Dec. 12, 2011 at 7:07 AM ET
Katie Delano has seen what it’s like to struggle financially. She’s determined to avoid that.
Delano, now 21, was a teenager when her father was out of work for nine months. Her mother’s salary as a teacher was only enough to cover the family of five’s health care costs. They ended up with credit card debt and other financial woes.
“Those nine months put, like, a fear in me,” she said.
Katie’s husband, Brian, 23, also saw his family's finances squeezed when he was a teenager and his parents took care of two of his cousins (and their own four children) for a couple of years because of a family emergency.
TODAY.com’s Life Inc. blog interviewed the Delanos as part of a series of stories on what it’s like to live on around $50,000 a year, the nation’s median household income.
The Delanos, who live in Tacoma, Wash., both consider themselves lucky to have stable, full-time jobs. She works as a barista for Nordstorm and he works for Home Depot.
Katie is going to school full-time and Brian is working another 17 hours a week as a tutor in preparation for a career in teaching. The plan is for Brian to start school again once Katie graduates next year with a degree in law and justice.
They are paying Katie’s $10,000-a-year tuition payments as they go and don’t plan to take on any student loan debt. Their only debt is for their vehicles, and they rent a house.
Together since high school, they got married in 2010. They have two dogs and say their budget would be a lot tighter if they had kids.
The couple uses a financial planning program her father created to set a budget and plan ahead for things like holidays and birthdays. They try to buy only what they need and use coupons whenever possible.
They have a three-month emergency fund in case one of them loses a job and a general long-term financial plan.
Katie says she finds it comforting to have a budget.
“It sounds like we don’t have any fun, but we have budgeted fun,” she said. “It’s nice not to worry.”
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