartments in town. But I don’t really want for anything…and those things I do want I can generally wait for.

    But as a friend of mine pointed out, if the only difficult financial decision you’ve ever made in your life is the choice between the fancy green shirt or the fancy red shirt, life can seem tough all of the sudden when you can’t have either. Those of us accustomed to buying a second-hand not fancy green shirt don’t really think too much of it.

    • flsquared said

      I love your analogy! I agree that it’s definitely more difficult to give up luxuries that you’re accustomed to than those you still consider “luxuries”.

      As far as the spending money bit, I used to have the exact same conversation with my husband! I will say our eyes were opened when we had our children:we have been given most of their toys and clothes for birthdays and holidays, but diapers, food, medical and things you don’t consider (living in a “safer” neighborhood, a bigger apartment, the choice between daycare or staying home, etc) start adding up. I honestly wonder if, after a few more months of living here, I will see what “necessaries” we have not considered yet….

  5. […] Family Living 4 Less got me thinking about this. Including both jobs, I make less than 20k a year. Almost a third of that goes into either savings or my student loan. And yes, I have a student loan, and a car note. The car is fully insured. I don’t have health insurance (because health insurance when you’re a healthy 25 year-old female is fucking expensive, even though I visit the doctor maybe once every three years. I’d rather put that money into an emergency fund.) […]

  6. fast diet said

    NYC it’s all about Manhattan. If you have the chance to move, do it. It’s not about small or big, it’s all about life quality

  7. Jay said

    We live in NYC (Manhattan) and are a family of four living on $60,000. Kids ages 3 and 1. The oldest one just started Prek. You can definitely live in Manhattan making 150k a year. We don’t take any form of public/gov’t assistance because we don’t qualify for anything. We live on a tight budget not because of the $60,000 salary but because we have credit card debt of around $25k. If it wasn’t for this, we would be living well with our salary in Manhattan.

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