125 North Fulton St. Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 273-4611
Toll Free: (877) 273-AFCU      Contact

Living Wage 2009 Notes

Living Wage Notes, 2009


Rent: $763/month = $9,156/year, 1 Bedroom (+ 21.50%)


Efficiency: $741, 2BR: $893, 3 BR: $1,081, 4BR: $1,121


Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Final FY 2008 Fair Market Rent Documentation System



Food: 203.25/month = $2,439/year (+12.3%)

Average of male and female ages 19-50 Low-cost Official USDA Food Plan

Monthly cost of food on low-cost plan:

            Men 19-50 years: $216.90

            Women 19-50 years: $189.60

            Average of men and women: $203.25


Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture: Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, U.S. Average, June 2008



Transportation: $167.53/month = $2,010.36/year (+2%)

According to the American Community Survey commuting to work percentages for TompkinsCounty in 2007 are:

            Drive alone: 58.2%, carpool: 10.3%, public transportation: 7.4%, walk: 15.7%, other

means: 2.9%, worked at home: 5.4%

The 2007 Consumer Expenditure Survey for the second quintile vehicle costs:

            Gasoline and motor oil: $1,768, other expenses: $1,762

Gasoline prices fluctuated greatly in 2008. To take this into account, the percent change in gasoline prices between 2008 and 2007 from the Energy Information Administration were used to estimate what gasoline and motor oil costs were in 2008. This number was averaged with the 2007 expenditure numbers from the CES to achieve the final gasoline and motor oil expenditure amount used in the study:

            NY gas prices - Dec. 31 2007: 307.7¢, Dec. 29 2008: 163.4¢, percent decrease: 46.90%

            2008 gas expenditure estimate: 1768-(.4690*1768)=$938.87

            Average of 2007 and 2008 gasoline expenditures: $1353.44 (avg. gasoline price: $2.36)

TCAT yearly pass: $495

Drive alone (1,353.44+1,762)(0.582)+

Drive in car pool, divide by 2 (1,353.44+1762)/2(0.103)+

Public transportation (495)(0.074)+

No transportation cost for walk or work at home (0)(0.157)+(0)(0.029)+(0)(0.054)=

Total $2,010.36/year

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau: 2007 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates: http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=05000US36109&-qr_name=ACS_2007_1YR_G00_DP3&-context=adp&-ds_name=&-tree_id=307&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-format

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007 Consumer Expenditure Survey: Table - Quintiles of income before taxes: http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxstnd.htm

Energy Information Administration: Retail Gasoline Historical Prices East Coast: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_history.html

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit: http://www.tcatbus.com/buy.php


Communication: $61.49/month = $737.88/year (+8.87%)


Verizon Flat Rate Service for unlimited local calling: $35.00/month

Verizon TalkTime 30 for 30 minutes long distance calling: $6.50/month


Verizon High Speed Internet Starter Plan: $19.99/month = $239.88/year

35.00+6.50+19.99 = $61.49/month

Sources: Verizon:

Local and Regional Calling Plans: http://www22.verizon.com/Residential/Phone/Local+And+Regional+Calling+Plans/Local+And+Regional+Calling+Plans.htm

High Speed Internet: http://www22.verizon.com/Residential/HighSpeedInternet/Plans/Plans.htm


Healthcare: $143.53/month = $1,722.36/year (+17%)

Health Insurance:

419.80*0.25 (75% paid by Alternatives)= $104.95/month = $1,259.40/year

Out of pocket expenses:

Consumer Expenditure Survey 2007, Northeast:

            Medical services:    576          

            Drugs:                  421

            Medical supplies:    114

            Total:                   1,111/2.4 (average people in unit)=$462.92/year,                                        $38.58/month


$104.95+38.58 = $143.53/month

Sources: Alternatives Federal Credit Union

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007 Consumer Expenditure Survey: Table – Region of Residence:  http://www.bls.gov/cex/tables.htm

Recreation: $100/month = $1,200/month

The Claritas Consumer Spending Report gives $141.67/month and $1,700.00/year for the consumer spending categories in the following table. However, the present economic state will continue to cause lower consumer spending in the future and this figure is very dependent on individual lifestyle. We decided to keep allocation at $100/month and $1200/year

Below are Claritas’ numbers for consumer recreation spending in 2006 and 2008:


2006 Single

2008 Single

2008 Household

Sports and Recreation




TV, Radio, Sound Equip.




Reading Materials




Recreation Total









Source: Claritas Consumer Spending Patterns 2008

Savings: $59.81/month = $717.72/year

Adjusted for inflation. 2006 to 2008 = 6.8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator: http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm


Miscellaneous: $111.13/month = $1,333.50 (+5.75%)



  2006 Single 2008 Single 2008 Household
Apparel   518.50 1.354.50
Footwear   204 534
Other Ap. Products/Services   481 1,255
Housekeeping Supplies   130 340
Total Misc. 1,261 1,333.50 3,483.50
Total/Month 105.08 111.13 290.29











*Claritas changed some of the categories (added, combined, or removed) since the 2006 report, we used present categories that are the closest match for past categories. For the apparel category male and female apparel costs were averaged.

NET (SUBTOTAL) $19,283.36/year = $1,606.95/month (+13.70%)

Source: Claritas Consumer Spending Patterns 2008

To consider in the future:

Cell phone usage:

According to the BLS spending on cell phone services has exceeded spending on residential phone services. In 2007, 43.4% of telephone service expenditures were on residential telephones while 54.8% of expenditures were on cell phone services.



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In the spring of 2014, we learned that our minivan needed repairs in excess of it's value. We'd already been cutting back on our auto use, and were trying to walk and bike more. We'd been talking with friends and reading about cargo bikes as a car alternative. Around the same time, a new business, "Boxy Bikes" opened in Ithaca, which specializes in electric and cargo bikes. We found a model we were interested in, and approached alternatives seeking financing. Alternatives set us up with a signature loan, and a "green loan" discount on our rate. Thanks to Alternatives, we are now the happy owners of a "Yuba Mundo" Electric Cargo bike. We can get anywhere we need to go, using no gas, and creating no emissions. I can carry two passengers, or a weeks worth of groceries. The loan will be paid off in two years, and the bike could last for many more, at a fraction of the cost of an automobile.

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