We make around 50K, which is the average for this area. We have seven children, which is not the average. We found out recently that if our kids were in public school, they'd qualify for the full school lunch program. We homeschool, so we buy their lunches.;-)
We have made what we think is really good money for about the last five years, so that has been nice. What we think is really good money is around 50K.
We have been absolutely poverty stricken before. When we first married and had one child we were on food stamps. We starved a while before I swallowed my pride and agreed to do that. When they approved us I was stunned at how much money we got. I couldn't believe how easy it was to feed my family of three on the amount they gave us.
I have always laughed at the mainstream magazines 'it costs this many thousands of dollars to rear a child' articles. Every one of those things I have seen show that it costs us more money than we make to have as many children as we do, but we have money in the bank, food on the table, clothes, and shelter.
We are careful with our money- we haven't had a car payment in fifteen years (we've been married for 20). We buy only socks and underwear new. All other clothing comes from the thrift shop. Even most birthday and Christmas presents are used- my kids think that's great. They are sort of reverse snobs, who think it's silly to spend extra money on something new when you get spend half as much money for better stuff if you go used.
We've eaten a lot of beans and rice and rice and beans, potatoes about twenty different ways over the years. At one point we had baked potatoes and milk for lunch every day for six months- and the milk was through WIC.
We're doing better now, but we still don't buy a lot of extras (except this week, we had two cats die and we bought a lot of chocolate).
We have always had only one income because it was vitally important to me to stay home with the children. Not too long ago my dh was talking with his sister and she was telling him it was impossible to live on one income, just impossible. Could not be done because everything was so expensive these days, she insisted.
His sister lives near San Diego, and it is expensive there. But she also chose to buy a house with a built-in swimming pool, and she has only three children (and her ex pays good child support for two of them).
Where you live does make a huge difference, and sometimes we've been able to choose where we're living, and sometimes we haven't had a choice. But other choices also make a difference.
I like to eat organic, but if it were a choice of non-organic or me leaving the kids, then we'd eat non-organic (and have). We've lived in neighborhoods other people thought were terrible- and they were- but that's what we could afford, so that's where we lived.
I'd rather eat Chinese take-out three or four times a month (my besetting weakness), but that's not a wise use of our funds, so we eat Chinese maybe two or three times a year.
My dh prefers having his own car, and right now he's got one. It's dented, scratched, peeling, old and unsightly, but it runs.
When we lived in Alaska we had one vehicle, and he walked to work. It was only a mile, but we lived in the interior and he walked in the winter- 40 below zero temps.
When we lived in CA we had no car. Somebody loaned us a mo-ped and dh drove it to work, and the baby and I walked everywhere else.
We lived in Illinois for six months- from October to March, with no car. Dh walked to work. We bundled the baby up and walked everywhere in the snow. Some of our favorite memories are related to those dirt-poor days.
We lived in Okinawa for five years with only one vehicle- it's a tropical island, lots of rain. Dh drove a mo-ped again, and he'd do it again if he needed to (we were given the second car around three years ago).