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Closer attention to budget pays off

The Greiners are both 33, and they expect to pay off their house and get completely out of debt by Jan. 1, 2012. Living on a combined annual income of $78,000, they’re paying extra toward their student loans and home mortgage.

Shortly after their marriage in 1993, they found themselves with almost $8,000 in credit card debt and decided to make a change. “We got rid of the credit card debt maybe four years ago,” Larry Greiner said.

The Greiners’ income is well above Spokane County’s median family income of more than $47,000. However, they’re close to the state’s median family income of about $70,000 – a figure that’s skewed upward by higher salaries on the West Side.

The Greiners, who have two sons, ages 3 and 8, are frugal but not austere in their habits.

Larry says he couldn’t imagine buying a daily $3 latte because of how it would add up in a monthly budget: $60.

“That’s crazy,” he said.

Yet they budget for regular family vacations, mixing trips to San Diego with lower-cost options like camping. They invested in a new van with a DVD player. They budget 50 bucks a month for a nice dinner out. And they fork out $86 for DirectTV.

He works as a vice president of information technology for a credit union, and she’s an administrative assistant for a psychologist. They’ve tracked their budgets on a computerized program for years. They’re in good financial shape, but the figures are sobering: groceries and utilities have roughly doubled, gas expenses have tripled.

“The one that we’re feeling right now really is Avista and the city of Spokane,” Larry said.

- Shawn Vestal

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Saving for the future

sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.



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