Housing is expensive in NYC so if you want to live here you probably can't stick to the rule of thumb. Instead, you make trade-offs. I would totally take the smaller BR for less rent, like the author did. When I left my husband a few years ago, taking my teenage son with me, I got us an apt. where mine was a windowless BR that measured less than 7 feet by less than seven feet. It did have a closet and luckily, I like to sleep on a futon couch in couch position. This was so my son, who is claustrophobic could have the big BR. Now I have a nice 2-BR co-op that costs me about a 1/3 of my income but feels cheap to me because I have cut my other expenses to the bone. I ALWAYS bring lunch to work, I rarely eat in expensive restaurants, I NEVER buy drinks at bars (what a huge waste!). I live very modestly and frugally, and I find that the greatest luxury of all is to be able to afford my bills and especially my WONDERFUL apt. that is spacious, well-laid-out, and boasts an enclosed balcony overlooking a dense "forest" that is about 2 blocks wide. Heaven!
So basically, by 2030 the average American is going to want a house the size of Rhode Island. Sounds reasonable.
Also, I always like to point out that a person who spends more than 1/3 of their income on rent is considered "cost-burdened" by the US government. 1/2 qualifies you as "severely cost-burdened." And the US is not generally known for the generosity of its poverty thresholds...
@Marissa I'm still waiting for a post on why it's not a good idea to keep all your savings in cash in the walls of a banana stand.
Adding on to your comment for more Mike Dang praise -- I just checked the 401k account I started last month (thanks to the Billfold) and already have $357 in there! I should have started it back when I was hired 9 years ago, but better late than never?
I love this passage too (and your Logan-thoughts)! I'm aggressively paying down student loan debt right now, but like anything it's come at a cost -- I moved to a rural area where there aren't too many people my age in order to take the job (in my competitive field) that would enable me to do it. It was the right decision for me, but sometimes I worry that I'll be trapped by financial considerations for way too long. Which is why it's helpful to be reminded that sometimes you've just got to take a leap.
@ranran Yeah the whole "They're working, you're STEEEEALING" debate really fails to acknowledge such things as: the radio, club play (for certain kinds of music anyway), used album sales, friends sharing albums, the role of live music, composers vs. songwriters vs. performers, libraries, and why so many musicians give out their music for free (at least on a limited basis). Also, mixtapes. To say that the argument "you, music consumer, have a moral obligation to the artist to make sure they are being paid before listening to their music" oversimplifies things is, I think, an understatement. Now, I'm off the art gallery, where I will PayPal $0.15 to each of the artists after I look at their paintings. Then I'm going to mail checks to Jonathan Franzen, now that I've finished reading my borrowed copy of Freedom, and the Patty Hill estate, for my share of the public performance of "Happy Birthday to You" I participated in on Saturday.
Helping people get food stamps is part of my job. I am also on food stamps myself. It's a very complicated system - the people who truly understand it have MAs in social work - but I know some things about it. Many of the points I'd like to make have been made by other commenters (e.g., accepting aid doesn't mean denying it to anyone else), and I'm so late to the commenting party that I'm sure no one is listening but: if you are eligible for food stamps, and you do not use them, you're hurting the economy. Food stamps mean income for grocery store owners, clerks, truck drivers, farmers. You swipe that card; they get actual money, on which they pay taxes. (In most major cities, you can use your EBT card at greenmarkets and greencarts through a token-exchange system, which boosts the local economy.) I'll use my case because the data is mine to disclose -- without food stamps, I have $104/m after rent (incl. utilities) and transportation to my job. I can make that last all month if I have to, and I have. But I keep that up, it's not long 'til I'm malnourished. Which means pretty soon I need medical care. Which makes me actually a drain on your tax dollars, because the doctors don't get more income with more patients. I give $148/m in food stamps to the grocery store, the grocery store pays taxes on the income, and I spend $65 on taxable sales like shampoo, toilet paper, a ticket to a friend's play, and having my shoes re-soled, and the drug store got $15, a venue made $7.50, a theater company made $7.50, and a cobbler made $35 -- all less tax, of course. Support your local economy. Get your food stamps.
Not to in any way diminish this woman's efforts, but saving $40k by the time one is 34 does not make you 'saver.' That's a little over $3k per year after college, which is commendable compared to the American average but hardly anything to get excited about.
@mouthalmighty (We may have a student loan column in the works.)