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We’re a Family of Four and We Make $42K/Year

YNAB Money Snapshots

Welcome to YNAB Money Snapshots—where you see a real picture of someone else’s budget and finances. They’re all anonymous, because sharing money is still a squirrelly topic for many, but we think airing them out in the open makes you better with your own money story. 

As you read these budgets, keep in mind that some people make lots of money and some people make a little bit of money, but we know it’s what you do with that money and how you feel about that money means more than any yearly salary. 

See how a family in Texas making $42,000 a year spends their money.


  • Name: Kelsey & Brad
  • Age: 25 & 29
  • Location: Fort Worth, TX (average COL area)
  • Job: Stay-at-home mom & tech support
  • Living situation: son (4 years old), daughter (1 year old), and two dogs

Income: $42,000

Savings: $8,546

Debt: -$204,324

  • Auto Loan: -$7,324 
  • $133/month
  • We were saving up to buy a minivan outright but when Covid came along and the car dealerships were having trouble selling cars, my dream van came around for $6,000 under MSRP so we bit the bullet and got a loan.
  • Mortgage: -$180,000
  • $1,470/month with taxes/PMI/etc. 
  • We pay over $500/month in property taxes but have no state income tax. We wanted a cheaper home but there weren't really any options below $200k within a thirty-minute drive of my husband's work.
  • Student loan: -$17,000
  • $176/month
  • My husband just graduated this month with a bachelor's in Cybersecurity. He is job hunting and should hopefully be getting a much better-paying job soon. We’ll start paying this off next month.

August Inflows: $4,298 

  • Payroll: $4,213 (This is higher than usual. My husband got 5-10 hours of overtime every week this month which is unusual but turned out to be a blessing when we had a surprise $700 in medical bills in September.
  • Chase Rewards: $85

August Budget

I’ve been using YNAB since I started college.

My Savings Categories

  • Tax Prep: $2.50/month (My sister in law is a CPA and does our taxes for us, we just pay for her software)
  • Homeschool Stockup: Used up this month for at-home preschool with my son.
  • Vacation: In October, my husband and I are going to stay in a cabin as a graduation gift to him. The cabin is already paid for and we already have everything saved for food/gas.
  • Savings for Europe: This is our overall savings fund but I find that we do better NOT WAMing from it if we have a goal in mind. We want to travel full-time in a couple of years with Europe as our first stop. My husband wants to continue to work remotely. We actually already have the money saved up that we've calculated we need to start but he needs a remote job first, plus we don't want to completely drain our savings. Our goal is to save $20,000 by 2023 or $35,000 by 2025 (We're still debating when to leave). 
  • Gifts: We're saving $500 for Christmas.

My Month

It was a pretty average month for us—a little lower spending on groceries than usual. Not sure why that happened. My kids’ fun money was a little higher than usual. There were some great clearance sales for clothes because of the end of the summer. My husband did some surveys online and made enough money to pay for Hulu and Disney+ so that was nice. 

Normally we put $50 each in home and auto maintenance but we had to switch that money over to medical as my husband needed to go to urgent care.

My Story

I've used YNAB since I started college. My parents both grew up poor and they decided "they would make enough money so they never would have to have a budget." So, they never had a budget, and I thought that was stupid (though it worked for them). They never carried any debt except a mortgage to my knowledge and were able to pay for all five kids’ undergrad degrees. I pretty much supported myself through college, except for my tuition—which I was blessed to have my parents pay for.

My husband's family are very well off but extremely frugal. In teenage rebellion to this, my husband was extremely bad with money when we met (he'd say this too, don't worry). I introduced him to YNAB when we were engaged and he's worked hard to (successfully) improve his relationship with money.

We got married my senior year of college, and he was working IT at the time. In the first six months of our marriage, using YNAB, we were able to pay off the $1,500 in credit card debt he had and the remaining $2,500 in his student loans.

We knew I would have trouble having biological children, and that was important to us, so we started putting every extra penny towards fertility treatments. I started fertility treatments when I was 20 in hopes that my younger age would make it easier (we've been blessed with two fertility babies since, so maybe it worked). After our first was born, I continued to work part-time. The majority of the money I earned went into savings for our next set of fertility treatments.

We bought a condo in 2017 with the help of my in-laws (who had apparently put every monetary gift my husband had ever received into a mutual fund—an excellent idea that we have stolen for our children). 

In 2018, we spent a good portion of our savings towards the first fertility treatments and then (when my doctor suggested other options) adoption fees.

In 2019, my husband and I were both laid off and we found out we were pregnant, despite the odds (this all happened in the same week). We lived off our savings for about three months before my husband found a job across the country. Between fertility treatments, adoption fees, and unemployment, we drained our savings, but we sold our condo and were able to buy a new home in Texas. 

We've been working ever since to rebuild our savings funds and we're looking forward to having a less strict budget once my husband hopefully finds a cybersecurity job.

Our hardest problem has always been that we've only been able to allocate $25/month for fun money for each member of the family. This covers haircuts, new clothes (needed or not), makeup, etc.

We cut back in a lot of places by using a lot of reusables (diapers, rags, napkins, silicone "plastic" baggies, etc). I'm also pretty strict on our meal planning. We eat vegetarian at least twice a week to save on meat.

My Financial Goals

We're in a bit of a standstill until my husband finds a new job and we find out how much he will be making. Our first goal will be to hit $10,000 in savings, followed by paying off my husband's student loans, and then the car loan. After that, we'll be focusing on saving up to start traveling full time.

I would rate my current financial situation: 5/5

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We’re a Family of Four and We Make $42K/Year