Basic Family Budget Calculator
A Basic Family Budget calculator is an important tool in determining if a family lives in poverty, because the system currently in place to do that is completely outdated.
Federal poverty guidelines, which dictate whether a family is eligible to receive assistance such as Medicaid and food stamps, are tied to a formula that was created in the 1960s. It was based on what the typical family spent on groceries because that was a family's biggest expense at the time. Today, necessities like housing, child care and health care take up a far greater share of most family incomes than groceries. Not only do the guidelines not take these changes into account, they do not take into account regional differences in the cost of living.
Because the federal guidelines are so inaccurate, families are generally considered low-income when they earn up to twice (or 200 percent) the poverty level. This makes up for some shortfalls in the guidelines, but they are still nowhere near as accurate as a Basic Family Budget.
Use the calculator below to determine the basic family budget for different configurations of families living in New Mexico cities and counties.
- The Economic Policy Institute also has a Family Budget Calculator for the metro areas of Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, as well as rural New Mexico, that has slightly newer data. Link to their calculator here.
- MIT has a living wage calendar with data by county. Link to their calculator here.