Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How Much Money Is Enough?

I've been thinking a lot lately about income.  With Mike on orders, we've had a surplus land in our laps and you'd better believe I'm killing off entire bills left and right.

When he's done and back taking classes, our monthly income should look like this:
  • $800 on the 1st (Jennie)
  • $1776 on the 7th (GI Bill)
  • $800 on the 15th (Jennie)
  • $359 after the 15th (drill pay)
That's about $3,700 for the total month.   

Sometimes I feel guilty that we have a lot of money and aren't being frugal enough.  I mean, I think almost $4,000 a month is a lot of money.  Surely that's more than enough to meet one's needs.

You have enough!
I used to think that if I had a 40K salary (as an individual), that would be ideal.  There's so much you could do with that.  

But, technically, our new monthly income would equal 40K a year.  

I often feel as if we're not doing enough with our money.  When I think about our income in one lump sum, I ask, surely we could be putting more on credit cards?  Surely we could spend less on going out to eat?  Surely we could lower our utility bill?  Surely we didn't have to go out for drinks with friends?

I call this attitude economic guilt.

Def: Feelings of guilt stemming from average or common spending habits.  The need to question if every purchase was responsible, worthwhile, or fiscally sound.  The lack of pride in one's economic success.

There's being responsible with your money, and then there's questioning every single move to the point that you ruin your confidence about what you're doing.

I'm in the latter category.  I'm always comparing the amount of "extra purchases" to a bill I could have paid. 

Wow, that dinner out cost $30.  I could have put that on a credit card.

Ugh, that car repair was worth one month of rent.

Dang, that amount of groceries was equal to a tank of gas.

I fully acknowledge that this thought pattern can be helpful, but not for every single time you swipe your debit card.  All you end up doing is feeling remorse that you didn't hold back more, even if you were getting essentials like milk and cat litter.

I would love to be in a position where I wasn't worrying so much about money.  I'm not saying spending without a care, but making purchases and assuring myself I didn't sacrifice our finances in another area.
Mike and I had a discussion the other day based on this one question:

How much is enough money for us?

We know our combined salaries are currently hovering around 45k.  It does what it needs to - puts food on the table, keeps the bills current, and fills the truck with gas.  But it doesn't give us much wiggle room.


That's our number.  That's the level at which we could achieve a "comfortable" financial footing. 

We figure an extra 10k a year would give us the padding we need for a savings account, debt reduction, retirement planning, a second car, and maybe even a vacation.

Naturally, that's still kind of low.  I can't imagine what it would be like to be a couple that brings in $60-80,000 a year together.  Can you imagine the possibilities!?

At any rate, if we were to move or seek other jobs, we now have a salary goal in mind.  It's a helpful point of reference and something good to ponder no matter where you're sitting at.

What would it take for you to live comfortably?


  1. I SOOOOOOOO relate to this post. I live with an overbearing sense of economic guilt. I would say to live comfortably (and not question every single purchase) Hubby and I would need a similar number.

  2. Phew, I'm glad I'm not the only one! I've been wondering if these feelings of guilt might be more common to those who are lower class - either currently or raised as such.

    I know people on the other end of the spectrum who live comfortably, but feel guilty that they make more than their family or friends.

    Clearly with the economic climate right now, this guilt isn't doing anything for the average Jane and Joe.