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Family Finances On $100,000 A Year


The median household income is roughly $59,000 a year. But we've been hearing how even six-figure salaries don't necessarily make you feel financially secure. Take Jacob Hugart. He makes $100,000 as a supervisor for 3M in St. Paul, Minn. And one factor in particular has had a major impact on his family's financial situation.

JACOB HUGART: When my wife and I were planning a family before our first child was born, we talked about how we wanted that life to be. And our main concern was the cost of day care.

WERTHEIMER: Hugart has three kids now. And he told our colleague Lulu Garcia-Navarro about how early decisions about child care would have a lasting effect on his family.

HUGART: It seemed at the time that the tradeoff was have two incomes and one is essentially dedicated to daycare. Or have one income and a stay-at-home parent. It seemed like a wash. Now, however, hindsight is always 20/20. It looks as if we had tried to maintain that double income and accepted the difficulties of dealing with daycare and all the rest of it that we might be in a better financial position now. But we are where we are.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Tell me about whether you think that income is enough for your family. What does your budget look like?

HUGART: Well, it - I would say that our income is sufficient for our day-to-day living. We don't have any problems about, do we have money for gas? Can we pay the household bills? Where we get into difficulty is if there's a large expense that comes up. We had to repair our roof a couple of years ago, and we ended up cashing out an IRA in order to pay for that because the other alternative was to put it on a credit card.


HUGART: Now we have a son who's going into college. And while we do have some funds that we have saved up for him, given the cost of college, it's certainly not going to be enough. So those larger expenses are the things that are more of a concern and are the sorts of things that maybe if we had made different decisions 20 years ago, we wouldn't necessarily be in that situation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you look at your neighbors, your friends, do you see them struggling in similar ways?

HUGART: It depends upon their situation. The ones where both parents are working seem to be doing fairly well. They will remodel a kitchen. They have multiple cars. The ones who are trying to do the one-parent thing - there's a stretch. They're like us.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What class do you consider yourself?

HUGART: I've always thought of myself as middle class. My understanding based upon incomes is I'm technically in the upper-middle class, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

WERTHEIMER: That was Jacob Hugart of St. Paul, Minn., talking with Lulu Garcia-Navarro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.