Basic Family Budget Calculator. PI’s Family Budget Calculator compiles the costs of essentials such as housing, food, child care, transportation and health care in different regions of the country to provide an estimate of how much families need to get by. While the U.S. Census Bureau 1960 poverty threshold model underestimates the actual amount a working family needs to cover essentials. Unlike the official poverty threshold, which is the same nationwide, the Family Budget Calculator provides estimates of costs by state, city, metropolitan or rural area. In some cases it shows families need more than twice the amount of the official poverty thresholds to pay for food, housing and other essentials.