We are the Choices We Make – Where am I Living?

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Some of you know of my recent move from the big city to the middle market of Omaha, Nebraska.  Personal changes and challenges aside, I was very surprised to see how much cheaper things were.  My wife went to the grocery store and we were delighted to find that a shopping cart full of groceries which would normally cost $160 to $170 where we lived recently only cost us $116.  On top of that the sales tax was only 14 cents.  We are very excited to know we can feed our family even better than before but still increase our savings.

One of the biggest choices one makes is where one makes a life.  I recall several years ago, I was urged to move to New York where my salary would be much higher for a similar job.  However, after quickly reviewing the cost of living comparison, it was clear that although I would be making a big mistake.  When the new opportunity came to me in Omaha, analysis of the cost of living showed that I would feel better off even though I wouldn’t be making as much as I would have been in other locales.

Too often we are lured irrationally by talk of better salaries.  But wealth is not built based solely upon what we earn.  Wealth is built based upon how much of that salary is ours to keep after paying everyone else.  For if we experience a 10% salary increase, but our expenses increase 15%, we have gone net negative 5%.  This is akin to someone buying the penthouse of a 15 story building for the view only to find that his building is surrounded by 20 story buildings.  How disappointing.

It costs a great deal to living “in the city” or even in their surrounding suburbs.  Keep this in mind as you evaluate opportunities.  Know that really, prices are generally correlated with how much money is available from buyers.  When an opportunity comes your way, always evaluate the new salary relative to the median salary in that area.  If the salary is at or below the median, you may need to closely watch your expenses and sacrifice some luxuries to get ahead.  However, if you find you are making significantly above the median salary, you may be surprised how comfortable your life can become financially.

 We are the Choices We Make – Where am I Living?
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