@Stahlman - However, it's also important to realize that neither I nor Mr MM would choose our current spending-mix if our gross 2+ person household income was 40k. We're smart enough to know better---however, not all of our readers are and I'll get back to that. The spending-mix (or budget) you see here in both cases are for people who are already FIREd. When my income was 25k (after tax) in grad school, my spending was around/under ~6k leading to a savings rate of 75%+.
(approximate numbers): savings rate is 78%, FIRE in 6.2 years
It can certainly be done.
If you have to drag a non-income performing spouse along, which is not unusual---this is why the median household income is not 2x the median single income, then it's typically longer. You're somewhat helped by the fact that some expenses scale. The marginal cost of each extra person in a household drops logarithmically (not linearly => whether you get to divide by the number of humans under your roof is a nontrivial decision and very much and apples and oranges issue).
However at that time I was living in a dorm room, ate my famous lentil soup
, and walked everywhere. Read http://earlyretirementextreme.com/how-i ... art-i.html
etc. to see how I lived during the early years.
Note that 25k at the time was still near the median so 50% were earning less than me. They would have had to go more hardcore and/or work somewhat longer, like 10 years, to get to FIRE. This is still less than 20 years though. This is why I wrote and posted the minimum wage post
. You should really read it!
However, there would be no way to FIRE in 5-10 years while supporting 2+ people (apparently my damn dog(*) costs more than MMM's son in ongoing expenses) while owning a car, eating fancy multi-ingredient meals, or buying stuff; IOW naively copying down our lifestyle while making a sub-median income!
(*) Wait what?!
Yeah, you see, we also pay taxes for the school district even if we don't get to enjoy the benefits directly. Our dog eats food made out of the same ingredients we do. A pug actually burns some 800kcal/day so similar to a small child. Crazy as that sounds, dogs are heat engines and caloric burn does not scale linearly with bodymass. And being old he's on a couple of prescription meds for arthritis.
To believe this, one would have to be pretty naive. However, as FIRE has grown it attracts people who are literally that naive figuring that they can just copy the lifestyle of their favorite blogger/author and they too shall be FIRE'd. That's some cargo cult thinking
right there which I suppose makes it human and forgivable. Yeah, it's not unusual for people to persist in the belief that as long as they ride a bicycle, eat lentils, switch their cell phone plan, and open an investment account with vanguard (the one that always goes up in the long run) that they too can retire in their thirties... it does not occur to them to do the actual math and figure out their own personal savings rate. And us---authors and bloggers---presume that doing the math is so obvious that we shouldn't have to mention it.
There's a mismatch there. When/if we [bloggers] say that "everybody can do it" there are certain unstated presumptions there. For some, like me, it's the ability to do long division in your head---actually not just the ability to do it but the compulsion to do as you read along. For others, it's the belief that it's easy to preserve a middle-class lifestyle under $10k or break into the supermedian income club.
Readers HAVE TO MAKE AN EFFORT to UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLES whenever they want to pursue something that's different from the mainstream. Unfortunately, that's actually asking for quite a high Dreyfus learning level and many can't be bothered.