How 5 People Live Off 1 Income: March 2019 expenses

March came with a surprise. Our refrigerator died immediately after the power company upgraded our electric meter without notifying us in advance. So how did we handle this unexpected surprise? Here’s a look into my family’s expenses and how we live off one income.

March Expenses

Electricity $113.23
Internet $73.98
Water $28.04
Cell phone $70.00
Restaurant $109.30
Groceries $287.74
Gasoline $37.80
Other vehicle expenses $0.00
Home maintenance $1,469.19
Medical expenses $0.00
Gifts/Entertainment $27.48
Kids’ activities $140.00
Other $86.30

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. I will say that according to this calculator I found through Collecting Wisdom, 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.)

In addition to taxes, social security, Medicare, and a non-optional pension contribution, 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 March).

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

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 March).

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


While I do not 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. At $113.23, we only spent cents more this month compared to last month.


Remained the same at $73.98 per month.


Our water bill was lower this month at $28.04.

Cell Phone

We continue to use a pre-paid cell service and pay a flat fee of $70 per month for 2 lines. I previously wrote about our cell phones.


We aim to spend $100 per person per month on food.

Groceries (including food, household products, and diapers) came in at $287.74. I recently committed to a vegetarian diet, which has also helped us save money.

Restaurant spending was higher than usual at $109.30 for 4 meals out. We only ordered pizza once this month! The other three occasions were social events with friends and family.

Between groceries and restaurants, we spent a combined $397.04 on food in March, which was well below our goal of $500.

Vehicle Expenses

Gasoline costs of $30.37 was less than half of what we spent last month.

Insurance we pay every six months.

Registration is due annually.

Car Maintenance $0. A nice change after last month’s repair.

Home Maintenance and Expenses


A new refrigerator (on sale) cost us $1,332.27. We also spent money to attempt to repair our old fridge. And a week before it broke we also purchased a new water filter.

Medical Expenses




Kids’ Activities

$140 for child’s sport.

Gifts and Other Expenses

We spent $27.48 for a gift, $19.94 for an air-popper for popcorn, and also purchased some alcohol and miscellaneous items (e.g., contributions for a child’s school party).

Final Thoughts

Yet another unexpected expense this month helped to reinforce my choices to live below my means. Wisely, we have an emergency fund for reasons just like this. What would have been financial setback for most people was an expensive inconvenience for us.


How does my family’s spending compare to yours? 

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