Budget Series: Our Budget

Photo Credit

To set the stage for our get out of debt plan, I want to show you our monthly budget over the past 2 years.

I’m sharing private financial details in hopes that it will help encourage or inspire someone else who, like me, was feeling defeated by their budget.  I recently read a blog about getting out of debt, and the author said (something along the lines of), “I wish it were socially acceptable for me to give you our actual budget and income to encourage you, but it’s not.”  Well, I’m not concerned with socially acceptable.  My husband and I have talked about it, and while we do pray that the response will be as kind as possible, it’s worth the risk for us if it can inspire someone else.

I also have to preface our budget with this:  My family is not deprived, and we are very happy :)


With all that said, here is our initial budget, paying only the minimums on debt, except where noted (the one that looked hopeless for debt reduction):

Total Monthly Income (after tithes, offerings, and required payroll deductions): $2,013

Voluntary Payroll Deductions (money we never see)
Deferred Comp 457: $100/month
Dental Insurance: $38.30

Monthly Bills:
Mortgage ($22 extra/month): $591
Auto Insurance: $157
Electric: $175
Water: $30
Direct TV: $70
House Phone: $15.41
Cellphones: $50
Student Loan #1: $100
Student Loan #2: $192
Check Return Fee (to get copies of our checks each month) $6

Other Spending (Cash Envelopes):
Groceries/personal needs/cleaning supplies: $200
Gas: $150
Misc. Needs: $40
Spending Money (eating out, clothing, entertainment, etc.) $100

Some notes about our spending:
Mortgage:  We were paying approximately $25/month extra from day 1, which was going to shave 5 years off our 30 year loan, and save us $10,000 in interest payments…just $25/month extra!

Electric: When I started our budget, I made our own “budget” plan with the Electric Company by averaging our bills to get an approximate monthly figure.  (I would recommend calling them first to make sure it’s okay!).   So, through the summer, when our bill should actually be $100-$125, we still pay $175, so that when we get a $400 bill in the winter, we have overage to cover it.  Yes, we could put the extra into a savings account for that purpose, but this is what works for us.  Our winter bills were killing our budget because we just didn’t have an extra $200.  Plus, it’s much easier on the budget as a whole to have a consistent monthly amount.  I did the same thing with our water bill, which also varies slightly from month to month.

Direct TV: If I were counseling someone else, this expense would be the first to go.  It’s about $780 in a year’s time, and unnecessary by my standards.  My sports fan hubby disagrees, however, so it stays.

House Phone:  We have a bare bones service.  Local calls only.  No long distance calls (we use our cells for that), no caller ID, call waiting, etc.  It’s literally local calls only.

Cell Phones:  Chad has a cell phone for work that he can use for personal use as long as he pays for the calls, at a rate of $.10/minute.  I used to use a very simple Net 10 prepaid, limiting myself to 150 minutes/month, which was a $30/60 day card every other month.  That’s what I would recommend to someone else, but my mom was kind enough to offer to add me to her plan, so for only $5 more per month, I can talk more and have a really cool phone :)  This comes in handy for Chad to call his family, who are spread out all over.

Deferred Comp: This is something that my hubby has always been adamant about continuing, and to be honest, I had forgotten about it, since it comes straight out of his check, pre-taxes, and we never see it.

Spending Money: Our spending money seems like a lot, but it includes many things, like clothing, activities and entertainment for the boys and our family, eating out, etc.  Rather than separating it all out, I just lump some things together.  Also, having spending money helped keep up hubby’s morale back before he was fully on board with the budget.

Misc. Household Needs:  Most of our indoor needs are included in our grocery/household budget, and this includes repair and maintenance on the house and vehicles, garden supplies, lawncare, etc.

Grocery/Household: I will be posting more in the weeks to come about ways to be frugal.  I no longer use coupons, but God is faithful and our small budget has been enough.

Gas: We are blessed in that Chad works for the state (he’s a forest ranger), drives a state vehicle and has no commute.  We’ve had to become more intentional about our driving habits, but this amount is just enough gas money each month.

Health Insurance: My boys have a state-subsidized health insurance.  When they started, we paid a premium of $20/month, but recent legislation has changed even that, so now we have no premium at all for their healthcare, but do pay reduced fees for some things.  Chad has healthcare through the state, which is about $50/month and comes out of his check before we get it.  I do not have health insurance.  Yes, we know it’s a risk, but we simply do not have an extra $300+ per month to pay for it, on top of paying for all expenses until we meet a $5,000 deductible.


Other topics in this series:

~Debt Discouragement
~Why Debt-free? (What the Bible says about debt)
~Our Budget (Frugality is necessary)

~Frugal Living (The Grocery Budget)
-Poor is in the attitude, not the bank account.
~Frugal Living (Saving on other expenses)
~Create Your Own Budget
~Our plan to be debt free (including our mortgage!) in about 6-7 years.

(Disclaimer: I am NOT a financial advisor. I am just a mom with a family living on a single income and I want to encourage others that it is possible to live on a tight budget and still have your needs met and be content…and get out of debt! I really hope that our personal budget information will help someone.)

Please feel free to ask any questions, and I will answer them to the best of my ability.


    • Crystal says

      Thanks, Ashley! I am really excited about this series and really praying that it will be of some benefit to someone :)

  1. says

    I think you guys have been doing an awesome job! I see the sacrifices made and applaud you! You have inspired me, since I’ve been reading your budget posts for a few weeks now-since you started it.
    You have gooten me eager to cut back some things myself. We only have house debt and want to pay it off sooner than later. We pay an extra $100 on the mortgage. The plan is to do more, but I also want to save to fix things up on the house. We have lived here six years and haven’t done anything but paint-and it’s an old house. However I will only fix things up with cash, and so that is what we are doing.
    With your example we have cut our netflix bill in half, cut the data plan down on my phone and have shaved some money from the groceries- the meals have been more from scratch these days. Keep it up! I love reading and admire you for putting it all out there!

  2. says

    It can’t be easy throwing it all out there for the world to see…but thank you for being so willing! It certainly makes it easier to figure out the numbers when you see someone elses!
    Blessings to you, friend as you continue to share with us!

  3. says

    I’m really impressed at your $200 a month grocery budget WITHOUT coupons! I’ve seen your meal plans and know y’all eat WELL. I spend closer to $300 or even a little more for just my husband and me WITH coupons. :-)

    I’m also really interested in your payment options for the utility and water bills. That seems really helpful and a useful way to keep track of things. I had never heard of doing it that way before! Ours tends to be the opposite, though–way bigger in the summer when we’re running air conditioning and smaller in the winter when we mostly use a space heater in our small apartment.

    • Crystal says

      Thanks, Laura! I’m definitely going to talk about our food budget :) Our local utility company has a “budget” option, where every month they average the previous 12 months and then you pay that amount, and at the end of the year if you aren’t “square” with them, you pay the difference. I don’t do this plan exactly, because I wanted to have more control over it. I averaged our bills and realized that we pay about $175/month (add up a years worth of bills and divide by 12). We started during the summer (our down time), and paid $175/month, even when our bill was only about $100 or so. And by the winter, we’d built up a credit (most utility companies will allow you to pre-pay your bill, and build up a credit), so that when our bill is $350, we still only pay $175. The ideal situation would be to put the difference in savings to draw interest for you, but that doesn’t work the best for us, so we stick with what does. With our water bill, the bill ranges from about $27-$30, so I used the high number and that’s what we pay every month, because we didn’t know exactly how much it was and our bill only gets to us a few days before it’s due, which was very frustrating. Then, about once a year or so, we build up credit (since we pay a few dollars extra with the rounding), and we skip our water bill and use that money for something else. Hope this helps :)

      • Amy says

        That is such a great idea! I paid budget once and it was a horrible experience. We ended up owing so much money. But if I estimate our bills and send in extra during our low months (which would be fall/winter), then our high months (summer) would be manageable for us! Great idea! Thanks for sharing =)

  4. says

    WOW! Thanks for sharing this. It really has me thinking. I especially want to hear about your shopping habits and tips. I feel like this kills my budget every single month!

    • Crystal says

      Deanna, Thanks! I’m glad it has you thinking :) I want people to see that even if you don’t have quite as bare bones of a budget as we do, you can still cut back and save a lot of money in the process. Blessings to you!

  5. says

    Wonderful! I’ll be sharing with my husband because he thinks we live on a tight budget and yours is even tighter in many areas.
    I didn’t notice internet in your budget. That’s how we cut satellite since we were already paying for it. We use ESPN3 to watch sports although hubby still misses watching the cardinals play baseball, except the few times they’re on the antenna station and then it tends to be a night he’s not home.

    • Crystal says

      Eden, my hubby is a Cardinals fan as well! But, since we live in Kentucky (he grew up about 2 hours from St. Louis then moved to KY), he doesn’t get to watch too many Cards games anyway. No internet in our budget, but I can get wi-fi at the library or use their computers, and I can pick up wi-fi signals on my phone if it’s something that doesn’t require security.

      • Eden @ I'm THRIVing says

        Internet is essential for our family but satellite is not. And that’s why we each get to create our own budget instead of somebody else declaring how we have to spend our money :)
        My husband is bummed that we don’t get local coverage of the Cardinals games except on rare occasions – and that’s even with their minor league team in town.
        Internet for us is essential because my husband’s job can be done remote with internet access. This means when he’s on call or has to take a server down at 9 pm one night, or if I’m sick and need him home, he can work from here. Just a few times a month covers a lot of the internet cost in saved commuting gas. I also use the internet for my business.
        But it would be a good thing for our family time if we weren’t all so addicted.

        • Crystal says

          Eden, I hope it didn’t seem as if I were implying that you shouldn’t have internet, because I certainly didn’t mean that :) Blessings to you and your family!

  6. says

    Crystal–what a wonderful (and brave) post! I love looking at budgets broken down, especially when the amounts are more modest like ours. Thanks so much for being vulnerable and putting actual numbers out there.

    I thought I was doing well with our grocery budget, but can’t wait to hear your tips. :) There’s always something new to learn!

    Thanks for linking up at Thrifty Thursday!

    • Crystal says

      Anna, I’m excited to share my grocery budget tips next week :) Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  7. Brooke says

    O WOW! I want to hear more about your grocery bill! Mine is around $200 a WEEK!! I would love to at least half that! You would have a heartache if you knew where we stood right now. It’s not one of my finest moments! Now that I have worked diligently at a healthy lifestyle and exercise….my next goal is to budget our money and be much better stewards w/ it. Thank you for doing this…putting yourself out there and offering up help! I’m ready to learn more!

    • Crystal says

      Brooke, you could easily half that amount! $400/month is really a pretty comfortable amount. I completely agree, our main goal is to be good stewards with what God gives us. Thanks for all your encouragement!

  8. says

    Hey! We’re in a similar boat! Our outstanding debt is my student loan, which I didn’t actually finish borrowing until I was almost 30. Our budget it similar to yours — not much wiggle room, but I’m fascinated by your grocery budget! Our groceries are closer to $400/mo.

    And you’re right. The health insurance is a killer. My two sons and I would not be insured if we didn’t pay about $325/mo for a high deductable insurance. Part of the reason our grocery budget has gone up is, frankly, we need to eat well and STAY HEALTHY! I cook just about everything from scratch, and I buy organic when it’s on sale and I can swing it! I’d love to reduce groceries to $200/mo., but I just can’t imagine how!

    I found you at Hearts 4 Home!

    • Crystal says

      Michelle, I didn’t finish borrowing until a couple years ago as well. $200/month may not be realistic for other families (especially without coupons)…we make a lot of “sacrifices” and our children are only 2 and 4 and tend to be light eaters. And, yes, health insurance is ridiculously expensive!

  9. says

    It is always eye opening to see others budgets–especially how mcuh lower bills are in some areas than where we live. For example, it would be impossible to rent a one-bedroom apartment here each month for what you pay for your mortgage. It is just so much higher here than that. Likewise, the minimum monthly water bill (even if you are just one person and have no yard) is going to be higher. Our electric bills here are highest in the summeer; a/c runs fo 6 months here since it is at least 90º, all the way up to an average of 116º a day for that time (in the summer it is 113º at 8 pm!) I know many people who have $600 a month electric bills (and some who have $900 a month electric bills for 3 months).

    Your budget is much more luxurious than mine; you are not deprived at all!

    • Crystal says

      Brandy, thank you for your thoughts! Yes, I know that our expenses are less in certain areas than a lot of other regions in the country. But, if my husband worked in his same field in those regions, he would be making double the pay as well :)

      I completely understand that some people have less wiggle room than we do (I’ve seen your posts on Money Saving Mom and others, so we could probably all learn a lot from you!). But, I think that your level of diligence and frugality is the exception, and not the rule. The reason I included that part is because there are a lot of people who see $200/month for groceries and household items, no extras for our children, etc. and assume that my children must be deprived. In my area, people go into debt, don’t pay their bills, etc. in order to buy nicer toys for their children or to be able to afford eating out, playing sports, etc. I don’t want to give anyway (particularly local friends) the false impression that we’re deprived and hard up.

      Blessings to you and your family!

  10. says

    Came over from Make Life Meaningful Mondays, what a great post! Your budget rocks! You have reminded me of how important it is, whether in plenty or not, to continue to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. thanks. N

  11. says

    That is amazing and courageous to share your financial details with the world. I’m visiting from Time Warp Wife. My family is debt free, but you’ve inspired me to look at my budget and find ways in which we are wasteful. I need to be using my excess to bless instead of waste. Thank you for this.

    • Crystal says

      Thank you, Jame! Congrats on being debt-free! I keep telling my hubby I wish we could have had these financial revelations about 10 years ago! And, I completely agree…we want to be able to use excess to bless instead of waste as well :)

  12. says

    Thanks for being so forthcoming on your expenses. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your series. There’s something about reading the story of how someone overcomes a huge obstacle, when the circumstances seem glum, that is so incredibly encouraging. :)

  13. says

    Thanks for the inspiring post. Please show me how to cut my grocery bill. I have tried for 20 years nothing seems to work consistently. I spend between $600 and $800 a month. I need help.

    • Crystal says

      Paige, my next posts are going to be tips for saving money :) $200/month may not be good for your family, but you can definitely start taking small steps and decrease it a little at a time.

  14. says

    I agree about Direct TV. We have it too and I’d like to cancel, but my husband likes some shows and so does my daughter. I never watch TV. I’m working on them for when our plan expires in another year :)

    Good job with the budget!

    • Crystal says

      lol…good luck! I’ve been working on my hubby for about 5 years now! lol. Really trying not to nag him, but I still bring it up about twice a year so he knows I haven’t changed my mind..lol.

  15. says

    I look forward to reading your series. I am debt free (other than my mortgage which we are paying added principal) and live on one income. I quit my job to stay home with me son over a year ago. It was the best decision that I ever made. We cut out eating out, buying new clothes and other expenses but enjoy good home cooked meals and more family time. I try to keep my budget to $160 a month for groceries so I know the challenges that you are going through and I look forward to learning any tips that you have :)

  16. mandy joseph says

    I would love to hear more on how you spend $200/ month on groceries…i cannot even fathom that! Mind you my husband doesn’t enjoy casseroles, for poultry only likes chicken breast, and I have a daughter that is dairy, gluten-free amongst other fruits. But still, I am impressed and interested in how I can cut back. Do you eat meat? Is that included in your grocery budget or do you buy from a butcher ? Thanks for sharing :)

    • Crystal says

      Mandy, I just posted this week about some of the strategies we use to cut down on our grocery bill. We do eat soups/casseroles on occasion, but that’s not the bulk of our meals and it’s only things we enjoy. And, I don’t deal with allergies and special diets either, so it’s easier for me to have a tighter grocery budget in that regard. We do eat meat and that is included in my grocery budget. We actually eat meat with nearly every meal, except for occasionally we’ll have a meat-free pasta dish but that’s rare. You can see my meal plans here to get an idea of the kinds of food my family eats on this budget.

  17. says

    My meal plans look a lot like yours Crystal, with chicken (mostly boneless breasts but I have gotten deals on bone in breasts and whole chicken that I can’t pass up) and ground beef as the main meats. I work to use leftovers in creative ways to make it feel like a new meal. I thought your grocery tips were great!

    • Crystal says

      Alison, I do the same thing! Last week I made a pork roast Monday, Wednesday we had pork stew, Friday for our picnic I made pork BBQ, wrapping the sandwiches in aluminum foil to keep warm. My husband made the comment, “It doesn’t even feel like we’re eating leftovers.” :)

  18. says

    Finally someone with a real paycheck and budget! My husband is a CO at a Federal Prison and although he has been there for 4 years and we are making more than when he started a family of 5 (plus 5 animals, I know I know) living off what he makes is tough. I also looked into the Dave Ramsey approach and wasn't impressed with their success stories. Looking forward to the rest of your series.

    P.S. I found you via Money Saving Mom.

  19. says

    I just found your blog via Money Saving Mom as well. I can relate to your budget. We are a single income family and ended up this way do to the poor economy. I want to widdle our debt down. I have also listened to Dave Ramsey and even attended a Get Out of Debt Live show in Grand Rapids Mi. While we were there I noticed we were constantly being encouraged to SPEND on many items. It was discouraging since the whole point was to save and pay off debt. NOT MAKE MORE! My hubby and I left early. Anyways, I relate to your budget and also to having to keep my husband happy. We have have Dishnetwork. We did get rid of it for about 6 months but soon missed it. We ended up renting movies and going to shows more often, which took away from our saving mission. So we hooked back up to dish. Anyways, I am enjoying your column! Thanks so much for being so willing to share!

    • Crystal says

      Thanks for the encouragement, Stephanie! I’ve never been to any classes or shows, but Dave Ramsay is running a business, so he wants you to spend money. But he has inspired a lot of people with the motivation they need to get started. But, if you can get yourself excited and motivated about it, the rest of his teaching, in my opinion, is pretty much common sense stuff that people can figure out :)

    • Crystal says

      I try to keep my online time limited anyway, so I can use the library or free wifi offered at various places. I write my posts offline and can just go online to post them, approve and respond to comments, etc. I can also do a lot of facebook stuff on my smart phone (that I got free when my mom added me to her plan), without the internet.

  20. says

    I found your blog while I was strolling through Pinterest. I thought I would stop by and see some of your ideas for getting out of debt. I so desperately want to get out of debt myself and have been searching for ways to do that. We don't have a lot of debt and what we do have is all medical or back child support my husband owes due to being out of a job for a year. I have tried to cut corners every which ways but I don't see a way to do that any more.

    Keep up the good posts. I look forward to reading more soon.

    • Crystal says

      Lyndsay, thanks so much for visiting my blog and for your kind encouragement. I wish you blessings in your journey to get your finances where you want them to be and get out of debt. Even if it’s just a little, what a great satisfaction for it to be gone and to know that your money can truly be your own and not promised to someone else before you even get it…that’s such a disheartening feeling. Blessings to you and your family!

  21. Tracy says

    Holy cow, I think you would have a heart attack if you saw our budget! You can’t even rent a studio apartment for that price here, I think we spend that much in gasoline each month just to get hubby to work & kids back & forth to school each day. I’m impressed and yet dumbfounded at the same time. I had no idea it was so cheap to live in some parts of this country!

    • Crystal says

      Yes, Kentucky is a fairly cheap place to live, but people also don’t make a lot of money. My husband would make a lot more money in his field if we lived elsewhere, so I think it kind of evens out. But we certainly wouldn’t be able to afford to live on his salary in those more expensive places, since we barely make ends meet now :) Also, a lot of the things are choices that we’ve made. Our mortgage is less expensive than some because we bought an inexpensive house, and we don’t spend a lot of money on gas because we’re very intentional about our driving, etc. So, a lot of it is based on things that we’re doing to make sure our income will cover our expenses. Most local people have higher expenses as well :)

  22. Jasmin says

    Thanks so much Crystal! As I was reading this I felt like I was reading my own story. I need to cutdown tremendously and living in the Bay Area in CA on a single income is near impossible! So I will definitely be reading more on how we can reduce our huge credit card debt by saving in every way we can! God bless!

  23. Ellu says

    thank you for posting this. It has been very hard for us to create a budget…but after reading this I was able to create one and am prayerfully going to start it this month.

    Thank you again.

  24. Kathy Spitz Lipkin says

    Could you find at least some sort of health insurance for yourself – even one that just pays for a catastrophe?

    • Crystal says

      Kathy, this is definitely a concern for us! Unfortunately, since my first budget post, our situation has changed again (adding $440/month to our bills due to a move and the fact that we’re still trying to sell our previous home…). Even the policies that are basically only for those catastrophies are still at least $200/month (the ones I have found anyway).

  25. Mary Lou Long says

    After reading your blog & seeing some of the comments, I realized that maybe some of you & your readers haven’t heard of Crown Financial. We took that series through our church & it changed our lives. It is based on Larry Burkett’s books but the major message & memory work is all the money is the Lord’s & if you put Him first He will help get out of debt. This IS NOT a prosperity teaching AT ALL but it re-arranged our priorities. We got out of debt, had miracles happen in our spiritual lives,& have turned around & gone back in debt(long story) but when I found your blog I was feeling convicted about our debt & that will be changing… But for those of you that are discouraged about your debt—-please try to find a church teaching the CROWN Financial Series.

    • Crystal says

      Mary Lou, I have not heard of Crown Financial. I will definitely look into it. However, even without the program, I can tell you that I believe wholeheartedly that our money is God’s and that through tithing and giving He will bless us :) His word makes that part clear. I pray that He would bless you and your family as you strive to honor Him with your finances!

  26. Emily Lynn Nelson says

    I would really recommend looking into Samaritan Ministries. It's a health-share ministry that covers you for any health need (other than vision and dental) over $300 up to $250,000 for $150/month. What I love about it is that I'm not paying a monthly premium that goes to an insurance company to fund who-knows-what. My money goes to another Christian family with a legitmate health need, and by working together, all our needs are covered. I realize $150 is a lot out of the budget, but it's a worthy investment to consider (perhaps after that first student loan gets paid off?)

    • Crystal says

      Emily, I have considered this, but like you suggest it’s not in the budget right now. Even after we get to the point of being able to afford that $150/month investment, I’m not sure it would be the best idea for us. It’s definitely something that we will continue to pray about and consider, especially since the bill has passed (for now) requiring individuals to obtain insurance by 2014. At that point, we will be forced to make room in our budget for that purchase whether we can afford it or not :( Our prayer is that we can pay off our student loans by then so that money will be freed up, and we’re on track for that to happen.

  27. Jennifer says

    I officially love you! I’ve only recently come across your blog and Facebook page, so I’m new. But I love that your family makes the same as my family! I get discouraged when I see “frugal” advice from people making double what my family makes. People don’t realize that when you make $2000 a month, that’s ALL you make! There’s no extra pot of cash to grab from, especially when you don’t have credit cards. I’ve chosen to stay home and raise our daughter and I get a lot of people telling me that if I would just go out and get a job things would be easier, but I know that serving my family at home is what God has called me to do. Thank you for being such an inspiration to us families who are a littler lower on the income pole:) Money poor, but rich in family and love!

    • Crystal says

      :) Love this comment, Jennifer! Thanking you for the encouragement today! I have always felt the same way…could have written everything you just did…I was nodding my head as I read. I pray that God will continue to bless your decision to honor Him!

  28. Courtney Cunningham says

    Thank you so much for this! I have been looking into setting up a budget and paying off debt, but have been rather discouraged when I couldn't find specific numbers and everyone else I see seems to have a much higher income than I do. Your income is only slightly higher than mine, but it's just my husband and I (no kids), and, as such, we can do without a lot of the stuff you have to budget for, so this is a perfect guideline. Thank you for being so candid with what you make and where you spend it. It's been a great help.

    • Crystal says

      Courtney, I’m so glad it helped. I’m not sure how much you read, but that’s exactly why I decided to share because I found that same thing. It seemed as if all the people with get-out-of-debt and budget stories were people who had huge incomes, inheritances, etc. and lots of areas to cut back. We’ve actually had to cut our budget back even further as you can see here and here.

      • says

        found you through a link up (i just dont remember where the link up was…) and i LOVE it!!! and i must say, that is pretty much the same problem my husband and i have with dave ramsey. we love how honest and real he is, but so many of the people he writes about and uses as examples were living WAY outside their means when they first started, and made easily double what we make… i work at our church’s nursery and i get like 75 a week for that, and hubs makes about the same as your husband, but renting or buying up where we are in a bit more…. our one bedroom apt costs around 670 a month, and it’s one of the cheapest ones we could find! and hubs is going back to school (which unfortunately means more loans that will have to be paid off) so that he can get into a career field where there’s a bit more opportunity for decent pay etc. just getting by on prayer, and a lot of frugality :-) thanks for posting your actual numbers. definitely makes me feel a lot better that there are people in similar situations (we have his student loans and a car payment to get rid of ) with “similar” incomes and payments. thank you for sharing!!!

  29. Jo says

    Hi Crystal! I am also in Ky. not sure what part of the state you’re in as I just found your blog but… anyway I found you through a Pinterest Pin and took a look at your “About” page.

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be reading. My husband and I have just a little more income monthly than you do but not much! We do have 3 children however and they are quite a bit older than yours.. one is in her first year of middle school, one in his first year of high school and one in 4th grade. The expenses for the children do increase unfortunately :/

    As for the budget I just wanted to give you a word of warning…be careful that you aren’t covered by health insurance. We still aren’t covered, my husband and I. Just can’t afford it. But the reason for the warning, well for the first time in over 20 years we had no health insurance. My husband’s company laid off over 60 employee’s in 2009, the job he got afterwards (thank the Lord he could find one!) was a LOT less in pay, a LOT further to drive to, and the health insurance offered was just not affordable so we took our chances to do without for the 2 of us.

    Unfortunately at the age of 44, 2 years after we took our chances he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. We are now getting ready to move. We had to file bankruptcy, we lost our home, and in our middle 40’s, after doing everything “right” we have to start all over. It stinks. It really does.

    In the meantime I do like your plans. I spend just a little over what you do on groceries with VERY careful planning and know it can be done.

    Ok..so off to check out the rest of your blog!

    PS… Starting my own blog about our misadventures in fixing up a 200 year old home to live in as our “new” place. I’m guessing you get a little income from this one of yours! If so good job!! I have ad blocker so can’t see if you do have ads but if you do, wondering if you included that income in your budget? More power to ya girl if you are able to make a little/or even a lot from this! Hope one day to make a few dollars on the one I”m starting :)

  30. Jennifer Wilken says

    Just came across your blog, and your budget is a lot like ours! And I know many just can't fathom not having health insurance but I dont have insurance either I completely get it! Thanks for sharing it's nice to know we aren't the only ones!

    • Crystal says

      Thanks, Jennifer! It is tough not having health insurance, but a necessity for now. Thanks for your understanding about that :)

  31. Carrie Taylor says

    Thank you sooo much for listening to the Lord and to be willing to share with us!!! My husband is currently unemployed and has been for 5 months but God has been sooo GREAT to us and has taking caring of us and we have not been late for a bill yet! But I just get so frustrated with how much credit card debt we are in and how much money we spend every month just in minimum payments! And I too get discourage with some of the financial advice like selling things when we are already down to bare bones around here. :-) Oh and my husband and I both don’t have health ins. so don’t let that get you down God will take care of you. Thanks again!

  32. Rachel says

    We have very similar budgets and everyone else has medical in my family except me for the same reason. I am stressing about the Obamacare. Anyway…I wanted to share with you that we paid off about 30,000 in debt in about 5 years. The only debt we have is a mortgage. We don’t make much more than you but our mortgage is double even with that we were still able to pay off debt. I think people need to be intentional and be better stewards of their money and tithe. God will bless what you have left…The more kids we have had ( I have 5) the more financially stable we have become…that’s a God thing. Keep up the good work. God bless!

    • Crystal says

      Wow, that’s awesome that you were able to find an extra $500 per month to pay toward debt, despite what seems to be a very tight budget! Good for you! I would love any tips you have as well, we can always learn :)

  33. sonja chambers-spivey says

    Hi Crystal
    I just came across your site from a pin on pinterest. I know I didn’t just stumble across your site, I needed to come to your site. Your information is priceless and its for us common folk. I appreciate you sharing your family’s budget. How can you reach people if you aren’t transparent? I really appreciate you and what you do. Thank You!!!

  34. Laura says

    Wow our mortgage plus escrow plus PMI = $2400 a month. No wonder I feel that I have very little wiggle room! Less than $600 per month?

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Laura, as you can see, $2400/month would be more than we even MAKE (bring home) in a month, and the fact that you were approved for the size of a loan that would leave you with a $2,400/month payment says that your income is clearly far and above ours…it’s all relative!

  35. Mia Friend Mitchell-Khaleesi says

    Reading this has given me hope. I have decided that I make about $1800 a month(not including ot but I also only get paid on the 15th and last day of the month) I just started with my envelope system yesterday. I think I have things allocated wrong. This is a breakdown of each pay(every 2 weeks) where I have my $ going to and I am also VEGAN which makes my grocery shopping different:$250 rent (500 a month, living with my parents is helping me out and them Im single) Grocery store:$60, Produce $30 Savings:250 Car Gas:$30 Clothing$20 Blow$40 Smoking$30…Then my sinking funds: Medical $20 Xmas$40 Vet$20 Auto$40 Birthdays$20….Any input would be appreciated. =)

  36. says

    I sure appreciate your willingness to be so open and honest with your readers. It does help to see real numbers. Though our income varies, our family budget looks a lot like yours. It isn’t easy, but God is always faithful. It helps to remember that compared to the rest of the world, we have SO much. Thanks for this post!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      That is so true, Heather! And it is always my response when people make comments about my boys being “deprived” because they don’t have the latest, greatest things. We are so blessed, and even in our simple, modest lives, we are still surrounded by plenty and abundance, and so many things that are wants and not needs.

  37. Briana says

    Thank you so much for sharing this!! I know this was written a while back but it is so encouraging! My husband and I have recently committed ourselves to pay off our debts and had become discouraged because our income and bills almost matches your family’s exactly and we just didn’t know if it was even possible. I now know it can be if we set our mind to it!! It is so hard to find any information like this out there so you have something to compare, because how is anyone supposed to know what is a good budget for things? So thank you so much for being transparent and open, I’m sure it’s helped a lot of people feel encouraged and not alone :)!!

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