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Feb 27, 2013

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NKR

While I'm happy for this family, the article glorifies thrift and a simple lifestyle at the expense of discussing the majority of people that live on $14,000 a year, who are definitely not "managing to life well." It's a huge adventure in missing the point. The poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four and most Americans (58.5%) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. Why cherry pick a story that is hardly representative of the whole? Cherry picked stories like this are usually tools of those who argue that the poor are that way because they are not thrifty.

Anyway, wouldn't a better exploration of thrift focus on wealthy Americans who choose to be generous with their wealth instead of spending it on themselves, as American culture encourages?

http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/12poverty.shtml

Travis Greene

Wonderful for them, and I'm sure we could all learn to live more within our means, but it sounds like this family lives that frugally because the wife's full-time job is figuring out how they can, cooking everything at home, and looking for deals, and possibly the husband as well (being a full-time student is not really a full-time job). Also, no mention of health insurance, which for them has to be some combination of military benefits, insurance through the school (also paid for by the GI bill?), or Medicaid. Don't want to sound like a buzzkill; they really are doing a great thing, but it's a particular situation and relies on all sorts of public assistance unexplored by the article.

Michael W. Kruse

NKR, I drew no conclusion from the story, nor do I suggest that it is a model for most of us. It is in the extreme, in my estimation. What I think it does show is the issue of trade-offs. Our budgets, particularly for those of us in the upper half of the income brackets, is grounded more in a sense of entitlement and privilege than in true material need. I suspect what is daunting for many looking at this family is not so much the material issues but the corresponding loss of status that we would feel by bucking the pervasive consumerism.

Travis is right. We don't have all the details. A budget of $14,000 is extreme. But it does raise big questions to the family that makes $90,000 a year saying they couldn't live on $75,000 a year. I like the article because it presses me to think about how I prioritize. And as with the discussion here, it pushes us to say, despite what this family is doing, is a minimal standard for such a family.

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