Dec. 16, 2011 at 7:40 AM ET
For the last couple of weeks, Life Inc. has been exploring what it’s like to be in the exact midpoint of the nation’s economic spectrum.
The We are the median project prompted thousands of readers to share their stories and thoughts on what it’s like for to live on the nation’s household median income of around $50,000 a year. And it also prompted lots of you to tell us about what it’s like to be much worse off.
Many readers told us they can only hope to bring home $50,000 a year.
“$50,000 would be great to make a year. Single mom with 2 kids and I bring home less than $35,000. Took a cut in hours to keep my job,” one reader wrote in response to our profile of a mom and son who are struggling with a drop in income.
Another profile, of a young couple bringing home around $50,000 a year and juggling high student loan bills, also prompted some to tell us that people need to pay more attention to those who have it much worse.
“Why is this news? We make less than $27K, I have over $80K in student debt. My dream is a nightmare and we are family of 4,” one reader wrote.
Although some readers told us they are doing just fine on incomes below $50,000 a year, others said it’s very hard to make ends meet on a lower income. In a post this week about a family choosing to live a very simple life on about $20,000 a year, many readers questioned whether low-income living is really “living well.”
But some found the story inspirational.
“It's gratifying to hear stories of real people. I applaud this young family and see their lot improving, over time. My husband and I struggled in our early life, with young children and little money. … Our kids are not scarred because of this, they are all hard working, successful contributors to society. We have always had to be smart about our money and now that we have more, we are still frugal,” one commenter wrote.
Apparently that’s not a lesson many parents are passing on to their children. In a post about a young couple getting a good financial start in life, about 40 percent of our readers said they hadn't learned much from their parents about how to manage money.
“My parents didn't tell me anything about budgeting. It's a hard lesson I now know and am passing this on to my kids,” one reader wrote.
How much would you have to bring home to be free of money worries? More than half of our readers said they would have to make $250,000 or more per year in order to feel rich.
For some, the more money, the better.
“As much as possible. You're never secure in this country unless you are the 1%,” one reader wrote.
Still, some readers said they would settle for much less.
“I would be thrilled with that (to me) mythical $50,000 per year..........!” one reader wrote.
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