Television writers have a pretty hefty task on their hands. Not only do they have to entertain their fanbase, but they have to do so in a somewhat realistic way, in most cases. While writers often do a masterful job of explaining away inconsistencies, when it comes to the budgets of fictional characters, they often get it wrong. Lorelai Gilmore, for example, should be flat broke, and Monica Geller and Rachel Green could not possibly afford their spacious West Village apartment without the help of a tired trope. Everybody Love Raymond writers, also got the finances wrong. If you really look at the numbers, there is no way that Raymond and Debra Barone could afford their home and lifestyle on a single salary.
What did Ray and Debra Barone do for a living?
Everybody Loves Raymond may focus almost exclusively on the family dynamic in the Barone family, but their jobs also play an essential role in multiple storylines. Ray, is a sports columnist for Newsday. Ray doesn’t appear to have a leadership position and doesn’t seem to focus on one particular sport. In a flashback episode, fans are informed that Ray studied journalism at St. John’s University. During his collegiate career, he delivered futons.
Debra, when she met Ray, worked in public relations. Once they married and had children, Debra was a homemaker. Although she attempted to return to work at least once, she primarily focused on raising the family’s three kids and dodging insults from her ever-present mother-in-law, Marie Barone.
How much would Ray Barone have made as a sportswriter?
CNN Money notes that Ray would have made around $46,000 a year as a sportswriter. The salary, which represents the average salary for men and women in the industry, would leave the Barone family floundering. Ray, if he was a real person, likely would have made slightly more than the average, though, as he had his own column. Paysa suggests that a writer, like Ray, would probably earn between $53,000 and $61,000 per year.
According to CNBC, the average family of four in New York needed about $88,000 per year to get by as of 2019. Since Ray and Debra had twins, their family of five was considered larger than average, meaning they would need even more money to make the numbers work. Whether he made $46,000 per year or $61,000 per year, they didn’t have enough money to make their budget work, especially when you factor in their home and other essentials.
Could the family afford their lifestyle?
Raising three children anywhere in the United States is not cheap, but raising kids on Long Island is more expensive than in most places. The home used for exterior shots of Ray and Debra’s house is located in Merrick, New York. The community, located about an hour from Midtown Manhattan, has a median household income of $147,000 per year. The three-bedroom, 2-bathroom home used in the show is smaller than average, with just 1400 square feet of living space, but it is still valued at $504,000, according to Zillow.
According to generally accepted rules, a person should never spend more than three times their annual income on a home. That means a $500,000 home should only be purchased by people who make $165,000 per year or more. While those rules often can not be applied in a high cost of living area, Ray and Debra would be having a pretty stressful time paying their mortgage each month.
Once you factor in property taxes, car payments, food bills, medical bills, and other expenditures, it would be almost impossible for the family of five to survive on just Ray’s salary. Debra’s family, who, while distant, is far wealthier than the Barones, could be floating the family, but that’s never mentioned on the show.