July 9, 2006 in City

Closer attention to budget pays off

The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Larry and Christine Greiner meander down the aisles of Costco on North Division with their children, William, 3, and James, 8.
(Full-size photo)

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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