Monday, December 3, 2012

Another Day, Another Dollar Guest Post 2!

Here's the next installment in the "Another Day, Another Dollar" series. You can read it here. I am still taking submissions, so email me at if you would like to contribute, whether anonymous or not. Today's poster comes from a medium cost of living area, which many of us can probably relate to.

Our Scenario:
Young family of 5 (soon to be 6) and live modestly on one income. My husband is an attorney- a recent graduate from law school. I graduated with a BA. We have massive student loans totally over $130,000 consolidated at 6.8% interest. We bought our home with an FHA loan and put $15,000 down from an inheritance we received. We rent out one room to a relative. My husband has health insurance through work. Our 3 children have healthcare covered by the state, and I have state health coverage while pregnant. We are eligible for additional state assistance, but we choose to make do.

Income after taxes: $3200/monthly ($41,600 annual)
Renter Pays: $300/monthly 
Savings: $0

MONTHLY Budget begins at $3500

Fixed Monthly Expenses:
Mortgage: $1150
Student loans: $455
Utilities (electric, water, garbage): $250
Tithing: $40
Auto Insurance: $68
Life Insurance: $48
Internet/Phone: $90
Catholic School Tuition: $200

Other monthly Expenses:
Food/gas: $900
Home improvement credit card: $110 (it has a balance of $1800 which will be paid off with our next tax return)

Total Expenses: $3300

Which leaves us with roughly $200/month for additional needs or emergencies.

The Breakdown:
Mortgage: We bought a home with money from an inheritance. Our payment is $1150. We chose to live within walking distance to the school/Church AND on a bus line so that nothing would stop my husband from getting to work or the kids to school/Mass. We have one good car, paid in full from last year's tax return.

Student loans: We pay the minimum, which unfortunately, doesn't cover the annual interest. Each year my husband's salary increases a few thousand, and we pay a little more.
Tithing: We tithe about 1.3% and pay tuition for a Catholic education, and that is quite sacrificial for us. We do not have expensive cell phones, car payments, or cable/satellite tv. We give those luxuries up to afford making payments to the Church and school for our 1st grader and preschooler. We give to the Church in many other ways, and spend a great deal of time volunteering.

Food/gas: We spend about $50 a week on gas and another couple hundred on food. When I say food, I also mean all store expenditures, like toilet paper, diapers, and other household items. I cook almost everything, and we eat leftovers. My husband and kids take lunch to work and school. We have one car. It is good and reliable, and has never broken down on us.
Other expenses:
$8 for Netflix.
We plan for 2 family outings a month- dinner/zoo/movies etc. Our kids need to know that we don't live to work, and quality time is very important. We have family movie nights at home every Friday, complete with popcorn like any good theater experience.

While, budgeting can be difficult, it is certainly do-able on a low income. Our home is beautiful, and our furniture is very nice. We got most of it from great deals on Craigslist or consignment stores. Our kids are involved in Church events and scouts. The grandparents like to help pay for extra things for them, like swim lessons and birthday presents. We live modestly, but wonderfully. We love to go on day trips to the beach or lakes.

We have everything we need, and we thank God for caring for us so well. When we feel down because of our finances, we take a moment and remember the words of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, "Live simply so that others may simply live." And we look at our happy children and smile.


  1. I am so impressed that they are eligible for other state assistance but don't take it. I would certainly want them to take it since I feel if we pay taxes to help out those in need, than those in need should use it.

  2. Hi Stacy. This is my first time commenting here. I just wanted to echo what Colleen said. As a taxpayer, I would love it if everyone receiving public assistance were as industrious and conscientious as this young family is. I wish them the best.

  3. I think that this family has done a great job of living within means. I wish my family had the courage to take some of these steps.