My husband works in shipping at an ice cream manufacturer and I am self-employed as a private tutor. We have two children, ages 3 and 1. We have two cats and a dog. We own a home in a nice, middle class suburb of Cincinnati. We live on $30,000 a year with no government assistance whatsoever. We have never gotten WIC, Medicaid, or any other type of Welfare. My family lives a middle class lifestyle on a just above poverty line income.
Why We Do It
I have a Masters of Secondary Education and have the potential to make at least $40k a year as a high school English teacher. This was my plan from the time I realized a Bachelor in English was virtually meaningless. I fully intended to work and never planned to stay home until I gave birth to my daughter. I could not handle the thought of another person raising my child, missing their first steps and not being there to kiss away their tears. My husband and I made a conscious decision to live in near poverty in order for me to stay at home with the children. I work around 8 hours a week in the evening tutoring and love the flexibility and “alone time” it gives me, but I am definitely not bringing in major bucks. My husband, who has just his GED, has almost tripled his hourly wage since the birth of our daughter from his hard work and determination but we know things won’t drastically change until I either go back to work or he goes to school.
How We Do It
My inlaws cosigned on our house allowing us to get an FHA loan with a mortgage payment less than what our rent had been. The added expenses of home ownership, such as repairing the sidewalks which we have to do this year, sometimes destroys our budget, but we are blessed with two families willing to understand our situation and help if they can. We refinish cheap furniture and love the look of Ikea so that helps with our décor. When things need remodeled, we do it ourselves and recently transformed our kitchen for $500, countertops, flooring, and all.
I also budget for everything. The kids have a $60 budget biweekly for things like diapers, wipes, etc. We also budget yearly for passes to the zoo, amusement park, and museum center so we always have fun free things to do instead of activities which cost money. $200 for food and cleaning supplies. $120 for gas. We budget for all of our bills to ensure at least the minimum balance is paid. If we have other needs, like clothes, we use credit cards and use any extra money each pay period to pay those cards off again. I’ll admit that usually by the end of the year, with all winter birthdays and Christmas, we find ourselves counting down the days to get our tax refund.
How I Wish Things Were Different
I would absolutely love to have extra money. I love to shop. My children never ever go without anything and are probably entirely too spoiled. I don’t think you would look at us and think we only make $30k. We are all stylish, well dressed, and have new technology. I’m writing this on my MacBook Pro. But I wish we had more of a safety net. Money stashed away for emergencies, so when we have to do something like pay a contractor to repair our sidewalk, we don’t have to borrow the money from our parents. I would like to not have to use credit cards to purchase the extras, but I am happy with our ability to pay off our very small amount of debt.
For us, the struggles being a young family of four with a $30k income is worth it for us to spend time with our children when they are young.