Living on $46k - where the money goes

The median income for an American household is $46,242, according to the Census Bureau. Here's how five couples from different walks of life are managing now.

Michael and Lisa Thibault
"I thought it would be much easier to be in the middle-class."
Michael and Lisa Thibault
Michael: claims adjuster;
Lisa: freelance editor, working part-time from home

Income: Michael earns $47,000 a year; Lisa has earned $5,000 so far this year

In 2004, Lisa was laid off from her publishing job of 10 years and found a part-time job."My personal income dropped $17,000 before taxes," said Lisa.

In September 2006, Michael was laid off from his job as an insurance claims adjuster. Landing a new position 5 months later, he took a $13,000-a-year pay cut.

Lisa and Michael, both with college degrees - Lisa also holds a master's - had to apply for food assistance for their children.

Lisa now stays at home where the couple have a newborn girl, in addition to two other daughters.

She says the couple's faith has helped a lot too, counting among their blessings their healthy children. Lisa's biggest issue now is "to find an employer that will allow me to be home when my girls get home. As I get older, I'm finding it's harder to do."

"I thought it would be much easier to be in the middle-class, especially after being in the workforce so long," said Lisa. "It's been humbling."
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