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More Stories from Everywhere: What $40 Means to You

Gas, groceries, medication, and student loans are just some of the things people are telling us they'll have a hard time paying if Congress doesn't extend the payroll tax cut.

On Tuesday, the White House called on Americans to add their voice to the conversation in Washington about why we need to extend the payroll tax cut.  If Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut, the typical family making $50,000 a year will have about $40 less to spend or save with each paycheck.  Over the year, that adds up to about $1,000. 

Opponents of the payroll tax cut dismissed its impact by insisting $40 isn’t a lot of money. We know that's not the case for many families who are already working hard to make ends meet, so we asked them: What does $40 mean to you?

The response was overwhelming--more than 20,000 from all 50 states have people submitted their stories through our web site since yesterday afternoon.  On Twitter, we asked “What does #40dollars mean to you?”  and the hashtag started trending nationwide and worldwide almost immediately. Data is still coming in, but #40dollars has been used in over 1,000 tweets and counting. Based on the latest report from, those tweets have generated 7,425,833 impressions, reaching an audience of 7,288,208 followers within the past 24 hours.

Some of the latest responses we received are below, including some mayors from around the country asking their followers what #40dollars means to them. You can read more here and here, and also on Storify. And don't forget to share your own story here, or tweet using the hashtag #40dollars. 

To be honest $40 is around what I have to spend each week to feed myself and my 2 yr old. There are times when I can't eat--I have to go to bed without a meal just to make sure my son eats. If the tax credit isn't granted I will have to rely on the local food pantries who are already strained.

S.G., Milledgeville, Georgia

$40 buys a week's worth of the nutrient drink that my 98-year-old mother virtually survives on.

M.H.B, New York

a week is the cost of my prescriptions; without these medications I would die from a stroke or heart attack.


$40 a paycheck is over half our household's grocery expenses.  It's not expendable income.

R.L.S., Jersey City, New Jersey

$40 is a pair of inexpensive sneakers for my two daughters. They've been wearing the same pair for a year. I promised I'd have new shoes for them before the end of this year, but $40 out of my next check means they will have to wait longer.

J.M., Cedartown, Georgia

is 10 days of interest accumulation on only one of my many federal student loans at a 6.8% interest.


The $40 a paycheck is the difference in hot lunches for our kids who don’t qualify for free lunches or discount lunches. We pay an average of 80 a month with 3 kids in school high school.

I.R., Burney, California

Losing $40 means losing the co-pays for our 2 autistic kids' weekly therapy appointments


Forty dollars per paycheck will mean that my wife and I will go without. Without what? Something(s) from the grocery store. A new pair of jeans. A family dinner at a restaurant. A movie. We'll turn the heat down and put on warmer clothing. We'll spend more time clipping coupons in order to save an extra dollar or two. We'll give less than normal to cousins and nieces and nephews on their next birthday, and we'll be looking at where we can spend some family time together this summer close by, rather than visiting my 87 year old mother. Forty dollars per check will have a negative impact on our family, there's no way around it.

C.M., Omaha, Nebraska

$40 covers 2 trombone lessons for our son, lessons that we'll not likely have the money to cover otherwise.  He loves music and has wonderful musical ability, and adores his trombone teacher, a musician who could then use that $40 to help cover her recent medical expenses from an illness.

 J.D., Stow, Massachusetts

Mayors and local officials ask their Twitter followers what #40dollars means to them:

RT@whitehouse: What does #40dollars mean to you?

Governor Martin O’Malley - @Governor O’Malley

Ask Congress to extend the payroll tax cut RT @whitehouse What does #40dollars mean to you?

 St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay - @MayorSlay

What does #40dollars mean to you?

 Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake - @MayorSRB

Congress raising taxes on avg families by not extending payroll tax reduction--$40 per check. What does #40dollars mean to you?

 Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx - @Anthonyfoxx

Lapsing of payroll tax cut affects avg budget by 40/paycheck. Tell @whitehouse what #40Dollars means to you - #utpol

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker - @SLCMayorsOffice

 Please share with others! RT @whitehouse: What does #40dollars mean to you?

 Florida Rep. Alan Williams - @Alan4Florida

Obama is right on. Moody’s, “One way or another, policymakers need to figure out how to at the very least extend the payroll tax holiday...

North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern - @SenTimMathern

 I agree with President Obama that this is not a game. The House needs to pass the Senate's payroll tax cut. Now!

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter - @Michael_Nutter