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One family's budget

Mankato, Minn. — Kari Jones is a single mother living in Mankato, in Blue Earth County. She works 32 hours per week as a clerk for the Minnesota Valley Action Council in Mankato. She has three sons -- Javier, 8, Carlos, 9, and Ruben, 15.

Monthly Income:
$1,500 net

Monthly Expenses:
•Rent: $345
•Food: $180
•Heat $90
•Electricity: $51
•Telephone: $30
•Cell phone: $40
•Water: $45
•Cable TV: $56
Total fixed expenses: $837

These fixed expenses require about 55 percent of Kari's monthly income. In addition, Kari has other monthly expenses for her car, clothing, household supplies and unexpected bills. Kari also needs child care for her children about four months out of the year, to cover school vacations and summertime. The cost for that child care is about $220.

Blue Earth County profile:

•Median household income: $38,940 (1999)

•Per capita income: $18,712 (1999)

•Poverty rate: 12.9% (1999)

•The median placement wage for workers in Blue Earth County who left the MFIP (welfare) program is $7.75 per hour ($14,531 per year).

•7.3 percent of Blue Earth County families (938) had incomes less than $15,000 per year.

•3.4 percent of families (438) had incomes $150,000 and above.

•Fair market rent for a 2-bedroom unit is $552 per month.

•Childcare costs average $400 per month for one child younger than school age in 2000.

(Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Minnesota Community Action Agencies)

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