Saturday, January 3, 2009

Our Poverty Budget

Every family needs a budget.

Before we embarked on the Poverty Project we had a budget. When my husband was in grad school, we had a budget. When we were first married (and actually
were living in poverty), we had a budget.

Budgets hold you and your money accountable. Here's our budget for the Poverty Project:

Income $2,416
Mortgage $1,000
Utilities (water, gas, electric, trash) $190
Auto: Gasoline $85
Groceries $200
Dining Out $20
Clothing $50
Student Loans $135
Household Consumables $50
Household Nonconsumables $75
Household Repairs $30
Tithing (10% + $10 donation) $251
Gifts $10
Short Term Savings* $220
Internet $55
Recreation $30
Long Term Savings $15

TOTAL $2,416

*Short Term Savings is for items that we pay for yearly. The idea is to save a little each month, so that when the lump sum comes due, we have enough to pay for it. The five items in Short Term Savings are : $15 for auto licensing, $85 for car repair, $25 for Vonage phone service paid in advance, $20 for vacation fund, and $50 for insuring two vehicles.

Do you think this budget is realistic? What's in your budget?


  1. I think it COULD be realistic for some people. I know it's not for me because, although we have tried selling our home, no one is buying right now and our mortgage is higher than $1000. Also, our utilities run much higher than $190. I wish I could find a way to get them down to that amount. Well, good luck with your project...

  2. You forgot to factor in taxes. Social security and medicare would get taken out each paycheck. Also, I think some federal would get taken out although the earned income credit might take care of that.

  3. I like the idea of this project. I would really like to try it. I do have some rental properties that would need to be paid from a separate budget. Also, our new mortgage is about 2/3 of the budget amount for a family of our size so I don't know if I could get around all of the set-in-stone bill amounts. After all, we'd still need to pay tithing and fast offerings based on our actual earnings. We could live off of groceries we already have for a month but don't know if that's an accurate experiment since obviously that would not work if a long term reduced budget were our reality. I'll need to give this some thought.

  4. hi. i'm a business writer in DC doing a story on saving and cutting back. might i talk to you about this poverty budget project?
    i'm shina AT

  5. What about medical bills? A large medical bill can do you in.

  6. Interesting since our current grad student budget is just below this one. I don't see any insurance listed. That's a huge one for us: car, life (small), and health. The health insurance isn't as high as it could be since we get some help but it's still a huge chunk of our budget.

  7. i live on less than 700 a month. rent is 355. you inspire me...

  8. agree with the above posters...I gross 29360 a year and bring home just over 1600 a month...earned income tax credit is at the end of the year and only applicable to very young children and those making way less than the poverty level. (know from experience)

    If you use your insurance for your children and your car, you should factor it into your budget like the rest of us have to. $800 a month (taxes, ins. etc) make a huge budget difference.