What does it cost to really live?

Maybe less than you think...

Once you exclude savings for retirement, taxes, and interest on debts, the average couple making $70,000 only spends $20,000 for basic costs of living, and they only spend another $7,000 on discretionary costs, the "pleasures of life."

This information comes from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, and applies to couples making $70,000 a year, who own their homes. Of course, your spending will vary, but this might help you get started.

Also, you will spend your money differently in retirement. You won't buy (and clean) "work clothes" and you won't have to commute anymore. Maybe you'll decide one car is enough. You'll travel more. And so forth. The important point is that a $70,000 gross income couple is only spending $27,000 to maintain their lifestyle, and 25% of that is discretionary spending.

Below you can enter a gross income level and see the expected spending, based on the percentages for a $70,000 couple.

I have assigned the expenses to either "basic costs of living " or "discretionary costs" according to my own purely arbitrary judgment:

  Gross Income   Your Expected  
  Percent Spending Percent
Basic costs of living:   
Food at home
Property taxes
House Maintenance, repairs, insurance,
Other household expenses
Used cars, trucks (net outlay)
Gasoline and motor oil
Maintenance and repairs
Vehicle insurance
Public transporation
Health insurance
Medical services
Prescription drugs
Medical supplies
Personal Care
Cash Contributions
Subtotal for basic costs of living 
Discretionary costs:        
Food away from home
Domestic services and child care
Clothes - Men and boys
Clothes - Women and girls
Other apparel products and services
Vehicle rental, leasing, licenses
Entertainment Fees and admissions
TV, radio, sound equipment
Other entertainment supplies, pets
Subtotal for discretionary costs
Total for $70k income couple 
Interest on debt    
Your total spending level    

Note: results are not sent to FIRECalc. Note your spending level and enter an appropriate amount in FIRECalc.