Traditional economic measures systematically underestimate the actual cost of basic needs and how quickly they increase over time, concealing important aspects of the local and national economy. To better capture the reality of how much households need to live and work in the modern economy in each Texas county, United For ALICE provides three basic budgets, each of which can be calculated for various household types:
The minimal estimate of the total cost of household essentials — housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a smartphone plan, plus taxes and a miscellaneous contingency fund equal to 10% of the budget.
Adjusts the Household Survival Budget to reflect the fact that seniors have lower food costs than younger adults, travel fewer miles for work and family responsibilities, and have increasing health needs and out-of-pocket health care expenses.
Posits a more sustainable budget model that estimates the higher costs of maintaining a viable household over time, including a 10% savings category that can be used in an emergency, for additional education, or to buy a home.