Author Topic: Small income, little kids  (Read 5325 times)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Small income, little kids
« on: February 16, 2014, 07:11:20 AM »
Husband and I have a newly three-year-old and an almost two-year-old. My husband is a teacher and, as a trained librarian with two kids who would need daycare, I can't afford to work! I do bring in a little money doing Leapforce At Home and so forth and we have part-time childcare.

We have been getting free housing but that ends this summer, and I feel like it's going to take extreme Mustachianism just to make ends meet--never mind save anything. Does anyone have encouraging stories about getting somewhere on a small income? (We don't know exactly how much he'll be making, but areas with better pay also have higher rent and we are not interested in a long commute for him.)

frugally

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2014, 07:24:52 AM »
Do you mind sharing what you define as a small income?  Sometimes a big income to me might be small to someone else and vice-versa, so I think people would appreciate a ballpark.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2014, 08:26:06 AM »
Without numbers (even approximate ones) it's difficult to provide advice.

My poster child for getting ahead on small income with even smaller expenses would be Jacob Lund Fisker of Early Retirement Extreme. His lifestyle is a large departure especially for a family with kids but we've been slowly working our way down that path, or at least towards minimalism in general. Kids love it.

It's all about living within your means and getting your savings rate as high as possible. Low income makes that harder, but there are all sorts of creative ways to lifehack, even/especially with kids. Kids mean mouths to feed and some extra healthcare expenses, but outside of that they need surprisingly little to flourish.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2014, 11:39:10 AM »
I'm sorry I was so vague. I honestly don't even have approximate numbers--my husband is conducting a job search over a wide range of territory, so we don't know salary or rent, plus we've been able to eat a lot of our meals in the dining hall here. But no one teaches for the money, right? He has been looking at school districts paying anywhere from $70K, but in major metropolitan areas where our rent could be over $2K/month, to smaller cities with salaries in the low 40s but commensurately lower rents. I guess I really just want to know that it's going to be okay! Thanks for the recommendation of ERE.

ch12

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2014, 12:02:42 PM »
He has been looking at school districts paying anywhere from $70K, but in major metropolitan areas where our rent could be over $2K/month, to smaller cities with salaries in the low 40s but commensurately lower rents.

+1 on ERE: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/early-retirement-extremes-budget.html

Once you know what your income and expenses are, we'll be able to give you more help. Goblinchief is probably not tooting his own horn, but he has 3 kids, and they have a pretty Mustachian budget: http://thegoblinchief.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/a-very-preliminary-retirement-budget/

http://thegoblinchief.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/goblin-hoard-report-card-january-2014/

Another good person to read about is RootofGood, who similarly has 3 children. http://rootofgood.com/developing-a-retirement-budget/

Both of them have yearly budgets that are safely under the low 40s (even with taxes!). I hope that helps.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2014, 12:49:44 PM »
Another couple of options that you might want to consider:

If your husband works during the day, then you might find a part time job working in the evenings and weekends so child care isn't needed. Many public libraries in my area are open 2-3 nights a week and at least one day a weekend for instance.

Just because you have two children, you don't need a three bedroom house/apartment. Children sharing rooms was common up until the last 20 years or so. Especially when they're little, this isn't a hardship and in many cases make them closer as siblings. Getting a smaller place means less money needed - less rent/mortgage, less in utilities, ect...

frugally

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2014, 02:53:28 PM »
There are many journals on that forum, including my own that post budgets of around $25,000/year and have kids.  It's doable, you just need to take some extra time to optimize. :)

eman resu

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2014, 05:54:46 PM »
But no one teaches for the money, right?

Bulls**t. My wife absolutely taught for the money (and the kids). Now she is an adviser in a teaching college for the money (and the kids).  In NY, everyone teaches for the money (and, sometimes, the kids). Much of it is deferred comp, but still... the money.  And you can't throw a stone without hitting a new school district, so commuting isn't usually an issue. If you are willing to make a move for employment and jump through the certification hoops, it's the promised land.
 
Library science is an expertise that travels too.  Inventory.  Word-smithing (often). A bit of teaching/training.  You can do anything!  It will absolutely be OK.  Good luck and best wishes.


scrubbyfish

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2014, 06:09:23 PM »
I am the sole provider for myself and my kid. Most years our income has been under $30,000 or under $20,000 and we have definitely "gotten ahead". Last year our income was about $12,000 and we were still more than comfortable, and very happy!

RootofGood

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2014, 06:56:10 PM »
Another good person to read about is RootofGood, who similarly has 3 children. http://rootofgood.com/developing-a-retirement-budget/

Both of them have yearly budgets that are safely under the low 40s (even with taxes!). I hope that helps.

We got by on around $24k/yr while working (not including child care and the mortgage).  Add in a 30 year mortgage and we'd be closer to $30k while working.  In retirement, we spend closer to $32k (more health/dental and discretionary expenses).  Our oldest two kids are 7 and 8, and so far they haven't cost us much at all.  Food is probably the main expense.  Some here have suggested our costs will rise as the kids get into their teen years, and there's probably some truth to that.  But it's really up to you to decide how you spend money.  In general, there has been a lot of lifestyle inflation in raising kids the last few decades.  A lot of that is optional. 

OP, it might make sense temporarily to stay at home with the kids until they are in school.  Maybe after they are in elementary school you can find an employment situation that fits around your kids' school schedule.  Our kids' school also has after school care that works out to around $1500/yr/kid and would let you work a full 9-5 schedule. 

For housing, it's okay for kids to share a room, so you could get by in a 2 BR house/apartment for quite a while.  Our 3 kids share 1 room (by choice), leaving us with 2 unused bedrooms.  That will change at some point, but for now, we have a lot of unused space in our house.  For cars, we can fit 3 kids in the back of a 14 year old honda civic sedan.  For longer trips, we take the larger 14 year old Accord.  Having 1-2 doesn't mean you have to get a large silly car.  However. we'll probably upgrade to a single car that's bigger whenever our cars require replacement (since we occasionally want to haul more than just us and our 3 kids). 


La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2014, 11:56:42 AM »
Thanks, everyone--that's just the kind of support I was looking for! It's scary to have a big change coming up and nice to know that others are managing.

We're actually right on some of the advice--we are already planning on getting only 2 bedrooms and are currently selling off our CRV. We're hoping to get by with just the 99 Accord for a while!

I wish I had been as smart as frugally when I was 23 :-).

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2014, 12:34:17 PM »
we are already planning on getting only 2 bedrooms

Good to hear! We have all 3 in one bedroom, though our little guy does end up in our bed most nights.

teen persuasion

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Re: Small income, little kids
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2014, 07:33:08 PM »
Hey there, small world - I'm a librarian and DH is a teacher and we have five kids. I was a SAHM for nearly 20 years, until DS5 hit Pre-K. We paid off our mortgage 15 years early, just about the time the oldest went to college and I went back to work.  All the kid-related tax breaks were great for big paydowns on the mortgage, and now fund our Roths, while DH puts about half his pay into his 401k.

It may not be worth it to work only to pay daycare, especially if it bumps you out of eligibility for the EITC and Child tax credit, and even more so if your state matches those (N.Y. does). Run the numbers to see.