Are You Living Paycheck to Paycheck? You're Not Alone


Even as today’s veterinarians earn a decent annual salary, many feel like they’ll never get ahead.

I don’t recall my parents giving their children much in the way of personal finance advice. Once I asked what made them financially happy, and they replied in unison: “Money in the bank.”

While it sounds hard to believe, a recent national survey by CareerBuilder showed that even those who earn a decent wage are often strapped for cash. About 30 percent of middle-class families surveyed (those earning $50,000 to $99,000 annually) admitted to living “paycheck to paycheck,” and 70 percent said they are in debt. The numbers aren’t a whole lot better for families making more than $100,000 per year.

These findings highlight another of the few significant things my parents said about money: “You spend what you earn.” My father told me about “a rich-poor doctor,” an oncologist colleague of his who was “technically broke.” (Note that oncologists today earn an average of $330,000 per year, according to Medscape).

After adding up the cost of home, auto and medical school loans; household furnishings and technology; child education expenses; utilities and services; food, clothing, and entertainment/vacations; charitable contributions; insurance; taxes and “other things,” the oncologist said very little was left. The doctor had no savings — “it’s spent every month.” He told my dad: “If I didn’t go to work every day, I’d be broke.”

Mandi Woodruff, executive editor of MagnifyMoney, says that today’s struggling six-figure earners shouldn’t feel too bad. She explains that with today’s living costs rising faster than compensation, it’s become very difficult to duplicate our parent’s standard of living.

To get ahead, consider these thoughtful “rich tips” from

  • Buy quality: For expensive item purchases, the rich usually embrace a quality over stature outlook. When it comes to the big things in life, they know it’s wiser to get the really good stuff and take care of it well.
  • Be a bargain hunter: Rich people don’t like to throw money away. In fact, their goal is always to the get the most for their dollar. And they’re not ashamed to use coupons or shop online to save.
  • Avoid impulse buying: Rich people like to take time to think things out when making purchases. They’ll usually consider things from several angles before buying.
  • Debt is deadly: If they can’t pay cash for an item, the rich feel, then it’s probably not worth it at the moment. They know that developing the ability to live within one’s means is fundamental to building wealth.
  • Pay yourself first: Automatic investment plans where money is taken off the top of regular paychecks is common practice among the wealthy. They usually start with 10 percent and increase it gradually (that’s nearly $750 per month for the average veterinarian).
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