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Five Couples Living on $46k, Number 1: The Ogles

This article was written by in Frugality. 8 comments.

CNN is featuring five couples living on about $46,000 a year. How do they do it? The first couple is Matt and Ginger Ogle. Matt is a public school teacher and speech coach bringing home the largest portion of the income, while Ginger adds a couple thousand a year as as part-time assistant speech coach.

The Ogles manage fairly well on their household income but they are having trouble getting ahead. “It’s very difficult to save,” said Ginger. “I keep a mortgage payment in the bank…If there are big expenses that aren’t expected we use the credit card.”

In Salem, Oregon, they were able to find a home that fits their budget. If they were to transplant to New York City, Matt would earn a $5,000 to $10,000 raise, but Ginger wouldn’t be earning much more.

Matt and Ginger Ogle

This hypothetical salary increase will definitely not make up for the cost of living difference between Salem, Oregon and New York City. To maintain their lifestyle, the couple would need a salary of $85,000.

It sounds like the Ogles are just getting by now, with income just enough to meet their expenses. They don’t have an emergency fund larger than one mortgage payment and sometimes need to put unexpected big expenses on a credit card. They also want to start planning to have children. They might have to find other ways to cut back in order to take on the expenses of having kids.

CNN Money

Updated October 9, 2016 and originally published April 20, 2007.

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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 .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I’ve got to ask — why is she only working part time? They don’t currently have kids and she stays at home. Uhh… get a job?

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avatar 2 Anonymous

The budget pie chart on the second page is revealing. The slice for “Food” jumps right out at me. They spend 21% of their budget on food and only slightly more (26%) on their mortgage. Wow! Really?!

Some rough calculations later, my guess is that they spend between $500-$600 a month on food (and that is basing the 21% on after-tax money). For two people? That’s seems really, really high. Especially considering they live in a relatively low cost-of-living area.

I think I know what they can cut…

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I flipped through all 5 profiles and saw lots of credit card issues … So they’re mostly *not* living on $46K.

But I agree, on couple #1, work more, eat less (or eat out less, or eat less pre-packaged crap) and be healthier and have more money.

I do know a few couples, though, who starting working/earning the way they were going to when they had kids to make sure they could do it. I don’t get that vibe here, but it’s possible.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

Take it from me, if you wait until you think you can afford to have kids, you will never have kids. Having a child just involved scaling down your lifestyle a bit and truly figuring out what you need versus what you want. I found myself always in the “want” category and as such, find myself in a mountain of credit card debt that I working on retiring.

It does seem like there couples are just getting by though. Adding a child to the mix could throw their financial world into chaos.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

I agree with Lee. I read lots of tidbits about credit cards in that article. I get the sense that many of them are dealing with a house of cards. The healthcare percentage on one of the families was STAGGERING. 42%? UGH. They need to do some looking around to see if they can lower that cost at all. Maybe they can increase their deductibles etc.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

Ginger needs to get a job. $200 per month is disgraceful. Even I do better than that, and I’m a bum. She needs to be aiming for $200 per week. And like someone else said, they should cut their food expenses. Anything more than $350/month for two people is overkill. Each of them could afford to lose 20 pounds.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

A whopping 21% of their income goes to debt! I think they have spending issues, and what exactly is the wife doing? A full time high school student with a weekend fast food job makes more than $200 a month. They apparently eat out a lot, with 21% going to food, so what exactly does this woman do all day?

And sorry, energy costs don’t ‘increase every month’, and if she tracked their usage + dollar costs per month she would see the real problem is consumption which goes up and down with the seasons and they could plan accordingly. Even gasoline costs follow a very clear trend throughout the year.

And zero savings in their budget, not for emergency funds and none listed for retirement. If their huge debt doesn’t convince that woman to get a job, I don’t know what would.

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avatar 8 Anonymous


I’m the Matt in the article.

At the time of this article (2007), we had a 4 year old and a 2 year old. Ginger was a stay-at-home mom doing a fantastic job raising our kids. The article failed to mention our children. Ginger could have gotten a job outside the home during that time, but we felt that their upbringing was more important than making a lot of money. So, we managed.

As for the weight…we eat healthy food, but I think my problem is portion size. Thanks for being rude though.

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