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County ranks third in state

Residents among state’s most frugal

Staff writer

Marion County residents are the third best budgeters in Kansas, according to a report released this month by financial website Smartasset.com

That distinction doesn’t mean the county’s economy is third-best in the state, it signifies that its residents are effective at being frugal, said Chris Hernandez, a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Marion.

“How efficient are they with the assets they have,” he said. “How much of it do they keep? If that’s what this is going about, that’s good news for Marion County.”

According to the Smart Asset report, 88.8% of for Marion County residents’ income goes toward expenses, the highest among the 10 counties listed.

Despite having a high portion of income devoted to expenses, Marion County boasts the highest net wealth relative to income, at 161.8%, and the second lowest bankruptcy rate among counties in the report, with 0.98 per 1,000 people.

Sticking to a tight budget is especially important in a farming community like Marion County because there are many factors to making money that are outside farmers’ control, Marion resident Terry Vinduska said.

“We never know what next year will be like,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to budget expenses because those are set and we can control them. It’s very difficult to budget income because you never know the weather or prices.”

Making a budget allows people to stretch their income by holding it longer, Hernandez said.

“It’s like bringing home a side of beef and storing it on the table or putting it in the freezer,” he said. “If you put it in the freezer, you’re going to feed on it six months later. If you leave it on the table, you’d better have somebody ready to eat it.”

Given the county’s median income of $47,926 in 2016, Marion County deserved to be higher on the list by Smart Asset, said Richard Stumpf, a financial planner with Financial Benefits, Inc., of Wichita.

“I think Marion County ought to be higher than rated here,” he said. “Marion County had the second-lowest median income of this group of 10 counties. The lower your income is, the larger a percentage goes toward living expenses.”

Many in Marion County benefited from growing up in financially conservative homes, Vinduska said.

“Growing up, we didn’t have money,” he said. “We had that in our background and early training as we matured, that we had to be very careful with spending.”

The move to semi-retirement has made planning easier, but some factors are difficult to plan for, Vinduska said.

“The great unknown for retirees is medical expenses,” he said. “We have Medicare and all our supplements, but there’s an out-of-pocket cost that goes along with those.”

Last modified July 31, 2019

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