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.

Brent and Shawna Wheat
"For someone in my position, insurance is golden," said Shawna.
Ruidoso, New Mexico
Brent and Shawna Wheat
Brent: Self-employed, general contractor
Shawna: Office coordinator

Income: Brent $30,000 or more a year which, with Shawna's income, brings the couple into the median household income range.

Shawna works 10 months a year but doesn't accrue enough hours to qualify for healthcare from her employer.

"I would prefer to work full time at a place where I get insurance for the family," said Shawna. "For someone in my position, insurance is golden."

Last year, when her son was in a car accident, the hospital costs and check-ups totaled $4,000 out of pocket. This year, he needs braces.

The Wheats' own their 3 bedroom-2 bathroom home in Ruidoso. When he can afford to, Brent builds homes on spec and sells them, putting part of the profits into retirement savings through a financial planner.

Having 3 kids, two of which are teenagers living at home, keeps the cost of cars, gas, insurance and repairs expensive. The Wheats own three cars, two of which are paid for. Because Brent uses his truck daily for his job and travels quite a bit, gas prices can squeeze the family's finances.

"I'm okay with the way we're going. For what we have right now we're doing okay, especially in comparison to others," says Shawna, who says the family is religious and tithes.

Shawna says she would love to go on a trip. "But it's not possible right now."
The Ogles The Ogles' spending The Thibaults The Thibaults' spending Andrew and Ozgul Leone The Leones' spending The Wheats The Wheat's spending Slingland Slingland's spending