Meet the Joneses: Part Two

How a Hypothetical American Family Can Survive Financially Right Now


It’s time to check in again with Joe and Josie Jones: our hypothetical average American family as they clomp through May under Safe-at-Home orders, deal with income loss, and stress bake their weight in apple pie.

And a quick friendly note before we begin: there is no one-size-fits-all budget, and financial pictures look very different from one family to the next. We’re just trying to give you a made-up example and using the median household income seemed like a nice place to try and do that.

A Quick Recap

In Part 1, Joe and Josie made a plan with the money they had (welcome aboard to budgeting land, Joneses!). Joe’s income dropped 30%, they slimmed and trimmed their expenses, and gave three cheers when their $3400 stimulus check hit their bank account. And no small feat—they were able to budget out their expenses through part of June. Alrighty then! 

Now that we’re deep into May, it’s time for another check-in.

Here’s What Happened in May

  • May 1: Joe’s reduced paycheck arrives ($1300), Josie gets laid off from her part-time job.
  • May 2-8: Josie attempts to file for unemployment for hours at a time, daily. She almost throws her phone out the window not once but twice. Her application finally goes through. Her first check should arrive toward the end of the month in the amount of $815/week ($215/week for regular unemployment plus $600 as part of the COVID Cares Act benefit).
  • May 3: Josie attempts her first sourdough starter after snagging the last bag of flour at the grocery store. Wish her luck.
  • May 8: The Joneses get an email saying their required payments for their federal student loans were alleviated until September 30 with no additional interest accruing during this time. This means their student loans go from costing $460/month to $240/month (they still have private student loans that were not automatically deferred). A bottle of champagne is popped to celebrate.
  • May 9-10: The Joneses binge watch the entire third season of Ozark after their kids go to bed and have no regrets.
  • May 14: The first loaf of sourdough is successfully baked. The crumb structure was divine.
  • May 15: Joe’s second paycheck of the month arrives ($1300).
  • May 19: Josie finally reaches her wit’s end after staying at home with the kids for weeks on end. She leaves Joe to watch them for the night while she high-tails it to a night of peace at her parents’ house. #Quaranteam

With Joe’s two paychecks this month, the Joneses take their $2600 and start budgeting for expenses into July. By the end of the week, Josie should start receiving her weekly unemployment benefits that will get them even further ahead.

Joe & Josie’s May Spending So Far…

You’ll see their expenses from their first month of budgeting below:

Jones family spending through May 19, 2020.

Look back at their budget in Part 1 here.

One Month In: Budgeting Like Champs

This was their first month of budgeting ever, and at first they felt bad about overspending on a lot of non-essentials. Heck, they hadn’t even budgeted any dollars for clothing, but they won’t deny there wasn’t some stress-buying of soft sweatpants. But ah, oh plank in the eye—who are we to judge?! As any seasoned budgeter knows, there’s no such thing as a normal month. Who hasn’t overspent in some category in the last month—who isn’t eating or buying some feelings right now? 😂

More importantly, they’re a month in and feel like this budget might just be sustainable after all. The Joneses budget like champs—just rolling with the punches and away they go! With the extra money from the deferred student loan payments, they covered their overspending without a problem.

Here Comes the Sun, Doo Doo Doo Doo

The Joneses’ budget is already cracking into July, and May is a three-paycheck month for Joe! Josie is about to get weekly unemployment benefits to boost their inflows even more. Here at the end of May, this hypothetical American family is starting to feel their stress levels go down about their finances—by looking at their budget, they see they might just be OK after all.

Coming Up Next…

Safe-at-home orders are slowly lifting as the Joneses learn about their new normal while spring warms into summer. Tune in for next month’s installment! 

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