How 5 People Live Off 1 Income: February 2019 Expenses

February is usually a month when we are able to get our finances back on track. The holidays are over and 4 out of the 5 birthdays in my house were celebrated in January. But just as that dust was starting to settle, the service engine light started blinking on my 15-year-old car! How does my family of 5 live off one income? Here are our expenses for February 2019.

February 2019 Expenses

Electricity $112.65
Internet $73.98
Water $30.34
Cell phones $70.00
Restaurants $46.75
Groceries $318.95
Gasoline $70.76
Vehicle repairs $221.29
Home maintenance $0
Medical expenses $0
Entertainment $0
Kids’ activities $102
Gifts and Miscellaneous $183.69

Income and Deductions

Our only source of income is my salary as a clinical psychologist. My husband and I decided to not disclose my income or the exact number we contribute to our retirement plans.

I found this calculator through Collecting Wisdom that can calculate your income percentile by state. According to this, our gross (before tax) household income is in the 77th percentile for our state. (The calculator does not take household size into consideration, it’s just based on income.)

The following are taken directly from my pay:

Health insurance premium for the family plan through my employer is $145.67 per pay period ($291.34 for February).

Life insurance through my employer is $22.13 per pay period ($44.26 for February).

Health Saving Account contribution limits increased in 2019 to $7,000 for a family plan (including employer’s contributions). With a large family and high deductible, I contribute up to the max. My employer contributes $125 per month and I contribute an additional $211 per pay period ($422 for February).

Employer-sponsored retirement plan matches up to 5%. I contribute up to the match.

Taxes. We received our tax refund this month. Because we are debt-free except for our mortgage, I decided to put our refund toward our Roth IRAs. The contribution limits increased this year to $6,000 per person ($12,000 for married couple filing jointly).


My husband and I decided not to disclose our mortgage payment. I will say that our mortgage is 18% of my gross income and 23% of my net income. This is better than the recommended amount that housing be ≤ 25% of income.

I will also say that we are contributing additional principle to our mortgage payment each month. Given my personal circumstances, paying off my home is my #1 priority. I need to know that should I become sick or injured (or furloughed), my family will still have a roof over our heads.

Electricity (we do not have natural gas)

We live in a warm climate and did not turn on the heat. We did use the hot tub almost daily this month, which does use a significant amount of energy.

Still, this February’s bill of $112.65 is less than it was in February 2018 (we didn’t use the hot tub at all last year).


We have been living without an internet contract since our last provider was bought-out by another company. The good part about not having a contract is that you can change providers any time you want. The bad part is that the company can raise your bill any time they want.

Our bill recently increased from $71.98 per month to $73.98 per month.


Our water bill remained the same at $30.34.

Cell Phone

We continue to use a pre-paid cell service. The cost stays the same at $40 per line ($35 each with a family plan) for a total of $70 per month for 2 lines. I love not having a contract or fees. I previously wrote about our cell phones.


We aim to spend $100 per person per month (excluding going out to eat for special occasions such as birthdays, which I included under gifts and entertainment).

Groceries (including food, household products, and diapers) came in at $318.95. I have been reading about the Planetary Health Diet and I am also participating in a wellness program at work. Eating healthy really can save money!

Restaurant spending was $46.75 for 3 meals out for 5 people (averaging $15.58 a meal). One day, we all split 30 nuggets. On the other two occasions, we ordered pizza.

In total, we spent a combined $365.70 on food in February, which was well below our goal of $500.

Photo by Juan Cruz Mountford on Unsplash

Vehicle Expenses

Gasoline was more than I had anticipated at $70.76. Now that my kids have activities 4-5 days a week, we are using more gas.

Insurance we pay every six months.

Registration is due annually.

Maintenance was $221.29.

This month, I celebrated my 15th anniversary with my car! I thought it would be our last month together because the service engine light started flashing and the car was jerking both at a stop and when accelerating. But before giving up on it, I wanted to see how much a repair would cost.

My husband took it to an auto parts store and hooked it up to the computer. The free diagnostic suggested a likely problem was the ignition coils (4 for $206.14). My husband looked up on the internet how to make this repair. It was so easy it only took 5 minutes to change all 4 coils! He also changed the spark plugs (4 for $15.15).

As an aside, a friend arrived at our house while my husband was repairing our car. She had the exact same repair done to her car a week earlier. A mechanic charged her 4x more than we spent repairing it ourselves (she did have 6 coils to replace and there was some extra labor, but still goes to show the value of learning how to do something oneself).

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Home Maintenance and Expenses


Medical Expenses



After last months’ trips to Disney and the beach, we took it easy in February.

I am enjoying a free 12-week wellness program at work. The program inspired me to become more physically active, including running with my son in the evenings and walking with my friend during lunch on weekdays. I am enjoying these healthy and free ways to have fun with people I care about.

Kids’ Activities

Kids activities started back after a winter break. We received a discount for February, but it still cost us $102.

Gifts and Other Expenses

We happily celebrated birthdays with my mother and with my daughter’s best friend.

Miscellaneous expenses included repairs for my son’s bicycle and contributions to our training program at work.

Final Thoughts

This month I thought that I would be saying good-bye to my car. It had become unreliable (and scary) to drive, and I thought that the repair bill would be more than the vehicle was worth.

I am glad that we decided to get a free diagnostic. The easy repair of $221.29 was well worth it. Had I taken it to a repair shop, I don’t know if I would have put that much money into my vehicle. It’s still 15 years old after all! Taking the time to figure out how to fix something was, once again, well worth it.


How does my family’s spending compare to yours? 

2 thoughts on “How 5 People Live Off 1 Income: February 2019 Expenses”

  1. I am impressed on how little you managed to spend when eating out, which always seems so expensive to me. We have often found that lunch is much cheaper than dinner and although portion sizes may be smaller it is enough for us as we are not big eaters. 100 dollars a month for food seems extremely reasonable. I spent just over £100 for me this month and we are mainly vegetarian. I don’t know how the price of food in the UK compares to the US. Doing your own repairs is definitely the way to go. I have just finished reading, A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button, who advocates trying to fix belongings instead of just throwing them away, but unfortunately manufacturers don’t always make this easy to do.

    1. Hi Sam! So true, companies would rather we buy new than repair, and many purposely make it difficult to DIY. I haven’t read Tara Button’s book, but will check it out. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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