Working in the real world

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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KlingKlang
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Working in the real world

Post by KlingKlang » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm

First of all I want to apologize for an emotional reaction that I had to a previous post viewtopic.php?f=1&t=239049. It was due to a claim that someone could make $80k/year working part time in semiretirement.

I understand that many of the posters on this board are medical professionals or work in government jobs. Nevertheless the claims that people make for their incomes and benefits are so out of line with my experience that I sometimes question them.

I have a BS and MS in engineering and an MBA in MIS. I was employed as a factory automation engineer, my maximum salary was $76k/year which I only received for 3 months of back pay after my last layoff in 2014. I never received more than 3 weeks vacation nor better than a 50% match on 6% for my 401(k), most of the time less or nothing.

My wife is a high school graduate who made $15k/year as a bank clerk in the 70s before we were married. Since then she has worked miscellaneous retail jobs and took 10 years off to stay at home with our daughter. She has never had any retirement benefits. She is currently working 38 hours/week at an Asian dry cleaners but only gets paid for 22 hours/week at $10.35/hour so that they don't have to pay her any benefits. I have begged her to quit for years and now she has promised to do so after some unpleasant incidents at work.

My daughter has a BA in accounting/finance and earns $48k/year at a large corporation with 7 days of vacation/year working over 50 hours a week.

My daughter's boyfriend has an engineering degree and earns $42k/year at a small corporation working over 70 hours a week including travel.

I realize that this is basically a vent but sometimes I wonder if I am crazy or everyone else is.

Dottie57
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Dottie57 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:25 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
First of all I want to apologize for an emotional reaction that I had to a previous post viewtopic.php?f=1&t=239049. It was due to a claim that someone could make $80k/year working part time in semiretirement.

I understand that many of the posters on this board are medical professionals or work in government jobs. Nevertheless the claims that people make for their incomes and benefits are so out of line with my experience that I sometimes question them.

I have a BS and MS in engineering and an MBA in MIS. I was employed as a factory automation engineer, my maximum salary was $76k/year which I only received for 3 months of back pay after my last layoff in 2014. I never received more than 3 weeks vacation nor better than a 50% match on 6% for my 401(k), most of the time less or nothing.

My wife is a high school graduate who made $15k/year as a bank clerk in the 70s before we were married. Since then she has worked miscellaneous retail jobs and took 10 years off to stay at home with our daughter. She has never had any retirement benefits. She is currently working 38 hours/week at an Asian dry cleaners but only gets paid for 22 hours/week at $10.35/hour so that they don't have to pay her any benefits. I have begged her to quit for years and now she has promised to do so after some unpleasant incidents at work.

My daughter has a BA in accounting/finance and earns $48k/year at a large corporation with 7 days of vacation/year working over 50 hours a week.

My daughter's boyfriend has an engineering degree and earns $42k/year at a small corporation working over 70 hours a week including travel.

I realize that this is basically a vent but sometimes I wonder if I am crazy or everyone else is.
Where do you live? All the jobs sound low to me. My nephew started as an accounting dept employee (b.s. In business) at $45k per year and at least 3 weeks vacation. He works 40-45 hrs a week.

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KlingKlang
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by KlingKlang » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:31 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:25 pm
KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
I realize that this is basically a vent but sometimes I wonder if I am crazy or everyone else is.
Where do you live? All the jobs sound low to me. My nephew started as an accounting dept employee (b.s. In business) at $45k per year and at least 3 weeks vacation. He works 40-45 hrs a week.
NE Ohio. That explains a lot, but my wife and I have 90 year old mothers that we need to be close to.

Olemiss540
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Olemiss540 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:33 pm

Has your daughter and her boyfriend actively shopped/networked/applied for more lucrative positions in different locales? Where are they employed or did they come home and find what they could in their hometown? A lot of steady industries are in major growth right now, amazed finance and engineering would have to battle for min wage jobs.....
I hold index funds because I do not overestimate my ability to pick stocks OR stock pickers.

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Pajamas
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Pajamas » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:37 pm

I can't comment on the salary and benefits for your very specific job.

Obviously your wife is in a very adverse situation and the employer is violating state and federal labor law on an ongoing basis and of course criminal law when beating or probably even when threatening employees. Requiring or even allowing work to be done "off the clock" by hourly employees is not tolerated even in less extreme situations such as a retailer making employees finish up their work for fifteen minutes after being required to clock out. $15k as a bank clerk or teller in the 1970s doesn't sound bad at all, by the way. Typical pay is probably twice that now.

Your daughter's pay seems to be about average for her degree if she is in an entry level position, although the 50 hours a week seems a bit much to ask for on a regular basis. Since she gets one week of vacation and her salary is $48k I assume that she has not been in that job for very long and is at the start of her career.

Pay for a BS in engineering would vary depending on what type of engineering and level of experience and position but the 70 hours a week with extensive travel sounds very excessive compared to the $42k pay and the pay seems to be much lower than average even for a small firm in a LCOLA regardless of the exact degree and position.

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Watty
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Watty » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:39 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
She is currently working 38 hours/week at an Asian dry cleaners but only gets paid for 22 hours/week at $10.35/hour so that they don't have to pay her any benefits.
She really needs to get in touch with the state labor department. It is very likely that she can get them involved and collect years of backwages.

bas2466
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by bas2466 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:41 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
First of all I want to apologize for an emotional reaction that I had to a previous post viewtopic.php?f=1&t=239049. It was due to a claim that someone could make $80k/year working part time in semiretirement.

I understand that many of the posters on this board are medical professionals or work in government jobs. Nevertheless the claims that people make for their incomes and benefits are so out of line with my experience that I sometimes question them.

I have a BS and MS in engineering and an MBA in MIS. I was employed as a factory automation engineer, my maximum salary was $76k/year which I only received for 3 months of back pay after my last layoff in 2014. I never received more than 3 weeks vacation nor better than a 50% match on 6% for my 401(k), most of the time less or nothing.

My wife is a high school graduate who made $15k/year as a bank clerk in the 70s before we were married. Since then she has worked miscellaneous retail jobs and took 10 years off to stay at home with our daughter. She has never had any retirement benefits. She is currently working 38 hours/week at an Asian dry cleaners but only gets paid for 22 hours/week at $10.35/hour so that they don't have to pay her any benefits. I have begged her to quit for years and now she has promised to do so after some unpleasant incidents at work.

My daughter has a BA in accounting/finance and earns $48k/year at a large corporation with 7 days of vacation/year working over 50 hours a week.

My daughter's boyfriend has an engineering degree and earns $42k/year at a small corporation working over 70 hours a week including travel.

I realize that this is basically a vent but sometimes I wonder if I am crazy or everyone else is.
Labor and employment attorney here. Call a lawyer asap.

Regarding your other point, I also think many here are completely out of touch with what the average American is earning. I've seen multiple posters state they don't understand how someone could survive on a $100k salary. If you honestly think that you've lost touch.
Last edited by bas2466 on Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Pajamas
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Pajamas » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:41 pm

Watty wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:39 pm
KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
She is currently working 38 hours/week at an Asian dry cleaners but only gets paid for 22 hours/week at $10.35/hour so that they don't have to pay her any benefits.
She really needs to get in touch with the state labor department. It is very likely that she can get them involved and collect years of backwages.
I agree 100% but it is also possible that there is really nothing to recover the back wages from and also that the other employees will lose their jobs when the place is padlocked.

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KlingKlang
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by KlingKlang » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:44 pm

Olemiss540 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:33 pm
Has your daughter and her boyfriend actively shopped/networked/applied for more lucrative positions in different locales? Where are they employed or did they come home and find what they could in their hometown? A lot of steady industries are in major growth right now, amazed finance and engineering would have to battle for min wage jobs.....
Both of them live at home with their parents. Reluctance to relocate is a definite factor for Catholic descendants of immigrants. I had to turn down my dream job because my wife wouldn't move to Connecticut.

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corn18
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by corn18 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:45 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:41 pm
Watty wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:39 pm
KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
She is currently working 38 hours/week at an Asian dry cleaners but only gets paid for 22 hours/week at $10.35/hour so that they don't have to pay her any benefits.
She really needs to get in touch with the state labor department. It is very likely that she can get them involved and collect years of backwages.
I agree 100% but it is also possible that there is really nothing to recover the back wages from and also that the other employees will lose their jobs when the place is padlocked.
Well, if they are paying the employees 22 hours/week for 38 hours of work, they should be padlocked.

miamivice
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by miamivice » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:46 pm

Getting back to the point of the OP, the wages that folks claim on here are absurd, except for the few doctors and some senior managers. I think a lot of posters lie about their salaries, perhaps in part to keep up with other posters.

But I recall some folks who claim to make 800k/year, tech workers that work 250k/year (and married to tech workers who make the same), and other absurd amounts. While here and there they might be accurate, I think there are too many high claims for them to all be actual income.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by BolderBoy » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:51 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
I understand that many of the posters on this board are medical professionals or work in government jobs. Nevertheless the claims that people make for their incomes and benefits are so out of line with my experience that I sometimes question them.
Things like this are very much circumstance related. From your description of your education you could be making a lot more than that in a different part of the country. But it is a trade off. Life isn't fair or unfair, it just is. You are making family-based choices and it is economically costing you. But from the sound of things, you'll have family available to you throughout your life. Some of us have chosen a different path and been rewarded differently. You'd probably hate my life and I probably wouldn't like yours. I don't regret my choices and certainly hope that you don't regret yours.

Your wife may be sitting on a large potential judgment if she is willing to get a lawyer and go after her employer. But the downside is that it may make finding other work in that location, tougher. At the very least she should contact the EEOC and report the employer's illegal activities.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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slayed
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by slayed » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:57 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:46 pm
tech workers that work 250k/year (and married to tech workers who make the same), and other absurd amounts. While here and there they might be accurate, I think there are too many high claims for them to all be actual income.
That is not at all unusual for software jobs in HCOL areas. I grossed $234k last year (Boston area) and I know pay is generally higher in both SF and NYC areas where a lot of posters seem to be from. My background is not particularly special and I only have a bachelor's degree.

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Pajamas
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Pajamas » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:01 pm

slayed wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:57 pm

That is not at all unusual for software jobs in HCOL areas. I grossed $234k last year (Boston area) and I know pay is generally higher in both SF and NYC areas where a lot of posters seem to be from. My background is not particularly special and I only have a bachelor's degree.
Agreed that that sort of job can pay very well but don't underestimate Boston. I have known a couple of I.T. people that moved from NYC to Boston for a huge salary increase.

MathWizard
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by MathWizard » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:01 pm

A quick google search returns:
The U.S. Census Bureau reported in September 2017 that real median household
income was $59,039 in 2016, exceeding any previous year.
This board is about investing, so these are people who have the money and the inclination to invest.

This naturally skews the income towards the higher end.

Not everyone on this board is making huge salaries, but the vast majority have household incomes
above the median, so they have enough to invest.

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alec
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by alec » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:02 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:44 pm
Olemiss540 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:33 pm
Has your daughter and her boyfriend actively shopped/networked/applied for more lucrative positions in different locales? Where are they employed or did they come home and find what they could in their hometown? A lot of steady industries are in major growth right now, amazed finance and engineering would have to battle for min wage jobs.....
Both of them live at home with their parents. Reluctance to relocate is a definite factor for Catholic descendants of immigrants. I had to turn down my dream job because my wife wouldn't move to Connecticut.
Yeah, I'd encourage them to look elsewhere for jobs - other cities/states, that is.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair

kwarden13
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by kwarden13 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:05 pm

Some of us do get lucky. I am 29 and worked my a$$ off when I first graduated. Also, was not stuck on a specific job/role in a company. I took many different jobs in order to progress. For example, started in finance, then learned databases and went to hr systems, then back to revenue management where I learned SAS programming, then I was doing supply chain analytics for a while, etc.. Continued learning to advance and willing to take up anything even without the knowledge. You need to drive your own career because no one will do it for you. Here is my progression.

Graduated w/ bachelors in finance: 2009
2009-2012(lived in FL): started at $13 as an analyst in large top 50 company and was promoted every 8-10 months. Got my MBA while working full time, left job making $45k as sr analyst
2012-2014(lived in FL): started at a large top 4 consulting firm making $64k, some raises and got my masters in engineering, left as sr analyst making $75k
2014-2015(lived in MD): moved states, top 100 company making $95k as manager
2015-2017(lived in MD): took offer top 50 company making $125k as manager

I feel extremely lucky to have my salary since I did not know anyone in these companies to help get in. I am finally in a comfortable place making good money.

chessknt
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by chessknt » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:08 pm

This forum does seem to disproportionately represent the top 3% of wage earners in the US. You can tell this in many ways but my favorite is the assumption in every retirement thread that a 529 needs to be funded to six figures. My mom earned about 50k per year with nobody else to help her. My brother and I got exactly $0 for college. I got out with 14k in debt and went on to become a doctor (more debt there sadly). It would have been nice to have help but not required like the majority here seem to assume.
Last edited by chessknt on Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

delamer
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by delamer » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:09 pm

In my world, a HCOL area, it is hard to imagine someone with a MS in engineering plus a MBA maxing out at $76,000 per year.

Just your math skills alone would get you $100,000 in your 30s.

But you may have a more affordable, comfortable lifestyle in terms of housing and other costs.

A nice 2,000 square foot house with 4 bedrooms/2 full baths and an hour commute into the city is about $700,000 in my suburb.

It is interesting that the children of immigrants, who frequently came from countries that are an ocean away, are often reluctant to move a few hours from their parents. I saw it in my own family (not Catholic, by the way).

davidsorensen32
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by davidsorensen32 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:17 pm

Miamivice, in general, as a rule, people have more money than they show. It’s very very very (x1000000000) common to find husband + wife teams earning 250K x 2 = 500k in tech (new tech not old tech). At least in the SF Bay Area.
miamivice wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:46 pm
Getting back to the point of the OP, the wages that folks claim on here are absurd, except for the few doctors and some senior managers. I think a lot of posters lie about their salaries, perhaps in part to keep up with other posters.

But I recall some folks who claim to make 800k/year, tech workers that work 250k/year (and married to tech workers who make the same), and other absurd amounts. While here and there they might be accurate, I think there are too many high claims for them to all be actual income.

N10sive
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by N10sive » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:27 pm

When I got out of college I started working in a startup, engineer degree. I made 45k a year in a HCOL area starting out. They moved it to 55k shortly after and eventually got stuck at 70k after 5 years.

Easiest way for an engineer, once you gain experience and perhaps in most jobs is to move companies.

The salaries seem to be inline with the area. I currently make over 100k however my rent is 20% of my income. And thats for a 700 sqft studio.

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ray.james
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by ray.james » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:35 pm

Every time I moved I raised my salary by 30% but cost of living increased as well. However it is still much better as we both max our 401k's and IRA. Two things:
1) Coasts/mid tier plus cities do have jobs and do promote faster as they have competition for employees. So there is money made when employees hop job or the employer itself promotes at faster rate.
2) Salary and Cost of living both will be high but when expenses are 50%/70% salary to start with your savings will get huge boost from tax advantaged accounts and subsequent raises.

Also, moving jobs/locations before kids helps quite a lot.
Last edited by ray.james on Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Fess McGee
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Fess McGee » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:37 pm

Definitely a bit of a skewed perspective on here but it makes sense given what this forum is about. My wife and I are both lawyers--the points of view here seem perfectly reasonable to me. That said---guess where I gain my point of reference--through talking with other lawyer colleagues.

No doubt there are some very intelligent, driven people here who have been blessed. That, and they worked their arses off to be where they are today.

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:45 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:17 pm
Miamivice, in general, as a rule, people have more money than they show. It’s very very very (x1000000000) common to find husband + wife teams earning 250K x 2 = 500k in tech (new tech not old tech). At least in the SF Bay Area.
miamivice wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:46 pm
Getting back to the point of the OP, the wages that folks claim on here are absurd, except for the few doctors and some senior managers. I think a lot of posters lie about their salaries, perhaps in part to keep up with other posters.

But I recall some folks who claim to make 800k/year, tech workers that work 250k/year (and married to tech workers who make the same), and other absurd amounts. While here and there they might be accurate, I think there are too many high claims for them to all be actual income.
If you really want to get worked up, go to us.teamblind.com and search for "new grad offer". Kids straight out of college making >$100k base and close to $200k all-in after stock and bonus at Facebook, Google, etc.

michaeljc70
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:48 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:31 pm
Dottie57 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:25 pm
KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
I realize that this is basically a vent but sometimes I wonder if I am crazy or everyone else is.
Where do you live? All the jobs sound low to me. My nephew started as an accounting dept employee (b.s. In business) at $45k per year and at least 3 weeks vacation. He works 40-45 hrs a week.
NE Ohio. That explains a lot, but my wife and I have 90 year old mothers that we need to be close to.
I think you partially answered your own question. That, and the specific (specialization) work you do (not the degrees you have) and how you do the job determine pay and raises and how you move up.

rob65
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by rob65 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:50 pm

Only 7% of US households make more than $200,000 per year. Less than 30% make $100,000.

https://www2.census.gov/programs-survey ... ableA1.xls

Johnny Thinwallet
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:56 pm

OP, I'll give you a reasonable data point that you can probably relate too because we also live in Ohio.

We are early to mid-30s. I have a BA, and last year in 2017 my gross was $59k. My wife is a teacher with a master's, and her gross would have been $50k had she not taken unpaid maternity leave (her actual gross was $45k). So there you have it. Two age 30-39 professional incomes in Ohio with a household gross of around $110k.

What you have to remember is cost of living. We live in a very nice suburb, and even in a nice suburb I can still buy a 10-year-old house with 2,500 above grade square feet, four bedrooms, upgraded kitchen/baths and a finished basement for $250-300k. You can probably find a similar house like that for $250-300k in neighborhoods near you.

However, my guess is that the vast majority of the people posting here with high salaries live in an area where that type of house doesn't exist for those prices. I'd hate to think what that house might cost in a different part of the country.

Then once you factor in other costs of living, the cost of living gap is even higher. My parents live a few miles from me in a paid off home, and their total household expenses hovers around $25k per year combined for both of them. That also includes the 10-day cruise they're going on this spring.

We don't get paid anywhere near as much here in Ohio as others do, but we can also live pretty well for very, very cheap.

EddyB
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by EddyB » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:08 pm

rob65 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:50 pm
Only 7% of US households make more than $200,000 per year. Less than 30% make $100,000.

https://www2.census.gov/programs-survey ... ableA1.xls
But that's a lot of households above $200,000, nearly 10 million. Is it really shocking that a forum about investing, with less than 1% that many members, has so many people on that end of the distribution?

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bottlecap
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by bottlecap » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:12 pm

If you are not willing to move, that severely limits your options and, most times, your salary. NE Ohio isn’t exactly where companies, or employees, are flocking to.

JT

Herekittykitty
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Herekittykitty » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:22 pm

It looks like your wife earned a good income as a bank clerk in the 1970's. And she raised a daughter who got a degree in finance/accounting. I bet your wife is a smart woman.

I am wondering if she thinks the dry cleaners is the only place she can get work, and what she is getting out of it regardless of the abuse - bringing in an income, getting out of the house, socializing, camaraderie with others with whom she feels comfortable? Whatever it is, I am wondering what educational opportunities or programs there might be that she could avail herself of that could put her in position to avail herself of better employment opportunities.
I don't know anything.

HoosierJim
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by HoosierJim » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:25 pm

Some people think that getting aggressive about their employment/salary situation is not their "job".

I have a number of friends that have kids that work min wage jobs - turn down overtime - are delighted when the boss cuts their hours, have skills and undeveloped potential but have no interest in improving their situation. One guy I know is the only gainfully employed person in his 10 person peer group. Parents treat them like princes and princesses.

rudeboy
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by rudeboy » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:20 pm

I think many people who make high incomes do so because making money is the objective of the career. They switch jobs regularly, move across the country if not the world, all in order to increase salary.

If you're unwilling to do this due to family ties, a passion for a low-earning field, or something else, then this will most likely be reflected in salary and ultimately net worth.

I'm one who has chose to go into a relatively low earning field, and obviously I'm sacrificing a huge amount of earning potential in so doing. Life is full of trade-offs. I feel confident the Boglehead investing principles will get me to a comfortable retirement after a meaningful career, and that sounds like a pretty good life to me.

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triceratop
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by triceratop » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:31 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:46 pm
Getting back to the point of the OP, the wages that folks claim on here are absurd, except for the few doctors and some senior managers. I think a lot of posters lie about their salaries, perhaps in part to keep up with other posters.

But I recall some folks who claim to make 800k/year, tech workers that work 250k/year (and married to tech workers who make the same), and other absurd amounts. While here and there they might be accurate, I think there are too many high claims for them to all be actual income.
It's also possible that like in much of life people who think they have something to brag about are the loudest talkers. That said, tech workers making 250k/yr is not at all uncommon.

I will counteract this by stating in this post that my gross income last year was $36,000, and in a HCOL area (I managed to stay afloat as well as save a significant sum of money).
"To play the stock market is to play musical chairs under the chord progression of a bid-ask spread."

Archimedes
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Archimedes » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:33 pm

I live in a VHCOL area. Some would say the numbers around here are so crazy that we are living on another planet. The salaries at the company where I work cover a wide range.

There are part time workers who are college students who make $14/hour. But they are learning important skills and gaining experience that will lead to high salaries in the future.

Support staff here are earning about 60k, and all have bachelors degrees.

And the highly educated workers with advanced degrees earn from 120k to 400k. They make up the majority of the workers in our company. I would venture a ballpark guess that the median salary here at this company is 200k.

For this area, this is the real world. But the cost of living is also very high. A one bedroom apartment costs about 1300/month, and that is a starting rent for a modest, older apartment without amenities.

I have multiple advanced degrees and highly developed analytical skills. I have a side gig where I do consulting. The demand is so high but my personal time is valuable and I turn down many requests. I charge 500/hour for consulting services. It does feel kind of crazy that one can earn that kind of money, but that is the reality.

Yes, I am in the 1% as are most of my coworkers. And it appears that many bogleheads are in the top echelons of our society in terms of education and earnings. But there are plenty of smart folks earning more modest salaries on this forum as well. Even though earnings and background may vary significantly, there is so much that I have learned from a broad variety of posters.

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3CT_Paddler
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by 3CT_Paddler » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:53 pm

Comparison is the thief of joy. Some posters on here might embellish or lie about their income, but I think most posters are here because they are doing much better than the average American and have money to invest.

I felt the way you did in my late 20s. A couple of moves for a better job situation has certainly helped, but I find myself envying the well off DINKs on here... And I remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy.

It sounds like with your background you could increase your income 30-40% by making a move to an area with better prospects... But that might not be the right answer for your family. Your wife might be able to double or triple her income with an expanded job search. Having extended family close by can be tough to put a price on for some families. We don't take any of it with us at the end of the day.

thx1138
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by thx1138 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:59 pm

When you factor in location and specialty there can be huge disparities in salary even for the same degree, major and years of experience. Right now Bay Area pay for "new tech" engineering/software positions is crazy insane. Go look at a property listing for a modest sized house that needs quite a bit of fixing up with less than a 45 minute commute around there and you'll understand that property/salary spiral that has been occurring.

Other locations have more modest but still significant run ups - consider defense/government contracting jobs in engineering/software around DC. Not at all unusual to see 50% or more increase in salary compared to same degree/experience in some place like Ohio.

Now make a family dual income with both partners being in one of these "tech" positions and suddenly the amount of "disposable" or better yet "investible" income is eye-watering compared to a "normal" person or family.

Put up a forum dedicated to investing - more specifically a form of investing that advocates parking your money in a simple portfolio and not paying attention to it for years on end - and there should be no surprise it tilts towards folks with busy careers with lots of income available for investing.

Going back to the part time semi-retirement salary of $80K/year - that's actually really "common" in some sectors of engineering or around expensive geographic locations. Especially if they are actually of retirement age and so work as a consultant requiring no overhead (health care/etc) then billing $100/hr is probably a *minimum* for a defense contractor with 30-40 yrs experience. Companies probably wouldn't blink an eye at $150 or $200/hr for a cherished worker with hard to replace skills and deep knowledge of their government customers. Getting to $80k/yr would mean just 1000 hrs or half time at the low end of that scale. If you were able to bill $200/hr just 10hrs a week gets you to $80k.

I think a lot of folks just aren't aware of how large the pay disparities are in seemingly similar parts of the labor market.

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Thrifty Femme
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Thrifty Femme » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:01 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:31 pm
Dottie57 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:25 pm
KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
I realize that this is basically a vent but sometimes I wonder if I am crazy or everyone else is.
Where do you live? All the jobs sound low to me. My nephew started as an accounting dept employee (b.s. In business) at $45k per year and at least 3 weeks vacation. He works 40-45 hrs a week.
NE Ohio. That explains a lot, but my wife and I have 90 year old mothers that we need to be close to.
What's your definition of close? Have you considered moving to metro Columbus?

coalcracker
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by coalcracker » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:17 pm

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. My father has an associates degree and worked various blue collar and lower/middle management jobs during my life. The most he ever made was around $50k/yr. My mother was trained as a speech pathologist but took about 10 years off to raise me and my siblings. During our family's leanest years in the 1980s, we were near the federal poverty line. She went back to work when I was in middle school, and by the time I was in college they were making a combine ~$100k.

I went to college and medical school and married another doctor, and work in the Pittsburgh area. Our combined income this year is $600k.

I guess I can see both perspectives.

tarmangani
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by tarmangani » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:29 pm

coalcracker wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:17 pm
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. My father has an associates degree and worked various blue collar and lower/middle management jobs during my life. The most he ever made was around $50k/yr. My mother was trained as a speech pathologist but took about 10 years off to raise me and my siblings. During our family's leanest years in the 1980s, we were near the federal poverty line. She went back to work when I was in middle school, and by the time I was in college they were making a combine ~$100k.

I went to college and medical school and married another doctor, and work in the Pittsburgh area. Our combined income this year is $600k.

I guess I can see both perspectives.
I don't have anywhere close to your income but a very similar experience. My father was a unionized truck mechanic and steadily worked for the same company long enough to claim his max pension. Mom was a home health aide after I was old enough to be alone. Basically all of my family except for one cousin worked either a blue-collar or, as you say, lower/middle management job. Some teachers thrown in, too. Salaries were probably from $25k-$50k though I don't know for sure. I do know no one was what we'd consider wealthy yet they were almost all relentless savers.

My first "real" full-time job out of college, even adjusting for inflation, almost doubled my father's ending salary. No terminal degree but a couple of Master's. So that was a bit of a wake up call. Then I married into a family of high earners and that really woke me up. It's pretty ridiculous to me still, where a consultant bills at $400/hour and considers it "low end," where hustling 30-somethings easily clear six figures in DC, and a Senior VP "only" made like $700k/year.

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MP123
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by MP123 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:40 pm

3CT_Paddler wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:53 pm
Comparison is the thief of joy.
+1
Well said.

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GerryL
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by GerryL » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:42 pm

It is true that the income for people on this forum varies widely, although skewing toward the higher earners. But it's good to remember that the Boglehead philosophy works at all levels of income once basic needs are met.

Dottie57
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Dottie57 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:45 pm

MP123 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:40 pm
3CT_Paddler wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:53 pm
Comparison is the thief of joy.
+1
Well said.
I learned this when printing out payroll checks and realized I was lowest paid person in the (very) small tech company. Be happy with what you have.

visualguy
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by visualguy » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:59 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:17 pm
Miamivice, in general, as a rule, people have more money than they show. It’s very very very (x1000000000) common to find husband + wife teams earning 250K x 2 = 500k in tech (new tech not old tech). At least in the SF Bay Area.
Often more than that with RSUs/stock options (definitely in the case of top talent). Also, remember that these are the "grunts" of the industry. Many senior people, such as executives, founders, investors, board members, etc. have stratospheric incomes.

One thing to realize with techies in the Bay Area (such as software/hardware engineers) is that many of them don't have particularly long careers. Keeping it going and staying relevant longer than 20-25 years is really hard, and many don't reach even that. Also, the cost of living there is brutal - particularly housing, and people have to make a lot of sacrifices there and deal with a lot of stress early on in their careers even with high starting incomes. It's not as rosy as it sometimes seems from the outside...

lostdog
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by lostdog » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:15 pm

Most Americans don't invest and most don't pay attention to their 401k. People don't talk about it at all. We're the minority. Just by coming to this board and understanding most of this stuff, you're in pretty good shape.
100% Vanguard Total World Index. Simplicity 100%.

DC3509
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by DC3509 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:41 pm

I am in the same boat -- family history, geographic background, and household income today.

I think this Board attracts a certain "type" and there is nothing wrong if you evolved into that type over time. I know I did. That being said, there are times I think that some posters here can be harsh and critical of others without really looking at the big picture. That picture is -- the median *household income* is around $50,000. If you are in that socio-economic cohort, you are not worried about dumping $18K a year into your 401K, or backdoor IRAs, or 529s, or the many other things which consume people here everyday. The fact that some people here are still not always reaching financial goals or blow money on things they probably shouldn't, or do not always have every penny tracked through Mint or other software does not change the fact that the vast majority of people who post here are doing better -- often times MUCH better -- than the average Joe Smith out there. After all, the frightening part about the median household income number is that half of all households are *below* that $50K number. For those people, life is very difficult financially.

coalcracker wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:17 pm
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. My father has an associates degree and worked various blue collar and lower/middle management jobs during my life. The most he ever made was around $50k/yr. My mother was trained as a speech pathologist but took about 10 years off to raise me and my siblings. During our family's leanest years in the 1980s, we were near the federal poverty line. She went back to work when I was in middle school, and by the time I was in college they were making a combine ~$100k.

I went to college and medical school and married another doctor, and work in the Pittsburgh area. Our combined income this year is $600k.

I guess I can see both perspectives.

randomguy
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by randomguy » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:44 pm

EddyB wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:08 pm
rob65 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:50 pm
Only 7% of US households make more than $200,000 per year. Less than 30% make $100,000.

https://www2.census.gov/programs-survey ... ableA1.xls
But that's a lot of households above $200,000, nearly 10 million. Is it really shocking that a forum about investing, with less than 1% that many members, has so many people on that end of the distribution?
And lets remember we are talking about a couple hundred people total. We aren't talking millions. You see the same thing on any message board. You show up on a golf board and you have people talking about hitting it crazy distances that only 1/1000 people can do. Guess what? That still leaves several thousand in the US and a good chunk of them will go to a board about their interest. Same thing about weightlifting. Or running. And if you go to a porsche message board, it is amazing what percentage of the people own an expensive, impractical luxury car.

To some extent none of this matters. But in a lot of ways it does. It is one thing to live on make 100k/year, live on 50k/year and save 30k. Thats a nice middle class lifestyle in most of the country. It is a lot harder to make 50k an then have to decide if you want to live a slighly lower lifestyle at 40k and save very little, or to drop you lifestyle down to 30k (i.e. well below what MMM is living on once you factor in imputed rent) and save a bit more. For most people there is a floor that they strive to go below. And yes that fact you are raising a family of 4 on 15k year is admirable. It isn't a choice a lot of people willing make.


And compensation can be very vague. For example a decade or so ago I was making
134k salary
15-20% bonus (we got it every year but it wasn't guaranteed by any means)
ESPP shares which I could buy at 5 and sell at 25. Could by 10 or 15%(I would have to look it up) of my salary. Would rest in 2 years.
Vesting 250k of options/year for the next 2 years. A bunch of other grants were there but the chance of the company going up as much as it did in the previous 2 years was probably unrealistic.

When you ask what I make, what number should I spout back? When I am bragging? 400k+. Being humble? 134k. Reality was in between.

Engineer250
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Engineer250 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:46 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:16 pm
Nevertheless the claims that people make for their incomes and benefits are so out of line with my experience that I sometimes question them.

I have a BS and MS in engineering and an MBA in MIS.
Also an engineer.

Someone else said what I'd say "comparison is the thief of joy". But I feel you. I live in a HCOL area and sometimes people's kids on here who live in the middle of nowhere are making more than I am two years into their career. And I think to myself, wth am I doing wrong? If Boglehead's precious little Johnny is making six figures right away, why did it take me so long? And precious little Johnny can buy a huge house for half the price of my overpriced apartment-sized house. And precious little Johnny's parents usually paid for his entire college and started his Roth IRA when he was 14.

The world is a weird place. I am lucky that I have friends who live in the real world. They live in the same overpriced city I do and make $14-$18 an hour at best. I'm positive none of them are contributing to their 401ks (unless it's automatic) and probably don't know what a 401k is. Investing is for "rich people" for them. They'll never own a home in my city. Their parents never really prioritized college for them, and in some cases their parents weren't really there and they just got out as soon as they could. They will all most definitely need social security to survive on, and probably work as long as they can.

Then I go to work and folks at my level of one level up are talking about their rental homes. My managers are talking about what resorts they stay in and which ones are the nicest. I come here and Bogleheads' kids are already more successful financially than I am. :twisted:

It's a weird world. And this might sound stupid, but if you can hang out with people who are not as well off as you more often I promise you will appreciate how truly lucky you/we are.
Where the tides of fortune take us, no man can know.

Maya1234
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Maya1234 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:52 pm

Some of us just get lucky. I've worked part time about 20 hours a week for years and make over $ 100,000. I'm a lawyer and very few lawyers can make part time work, work, but I was in the right time and place. Before I had kids I became a good writer/ researcher. Now all I do is appellate work which has long deadlines....little interaction with clients ( so few emergency demands) ....easy to manage work load. There's little corporate bs because the deadlines and evaluations are set by a third party( a court) so no office politics or bogus projects that get pulled on a whim like I see my friends who work for corporations facing. This was luck pure and simple. I went to law school because I didn't know what else to do. I did appellate work because I wasn't good at deal making. I was lucky to be born with the skills to do this work.

The BH demographic is small and many members just got lucky too. It's not representative of the world as a whole.

EddyB
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by EddyB » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:35 am

Maya1234 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:52 pm

The BH demographic is small and many members just got lucky too. It's not representative of the world as a whole.
But no less real!

Ron Ronnerson
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Re: Working in the real world

Post by Ron Ronnerson » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:25 am

miamivice wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:46 pm
Getting back to the point of the OP, the wages that folks claim on here are absurd, except for the few doctors and some senior managers. I think a lot of posters lie about their salaries, perhaps in part to keep up with other posters.

But I recall some folks who claim to make 800k/year, tech workers that work 250k/year (and married to tech workers who make the same), and other absurd amounts. While here and there they might be accurate, I think there are too many high claims for them to all be actual income.
I’m a mid-career teacher in the Bay Area. My compensation includes: $105k income, tenure, a nice pension (close to six figures around age 60), and 180 days off a year.

Here’s a teacher’s salary schedule from a nearby district: https://www.pausd.org/sites/default/fil ... eacher.pdf

If a teacher makes this income, what would your guess be for someone working in tech? They’d likely be putting in a lot more hours too and not be getting the pension or nearly as much job security. Also, keep in mind that the median house price is now over $1M in many towns around here.

Personally, I would tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe that their incomes are what they say they are. Some may inflate the figures but there isn't reason to assume that it's happening on a widespread basis without evidence just because the numbers seem to be big.

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