We Make 150K But Living Paycheck to Paycheck. What Should We Do? – Roy

“Dear Steve,

My wife and I are in our mid 50s living in suburban NY. Our kids are in college. Combined, our income is $150,000. While this is considered to be good money, it just doesn’t seem to be enough to cover our needs and save for the future during the years that we should be doing that.

We owe about $350,000 left on a HELOC and mortgage, own our cars and live frugally. Our combined 401K is about $200,000 which is very low due to downsizes in the private sector and losing a business years ago.

I have been trying to relocate to the south to get out of this state that I believe is financially killing us.

For the past two years, I have applied for jobs within my company down South and outside as well. While I have been offered other positions, they are not in the states that we wanted to move to.

It is very disheartening when two people work but we still can not save for an emergency fund or retirement. I am tired of living pay check to pay check but feel very trapped right now and don’t like that feeling.

My question is should we sell our home (we have no emotional attachment to it and the taxes are $12,000 per year) and rent while buying a condo down south (in south Florida) where we would like to live and plan to be eventually?


Dear Roy,

You raise a number of great points. Great questions.

I think there is clear evidence that renting can be a much better financial move at this time than buying. Your exposure is for the rent only and not all the other lovely expenses of homeownership, including taxes, upkeep, maintenance, insurance, etc.

Considering the fact you are planning to move from the area then working to sell the house now and renting short-term seems to make logical sense.

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My only hesitation with the plan is the idea of buying the condo now when that will get you right back into being on the hook for condo fees, taxes, etc. While South Florida is your ultimate goal, it seems there is enough uncertainty right now where you will actually go.

I know people that live in different parts of the country and rent so that they can move to a new location and explore that area. In today’s more mobile society, it is a real possibility. And renting can allow you to potentially save more money for your retirement.

You and I are about the same age. Neither of us is getting any younger. Making saving a priority is quickly turning from a good idea into a necessity.

I too also used to live up in the Mid-Atlantic and even New York and I also decided living further south was a better move for me. I now live in North Carolina where we have a special local expression for a growing number of people. They are called “halfbacks.” These are all the folks from New York that moved to Florida and decided it wasn’t for them so they move half way back.

The logical path at this point seems to be for you to prepare yourself for an upcoming move by selling the house and renting. This would give you some flexibility of taking one of those jobs in a different area to change your surroundings and going to experience new things.

One big tip though, make sure you giveaway, sell, or throw away as much of the stuff you don’t need in your current home. There is no sense paying for a storage unit you are not coming back to. The less stuff you have to cart around, the easier and more liberating life will become. When I moved from the DC area to England we got rid of 75% of all our things. What I discovered was that it was so freeing. I didn’t realize up till that point how much my stuff had owned me.

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You can clearly have an adventurous life, save money for retirement and live within your means.

I’m jealous of the possibilities ahead of you and the adventure at your finger tips.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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