Angel Henderson,* 30, paid teaching intern, Harbor City, Calif.
We moved in with my parents-in-law six years ago to save money after my husband lost his job. It’s me; my husband, Ben, 36; my stepchildren, Reyna, 18, Nathan, 16, Mannie, 15, and Gigi, 13. There’s also Ben and my kids, Michael, 11, and Rihanna, 6. Oh, and don’t forget our cats, Felicia and Star.
For the last three years, Ben and I have been taking care of the mortgage (about $1,400 a month) because my in-laws have been on a fixed Social Security income. Between the mortgage, utilities and food, we pay about $2,400 each month. When we first moved in, Ben and I evenly split the household expenses with his parents, which helped us put money aside toward buying our own home.
We set up an automated $600 monthly transfer into our savings account. In six years, we’ve squirreled away $16,000.
We set up an automated $600 monthly transfer into our savings account, allowing us to save for a down payment. In the past six years, we’ve squirreled away $16,000, but we only needed $7,000 for the down payment, so we now have some cushion money. We just signed the papers for our new home, and we’re moving in August!
I’ve been in school for six years—first to get my associate’s degree, then my bachelor’s, and I’m now finishing up my master’s. I’ve qualified for scholarships and financial aid along the way, so I haven’t accrued any debt from student loans. Before I started my paid teaching internship, Ben was taking care of the bills and expenses with his salary. He works as a foreman for a construction company, making about $72,000 a year. My internship program guarantees full-time placement as a teacher, at which point I’ll be making about $47,000 annually.
Since I’ve only recently started earning a paycheck, Ben and I had set up automated bill payments—cell phones, cable and other monthly expenses—around his weekly pay schedule. I get paid once a month, and my check usually goes toward taking care of things for the kids, from orthodontist visits (two of our kids have braces) to expenses for extracurricular activities. Ben and I are also the primary caretakers for my stepchildren. On average, we spend about $400 per month on all the kids for things ranging from clothes to family movie nights.
In general, we shop around for what will best accommodate our family’s needs for the least amount of money. Our kids want iPods for their birthdays, so we’ll find good ones on Craigslist and only spend $100 for each one, as opposed to $300. We also shop at the flea market for clothes, so the kids can get the skinny jeans and graphic tees that are in style for less than $10, compared to the $25-plus that you’ll pay at the mall. These are tricks that we learned when we didn’t have as much money, but now that we’re doing better financially, we still use them!
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.