One would probably lose their damn mind if they were dealt the lifestyle that I am living at the moment. Living on a modest income can be challenging when raising a family on your own. However, with careful planning and budgeting strategies, it's possible to not only survive but thrive on a limited budget.

In this blog post, we'll explore how the 50-30-20 budgeting method can empower families earning $15 an hour with two kids to manage their finances effectively and achieve their financial goals.

Understanding the 50 30 20 Method

The 50-30-20 budgeting method is a simple yet effective way to allocate your income toward different categories:

50% for Needs: This includes essential expenses such as housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, and healthcare.

30% for Wants: This category covers discretionary spending like dining out, entertainment, hobbies, and non-essential purchases.

20% for Savings and Debt Repayment: This portion of your income should go towards building savings, paying off debt, and investing in your future financial stability.

Now, let's delve into how this budgeting method can be applied practically to a family earning $15 an hour with two kids. This is what works for me as well. 

Managing Essential Expenses (50%):

The key to successfully managing essential expenses is prioritizing needs over wants and finding ways to reduce costs without compromising on quality of life. Here's how you can break down this portion of your budget:

Housing: Aim to spend no more than 30% of your income on housing expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

Utilities: Look for ways to conserve energy and water to lower utility bills. Consider switching to energy-efficient appliances and LED light bulbs.

Groceries: Plan meals. Planning meals is going to help you stick to this budget when you create a grocery list. Sticking the grocery list is vital and it helps to avoid impulse purchases. Take advantage of digital coupons, discounts, and loyalty programs to save on groceries.

Transportation: Explore alternatives to owning a car, such as using public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking whenever possible. I use Uber and Lyft. I do not have a car at this time. I create a budget for my traveling expenses with and without my kids. 

Healthcare: Take advantage of employer-sponsored health insurance if available. Consider setting up a Health Savings Account (HSA) to save for medical expenses tax-free.

Allocating for Discretionary Spending (30%):

While it's you may want to dive head first into swiping your credit card and indulge in occasional luxuries, it's equally crucial to prioritize your spending and avoid overspending on non-essential items. 

Here are some tips for managing discretionary expenses:

Dining Out: Limit dining out to special occasions and opt for homemade meals to save money. (Pinterest has plenty of breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner options to work within your grocery budget and list).

Entertainment: Look for free or low-cost entertainment options such as parks, city or local family fun events, libraries, and even play dates.

Hobbies: Pursue hobbies that are affordable or even generate additional income, such as gardening, crafting, or freelance work.

Non-essential Purchases: Before making a purchase, ask yourself if it's something you truly need or if it can wait. Avoid impulse buying and practice mindful spending.

Building Savings and Paying Off Debt (20%):

Even with a modest income, it's crucial to prioritize savings and debt repayment to secure your financial future. 

Here's how you can allocate 20% of your income towards savings and debt repayment:

Emergency Fund: Aim to build an emergency fund equivalent to three to six months' worth of living expenses to cover unexpected financial setbacks.

Debt Repayment: Focus on paying off high-interest debt such as credit cards and personal loans as quickly as possible. Consider using the debt snowball or debt avalanche method to accelerate repayment.

Retirement Savings: Contribute to employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) or open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to save for retirement.


Living on $15 an hour with two kids may seem daunting. However, with careful budgeting and discipline, it's entirely possible to achieve financial stability and even work towards your long-term goals. I am starting with very little while rebuilding after a divorce in a new city with no family here to help.

Some days I feel as if I am losing my sanity, but not my common sense to continue to strive for a better life. I also am not able to get back on EBT, so I am creating dinners from my paycheck. By following the 50-30-20 budgeting method and making smart financial decisions, you can provide for your family's needs, enjoy some of life's pleasures, and build a secure financial future for yourself and your loved ones. Remember, it's not about how much you earn but how effectively you manage what you have.

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