How much does it cost to have "a secure yet modest standard of living"?

EPI family budget calculator Albany 2015

Clipped from the Economic Policy Institute Family Budget Calculator. Numbers are in 2014 dollars.

A family budget calculator posted online Wednesday by a think tank -- Economic Policy Institute -- aims to to answer that question for metro areas around the country. A few of the results for the Albany area posted above. (Here's a Washington Post interactive using the data that gives a quick look at how a metro stacks up against the rest of the nation.)

A bit of blurbage about the calculator:

Poverty thresholds are generally national income levels used to measure the number and share of Americans who are economically deprived. Conceptually, these measures are important metrics, but are fundamentally different from EPI's basic family budgets. Families above poverty thresholds are just thought to be free of outright material deprivation. In contrast, family budgets offer a broader measure of economic adequacy by measuring the dollar amount necessary for families to live securely but modestly in various communities across the nation.

As with anything like this, the methodology is going to make a difference in the outcome, and EPI documents the recipe it used.

One thing that caught our eye right away was the cost of child care. While it wasn't surprising that it was expensive, we wouldn't have guessed it was quite that much. A look through the methodology reveals that the cost of childcare is from data published by state. So it's possible the number is inflated a bit by the downstate cost. (Now we're curious about the cost of day care here in the Albany metro area...)

Earlier on AOA: A few ways of thinking about the minimum wage


My annual cost for daycare for two children was just over $24,000. For the Capital Region, the number is not inflated by downstate costs.

Price of daycare depends where you go - in-home (family) daycare vs daycare centers, and age of child (infant, toddler, preschooler, school-age). In my experience, the range is $180 - $250 per week in Albany. If you need to find daycare, see licensed providers at

I'd be curious where they are finding that "secure yet modest" housing on such a low budget.

Quality child care is costly, though that amount would be for two children in daycare, rather than school aged children in afterschool care and summer camp. To get a sense of the cost of child care around the state, you can look at the market rates produced by the NY Office of Children and Family Services. The methodology is listed in the document; rates are the 75th percentile of child care costs in a county, and represent the rate county departments of social services will pay for qualified families.

If you figure one of the spouses made $84,401, and the other stayed home, then you would have an extra $24K to do something with. Or maybe a family with a stay at home parent only needs to make $60,000 according to this calculator.

These can't be annual salaries, there's no cost for saving for retirement. It's not modest and secure if you can't ever stop working

A bit of a myopic view of this on the childcare front....

I don't think you can ultimately discount for childcare once they are in school too much....I am currently paying ~$1000 per month for a preschooler (started higher than that for an infant) and will continue to pay about $100 per week for after care plus god knows how much for camps for all the vacations looming in the public school calendar.

Our schools are not set up for working parents in today's world (read where we are a mobile society and not near family as much) particularly in a region like this where you may drive an hour to work and yet have to be there to put them on the bus (when there is no before care), get them off the bus (if you were unlucky enough to be on a waiting list for after care), half days, late starts, vacations....based on other friends experiences i anticipate having to spend a good 40+ hours in January trying to figure out camps for all the Feb/April/Summer vacations.

I have all the resources to insure my child ultimately will be safe, with people I trust and in fun and enriching programs during her breaks and yet I find the entire process daunting at best. Our system is not helping kids or adults be their best in school when where they are for upwards of 4-6 hours a day has to be figured out on a day by day basis.

Am I correct in thinking that they don't account for retirement savings or for payments towards student loans? That would bring the standard of living down considerably at the base salary provided above.

Housing seems a bit low, and yeah, where's retirement? I need to put in 10% since my workplace retrenched last year.

It looks very strange that taxes almost double from the first to second column.

That's why I own cats.


where do my student loans fall into this

This is not accurate, pure and simple. It's really disturbing how even people who are supposedly knowledgeable regarding these things really have no idea what kind of $ it takes to live a basic life.

If you put in New York, New York it lists $1200 per month for 2 adults/no children on housing. Not unless you're living in a tiny room that most likely doesn't even have it's own toilet or kitchen!

The american dream is a lie

Unionize, comrades, unionize.

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