Raising a Family of Four on $2400 a Month

**Note:  I know that there are several families that make less than we do.  I’m not trying to represent myself as destitute.  A lot of my friends don’t know how we get by.  Also, when I stopped working three years ago, we lost my income of $40K.  So downsizing and living on one income has been a journey for us.  If any of you would like to share your own financial testimony, I would love to hear it.  Thank you for your time.**

I do not view my finances as a private matter. I’ll discuss them with anybody. I don’t care if you know how much my husband makes and what our bills are, so I’m just going to do a post about it. Hopefully, it will encourage someone or at least answer some questions.  We have a 9 year old boy and a 4 year old girl at home with us.  My husband is my kids’ father.  I do not make any income.

My husband makes a gross income of $3,373.79 per month.
He has worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 7 years.  He is a prison chaplain at a maximum-security 3000-man unit here in Texas.

Monthly Deductions

  • We do pay child support for his 12 year old son. This amount is $437.
  • FICA-SS = $141.51
  • Federal Income Tax = $31.68
    • We claim our full 4 dependents during the year. We do not use our tax return as a savings account.
  • FICA – Medicare = $48.85
  • Retirement = $236.17
  • Pretax Insurance = $4.49
    • The State pays for my husband’s insurance. The kids are insured through the CHIP program, which is a reduced rate program that is a benefit of working for the State. However, it only covers the kids. I do not have insurance.
  • Barber = $1.00
    • He gets his hair cut for $1 a month. This is part of the schooling that is offered to offenders.
  • Laundry = $5.34
    • He can take in three items a day for washing and pressing. We provide the hangars.

So that leaves us with $2,417.75 to live on.

Static Monthly Expenses

  • We give 10% of our gross income to the church every month. That is $350 rounded up.
  • Our RV payment is $535 on a 4 year note. This is only one of two debts that we have (the combined total of both debts is less than $30,000). We had hoped to be debt free when we sold our home (http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1886962025251.104559.1577432737&type=1&l=71f8838933 ), but we had to take this as a loan. It is a 2009 Luxury by Design model, 40 ft long, fifth-wheel, with full bath, full kitchen, washer and dryer, and two bedrooms. We hope to have it paid for before then, saving interest. We live in an RV so we can evangelize and go when and where God wants us to go.

  • We own one PAID FOR 2000 Ford F250 diesel that we pull our RV with.

  • We own one PAID FOR 1997 Harley Davidson that hubby uses for transportation when weather allows.

  • The insurance for FULL COVERAGE on all three is $186.35 a month ($80/$80/$26.35). When you live in an RV, the insurance rates are different. State Farm does not insure RVs if you live in them. GEICO, however, has a dedicated RV insurance department. Awesome program! Both truck and RV are covered under ONE deductible, because normally, they are in the same wreck, lol.
  • We stay on church property, and we pay the church $150 a month.
  • Our wireless internet bill through Windstream is $68.17
  • My husband and I both have a cell phone. Our bill is roughly $125.
    • He has the Android, which is a smart phone, which requires a data package. His texting is blocked.
    • I have a Samsung Solstice, which is not a smart phone. I’m home all day with the internet. Why do I need a smart phone? I do have texting for $10 a month.

That gives us $1,004.71 for the rest.

The Rest

  • Our standard gas budget is $400.
    • Even though we live in town now, our diesel gets roughly 16 MPG, and diesel is $3.75 a gallon. However, we live 100 miles away from his son. Every other Friday, my husband drives to pick his son up. That is $50 in gas twice a month. That leaves us $300 for gas for the rest of the month. We have a little flux there, depending on where all we have to go for the month.
  • Our standard grocery budget is $400.
    • That is $13 a day. I do as much cooking as I can from scratch. This saves money on taxes for prepared food. I eat meatless during the day. The kids get snacks and sandwiches. We have a “meat” dinner in the evenings.  We are not on any government assistance.
  • Propane fluctuates, depending on the weather. It ranges anywhere from $30 – $80 a month.
    • Our water heater and
    • Our stove is propane. I cook with a crock pot and electric skillet unless I need to bake.
    • We also have an electric furnace heat option built in, which shares the load with the propane.
  • We give Jace a $15 a month allowance.
    • He is 9. 10% goes to tithes, 10% to savings, and 5% to offering. The rest he can spend, after checking with us and doing research on whatever he wants to buy.

That leaves us between $159 and $209 to put toward miscellaneous.

I hope you have found this information helpful and encouraging. We have a great life! I wouldn’t trade it for two new cars and a new house and a closet full of new clothes. Some people think I am compromising my kids’ futures by not paying for their college. I believe in living debt-free as much as possible and that you can work and put yourself through college. I did. And I’m using my wonderful education to ensure that my children receive a high education at home, while being given a healthy diet of God, love, food, and wings!

I encourage you to check out www.daveramsey.com , where you will be coached about financial freedom.

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.—Proverbs 22:7

Have time for more?  I am linked up here:


27 thoughts on “Raising a Family of Four on $2400 a Month

  1. It’s great to see a breakdown of a family’s budget-my husband and I work hard to stay debt free and it’s encouraging to read about your family. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I love budgeting and finances. This is great to see! I am sure it will enourage many. Your way of life sounds inspiring!

    Mrs. White
    The Legacy of Home

  3. We live on a strict budget, too. We have 6 children and educate them at home. We don’t drive new cars and strive to be debt free except for our house payment.

    Once your accept that life is not about materiel things, your whole life perspective will change.

    It is sad so many people judge their success on their income.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    • So many moms say “I can’t afford to be a stay-at-home mom.” Then I notice that they live in a $200,000 house with another $50,000 worth of furnishings and decor, they drive a $30K – $50K car, their husband also has one, they spend $100+ a month on their hair, not to mention their closet packed full of clothes, and I agree with them. They can’t afford to stay-at-home if they continue that lifestyle. It just comes down to what you want out of life. For me, this is what I want. My self-worth does not come from my material possessions.

  4. I love the $1 haircut from the prison. I think this will help people realize how we can get on little or nothing. I love your RV and being able to get up and go. We were able to get debt free of credit cards just 2 years ago. The best we thing we did and only use it once in a while or loss it. Weird. Thanks for shareing.

  5. Our income is very similar for a family of four, too, although clearly with different expenses. It’s interesting to see how other people make it work! And I love your idea of using savings accounts instead of envelopes. My very organized brain is attracted to that concept instead of just dumping everything into the one savings account, or leaving it in checking (which tends to get spent!). Also, I second the advice to go with credit unions! I convinced my DH to switch to one a few years after we were married. It was AMAZING how much money we were spending on bank fees and charges – in a typical month, it was a good $20 or more!

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  7. Very interesting to see it all broken down like that. I’ve made lists of expenses before but only based on net income and it’s usually just to show where our money has gone, not really to plan or budget. 😦 My dh brings home about the same amount from his law enforcement job, but he is also in the reserves so we get about $350 on top of that. Although, we did go about 1 1/2 years without it (until just recently) and it was difficult. We homeschool our 5 sons…
    I’ll stop there. This may turn into a blog post. lol

  8. This caught my eye because we live in Southern California on about the same, though we have higher housing expenses and WAY more debt. Primarily my school loans and medical bills from the miscarriage last year where EVERYTHING went wrong and pretty much doubled our debt.
    With our baby due in a couple months and me being SAHM for the first time I am trying to figure out how to save us money, since I was bringing in a 1/3 of our income. This also means making as much at home/from scratch as I can. I am a little scared about the potential cloth diapering and need to figure out line drying in the dusty area we live in.
    Look forward to finding more tips about all of this!

  9. Thank you for this wonderful post! My husband and I are currently paying down debt accrued after he lost his job in 2009, but this gives me hope that we can have the sort of family life we want once he finishes his schooling!

    • The word “tithe” means a tenth, and, though some say it is Old Testament only, I believe that we are still held accountable to give our first ten percent of our earnings to the Lord. It is an act of not only obedience but also of faith. Tithes generally go directly to the pastor. Offerings are monies that are given above and beyond the tithes and this money generally goes toward the bills of a church–electricity, Sunday School curriculum, outreach, etc. We teach our children to give 10% toward tithes and 5% toward offerings.

      • Tithe is to the church and all that is part of that church. Offerings, most of the time is to other ministers …..other family’s that are in need, could be to a homeless shelter…..what ever God tells u to put into:) It is His money!!!

  10. Thanks for sharing! I’ve been wanting to share this info on my blog, but my hubby is not quite as open as I am…so we’ll see. I think he’s starting to care less about it now that he knows that our budget can help someone else. Your family has a lot of similarities with mine…our budget is about $2200/month for a family of 4…breakdowns are totally different though and we have much less wiggle room. I would LOVE to get out of our house debt, but after trying 3 different times in 5 years, we haven’t been able to sell it. That’s a huge chunk of our monthly income, along with my student loans for grad school, which I regret getting in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there.

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  12. We lived in our 5th wheel for almost 3 years. When we moved in we were a family of 5 and when we moved out we were a family of 6. My kids LOVED living in there. Your picture made me smile because ours looked very similar to yours. My kids cried when we sold it and the truck because both were home. My son still draws pictures of “big green” (the truck) 3 years after we moved out! There are so many things we miss about that lifestyle and the budget is one of them! So much cheaper to live that way and so much less to keep clean!

    I have always been on a tight budget. We will soon be a family of 8! Our grocery bill is now $650/mo, but it seems to keep growing as prices keep going up! (That includes all our paper goods too.) My husband went from self-employed to army. Even though we don’t have a huge paycheck, the knowing that a steady income is coming in is nice compared to the ever-changing income of a self-employed carpenter. 🙂

    Blessings to your family.

  13. Goodness! My husband needs to be a prison Chaplain instead of just a Corrections officer! He works at a maximum security institution too. Our insurance is $450 a month and that takes a huge chunk out. He only makes $1800 a month, and things are very tight! I really liked seeing where all of your money goes, and how you are teaching your children about giving to the church. 🙂

  14. My husband is a church planter and we live on a very similar income with baby #5 on the way next month. I fully appreciate you sharing your budgeting and relate to it greatly. God bless you in your ministry!

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