New Jersey’s cost of living crisis continues as Election 2021 gets underway | Schilp

New Jersey’s cost of living crisis continues as Election 2021 gets underway | Schilp

By Joe Schilp

The median household income in New Jersey is $82,545. [i]  That sounds like a lot of money, but realistically, for a family of four living in New Jersey, that income level forces many typical families of 4 to live in a constant state of debt.  In fact, if you are part of a typical Middle Class family of four, it will cost you approximately $259 a day just to live in New Jersey.

I know, that sounds outrageous, right?  But go ahead, add up your expenses and you’ll be stunned to see that it costs you roughly $259/day – probably more – just to live here.

Middle class New Jersey residents, your expenses are:

  • $24,000/year for rent/mortgage (less for rentals, more for mortgages)[ii]
  • $12,000/year (probably more) for groceries/eating out [iii]
  • $9,000/year for property taxes [iv]
  • $8,605 federal income taxes (based on average salary of $85,000 in NJ minus $10,000 in deductions)
  • $5,900/year for health insurance [v]
  • $4,800/year for car payments (based on two cars) [vi]
  • $4,140 state income taxes (based on average salary of $82,000 minus $10,000 in deductions resulting in a standard 5.52% tax rate)
  • 4,000/year for cell/data service (based on 3 phones per family)[vii]
  • $3,250/year for car insurance [viii]
  • $1,800/year for cable/modem/streaming services
  • $1,800/year for gas/electric [ix]
  • $1,700/year for home/fire insurance [x]
  • $2,000/year for gasoline
  • $200/year for tolls (most commuters spend a LOT more, but some people spend none)
  • $420/year for water
  • $350/year for garbage
  • $3,600/year for life insurance
  • $3,000/year for child activities (sports, dance, pool, camp lessons, etc.)
  • $3,000/year for clothes, shoes, winter wear, etc.
  • $1,000/year medical/dental bills/prescriptions

Add it up and you’re at roughly $94,565 a year, or, $259 a day. That’s also roughly $12,000 more than the average income in New Jersey.  And that does not include a vacation, movies, day trips, pet care, home maintenance, auto maintenance, and school tuition if one chooses non-public schooling for their children.

The bottom line is that it’s too darned expensive to live in New Jersey, and neither political party – Democrat or Republican – has done a damned thing to bring those expenses under control.  To the contrary, government is a major part of the problem because over 1/3 of those expenses are government related (check your cable bill, insurance bill, phone bill, etc. – there are gov’t fees tacked on to all of them).

What can be done by the politicians in Trenton to solve this problem?  The state’s economy is a mess, in large part because so much of a family’s income is consumed by government – New Jersey has the highest unemployment rate in America and the worst economic climate.  If people had the ability to keep more of their hard-earned income, they would accumulate less debt and spend more money on things like home improvement, day trips and eating out.  These are all expenses that are spent at local businesses, and when local businesses see increases in revenue, more jobs are created and the state sees increases in tax revenue.

The bottom line is that the state has to spend less money.  But Democrats keep promising to spend more money.  Just last week Governor Phil Murphy announced a plan to spend $250 million on wind farms that will create 500 jobs – that’s $500,000 per job; he’d be better off giving away $100,000 to 500 people and saving $200 million.

It’s time for the voters of New Jersey to wake up and end one-party rule in New Jersey. Phil Murphy’s “fair and equitable” New Jersey is a fiscal disaster.

Forcing families to spend $259 a day just to live a middle class life is simply unsustainable.  New Jersey will never have an economic recovery if the citizens of this state do not have more disposable income.


A husband, father and Piscataway resident, Joe Schilp joined the Rutgers University Exercise Science and Sport Studies Department as adjunct faculty member in 2010 after 20 years in the sports and event presentation industry.