10 April 2007

Where Does Your Paycheck Go?

I was recently reviewing my benefit information at work and adding a new family member, etc. when it occurred to me that I could spend a few minutes computing how my income is allocated each week.

Disturbing. Based on a 40 hour US work week I've determined the following:
Pre-tax Allocations
  • Voluntary retirement contributions: 6.000 hours
  • Federal and State income tax: 5.325 hours
  • No local taxes so I'll lump Medicare and Social Security together: 2.950 hours
  • Health, dental and vision insurance contributions: 2.254 hours
Pre-tax total: 16.53 hours

OK, that leaves me with 23.47 hours of pay to fund the other necessities. Let's see where that goes:

Post-tax Allocations

  • Mortgage: 7.993 hours
  • Commuting costs: 2.909 hours
  • Property taxes: .892 hours
  • Property and vehicle insurance: .832 hours
  • Student loan repayment: .629 hours
  • Life insurance: .559 hours
  • Utilities: 1.234 hours
Post-tax Total: 15.048 hours

This leaves a remainder of 8.422 hours of pay to cover food, maintenance, savings, vacations, child care, education and discretionary spending.

I am very glad my spouse has income as well or we would be rather strapped otherwise. I'm not sure how so many people make substantially less money yet manage to live in MA. Three days ago, the Boston Globe posted this piece by Robert Kuttner:

"REPRESENTATIVE Barney Frank of Newton , chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was in town this week to hold a hearing on the squeeze on household incomes and housing costs. In city after city, costs of both rentals and owner-occupied homes have been outstripping paychecks.

Northeastern University economist Barry Bluestone testified that median housing prices increased by about 50 percent in Greater Boston between 1999 and 2006, while real household incomes were basically flat. In 1998, Bluestone calculated, the median-income family could afford the median-priced home in 148 of 161 Greater Boston communities; by 2006, in just 12 communities.

The cost of rentals has been rising just as fast. All this, of course, represents a real hit to family incomes. If you have to spend half of your income to get a roof over your head, you are that much poorer. If you have to double up to get a decent place to live, that's a decline in your standard of living."

On the same day the Worcester T&G provides details from the Central Mass Housing Alliance's 2006 Out of Reach Report (part 1, part 2, part 3), focusing on the Central MA region.

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