Here’s some interesting information I discovered online today: The average payment for a new car in 2022 was $700.00 a month. And if you bought a used car in 2022, the average monthly payment is $525 a month. That doesn’t include insurance, which will run you a minimum of $250 a month for full coverage, and gas, which we all know the price spiked to around $5 a gallon in 2022. It’s come down, I got a big discount at City Market last week, and paid only about $2.25 a gallon, but that’s because I saved up my food points for a couple of months. Additionally, all cars require maintenance, and the cost of that hasn’t gone down either. We take our old Toyota in for maintenance quarterly, and it runs us a minimum of $100 for an oil change and lube job. Because it’s an old car, sometimes other things need to be done as well, and that could run anywhere from another $100 to another $1,000.
Where I live, there’s plenty of people driving around town with new Jeeps and giant Chevy or Dodge pickups (ya, it’s a Hemi). I must admit though, I’m jealous of this. In 2021, the average person in Grand Junction, Colorado made nearly $60k annually. So, if you’re a married couple and you both make that much, you’re bringing home about $120k annually. Of course, most women make less than men do, so it’s probably closer to $100k for a family and some data seems to indicate it’s much less. In fact, some data shows the median household income in Grand Junction is $71k annually. That means the median monthly income is $5,916 a month. By the time you deduct for taxes and insurance, you’re probably bringing home less than $5k a month. Rent for a 2-bedroom house is about $1,400 a month, but you can rent a 2-bedroom apartment for around $900 to $1k. If you purchase a home for $350k, and you put down 20%, your mortgage will run you about $1,900 a month right now at 7.2% interest. That doesn’t include tax, insurance or HOA fees.
It’s true that there are many retirees in my town, most of whom sold the family home in the big city and moved out here. Most of them paid cash for their retirement homes, but I’m not talking about them. I’m talking here about the average working person in this town. Now, we have a fair number of people working in the oil and gas industry in this valley as well, and those jobs can pay up to six figures with bonuses and overtime. That’s good work when you can find it, especially if you don’t have a college degree and you’re basically a blue-collar worker. In fact, these jobs pay more than 90% of all other jobs in the country. If you work in oil & gas, you’re in the 10th percentile of all workers income-wise. As of 2017, over 200,000 Coloradans worked in the oil and gas industry. These are mostly oil rig workers and frakkers. I don’t know how many of them live here in The Grand Valley, I only know that there are some. I would imagine that the average income numbers I quoted earlier take into consideration the people who make a lot more and people who make a lot less, so this is an average.
So, if you’re an average worker, out of a monthly take home income of say, $4,500, you’ll pay almost half of that just in a mortgage payment, and then another $1,000 a month for a car payment and insurance. That would leave about $1,500 for groceries and gas and whatever else comes up during the month.
According to some other information I saw online this morning, food is about 8% more expensive in Grand Junction than it is in other parts of Colorado, especially along The Front Range. I’m assuming this is because of transportation cost. Everything needs to be trucked out here. I know that I went to City Market yesterday evening and only spent $200 for what I would consider $125 worth of food. I suffer from sticker shock every time I go to the supermarket.
The thing more of us might want to consider, is NOT spending $500 to $1,000 a month for a truck or car, and instead, paying cash for something we can really afford. This would free up a considerable amount of cash that can be saved or spent elsewhere. You may be the Rodney Dangerfield of your neighborhood and not get any respect, but chances are you’ll be in a better financial position than any of your neighbors.
Just a thought.