Jersey struggles to keep up

From the AP:

Poll says NJ cost of living rising beyond incomes

Most New Jersey families struggle to keep up with the state’s rising cost of living, according to a poll released today.

The Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly Poll, found many of the state’s households require more than one income to keep afloat and fewer than half saved enough money to cover their expenses in an emergency.

Sixty percent said their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living, with only 30 percent saying they’re able to keep pace and just 6 percent reporting incomes increasing faster than the cost of living.

Poll officials noted how a national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center last fall found 40 percent of Americans felt they were falling behind, with 44 percent keeping pace and 12 percent getting ahead.

“The rising cost of living in New Jersey is a major problem for families at every income level,” said Patrick Murray, the Monmouth University Polling Institute director. “In fact, the large number of upper income families in the Garden State who feel they can’t make ends meet is something you just don’t see in the country as a whole.”

The poll found 72 percent of New Jersey households earning below $50,000 a year and 64 percent of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 said their incomes cannot keep pace with the cost of living. So did 44 percent of those earning more than $100,000.

Most households earning more than $100,000 require a second income to reach that level, the survey found.

Overall, 46 percent of New Jersey households have two or more incomes, including 29 percent of those earning below $50,000 a year, 48 percent of those earning $50,000 to $100,000 and 72 percent of those earning more than $100,000.

Asked why they have more than one earner, two-thirds said they need money to meet monthly living expenses, a tally far surpassing other needs, such as putting money into savings, paying for education, paying for child care or obtaining health care coverage.

Only 11 percent said the extra income or job is to pay for luxuries and 8 percent reported career interest as the driving force behind having two income earners in their household.

Only 43 percent of New Jerseyans report that they have saved enough money to pay their household expenses for six months in case they lost their job. This finding is the same whether a household has multiple income earners or not.

The telephone poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute with 804 New Jersey adults April 12 to 16. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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10 Responses to Jersey struggles to keep up

  1. thatbigwindow says:

    Because everyone is living month to month. Cut out your monthly expenses and you free up more money. You don’t have to have a new car every 5 years or so. Look at your cable, cell phone, internet bills, it is all excess frills which are not needed…

  2. Tim says:

    This has been our family policy and were able to save 2k a month on a combined income of 80k.

    1. Pay more than the usual for your mortgage
    2.Pay off credit cards monthly. If you cant throw them out.
    3.Eat out only once a week
    4.Go to the library rent movies free
    5.Find free things to do in NJ(there is a lot but you have to look)
    6. Take inexpensive vacations to Maine, FL, Shore.
    7.Only buy things that you truly need
    8. Brew your own coffee(stop paying 2.00 for cup)
    9. Make your own lunch bring it to work
    10. Make a Budget, and stick to that budget
    11. When needing to buy things use the internet to see what you should pay for something.
    12. Cut coupons for groceries
    13. Buy food that is nutritious, but not expensive, buy generic
    14. Buy a good used car and maintain it and keep it for 100k miles or so. then buy another good used car
    15. Shop for the best deals on car insurance
    16. We have cell phones that are 5$ a month and only use it for emergency.
    17. Cable phone and internet should not exceed 120.00
    There is more stuff we do but as you see there are some great strategies for saving money.

    In 5 years we have saved 100k for emergency expense and childrens college on 80k combined income

    @@@@@@ ALL BETS OFF IF YOU PURCHASED A HOME DURING THE BUBBLE@@@@ …then i would just sell and move out of this state….luckily we bought in 2000 a house for 110k

  3. James Bednar says:

    Here is a tip for the younger generation. Older too, but it’s going to be a tougher break.

    If you need to have a cell phone, and it’s chained to you, disconnect your landline and/or “internet phone”. There is no sense keeping both, especially if you aren’t a heavy user of the landline. Why pay for both? I kept my landline for years despite the fact that I’d only get, at most, two or three calls a month (not counting telemarketers).

    The landline is going the way of the 8″ floppy.. Err.. I mean the 5 1/4″ floppy. Err.. I mean the 3.5″ floppy. …What’s a “floppy”?


  4. ML says:

    Tim, that’s terrific you saved $100k in 5 years. That is very hard to do, regardless of your income. This just proves that $80k is a good household income to support a family in NJ.

  5. sas says:

    “cell phone, internet bills”

    FOr many, these things aren’t frills.
    You may not need the top notch plan, but many if not all. These 2 are apart of daily life and work.

    Not always cut and dry.

    I think the best thing to do is bike to work, if people can do that, they should.


  6. skep-tic says:

    #2 Tim,

    I think it’s great that you manage to save so much, but it also sounds like cheap housing is the key factor that allows you to do so.

    On a $110,000 house, your monthly mortgage payment is probably no more than $600.

    It is clear you are living below your means, which is great, but I highly doubt you could find similar housing today– whether renting or by buying — for $600 per month.

    Obviously, for most households, housing is the biggest expense. If you were starting out today and found that your housing costs were 3 or 4 times what you are currently paying, how much would you be able to save?

  7. lisoosh says:

    Well that’s a shot in the eye for everyone who has been rushing to claim that “everyone” in New Jersey makes six figure salaries and can afford current prices.
    Those statistics should show everyone that current prices are unsustainable.

    Tim – great strategy.

  8. otis wildflower says:

    Brew your own coffee(stop paying 2.00 for cup)


    Even with a pimptastic coffeemaker, amortizing $300 over 5-6 years means I still save a fortune over $2 coffees X times per day..

    Cable phone and internet should not exceed 120.00

    Unfortunately, local monopolies really screw over folks looking to economize here. We really need a WiMax service that partners with Wal-Mart and other big-box chains that can compete with Comcast *SPIT* or the other incumbent gubmint-sanctioned monopolies..

    And yeah, after the 1st stretch of unemployment after 2001, I got the point.. Made it possible to survive the 2nd stretch.. And the third..

  9. RentinginNJ says:

    I think it’s great that you manage to save so much, but it also sounds like cheap housing is the key factor that allows you to do so.


    Good job.
    As you point out though, you are a pre bubble buyer. Doing what you are doing would be much harder for a young family starting out today. For a young couple buying a house at today’s prices, you almost need to follow your list just to keep your head above water.

  10. uhno says:

    Yeah if you bought a house before 2000. for 110k you can’t even buy a condo in a nice area for the last 4 years

    what the heck?

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