median

The week's buzz: What you had to say about living on about $50,000

Dec. 9, 2011 at 12:17 PM ET

John Makely / msnbc.com /
Ann Valencia looks on as movers unload a truck full of her belongings and load them into a storage unit she rented. Valencia has had to downsize and move in with a friend

This week, Life Inc. hit the road to profile people around the country who are living on around $50,000 a year, the nation’s median household income.

Wow, did you have a lot to say about it.

The first week of the series garnered tens of thousands of comments, hundreds of e-mails and numerous mentions on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

More than 76,000 of you responded to our poll on whether you could live on around $50,000 a year.

Since that is the midpoint of household incomes in this country, it wasn’t surprising that you were about equally split on whether it would work or not.

 “Was making more than twice that a few years ago. Amazing how you can live on less after you lose a good job. We're making out OK,” one reader wrote.

But others said they couldn’t imagine making all their bills on that salary.

“I don't even think $100k is enough for a family of 4 to have health care, food, gas, college tuition. ... no way,” another reader wrote.

Many readers told us that they get by but occasionally struggle with expenses like gas, rent and health care costs. The rising cost of food, a major expense for one family we profiled this week, is squeezing many people's budgets.

"I grocery shop once a week and every time I go I see another regular part of my bill go up; eggs, meat, butter, milk," one reader wrote.

Our story about a military family with a long-term financial plan prompted a lot of discussion about how feasible it is to plan ahead financially. About half of you said that these days, you are just trying to get by day to day.

“I used to be such a planner, until every plan I made was thwarted by the Great Recession. It is hard to plan with no stability or hope!” one reader lamented.

Clearly, one’s ability to live on around $50,000 a year depends a lot on where you live and who you are supporting. This week, we wrote about a family of six in Utah who are getting by just fine, while a widow in pricier New York found that the nation’s median income isn’t enough to afford housing expenses.

Still, many said it’s not as simple as moving to a cheaper area to cut costs.

“Sure location is important. However, a cheaper cost of living also means lower wages. So, it is not usually an even trade-off,” one reader wrote.

Thanks to everyone who read this week’s stories, wrote to us, took our votes and shared our stories on social media.

Stay tuned next week as we wrap up our series next week with a few more profiles and a video piece on people living on $50,000 a year, in their own words.

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