Study shows high cost of living in Triangle

March 29, 2008 9:39:24 AM PDT
A new study by the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center shows shocking numbers on the cost of living in Wake County.

It proves just how hard it is to make ends meet on not so low wages.

On a average day, you'll find dozens of shoppers like Cescelie Greer at the Salvation Army family store.

"I'm always looking for a deal," Greer said.

Consumers try to catch a break in a day where the cost of living is on a steady rise.

"Electricity and daily living costs a lot of money now" Ashley Delama, Salvation Army, said. "In the last two months, we've seen over a 5 percent increase in the sales at our thrift store. What that tells us is individuals are working with a smaller income, a smaller disposable income, so they're looking for resources to help them stretch those dollars."

According to the report, the average family of four in North Carolina needs about $48,000 a year to provide just basic needs.

And a family of four in Wake County needs even more -- almost $52,000 a year.

Greer knows it first hand. Recently retired, she lives on a fixed income and finds it increasingly hard to make do.

"My son is still living at home, so I'm still feeding three people on fixed income," Greer said.

More and more people like Greer are weighing the cost of retiring or staying at home with the kids with cost of gas, daycare and other related expenses.

"Gas is so expensive, I think I retired at a good time, it costs a lot of money just to go back and forth from work," Greer said.

"In every county in NC, child care is the single biggest expense," John Quinterno, N.C. Budget and Tax Center said. "It can take a quarter of monthly budget."

The study revealed the following:

  • For an average four person household in Wake County, about $450 is spent on groceries each month.
  • Almost $1200 a month goes toward child care.
  • Almost $900 goes to housing costs.
  • About $700 a month is spent on health care.

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center is looking for some changes on a state level in light of the study, including income tax credits, children health insurance and subsidized child care.


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