That’s right, I’m going to tell you the real numbers in our single income family’s budget. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I want to show you that its possible to live well as a single income family.
I use a zero based budget to balance my family’s finances. I wrote an entire post here, teaching what a zero based budget is, and walking you through how to start one of your own. This budget (among other things) has made us able to survive as a single income family, & has given me the freedom to be a stay at home mom. If you’re interested, go check that post out and start your own zero based budget!
If you already have a functional budget of your own & want to compare your spending to another family’s, or if you’re just feeling nosy, let’s get into the ACTUAL numbers you see in my single income family’s budget.
Let’s talk numbers first.
These are the average, budgeted numbers I work with.
- Mortgage + Insurance: 740
- Car Insurance: 300
- Subaru Loan: 300
- Phone: 100
- Consumers & DTE: 200
- Water & Sewer: 75
- Internet: 40
- Grocery: 300
- Takeout: 90
- Baby: 50
- Loans: 125
- Credit card: 50
Lets talk Budget Categories for a second.
I break these numbers down into a few categories: Household Bills, Family Expenses, Car Expenses, Debt, and Fun Money. These categories all go into separate savings accounts to keep everything nice & organized. Bills, car expenses & debt go into the “Bills” Savings. Family and fun money go into the “Family” Savings. I have a whole post about all the accounts we use here.
Household Bills: this includes our mortgage, gas, electric, internet, water, sewer, and cell phone bill. These stay generally about the same month to month, and are on auto-pay when possible. Heating/cooling expenses vary (because Michigan is a very erratic place) so we estimate high.
Family Expenses: this is a more flexible category for us. It includes our monthly grocery shopping budget, and baby expenses meaning diapers/wipes.
Car Expenses: this includes my husband’s car payment that gives me nightmares, and our car insurance bill. Yes, our car insurance is $300/mo for one car. Is that insane for where you live, or is it similar to what you pay? Please tell me in a comment. I get so worked up about the cost of car insurance being higher in MI than any other state. I’d love to all-caps respond to everyone’s cheaper auto insurance policies in the comments below. My blood pressure is getting high thinking about it. Moving on..
Debt: this isn’t helping my blood pressure. This includes my husband’s student loans and a monthly credit card payment. We use our credit card often and responsibly to maintain Hubby’s incredible credit score. I have a whole post on how we’re becoming debt free here, if you’re interested!
Fun Money: finally, something nice to talk about! You may have seen that we budget a whopping $90 for takeout a month. That may seem like utter blasphemy coming from the crazy “monthly meal planning or die” lady, but let me explain: I have a baby. She is a handful. Sometimes we stay up all night AND scream at mommy’s face all day for fun, so sometimes mommy is too exhausted to cook. We plan for these (frequent) “bad days” so we don’t blow our budget.
This money also goes to random treats like Starbucks while we’re at Target on the weekend, etc. Oh! Also tell me in the comments what your order at Starbucks is. I used to be a licensed Starbucks manager. I’m very curious. Back to the budget.
If you’re a number-nerd like me, these total monthly expenses add up to $2,370.
For the extra nerdy number nerds (i love y’all), I want to break this down even further in another post, and discuss spending categories more in depth. I have so much to say that this post will become “too much” for those looking for a more bite-size look. There will be a link here as soon as the extra in depth post is up.
How much do we make?
Well, our income is higher than $2370 a month. Our monthly expenses are about 75% of our income. I’ll let you do the math so people don’t call me tacky for saying my husband’s actual salary. I don’t get why that’s a taboo thing. But throwing out the amount of my mortgage payment & how much I spend on Taco Bell and Starbucks a month is probably already a lot to some people. But whatever. I’m here to show you how we live on one income, that’s it.
Where does the rest of your cash go?
The extra ~25% of our money is dispersed between our multiple savings accounts. Again, that post is here if you get curious now.
We have an “Emergency Fund” account, and a “General” savings account. The Emergency Fund is building up to have 3-6 months worth of expenses saved up, while the “General” account holds money for a variety of purposes that we have laid out. Short term goals or purchases we plan to make that don’t belong in a savings account specifically for a long term goal (like Honeymoon Savings) go here. Things like “I need winter boots before the sky suddenly drops 2 feet of snow on us.” And “Lily is getting huge and will need more 18 month pants soon.” This is flexible and we spend the money here relatively freely as needed.
How our budget works:
I broke this down SUPER simple for myself. We’re a month head on our bills, so due dates don’t play a factor in when what money goes where.
Our Monthly Expenses total $2,370. My husband gets paid weekly, so I divide that number by 4. That equals $592.50 which I round to $593/week.
I’ll put it in a little graphic here to show how it works:
Honestly that simple.
The first week of the month I do 2 transfers when the paycheck deposits. Our credit card is easily paid by transfering money to the account in our bank’s app. The Family account is actually the account his check direct-deposits to, so that doesn’t require a transfer. I just leave the $350 there.
The second week, I transfer $503 to the Bills account and leave $90 of the paycheck in the Family account.
The 3rd & 4th week of the month, I quickly transfer $593 to the Bills account. Done.
Again, the additional ~25% of the paycheck that doesn’t go to our Monthly Expenses is split between our short and long term savings goals weekly.
How hard is it to actually budget this way?
It look me 5x longer to make that little photo than it takes me to do all of these transfers for the whole month.
Using separate accounts keeps our money.. well.. separate so we can see how much we have in each category.
Using a zero based budget forces us to “spend” the money on top of our Monthly Expenses on SAVINGS. Not random impulsive purchases, and not on takeout beyond what’s budgeted for.
I don’t have to think about it. I just need to see what week of the month it is, and spend 20 seconds making 1 or 2 transfers in an app. This is easy stuff, guys!
What if the accounts don’t get down to 0 by the next month?
First, yay! That means we reduced our expenses, which is great! I love to save money. Any money left over is transferred to our growing Emergency Fund, or whichever savings goal we decide to put it toward.
There you go! That’s how my single-income family survives & thrives on one income!
It is possible, and sustainable long term for us!
Do you have any other questions? Are you looking forward to my post going more in depth about budget categories?
Don’t forget to tell me what your car insurance costs, and what your order at Starbucks is in the comments below!
Save the Pin below for later! Share it with a friend!