Okay, so here's my awkward announcement. My family is needy. At least, the government would be cool with it if we thought we were. As most of you know, we've recently moved to a one-income family model, as we add person number three to our household size. As we've done that, I've had several people tell me that they "wish they could afford to do that" and several other comments, indicating that people think I make significantly more money than I do. The fact that people I am certain have higher incomes than I did were saying this got me nervous, so I started looking at statistics on income, government aid, and other factors. What I found was pretty startling.
If I took home $30 less per paycheck, our household would qualify for full WIC benefits. WIC provides women and children with free healthy groceries, baby food, formula, etc. There are also special healthcare discounts and benefits for this group. Sadly, we're not that close to qualifying for SNAP benefits where we could just get $400 worth of HoHos and Mountain Dew a month (in addition to the WIC benefits), but I digress. Or maybe I don't digress, because our household doesn't spend $400 a month on groceries, and maybe it might help people on aid to try to live on a budget. I was also kind of horrified that many government benefits count "resources" against you. So a low income family that is able to save some of their earnings is at a disadvantage to a family with the same income level who maxes out their budget. Speaking of budgets, and since this is a full disclosure piece and if you wanted, you could go Google WIC benefits and see how much I make anyway, here is the Morrison three people, one income budget.
Monthly Income: $2,380 (net - with the poor people's holiday of the elusive third pay day factored in)
Mortgage: $456 (escrowed with taxes and insurance - owe $50,262; house worth approx. $55,000 - $60,000)
Garbage and Sewer: $15
Gas and Electric: $102 (budget payments, so the payment is even throughout the entire year)
Auto Insurance: $60 (switched to Progressive - about one step above liability on both cars)
Food: $375 (this is both groceries and occasionally dining out and other household items like detergent)
Health Insurance: $290 (this is private health insurance through my employer for me, Nate, and Blakely)
Student Loans: $106
College Fund: $20 (every little bit will help)
Tithes and Gifts: $200
Gas and Auto: $275 (yay Aveo)
401K Contributions: $110 (My employer matches 75% of that amount)
Car Registration: $15
Amount left for savings/entertainment: $135 (I accredit the small amount we spend on entertainment to the bizarre things that we encounter in our every day lives)
And there you have it. And this isn't a theoretical budget, it's our real budget that we've lived on for the past year (with some flaws and hiccups, of course). But when Nate and I got serious about paying off the debt we owed, we began living the one-income lifestyle. With his checks over the last year, we've been able to:
- Pay off his Grand Prix (nearly $10,000)
- Start a college fund for Blakely (nearly $1,500)
- Supply an emergency fund ($1,000)
- Purchase my Aveo with cash ($5,000)
- Increase savings for medical bills and to be able to take time off together when Blakely's born
- Accumulate no consumer debt
So am I embarrassed that the government thinks I'm right on the brink of need? Yes. But not for our family... for the government. I'm not patting us on the back (okay, maybe a little), but my goal in writing this obviously isn't pride. I hope maybe seeing these numbers inspires someone to start living in a financially responsible way - a gift that will continue to give for generations! Many people are quietly and successfully living debt-free/financially responsible lives, able to give to the needy (not me - the real needy), the church, and other worthy groups, as well as living with less stress, because they are on a plan. I know several families who are a continual inspiration in this area, as I hope we can be too.
If anyone who reads my blog has questions on where to start, how to spend less on certain budget items, or really anything else, I'd love to help. Because if I'm going to be a cheap nerd, I'd like to be a cheap nerd who helps people.