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$40 Stories Across all 50 States

Check out the slideshow below of the photos and stories of Americans across all 50 states (plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) who believed that their voice could make a difference and had the courage to speak out about what losing an extra $40 per paycheck would mean for them and for their family.

This week, thousands of people have shared their stories about how $40 less in every paycheck would affect them if Congress didn’t extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans –and it made all the difference.

Lawmakers extended the payroll tax cut through the rest of 2012, in addition to extending unemployment benefits that provide lifelines to millions of Americans looking for work.

The thing is, $40 is real money for working families, as people all over the country told us. That money buys things like school lunches, the gas needed to get to work or visit ailing relatives, and co-pays for doctor visits and essential prescription medicines.

Check out our slideshow of the photos and stories of Americans across all 50 states (plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) who believed that their voice could make a difference and had the courage to speak out about what losing an extra $40 per paycheck would mean for them and for their family.

Cottonwood, Alabama: Marcia

$40 means no gas for the car. I live on $674 per month with a disabled son. Yes, you have increase the amount on an SSI check, but $40 is a lot. $5.00 is a lot. We are about to be out on the street. No Christmas tree this year. $40 does not even cover the water bill. No toys for my son this year. Only the essential clothing wrapped and Santa will have to leave them on the kitchen table.

Fairbanks, Alaska: Pamela

$40 is 10 gallons of heating oil when the temperatures in winter hover in the negative numbers for months.

Phoenix, Arizona: Joseph

The $40 dollar paycheck for my family helps pay for gasoline to put into the cars.We live from paycheck to paycheck. And with the price of gas being so high it helps a lot. I feel that the politicans that don't want to continue with the extra $40 dollars need to put themselves in our shoes. Sure, if I was a millonaire I wouldn't worry about gas prices or $40 dollars, but I'm not. And with the gas prices so high, so are other items. Every dollar helps. So please consider allowing the $40 dollars to remain.To you it might not add up to much but to my family it helps a lot.

Beebe, Arkansas: Paul

$40 a paycheck is the gas it costs me to travel back and forth from seminary each week, as there are none in my local area. While there (in Memphis) I also lead a community chess program for 4th and 5th grade students in an under-privileged community. I am a retired USAF veteran on a minimal enlisted retirement wage, struggling to get by while I finish my education. Please don't take away my opportunity for education, service and future development.

Denver, Colorado: Phillip

Currently I am working two jobs in addition to being a full time student. I work as a server at the Cheesecake Factory and as a peer mentor for the federal program known as TRiO Student Support Services. Forty dollars means quite a few different things for me; food, rent, various bills, and my ability to be able to support non-profit organizations that rely on donations. This last year even making less than 25,000.00 a year I donated monthly to Greenpeace, and made one time donations to PAWS, Casa, and the African Community Center. There is no way that I could have made these donations without an extra forty dollars a month.

New Britain, Connecticut: Rita

Forty dollars is a tank of gas, a nicer Sunday family meal instead of hot dogs, the ability to leave lights on instead of turning them off earlier in the evening. Forty dollars is being able to go to the movies, or having a night out at an inexpensive restaurant, it's also paying co-pays for my meds that I need to live on. Forty dollars is money for our heating oil, money put away in savings for a birthday present for a family member.  Forty dollars buys lunch food to bring from home, forty dollars pays the cable bill, and the difference between healthy food and unhealthy food on our shopping list.  Forty dollars is vacation savings, part of a car payment, a mortgage payment, or a phone bill.  Need I go on with more examples of how $40 is used and needed?

New Castle, Delaware: Judy

$40.00 is: a loaf of bread $3.09,  gallon of milk $3.79, eggs $2.79 dozen, cheese $4.00 lb., bag of rice $5.99, Cereal $4.99, coffee $14.99, fruit increased 25% this year, meats have also increase 30%, all due to economy. Not to mention the gas for our car, that $40.00 is strictly for GAS inflation to go to work, doctors, food shopping why can no one understand

Washington, District of Columbia: Shawn

More than you can imagine. I'm struggling now to pay my expenses. I don't get to attend the theater to view a play; the movies; go out to dinner at a nice restaurant where I can be waited on, go on vacation outside of the Washington, DC Metro Area. I don't get to do anything but work; come home and pay bills. I don't have outside household bills like credit card expenses. What I have is high rent in a low income residence; I have utility bills and basic cable. I have a car that requires gas but I only use that for errands and going to church; other wise it remains parked because the gas prices are too high. It takes money to ride the every price increase of Metro although they do not provide quality service; but what else can we do; we are over a barrell. I live alone and yet I still live paycheck to paycheck. Taking $40 from me is like taking $40,000 or more. But you won't feel the pinch because you don't understand.

Fort Myers, Florida: Pam

I have a Master's degree and I'm grossly under-unemployed here in Fort Myers, FL. Forty dollars is what it takes to fill my "economy" car so I can still hunt for work. Forty dollars is one trip to the grocery store, for necessities like toilet paper, laundry detergent, and healthy ingredients for one meal for two. Forty Dollars isn't much when there's a steady income that pays a living wage BUT it means everything to a grandma like me who would like to buy and mail a gift for her grandchild but I can't because any gift requiring postage is a luxury gift.

Jonesboro, Georgia: Derris

$40 can buy me 2 five pounds bags of rice. I can eat that for nearly 3 weeks ($10.00). It can buy me a 5 pounds of fish ($12.00); I can eat 1 or 2 pieces a day for 2 weeks. I can buy myself 2 18-count carton of eggs ($7.50). If I did not have it I would probably began to lose weight and suffer from malnutrition. I have been struggling to make is since age 18.

Kailua, Hawaii: Priscilla

$40.00 is the amount sometimes between paying the electric or not. We cannot pay more. We do not have it.

Nampa, Idaho: Pam

My 84 year old mother needs a lot of assistance and care from me.  I have a 50 mile commute to provide support for her. $40 per paycheck means I am able to buy gas to drive to see her every other day, and perhaps buy her something a little special for her dinner upon occasion.

Forest Park, Illinois: Trease

$40 is 2/3 of what I spend a week on groceries. I am a single mother and I live paycheck to paycheck. $40 a week, quite simply, is the difference between my son having what he needs and not having what he needs.

Indianapolis, Indiana: Jyl

$40, wow. It does't really seem like that much money. But when it used to cost $25 to fill up with gas at the local filling station and now costs nearlly $70, whew! I already go all week long without lunches so that I can pay for gas just to get to work. $40/per pay could equate to over $800/year, which could be used to buy school clothes, or pay medical/pharmaceutical expenses for my two daughters. The bottom line (pardon the pun) is that $40 is $40, no matter how you choose to spend it.

Batavia, Iowa: Bobbie

$40 less a paycheck would make a significant difference in my ability to pay my monthly bills - and I'm already falling behind because I lost my supplemental part-time night/weekend job as a medical transcriptionist.  I have enjoyed not working an extra job because I have had more time to spend with my grandson.  But if I am going to lose $40 more per paycheck, I will have no other choice.  $40 would nearly fill my gas tank to help me get to my full-time day job.  $40 would buy about 13 pounds of ground beef, which is about all we can afford to eat these days.  I have been coming up with ways to stretch our food budget, but with $40 less per paycheck this is going to be difficult as well.  Last Christmas was really tough.  With $40 less per paycheck we can just about forget about buying any gifts this coming year for our kids and grandkids.

Wichita, Kansas: TraceAnn

I work part time, my husband and I are raising our teenage daughter. We both drive cars over 12 years old, don't spend on non-essentials, we try to keep to a budget, but EVERY dollar is needed just to keep a float. Our budget has been blown by the high cost of gasoline and groceries. $40 is what it takes to fill one of our cars, so I can get to work, drive my daughter to school, visit my elderly mom to keep her living independently and attend church. $40 is a HUGE amount to my family. We need it!

Brooks, Kentucky: Karen

Wow, $40 is a lot. My husband and I both work full time and that amount that congress is overlooking goes a long way. Gas some weeks is a budget buster. We have continually lost money over the last few years whether with pay cuts and/or hours at work. We lost our home and filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, 2 of our grown sons are at home, blessed to be working full time, but still struggling. So, you ask me about $40, it is a lot of money whether in gas and/or groceries. We have lost enough!

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Susan

As a freelance editor working from my home office, $40 covers my office expenses, such as paper for my printer, equipment maintenance, and online professional subscriptions. I live on the edge of being unable to afford high-speed internet, which is crucial to my business.

Gray, Maine: Maurice

$40.00 dollars is 1/4 of my electric bill, one weeks gas to get to work, 1/4 of my weekly food budget for my wife, my son and I. Just look at the cost of all things and you can see our pay is too low to just live and only paying our bills to live in our homes and not buy anything to have fun or even buy a house just barely supporting our family. 

Baltimore, Maryland: Nidra

The picture I attached is of my son William who is now 3 years old. He is the reason why I can't afford to lose anything from my pay check. He is the reason I work so hard and still struggle. He is the reason I try to make sure he has his medicine, clothing to wear, food to eat since he is unable to eat all the food I may like because of a terrible problem with his acid reflux. In addition to my son, I take care of my 73 year old grandmother that has so much medicine that she has to take to survive. I am grateful to have a job, but I am in a one bedroom in not such a great area, but it could be worse. I thank God everyday for what I have and not what I dont or wanting to be like anyone else. My family is what keeps me going and losing $40 extra dollars from my pay check is something that I can not afford at all. If they would like to visit my home, please feel free, just so they can see the difference in what Congress makes in a day is about what I make in probably 3-4 months. Please help us, I cannot afford to lose anymore money than necessary. I work everyday, I do not have a car, i take my grandmother to the doctors 2-4 times out the month and everything I try to do for my family is not free. 

Brockton, Massachusetts: Joseph

I've been unemployed for about two years now.  My wife is the only one working, imagine loosing $40.00 from her paycheck that will have a big impact on my family.  Especially in time like this, we will not be able to afford putting food on our table.

Livonia, Michigan: Tammy

It means nutritious food for my family, a safe vehicle to get to work, a warm shelter for my infant and toddler, medical care for all of us, and other things associated to my basic rights as a human: food, shelter, and safety.

Watertown, Minnesota: Barry

It's the difference between being able to help my son purchase gasoline for his car in order to drive to the university each day, or him being forced to cut out some classes because he can't afford to drive to school every day. That means having to attend university longer, accumulate more debt as a student, be unable to become a tax-paying member of society until much later, and him having to depend on me for even more support until he can graduate.

Starkville, Mississippi: Trudy

Losing $40 each paycheck mean a lot for me its mean my children will have less food to eat.  With my paycheck now I do not have money to take the kids for an day to the movie or give my children a birthday gift or birthday party. Having $40 on my paycheck means that the children and I can have a day at the park.

St. Louis, Missouri: William 

$40 a paycheck means I can help my family more. My dad is on disability with COPD, Congestive heart failure, Coronary Artery Disease and Cancer and still going.. My mother stopped working to take care of him full time and a lot of my money goes to them. I budget with them in mind.  I don't have a family of my own, I am 30 years old and live upstairs from my parents because sometimes my mom needs the help. They live off my dad's Social Security and Disability check. They don't even make 2000 a month together but their happiness means everything to me. I work in a non-profit now and every few years my job is in jeopardy due to budget cuts and program cuts. I don't have much now but $40 is food for me and my parents, gas for our cars and just a few dollars to give my dad because he always told me "a man feels more like a man with a few dollars in his pocket."

Missoula, Montana: Adam

It's about the amount of money is costs me to drive to drill each month--and I have one of the most fuel efficient cars in the U.S. ('02 VW TDI) or it would be quite a bit more.  I have to drive about three hours one way to service in my nearest Air National Guard unit and all expenses getting there comes out of my pocket.  With health and life insurance (TriCare Reserve Select, United Concordia and Servicemembers Group Life Insurance), Federal and State taxes and a laughable contribution to my Trift Savings Plan also coming out of my Guard paycheck each month, there's not much left.  I've come to the conclusion that this is the cost for good, affordable healthcare. I'm also a full-time student and this is the majority of my part-time income.  It's going to be interesting when my Post 9/11 GI BIll runs out at the end of this semester and I have another year beyond that.  It's a great benefit, but changing your major can really burn you--and to think I changed it to a major that will benefit society more than my previous one would.  Every little bit counts.    

Plattsmouth, Nebraska: Rick 

$40.00 dollars a paycheck goes a long way in our home. We have three children the oldest is 18 a boy and a senior in high school getting ready for college, the second is 14 a girl that enjoys going to school activities, our youngest is Leo he just turned 9 yesterday and we thank God everday we have him. You see he has cystic fiberosis and most of the time he does real well. That little amount of money helps my family in so many ways. Buying my oldest some gas for the car, paying for snacks for my daughter at school activities, and providing medicine and maybe a toy for my Leo. None of us know how long we have in this world but some of us know it is not long and any comfort I can provide for my family means something. It means everything.

Carson City, Nevada: Debbie

Sadly, I am unemployed for the first time in my life. I am a 59 year old highly educated professional woman. When I did have the paycheck with extra 40 dollars, it was significant. I have given my life as a Public Servant, thus in the 50 grand salary wise. Right now I seek employment 24/7, but now I perform this skill with depression, sadness, anxiety, extreme fear of my unemployment expiring in 2 weeks. I am deeply spiritual, but for the first time in my life, I want to give up. I beg the President to help us, I truly beg him to get this extension passed.

East Rochester, New Hampshire: Samantha

We are a one income family. My husband leaves for work at 6:00am and gets home at 10:00pm. I stay at home with our 7 year old son who has Autism, Anxiety with Intermittant Explosive Behavior Disorder, ADHD, and a heart defect. We are doing the best we can, but are always falling short on our mortgage. Our vehicles are 10 years old, but we can't afford to buy new. Since we bought our house nearly 6 years ago, the price of gas, & oil has risen drastically. Financially we are stretched so thin, and the stress is horrible. I am responsible for paying our bills, and I have been cardio-converted 2 times in the last 60 days because I'm constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul, but never paying Paul back, and I'm always worried about money. We can't afford to lose $40.00 a week. That's my grocery budget for my son's special food needs. That's my gas money for my son's weekly therapy appointments. The $40.00 helps us help our son. Really, we can't take much more. Please, please help it get better. We are hard workers, just trying to get by, but it seems as though we are always pushing against the tide, and it's only getting worse.

Garfield, New Jersey: N. Wayne

$40.00 puts gas in my 1997 suburban. Since my income has dropped dramatically, I cannot afford to buy a new fuel efficient automobile. I only drive to work, school, church, the store and to the Boys and Girls Club where I volunteer by coaching and mentoring children from the ages of seven to eighteen.  $40.00 may not seem like a lot to you, however $40.00 provides a means for me to travel to coach, educate, and empower our today’s youth in two different communities.         

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Lysander

I'm in college. $40 means my school books, food for a week, or a chance to take my girlfriend out for Valentine's Day.

Jamestown, New York: Julie

I am a single mother doing this all on my child support ever!! $40 is just about a week's worth of gas in my car that gets me to work and my son to school and extra-curricular activities.$40 is just enough for the oil change that is due right now. $40 is the fresh fruits and vegetables I try to provide each week to make our meals more healthy...canned and frozen are just cheaper and last longer. $40 is enough to buy school lunches for a few weeks or groceries to pack lunch. $40 helps pay my utility bills. $40 a pay would be devastating, especially since I have not had a raise since 2008...everything else is skyrocketing while my wages stay the same. Taking more from me takes more from my son and I just cannot afford it. I need to provide for my son and help him lead a safe, healthy and happy life.

Lexington, North Carolina: Judith

I use my $40 from the tax cut to buy gas. The price has increased so much in the recent weeks, that without that $40 I would be walking or staying at home. After working on my feet in a pharmacy for over 20 years, I would prefer not to walk too much! I depend on the $40 to help me get around. I hope the ladies and gentlemen in Washington will let the working Americans keep this tax cut.

Grafton, North Dakota: Diann

It would mean deciding whether to pay my day care or to get medicine for my sick child or deciding whether to pay the auto insurance.  These are not my circumstances but those of people I know well.

North Canton, Ohio: Thomas

Gas prices hurt our family. I drive 40 miles a day just to get to work and back. I drive a paid in full "99" great gas mileage car and if I lost $80.00 a month There will be no weekend trips, no summer vacation because that is the amount of cash we put back a month. So the places we go will not receive our spendable income to help their families prosper. We, the average Americans, need a break!

Drumright, Oklahoma: Tabatha

$40 a paycheck means that my daughter can play soccer with her friends. $40 a paycheck means that my husband can pay his co-payment to the doctor.  $40 a paycheck means gas in our car so that we are able to pick up my step-son during our weekend visitation. $40 a paycheck means we might be able to cook a full meal instead of something quick and cheap. $40 a paycheck means that my husband can attend classes to further his education and that I can get to work on a dialy basis. $40 a paycheck means I can buy my daughters their makeup and other beauty products. $40 means A LOT to the average middle class family.

Redmond, Oregon: Dalia

$40 is money to buy food, hair cuts!, medication, diapers and for a treat a meal out on the town. It definelty means a lot to us.

Hatboro, Pennsylvania: Danielle

Forty dollars is my gasoline money to get back and forth to work.  I am a nurse and single parent of two children - I cannot support my children if I don't work. Forty dollars means a lot to me!  I want my children to grow up to be citizens that know the power of giving back to society via service to others!

Wakefield, Rhode Island: Marlo

It means worrying less about whether we can keep the car serviced and safe, pay the bills for my daughter and my medical conditions, keep up to date on our other bills. It means a lot. We are employed college graduates, devoted parents, tax payers, and I am a small business owner. We love this country, we work very hard, we reduce, we budget, and yet we struggle.

Aiken, South Carolina: Lynnda

My husband is retired and I am still working, but haven't had a raise in several years - feel lucky to have a job!  Our daughter, who is trying to go back to school and two year old grand-daughter live with us.  We try to help provide for them.  Forty dollars a pay period is milk and fresh fruit and vegetables for our granddaughter at a time when the price of groceries has escalated astronomically. We would  really miss this $40 if the tax cuts are not extended.  Thanks!

Rosholt, South Dakota: Benjamin 

Taking my family to the doctor on a regular basis, water bill, gas to get to work

Henderson, Tennessee: Richard

Forty dollars allows me to be able to purchase the necessary things needed for my son. It allows me to be able to pay for food, milk, clothes, medicine, etc. It allows me to be able to pay my child care provider every week. Forty dollars allows me to put gas in my truck, by which I have to use my personnal vehicle for my job. Forty dollars allows me to be able to pay my alarm bill that protects my home while I'm away and protect my family during the night. forty dollars might not be that much to some, but it is greatly needed by others who are trying to make ends meet.

Cedar Hill, Texas: Clifford

It means I can continue to help my daughter who is a single parent with her kids because after graduation from culinary school she has not been able to find a job which would allow her to be independet and pay her school loans.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Rebecca

I teach junior high English. Forty dollars a paycheck means I get to buy current, exciting, young adult books for my students. My students often do not have the funds to buy books for themselves. But they are motivated to read when new books are available for them right in my classroom. Through forty dollars a paycheck I am giving kids the invaluable gift of literacy and a love of reading and learning.

Johnson, Vermont: Charmane

It's simple. $40/week is over $2,000.00 per year which low income families need to provide housing, rent, food and necessities for their children, especially those who are in school in rural areas.

Woodbridge, Virginia: Kassandra

For my family, $40 is the difference between being able to pay daycare provider or having to  take off from job (that's a little over min wage) to care for our children.

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: Anita

A month's worth of gas money (to get to the job i am grateful to have).

Clarkston, Washington: Valerie

$40 a paycheck means being able to afford a tank of gas to travel to a powwow and visit with friends and family. I'm able to enjoy Native American culture and appreciate the rich history that I was born into.

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Jorge 

It means a lot . For some;  more food over the table, others; afford needed medicines; and for all- hope of better things to come . 

Dunlow, West Virginia: Angela

I am a small business owner. What does $40.00 mean to me?  It means I can buy 16 gallons of milk for 16 different families that cannot afford to drive half an hour to town. $40.00= 16 gallons of milk; $40.00= 21 loaves of bread; $40.00= 13 dozen eggs; $40.00= fuel for 2-3 trips to the store(and don't forget anything while you are there). Now, imagine my customers without $40.00.

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin: Cheryl

 A $40 dollar cut in earnings would mean I would not be able to afford the gas to go to work, provide food for my family or pay for my medical bills and prescription needs.

Casper, Wyoming: Miles

$40.00 is: 2 1/2 perception co-pays, a 1/2 tank of gas for a week's work, a few groceries, part of a utilities payment,1/4 of my wife's health insurance payment, our son has none, not being over-drafted, a state fishing license = year long cheap entertainment, and there is always, always something unexpected.