Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Living Wage

I mentioned previously that I was inspired by by Emily at EvolvingPF who directed my attention to the concept of living wage. I've decided to do a comparison between their numbers and mine (for a single adult) to see how I was doing.
The living wage broken down into categories
Clearly it's a high cost of living area, but I believe that's supposed to be reflected in coming up with the living wage in the first place.  Here are a few things that stand out:

Housing:  Over 50% of any budget is a lot!  Honestly though, I don't know how you could find a one bedroom apartment for what they are suggest as housing cost, so I'm curious as to where they get their data, and if this includes utilities or just rent.  I suppose one way of doing it would be to live further away and commute, thus adding to transportation costs.

Medical:  That's actually a smaller percentage than I was expecting!

Transportation:  I think it's clear that we aren't in a great area for public transportation along with the fact that we live in a society where people like having cars.

Savings:  The living wage is based on the assumption of how much money is necessary to live.  I've included this for comparison to my "living wage" budget.

Other:  Things like clothing and cell phones I assume.

Food:  I think this is a realistic figure if you never eat out.
What my budget would look like for an "average" month based on categories and living wage income

My first thought was that I'm apparently doing pretty well! My second is surprise at the amount of savings.  I just moved, which will help my budget considerably and this certainly shows that.  A few months of actually living with these lower costs will be nice!

Housing:  I share a two bedroom apartment with two other people.  This certainly helps cut costs.

Medical:  I'm lucky to get health insurance through my school.  I think it would be difficult to find comparable insurance on a private plan, but I don't know because I've never actually looked...

Transportation:  I don't own a car, but I do put money aside for transportation every month.  If I don't use it, it just gets put towards traveling and other adventures.

Savings:  I think the main way I've squeezed savings out of the "living wage" is by living with people and not owning a car.  While those are personal choices, it certainly makes a huge difference.

Other:  My phone among other things.  I could definitely have a cheaper phone, and maybe no phone at all, but it is something I really like having.

Food:  Surprisingly close!  I rarely eat out, but I do purchase high quality foods.  I think it's important to eat a healthy diet.


  1. We're trying to cut down on our housing percent and of course the only way to do this is increase our income (since we have a mortgage). Right now it's around 20%, but soon it'll be at around 10%. WOOHOO!

    1. 10% for housing is amazing! I think keeping that percentage as low as possible helps a lot to make a budget feel less restricting! While it can be a huge undertaking to lower that percentage (by either moving or increasing income) the result is fabulous!

  2. I'm not clear on whether you are being paid near the living wage in your area. If you are, it seems you're doing great on housing and have managed to save what you should have been spending there, and are living pretty minimally everywhere else. I tried to find the methodology behind their formulas but was unable. I suspect they are using a 1 BR apartment as the housing baseline, which is pretty ridiculous.

    1. I'm paid surprisingly close to the living wage (it makes me wonder if my school might be using that as a metric...) however for the charts above I just used the living wage for income, kept all my current budget numbers but shifted them around into their categories and used the "extra" to go towards savings. I think we've reached the same conclusion that their living wage metric seems a bit higher than what is truly needed.