Love the "Salary" post. Here's another idea.

Eric, I liked today's "Ideal Salary" post, and the discussions surrounding it are great.

How about a sort-of related post entitled something like: "Living Within Your Means is A Valuable Skill to Cultivate."

I retired 3 years ago at age 54. I'm comfortable due to some good choices throughout my working life and some good luck, too. I spent my life in a corporate job (The Phone Company — after the mergers I retired from AT&T). Throughout my career I had colleagues who made exactly the same as I did (when I had a union job), or roughly what I did (when I clawed my way up to middle-management). And yet I saw us all living very different lifestyles. Many people, of course, lived paycheck to paycheck. And I had one co-worker who subsidized a large extended family in a poorer country on her paycheck.


I had two formative experiences: First, my dad was older when he had us, and he lived as an adult through the depression. He never had much material wealth, but he owned his own business and raised us with all we needed. He NEVER carried debt and neither have I. I've never bought a car with a loan. The only debt I've ever carried were student loans (paid off within a couple years, admittedly MUCH easier in the early 80s than it would be today) and a mortgage (paid off over 10 years ahead of schedule.

The second formative experience (and this is the point of this rambling note) occurred one summer when I was in college. I lived with my boyfriend. We had some friends, another couple, in our apartment building. All four of us had the same job. So our four salaries were identical and the rents on our two apartments were identical. We got paid once per month. By mid-month the other couple was eating Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (you could buy it for 19 cents in those days!) but Bob and I always had money in our pockets.

I realized then that no matter how much money people make, some people will live within their means, and some won't be able to do so. I've never forgotten that lesson! I think that could be a springboard for a post — cultivate the skill of living within your means. It will stand you in good stead if your ship comes in, or if you have a temporary reversal in your financial life.

Dorothy Young

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