Living Paycheck to Paycheck on $190,000 a Year: Preston’s Story

4 Min Read

In a recent episode of the Dave Ramsey Show, Preston, an accountant from Dallas, Texas, shared his struggles of living paycheck to paycheck despite earning $190,000 a year. Let’s break down Preston’s situation and see what lessons we can learn about managing money effectively.

Who is Preston?


Preston is married with three kids. Even though he has a good income, his family has a hard time managing their finances. They have several debts, including:

  • A $12,000 car loan
  • $6,000 in medical debt from the birth of their child
  • $4,500 in student loans
  • A $200,000 mortgage

In total, they owe $222,000.

The Food Budget Problem

Spending Issues

One of the biggest issues Preston mentioned is their spending on food. They plan to spend $1,500 to $2,000 a month on groceries and eating out, but they often end up spending around $3,000 instead.


Lifestyle Creep

Increasing Spending

Preston pointed out that as their income has increased over the years, so has their spending. This is known as lifestyle creep, where people start spending more as they earn more but don’t save any extra money.

Budgeting Struggles

Irony of the Situation

It’s ironic that Preston, an accountant trained to manage finances, struggles with his own household budget. This shows that knowing how to handle money and actually sticking to a budget are two different things.


Dave Ramsey’s Advice

Actionable Steps

Dave Ramsey’s team gave Preston some advice to help him get back on track:

  • Act Like You’re Making $80,000: Create a budget based on this amount, which means significantly cutting back on expenses. For example, cancel unnecessary subscriptions and stop the kids from attending extra classes.
  • Use a Budgeting App: This can help track spending and stick to the budget.
  • Cut Unnecessary Expenses: By doing this, they can save more money.
  • Pay Off Smallest Debt First: Start with the $4,500 in student loans and use that money to pay off bigger debts, using the debt snowball method.
  • Eat at Home More Often: Plan weekly meals, shop with a list to avoid impulse buys, and cook at home to save money.

Additional Income

Freelance Work

Since Preston is good with numbers, Ramsey’s team suggested he pick up freelance accounting work to bring in extra money and help pay off debts faster.


Preston’s story shows that earning a lot doesn’t guarantee financial security. If you don’t manage money wisely, stick to a budget, and make smart financial choices, you can end up living paycheck to paycheck like 63% of Americans. By following a strict budget, cutting unnecessary expenses, and finding ways to earn extra income, anyone can improve their financial situation.

Who is Preston?

Preston is an accountant from Dallas, Texas, who struggles with managing his finances despite earning $190,000 a year.


What is the main issue with Preston’s food budget?

Preston plans to spend $1,500 to $2,000 a month on food but often ends up spending around $3,000.

What is lifestyle creep?

Lifestyle creep is when people start spending more as they earn more but don’t save any extra money.


What advice did Dave Ramsey’s team give Preston?

They advised him to create a budget based on $80,000, use a budgeting app, cut unnecessary expenses, pay off the smallest debt first, and eat at home more often.

How can Preston earn additional income?

He can pick up freelance accounting work to bring in extra money and help pay off debts faster.


Share This Article
By Arnia
A Certified Public Accountant specializing in personal finance and taxation. Arnia engaging writing style and deep understanding of tax codes make her articles a must-read for individuals seeking to maximize their tax savings.
Leave a comment