Spending (And Saving) Money Should Be The Goal

Rocco Pendola
5 min readFeb 28, 2024

Never Retire Checklist: #15

Source: Author

Funny thing, as we continue this February 2024 Medium series adapted from a March 2023 series I did in my newsletter.

These numbers are super outdated. And it has only been a year. The writing on the wall keeps getting more clear.

On the low end, here’s how much it could cost you to secure the American dream today:

  • 20% down payment of $72,600 on the median priced home of $363,000 nationally.
  • Monthly mortgage payment, including taxes and insurance, of $2,310 at 6.4% interest.
  • Additional monthly housing expenses (improvements, maintenance, utilities) of roughly $1,000 a month.
  • A new car in your driveway: $716 a month on a loan of $41,445 at 6.1% interest over 69 months (this represents the current averages).
  • Your total monthly outlay for all of the above: $4,026, not to mention the $72,600 you parted with for the right to take on a 30-year mortgage.

Run those same numbers in a place such as California, where the median home price is closer to $736,000 and the housing estimates you see above pretty much double. Absolutely unthinkable numbers. So we’ll just stick with $4,026 before you even put gas in the car, pay for insurance on it, pay for healthcare, buy groceries, save and do some discretionary spending.

$4,026 a month. For the base of the American dream. The house and the car. With $72,600 upfront.

How much money do you have to make to afford just the base of the American dream?

I did the math. The answer is just over $10,000 a month to come in at 40% of your income.

That’s 40% of your income on just housing and some of your transportation (30% for housing/10% for the car). Of course, you can run the math any number of ways, but this is pretty much a standard calculation that has become so insane it looks unreal.

This back of the envelope math is the #1 reason why everything in my personal finance comes back to having and maintaining a low cost of living.

But it’s not because I want to save more and obtain so-called financial freedom.