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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 5: Susan Slingland

This article was written by in Career and Work. 8 comments.

The final “couple” in CNN Money’s series on the spending habits of households living on about $46,000 isn’t a couple at all. Susan Slingland is a full-time piano accompanist at Appalachian State University. Susan seems to have her expenses under control. At $675 a month, her rent is her biggest expense, and she keeps that low by opting for a more frugal living environment — a converted garage.

Unlike the other couples or families profiled by CNN, Susan’s expense for health care is only $50 a month for insurance. According to her pie chart, she spends less than $100 on food each month. She also manages to put away 9% of her salary into her 401(k) and a full 37% into savings. She’s not struggling on her median income.

susan.jpgHere are some factors that contribute to her success.

* She’s only one person, with no significant other or children.
* Her housing isn’t extravagant.
* Her housing is close to her job.
* The university proves inexpensive health insurance.
* She drives a practical and somewhat efficient car.
* Thanks to scholarships and assistanceships, she doesn’t have to deal with student loans.

Three degrees is a lot of schooling to be earning $46,000, but I’m willing to bet she gets a ton of satisfaction from her job. Susan mentions that she knows individuals with three degrees in music like herself, but they are struggling to find jobs. I would like to bet that many others are dealing with the stress of debt, as well. In comparison, things are working out well for Susan.

Published or updated April 25, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Fellowes

I would LOVE to know how she manages to spend less than $100 per month on food. Having just altered my diet to a much healthier one, I have seen a significant increase in my grocery bill and I can say it is well over $100. What is her secret? Top Ramen?

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avatar Lee

Fellowes, I’d be able to eat alone on roughly $100/month, and my eating is very healthy. Of course, with a husband much larger than I, we spend more than that…

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avatar dong

Yeah I was very impressed by her budget. The girl is frugal. Kudos to her, and doing what she loves.

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avatar MossySF

$3/day is in theory possible if you live in urban areas w/ ethnic grocery stores and eat mostly vegetables. I could buy a week’s worth of veggies for about $1/day in Chinatown (San Francisco) — stalk of celery 79 cents, 3 bunches of watercress $1.20, spinach 39 cents, squash 50 cents, etc. Then that leaves $16 for meat or fish for the week which is much harder to do. Chicken drumsticks at Safeway for 79 cents/lb probably the cheapest way to go. Then augment with some fish fillets and cheap cuts of beef and pork from Chinatown butchers.

Pretty mind-numbing food variety though — I’d go crazy after a week.

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