Anyone else living on $2,000 or less a month?

I recently started a blog about frugal living, because I wanted to provide a resource for others, but also motivation for myself to live by a budget and get out of debt. I would be interested in others' stories about how they get by on less than $2,000 a month (one income) without feeling totally deprived. You can visit my blog here: I look forward to reading your comments.

Guest's picture

Its possible to cut down on expenses it is possible to live under 2000 month,
The only thing it really depends on the spouse if there is good cooperation between each other and both are working together to make a good budget work out then its possible I personally can do it, but but....

Guest's picture

That's right. After taxes, I live on $2,000 a month. As a young journalist now living in a rural part of the United States, I raised in an affluent area of Portland.

In the past year, it's been quite an adjustment.

When I graduated college, my parents combined income was over $175,000 a year. That's now besides the point - I now see none of that. But becoming used to a simple lifestyle has been tough. No more family trips to Europe or the Caribbean for Christmas Break. I can kiss fine wine and dinners out goodbye.

My parents paid all but $10,000 of my college, now those are subsidized as student loans.

This is how I've mapped out my monthly budget:

$2,000 monthly income
-$200/student loans
-$250/auto expenses (gas, insurance, and loan)
-$45/cell phone bill
-$100/Netflix, clothes, other entertainment
-$0/Internet included in apartment
$1,245 = living expenses

At the end of the month, after all bills paid I am left with around $700. My parents always taught me to PAY YOURSELF before anything else. I always put $400 into an investment portfolio, $200 into an emergency savings account, and the other $150 into my travel fund.

However, with the job that I have it's difficult to get time off so I am watching that travel fund grow (though with high gas prices I might be borrowing from it soon).

What do I recommend?

-If you're going out with friends, avoid the costly drinks and drink cheap at home, then go out for a drink or 2
-Don't be picky about name brands
-Don't drink at Starbucks
-Don't join a gym, become a jogger or exercise at home
-Don't date expensive woman (I mean a girl you have to take out to pricey restaurants)

Guest's picture

We only have two children, spend $250 for food every two weeks, and often fall short! We usually spend $110/month just for milk. Only a little over a year ago, we only needed $160 every two weeks... We do, however, manage to live on less than $2000/month. No problem if you have a tiny mortgage and no other debts.

I am trying to figure out what it would take to only have $50 in utilities... We are now paying 11.5 cents per kwH. Those $50 would buy only 435 kwH around here! Even during spring/fall, we never use less than 750 kwh/month. During the summer our usage jumps to 1200-1300 kwh (Have to have an A/C in the humid South ;) ). And in the winter... Well, living in an all electric house, our usage in the winter months can be as much as 1800 kwh!

My recommendation for frugal living:
Don't incur any debt. Save up for what you need and only buy what you can afford. That goes especially for vehicles and homes :)

Di's picture

Ayup. My kids and I are living on less than $2000 a month. I do enjoy your blog, Lynn!

Di (a Thriller)

jennye's picture

...and don't have children! LOL! I can't imagine food being $200 now. Sure, when I was single, no problem. Now I have 4 children and food is no less than $500/month.

As for your college: whoa! $10,000 would pay tuition for all 4 years at the university I attended!

Good advice, though. I like the paying yourself idea.


jennye's picture

I buy very little to no meat. No, I'm not a vegetarian. LOL! I'm a rancher, so we raise beef, save one a year for ourselves. And we buy a pig every year from a friend whose daughter shows them for 4-H. Right now I have a garden so soon I can have my own tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pepper and green beans. I did go to the store yesterday for a regular shopping trip (all I did last week was milk/bread trip) and spent $206 (and I did throw in a $17 bottle of tequila for some margaritas). Hopefully next weeks trip will be very small (milk, bread, yogurts). Cheese is killing us right now, nearly $8 for 8 cups of shredded down at Walmart. and four kids really eat the cheese up! I do, too, so I did buy any block of cheddar (my weakness, chedder on ritz crackers). But I need the rest for homemade pizza, enchiladas, burritos.

I buy nearly no junk food except for the small bag of cheetos I get each kid while in the checkout line. I don't do cookies or sweets, except for what we may make at home. We generally don't do desserts unless we have company over. Cokes are my main vice, I must have a can everyday. Since I don't drink coffee, I allow myself. I get the kids generic sprite, they may have one a day in the summer (weekends only during school). I love to fix hamburger helper (was on sale 4 for $5 the other day!) or tuna helper, but for the most part much of what I fix is from scratch (or close to it, since I don't make my own noodles or stuff like that).

Never really looked at my electric bill. So, I dug last month's out. Looks like I used 1184 for May on the house(used the AC nearly every day, we had some pretty high 90's) and an additional 154 just for our water well (yard and cattle). My total bill was $165, and if my math is right, it's about .08/kwh. I'm not all electric, we have natural gas water heater and the heat pump is dual fuel (though I have no idea when it uses the natural gas. As long as the house is warm, I don't care. LOL!).

But you don't want to know my gas bill. LOL! Let's just say I bought 2,500 gallons two months ago and hope it gets the farm thru the year.


Guest's picture

You have to be joking right ?
$2,000 monthly income
-$200/student loans
-$250/auto expenses (gas, insurance, and loan)
-$45/cell phone bill
-$100/Netflix, clothes, other entertainment
-$0/Internet included in apartment

$250 include loan ?
$450 for an apartment ? where the hell do you live on the street ? The averae 1 beddrom is around $1200-$1500 per month.
$50 for utilties ? lol

You are on drugs if you think anyone can live in a city for under $2000 a month

Guest's picture

Wow!! Where do you live? There are families that would love to live off of 2,000 a month. And when you have to you FIND a place for 450.00 a month (that's not the street). You make it work, and happily, because you don't want your kids to get caught up in the stress of trying to make ends meet and having to go without. Fortunately for you it sounds like you can afford a piece of humble pie!

Guest's picture

the big expense you're not mentioning - health care? I'd love to retire. My income if I retired right now would be $2000/month. But since I'm not yet 65 health care is going to take a huge bite out of that.

any suggestions? (I know - don't get sick!!lol)

Guest's picture

Yes, go in and get welfare, or medicare. I know people doing this right now, they get hurt/sick go in to the hospital, Dr. and not pay for it. Seriously, why not it works for the illegals, here in Ca. I am sorry, I do see this going on. I am going to do it, lie, do whatever it takes to get by. I get in trouble go to jail, at least I will have some medical coverage, roof over my head , food....what are we suppose to do? Our government does not treat us like humans....

Guest's picture

To what "illegals" are you referring? I will assume that you mean Mexicans (even though the second largest group of "illegals" are Canadian...) and I will assume that you "see", what, identity fraud?? Social Security numbers are verified through a government system that checks to make sure that an applicant for public assistance is correctly stating their ss number and not that of another, but judging by your enlightening reply I assume that you already knew that. I would certainly hope that since you claim to have seen this, you have done your civic duty and reported it. We all know that lying, cheating, "illegals" who pick your vegetables and paint your house for a wage that isn't substantial enough to buy half a month's worth of groceries, are blowing up the system with the medical care that they getting free of charge ( Though, I am sure that I could take some pointers on your savvy advice on how to live on less than 2,000 (which WAS the original topic of conversation) because I am white and should feel entitled.

Fatima's picture

I know this is a very late reply, but obviously you (and whoever thinks this as well) haven't gotten out very much. I live in Houston- a major city (granted, it has a rep for its cost of living, but many smaller cities are even cheaper)- and you can get a very nice 1-bed apartment for $700 a month. I even know an apartment complex in an iffy area that starts at $350. $1500 here will get you a 1-bed apartment of luxury in a great location. Not every place is as expensive as NYC or wherever you may live.

Guest's picture

Actually, it *can* be done in certain cities. I live in OKC and, until I married last year, rented a nice one-bedroom apartment (covered parking included) for around $450; it was perfect for a single person. My utilities were more than $50 per month, but they were manageable. Do your research before spouting off.

Angie's picture

:( [quote=Guest]Actually, it *can* be done in certain cities. I live in OKC and, until I married last year, rented a nice one-bedroom apartment (covered parking included) for around $450; it was perfect for a single person. My utilities were more than $50 per month, but they were manageable. Do your research before spouting off.[/quote]

Guest's picture

LMFAO! OMG I was thinking the same thing

Mark's picture

South Dakota, Nebraska, etc...especially towns below 5K residents easily get you inton renting an apartment or small house. cost of living is lower....can't necessarily go to movies or theatrical plays every night but it's good simple, easy livin'.

Christian's picture

You can find places to rent for less than $1000.00 a month. Usually private renters are willing to charge less. I live in Denver and I live in a normal house (2 bedroom) and I pay $800.00. It is possible to live off of $2000.00, and for the record I am not on drugs; thank you very much.

Christian's picture

You can find places to rent for less than $1000.00 a month. Usually private renters are willing to charge less. I live in Denver and I live in a normal house (2 bedroom) and I pay $800.00. It is possible to live off of $2000.00, and for the record I am not on drugs; thank you very much.

Guest's picture

I agree fully, his 2k a month plan is bogus. An apartment for $450?? Must be a box behind Walmart. I live on just under 2k a month and I'd appreciate it if people didn't put bogus examples up here. :?

Working mom's picture

:sick: [quote=Guest]I agree fully, his 2k a month plan is bogus. An apartment for $450?? Must be a box behind Walmart. I live on just under 2k a month and I'd appreciate it if people didn't put bogus examples up here. :?[/quote]

Dont be so narrow minded. I live in a wonderful and safe area of Tulsa Oklahoma in a one bedroom apartment all bills paid for 650. Together me and my husband bring in about 2500 monthly and manage to raise a baby as well. Might i add with 0 help from the government. We have sacrificed space and eating out. I guarantee it is 100 percent possible!

Maybe you should take some time out of your day to practice accepting different realities other than your own!
Unless, you like stepping on other peoples toes and demeaning a lifestyle different from yours.
Get over yourself. Not everyone is trying to pull one over on you.
Because I'm sure we all have a little time in our day to make sure you are getting fooled.

Sorry this post is so late

Guest's picture

Wow, talk about side tracking for a personal soap box! I'm women, hear me roar!

Guest's picture

[quote=Working mom]:sick: [quote=Guest]I agree fully, his 2k a month plan is bogus. An apartment for $450?? Must be a box behind Walmart. I live on just under 2k a month and I'd appreciate it if people didn't put bogus examples up here. :?[/quote]

Dont be so narrow minded. I live in a wonderful and safe area of Tulsa Oklahoma in a one bedroom apartment all bills paid for 650. Together me a

My husband, dog and I live on sailboat in Florida on beach. 2 cars. Way out. Loving life! No debt. AC and at dock.

Guest's picture

[quote=Guest]I agree fully, his 2k a month plan is bogus. An apartment for $450?? Must be a box behind Walmart. I live on just under 2k a month and I'd appreciate it if people didn't put bogus examples up here. :?[/quote]

Even in the DFW area rents under $500 are common, my mortgage payment for a 1900 sf 3 bedroom 2 bath home is 685/mo on a ten year mortgage. Before assuming your cost of living is true everywhere, check around a bit

Guest's picture

[quote=Guest]I agree fully, his 2k a month plan is bogus. An apartment for $450?? Must be a box behind Walmart. I live on just under 2k a month and I'd appreciate it if people didn't put bogus examples up here. :?[/quote]

Answer: It IS possible to live on less than $2000 per month as it does depend where you live. We are a family of 5 and we live on way less than that amount. My mortgage is $250 per month. My children are in private schools, going on scholarships. I paid cash for my van so there are no car payments. Everything we get is used-makes more sense for us, economically. It is not possible for everyone to live below their means. We just found a way to make it work.

MGalp's picture

Hi, so what state do you live in? or do you live overseas?
I have a state in mind I want to move to and think I could adjust to a monthly income of $2k.

Guest's picture

:P You couldn't live on $2,000 a month if you were on drugs.

Guest's picture

-My son and I live on 1500.00 a month - give or take.
-795.00 - My mortgage is (yikes, right?)
-455.00 - Car (gas/insurance/payment)
-400.00 - Utilities are horrible in my area (electricity alone is around 250.00!)
-300.00 - Food
=1650.00 (I'm in the hole)
Needless to say, I'm in the hole, but honestly, I live quite nice. Credit isn't great as it once was, but honestly, I get by and thats okay with me. I have a home (I have been in for 12 years), I have a car (last few months of paying).

My mortgage is actually getting reduced soon, so that will lighten my load as well.

TO be honest, I truly have no clue how we make it but we do! You can too.

Kendra's picture

It depends where you live. On AVERAGE where I live a one bedroom is only 475-550 a month. where ever the hell you live, the expenses are just crazy. Must live in a Major City I presume. I live on a $1800.00 budget.Rent 655$, Electricity 150$ Phone 45$ *it's called Straight talk idiot.* Food 250$ Gas and Insurance 270$, I only use T.v. for watching Movies, no Cable and my payment on Internet is cheap to. It is possible.

marleneastrid's picture

I live in Portland, OR. Another frugal idea - Be sure and use your local library. Our local library is great, so we get not only books but also movies. It also offers cultural passes to various venues around town such as the Portland Art Museum, The Japanese Gardens, etc., which would normally be cost prohibited and keep you from enjoying culture. Be sure and cook instead of using pre-packaged food or fast food. If you can read, you can follow a recipe. Easy recipes and a good beginner cookbook is Franny Farmers Cookbook. :)

Guest's picture

I am a stay at home mom and my husband is a teacher who after taxes makes 2,200/month. We get no government help.

Rent: 940 and we live in a very nice community with 2 bedrooms and 2 full baths in our apartment
Food/baby supplies:400
Gas: 200-250 if we travel back home to visit our family that month and my husband travels 20 miles to work
Electric: 100
Cable/internet: 80

So we obviously have very little left over each month but we try to save as much as possible, debating if I should go back to work as a Nutritionist and pay for daycare?

My father in laws pays our phone bill to help out which is about 100/month

John Noble's picture

[quote=Artemis]I recently started a blog about frugal living, because I wanted to provide a resource for others, but also motivation for myself to live by a budget and get out of debt. I would be interested in others' stories about how they get by on less than $2,000 a month (one income) without feeling totally deprived. You can visit my blog here: I look forward to reading your comments.
I'm a missionary and have lived in 10 countries. What most people call frugal here in the states is still excessive in other parts of the world.
Simple living doesn't mean you are a simple person nor a cheapskate.
Today's society has become a disposable society and think nothing of it.
This has happened all throughout the ages.
For years my family has lived on about $3.00 a day for rent, utilities, food, clothing, gas, auto repair, personal needs etc.
The secret is in living communally or co-operatively and dividing jobs like society lived for thousands of years. It's not that difficult and is somewhat fun and challenging.
Often you don't even think of being thrifty, but more of what your needs actually are.
Stay away for TV and other brain washing media.
I could say lots more but have to pinch my time as well. ha.

CatSull's picture

I just found this thread and wanted to say thanks to everyone for sharing your stories. My husband and I are about to go to 1 income so he can go back to school, and needless to say, I am freaked out about making it stretch. I guess I have been trying to keep up the lifestyle that I was familiar with with my parents since graduating, and at this point I need to snap to reality and cut the spending! Reading what other people have done is really helping me thanks again!

Guest's picture

There are a lot of ways to live on less if you put your mind and spirit into the challenge. You can go back to the "Simple" living of our ancestors little by little every day with little changes in your daily habits. Pack your lunch and eat out only once a month. Check out library books or subscribe for renting movies for less than $10.00 a month. Walk when you can - park your vehicle and we will slim our waistlines instead of paying to go to the gym. Keep a list of the little things you spend on a daily basis and analyze the amount spent on extras to determine how you can make adjustments without depriving yourself of the pleasures you enjoy in life. So much of life is out of our control, however, some things we do have choices in. Good Luck in your efforts to save money as we all know it is not always easy in the society in which we live.

Guest's picture

Where the heck do you guys live where that's "more" than enough? One kid can actually save $700/month with $2,000/month income? You must not be living on the coasts. I'm in New England and you will NEVER find an apartment for $450/month! Not even a studio! I'm sure it's possible in some parts of the country, but not here. I imagine Southern California is probably the same situation as New England.

Guest's picture

I know that in a small town in the Texas Panhandle I had an apartment for $370 a month plus electric just next to the University. I moved out about four months ago. Not the best place, but not too bad.

guest's picture

The key is to remember that there are many states, cities and towns between California and New England, which do not have the same high cost of living as the coastal areas. I live just north of the border in Vancouver, Canada, and believe me, you're lucky to get a one bedroom rental for $1,500 per month here. That does not mean that those rental rates are common in the rest of the country.

Guest's picture

"What do I recommend?

-If you're going out with friends, avoid the costly drinks and drink cheap at home, then go out for a drink or 2"

Yeah, great idea. Drink first, then drive around and get more drunk to drive home....I hope you take a cab. You have to spend some money sometimes.

Anon's picture

Dont listen to all the haters.
Your situation seems similar to most people your age in this country (except for the really cheap rent, most people I know split a 2 bedroom for ~$700 a piece).
That advice about pre-drinking before you go out is what ive been doing for years! Also, an old russian trick is to bring your own liquor to places-my parents bring a full bottle of goose to restaurants, my sister puts her shots in a vitamin bottle (when I saw it I cracked up), and I always bring a flask to clubs and even Dave and Busters (just pour that shit under the table or in a dark corner LOL)...

Guest's picture

Our takehome pay is $1800/month if we don't get any overtime. Then sometimes we run short. Our only "luxury" is internet, at $30/month. We are a family of 4, kids are 4 and 1 and 1/2.
Here is my breakdown
Car:235/month includes insurance and payment
Utilities:120/month if we're careful and it's difficult. I feel cold in long sleeves and a sweater if it drops below 74! On the upside, we live in southern CA so I only have to run the heat a couple times a week in the mornings.
Gas:100/month. Can't trim it any further. I walk with the kids anywhere in a mile or so radius to shop, etc.
Laundry:20 If money gets really tight I trim this and wash in the sink. I hang laundry on our apartment balcony.
Food:140 The biggest drain here is milk. Other than that we eat A LOT of beans and top ramen/cup of noodles. I've gotten very creative with varieties of beans and adding vegetables to ramen.
Storage rent:105 This is because all our things are in storage in AZ from when we moved suddenly. Now we can't afford to go get it, might move back, and can't hardly pay the storage rent.
Emergency eating:20 This is for when we get unexpected overtime
Crafts:20 I crochet the kids hats, etc.
Misc. projects:20
Fixing stuff the kids break:20
Credit card minimums:60

That pretty much brings us to the max. What kills me when I think about it is that we could live very well if we had no debt!!! I am still kicking myself about how we were smooth-talked into an expensive auto loan. We were hit, the guy's insurance paid us market value, and we were stuck with the $5000 difference, which is most of what is on our Credit cards. Now that drives us to borrow a little each month just to pay the bills and it makes me so mad how stupid we were. Never again.
My advice:avoid debt like the literal plague. There is no good debt. A low income is enough IF there is no debt. Otherwise there is a struggle until it is paid off.
Oh, and if you do have an auto loan, DO get gap insurance. I wish I had. Then I wouldn't be washing laundry in the sink!!!
Surprisingly enough, I'm the happiest I've been in a long time.

Guest's picture

Costs of living:
Rent: $500/month. (Heck, my apartment ran $400/month)
Food: $200/month. That's $2/meal, 3 meals a day. Skip breakfast for even more savings.
Car: $0/month. You'd have to be retarded to pay monthly for a car. Buy with cash.
Insur: $60/month. Any more than this, and you're being ripped off.
Gas: $75/month. Your car should get 25MPG and you shouldn't drive more than 25 miles a day.
Utilities: $75/month. This heated my 600 sqft apartment through a Colorado winter.
Misc: $90/month. This includes toilet paper, oil for your car, etc.
Total: $1000/month.

Not at all difficult. Put the rest of your $2000/month to work for you. Compound interest FTW!

jennye's picture

Not everyone can get a vehicle that gets 25MPG. Some have to have pickups to work out of in agriculture that get 15MPG. and some live 25 miles just to the nearest gas station.

Just saying that this plan can't work for everyone. But if I were single and lived in town, wouldn't be a problem. Just not for a family of 6 in the boondocks on a farm. LOL! good advice, but don't say I'm retarded for financing my truck. A little courtesy please.

Guest's picture

Skipping breakfast can be very expensive since you will eat less healthy. It is our cheapest meal since we always have cooked oatmeal or cornmeal supplemented with fruit and homemade bread as needed. :)

Guest's picture

I read how you are living off $1,000 per month but cannot help but wander if you are living in public housing?

Guest's picture

I have a family of 4, 2 kids- myself- and my husband. We live off one income at less the 2000 a month. We don't do anything extra. Our bills consist of
Rent- 650
Electric and Heat combined- 200
Water- 40
Phone/Cable/Internet- 120
Gas for cars- 160
My husband smokes cheap cigars (was smoking cigarettes but that got too expensive)- 30
School for my son (field trips, lunch account, pictures, holiday expenses, etc)- 20
Shoes and clothes for my kids- 7 yr old boy and 19 month old girl- 30
Good behavior and chore gifts- 15
Car Insurance- 80
Animal expenses- 60
Vet savings- 10
Kids savings- 40
Car savings- 10
Holiday savings- 30
Food- 400
that totals 1895 a month yea well after taxes we don't make that so take all the saving away and we just get by. no going out, no family night out, no extras.

Guest's picture

I am reading some the comments on here and people living off less than 2000 a month is hard! If you are single ok then you can afford it and skip breakfast but with kids you just cant do that.

$1828 a month's picture

Okay here's my breakdown.

$1828 a month/net income

$750 rent
$45 cable/internet
$25 electric
$25 gas
$15 water/garbage
$150 car insurance

okay so the basics are done. Niiiiice.

$400 ($200 each credit card/minimum) - i know my fault for charging myself into debt. One of my biggest regrets but tough times calls for desperate measures (no job).
$200 groceries
$130 gas for my car
$90 cellphone - damn you blackberry! lol

Total is $1805 - wooo hooo i have $23 bucks to spend each month!

That was a rough year for me. Now I'm better off with less debt and cheaper rent. I don't know how I did it but I survived on a minimum.

Rosalind's picture

I'm listening to you guys say that your student loans are $200-$250 a month and your apartments are $400-$500 a month. I wish my payments were that low! I'm lucky to find a place in L.A. for $650 and my loans are $550 a month! That's what I get for grad school though...

Guest's picture

The complaints that is more expensive to live in the city are true. We managed to buy a mobile home in a Seattle suburb that
provided a down payment for our small town home when we moved near
Anchorage AK. It saved a lot on rent, but they are hard to find.
But people live in the city because they earn more and then say they can't live on less. That doesn't make sense to me.

We are living on much less than $2000 a month as missionaries here in the arctic where things are supposed to be so expensive. I know we have a advantages such as no rent, our weekly produce box generously provided for us,a $500 a month subsidy for our utilities that added to personal fund means no utilities cost (which will be changing soon unfortunately).

However, if we didn't live in the Arctic we would able to grow our own food, get cheaper groceries without the extra shipping, have a wider variety of housing options, and have cheaper utilities.

Groceries is another complaint I see is grocery cost. However, I think the standard American diet is the problem. Our vegetarian
lifestyle has only become healthier since coming Arctic. We rarely drink anything but water. Spaghetti sauce, pre-made pasta, saltines, and ketchup are now on my list of convenience foods. We make all of our own breads, especially since coming here. Oh, and we could never drink alcohol with all the problems we see that it causes here in our village.

I think living under $2000 a month is very doable even in the city,but why would you want to miss God's green earth by doing that?

leahmarie's picture

We live in oklahoma, and i HAVE had an apartment here for 400 a month. So it is possible to live places that have cheap apartments. And it was in a nicer area of town, granted the apt. was only 500 sf...
Buying a house is MUCH cheaper. Most rents for houses around here are 6-700 to get a small 3 bedroom.
We just bought a house and our mortgage with taxes and insurance is 550 a month. its a 3 bedroom and much bigger and nicer than any of the 3 beds we saw for rent. We have a baby girl, and i am stay at home mom right now- and he makes just a little over 2k a month. It was VERY tight money wise, mainly because we have some terrible debt right now (400 dollars worth a month) but after 1 year, that debt will be gone and we will be able to make it just fine w 2k a year, especially once we have that extra 400 dollars.

Guest's picture

I applaud your effort to live simpler lives but how can anyone afford healthcare on such a tight budget??

OwlJulie's picture

I don't live on my own yet,so all I can do is speculate, but I am frightened of having to pay even 2,000 a month because I like to spend money on clothes and I like to eat a lot of cheese, as someone mentioned above. Does anyone know how to work at home to get an income? I know there are a lot of people who sell things on ebay and amazon, and they make a good business out of it. Also, why is 2000 a month considered inexpensive? That makes 100$ each workday. Who earns 100$ a day? Only business professionals who have gone to graduate school, or engineers, nurses, etc. But most people are not that educated. In New Orleans, unless you have a great job, you are only making up to 10.00 an hour, if you are lucky.
It all makes me fear I will need to resort to charity to pay for my groceries.
My past boyfriend would not put his heater on no matter how cold it got, and would sleep in coat and hat, for months. He also did not purchase milk or buy much food. His refrigerator was very sparse, and he also had no car insurance, so he could not use his car. He rode his bike. His job was selling and buying stock online. He took to receiving gifts of food from his parents. He never bought anything, but he just looked. He had a tiny studio apartment, and because of this he considered himself rich.
It is interesting to me how people who have had opportunity to travel to poor countries say that even if we are poor, we are still rich compared to them. I think it doesn't feel as though we are rich because of the billboards and fashion styles and delectable foods and houses are so rich and so well advertised that we are made to believe we are suffering. If we are not fashionable, we will be rejected. If we can't afford jackets and hats and stockings in every color, and wool coats, and to get our hair colored monthly, and to have various stylish purses which match everything, and necklaces which go with tops, and to lease a new car which is shiny, if we can't afford to stay atop and to buy new things at all times, then our things will get old and dusty- and no one will like us. So, there is a feeling of being poor even though we are surrounded by luxury, and we know it.
I'm a big spender. If I can't buy an article of clothing, it makes me feel sickly. But I can't afford also to go on vacation or travel. I hate that. Sometimes I wish I could be poor and live on an island in Hawaii in a hut drinking coconut milk...
I think someone mentioned communal living, which makes it so that everyone gets to share talents. One person is an electrician, another a good cook, and they live all together. That way there is no rent that 1400 a month for 2 people. I think this ideal of living alone and privately and providing eveything on your own is ridiculous. We are a social creature. We can't do everything for ourselves. That is how human beings survived and adapted- we lived communually. Now there's an ideal all over the world of living on your own by yourself or with a "partner". Why can't we all live in a community and share the chores? why must I live alone and then pay for a plumber, an electrician, for my one apartment bed room? This is ridiculous. That is the very reason why people spend 30 years to be educated then have to be a manager of a 6am to 6pm company? Why? So they can pay off their new car lease, so they can have a car that smells fresh. And what else? No time to exercise. Heart attacks, diabetes on the rise. No time to fix a salad. Children parented by tv, because parents are at work, so they can pay off the car and the Christmas gifts. I don't like it. I really don't like it at all. Living communally is not done here. But i'd bet that's how humans were able to survive and procreate for a million years. It's what we were born to do. That's my opinion.

Salvatore's picture

:) Hi, your post made me very happy. I agree with you 100%. We can live a decent, happy life without spending too much. I think the media and stupid TV shows have brainwashed people and have let them think they have to buy stupid, useless products to find happiness. Humans cannot escape reality: real happiness is found within us, it's something spiritual...materialism vanishes and makes us unhappy. Let's live a happy, natural life: that's how wise peoples live in many parts of the world, such as Latin America. In Costa Rica, for instance, if you spend $2000 a month, you're considered a rich person.

Synthe's picture

I am trying to (not really succeeding) on my fixed income of 200 dollars. So far I am failing at this miserably. I can afford food and clothing, but have yet to find a place for less than 150 dollars a month. Honestly, any higher and I would not be able to afford water,electricity, or even shampoo. I am technically homeless but. oh well. 200 a month is all I can manage.

live frugally and best wishes to all.

Robotoid's picture

Retired at 52.After paying my health insurance,my pension is $1875 a month.I took one of two IRA's and did a SEPP plan(allowable under IRS rules) and pays me $700.Also have some additional investment income.I am single.
House maintenence,utilities,taxes insurance (no mortgage)$400
Auto=gas,maintenence,insurance $300
Food=(I cook some here and if I eat out,I do 'specials' as often as possible. $360
Entertainment(internet,travel,satellite,regular and cell phone
Pharmacy,out of pocket medical $ 75
Personal items=clothes,toiletries $ 75
Miscellaneous (anything can happen)



No mortgage,no auto loan(I put some back for possible future auto payment.It can be done in a smaller city similar to what I live in.The big cities will strangle you financially.I have enough left over to invest.

PaulWaul's picture

Not sure where some of you people live but I manage on ALOT less than $2000 a month. My wife works full time, I work part-time running my own business when I want to. We have a total income of about $1500 a month.

Mortgage/association payment = $297 2 bed 2 bath full basement condo about 5 mins from lake michigan. So no I don't live on the street or public housing. I actually have a mortgage.

Gas = $65
Electric = $35
Car insurance = $65 No car payments. Paid cash.
Gas for car = $60 Only live 5 miles from wife's work.
Food = $300
Wife's student loans =$150

Total = a whopping..... $907 a month.

OH and we have no credit card debt. We refuse to have them. If we can't pay cash for something then we really don't need it that bad.

We just realized that it more important to us to be happy and live as stress free as possible rather than work our butts off everyday and be miserable with out jobs just to pay for expensive toys we wouldn't be able to use that often if we had to work all the time.

Lynn's picture

At least lower cost than mine, and while we could move thousands of miles away to some place cheaper, this is where our families are, and our lives. And we have no guarantee that the work-at-home job my husband has now will always be there; then we'd be stuck some place where he may or may not have a job. Here, we know he can find work.

Do you have kids? They cost a certain amount, too.

$1500 is what we pay for health insurance alone, and with my health problems, we don't have much choice on that. We're lucky to have it, but it doesn't leave much in the household accounts. :(

Good for you, though, seriously. I agree that working like a maniac for stuff is not conducive to happiness (it's one of the main messages of this site).

PaulWaul's picture

I do live in a lost cost area compared to alot of other places. Not saying you should move away from your friends and family, I know I wouldn't. As long as there's work where you live then that's great. Here in Michigan though, we've had the highest unemployment rate in the country for the last 4 years now and jobs are hard to come by so most of the people here have had to start cutting things out of their budgets.

I don't have any kids yet but my wife has started talking about them lately so I'm sure she won't want to wait a whole lot longer. Then I'm sure it'll be quite a bit more expensive for me.

Guest's picture

I live in Ontario Canda, My husband and I make just over $2800 a month currenlty but I will be oing on maternity leave in 3 weeks and we will be making just under $2000 came on here to see if I could get some tips Here's our break down I'm thinking

$650.00 Rent/utilities (his parents have moved out of country, we are living at there house, we pay $650.00 to a house account whre we pay all the ultilties and taxes and inusrance out of when its due so we actually dont have "rent" persay
$561.80 Student Loans (1 more year of paying them off)
$144.36 (health insrance cover what the goverment doesn't cover, like persciption drugs, eye glasses, dentist and semi-private hospital room coverage)
$122.53 Insurcane for our Van and Car
$53.00 Internet
$400.00 goceries

Leaves $68.00 for savings account, no credit card debt

Guest's picture

I like your breakdown...but what about gas,cloths..just curious..

Fairwinds's picture

My house is almost paid for. I have no other debts. I want to retire. Here's the break-down:
Annual auto registration on three cars..$500.00 (trying to sell one but no luck so far) Annual vehicle insurance with good driver discounts...$1500.00 ($300/$100 liability-medical) Homeowners insurance $650.00 per year. Property taxes $1300.00 per year. State income tax 11% of anything over $45000.00 Breaks down gradually at lower amounts.
After taxes, $24000.00 per year turns into $19000.00 per year for a single person with write-offs filing the "long" form.
utilities: $80.00 per month
groceries: $400.00 per month
dog food: $100.00 per month (you need the big dogs to keep the burglers away)
Mortgage $720.00 per month
Water & Sewer: $80.00 per month
Cat food : $30.00 per month (you need the cats to keep the rats away!)
Ins. & registration : $330.00 a month
That leaves me $249.00 a month before state and federal income taxes!
I have not included home maintenance, health insurance or co-pays, annual vet check-ups for pets, flea and tick medication, cat litter, vehicle maintenance, clothes, toiletries, prescription drugs,entertainment,vacations, phone, TV, internet,or non-essential food items such as wine!
Houstan, I have a deficeit! Oh, I forgot to mention, single in Southern California! And we're talking about one single senior living on their own! There's no way I can live on $1583.00 a month after taxes in So. Cal and giving up my pets is not an option! Where do you people live that you can support a family on $2000.00 a month? I want to go there! Then, maybe I could retire!

Guest's picture

I'm glad I stumbled on your site through googeling " Living off $2,000 or less". I'm a 23 year old girl that lives alone in S. Florida which is very expensive on only $1430 a month after deductions. I don't get any type of assistance but live in an humble/poor part of town. It is very hard living on my own with such limited income but I know God will help me manage.
My monthly budget is as follows:
Income: $1430 after all deductions including medical and dental
Rent: $575
Electricity: $60 (I have never gotten a bill higher than $55)
Cable and Internet:$58 (would be $40 for only internet, so decided to just get cable for the price difference)
Groceries: $80 (I shop only at latin groceries and save a lot grocerry store, which is very cheap. I also eat little meat, and buy in season produce)
Gym: $10 (YouFit gym was the cheapest I could and I was once 300 lbs at 5 foot 4 inches, so this is not
Laundry: $10 (I wash by hand a lot too since its just me)
Car Insurance: $120 a month ( I have an older car that is 9 years old and high miles so I got basic state required insurnce...God I hope it goes down once I turn 24 :? )
Gas for my car: $150 ( I try to walk or bike a lot, but in South Florida life is really hard without a car)
Salon visits: $35 ( I wax every two weeks at a beauty school because I'm Latin and if I don't I look like
Medical/vision/dental co pays: $35 (I try to avoid going to the doctor but sometimes you have too, so I just put $35 in an envolope for this expense)
Credit Cards: $170 ( All Io can say I dread the day I got my first card :( )
Clothing: $30 ( I shop at really cheap places and usually only the clerance section. I can't wait to get to my ideal weight and stay there to not have to spend as much on clothes)
Left over money AKA savings: $97 ( If I spend less on groceries or gas I add this into my savings money)

I also barter with a mechanic I know and he does repairs to my car in exchange for me to clean his home or shop. I also get seasonal jobs here and there and I'm currently looking for a full/part time second job now as we speak. Also I sell lots of stuff on craigslist or ebay. Good luck to all.

Guest's picture

If you own your home outright, and have no car payments, a family of 3 can get by on $2000. Otherwise you are nuts

Guest's picture

I'm so glad I read this! I graduated college three months ago and was finally offered a full time job... that pays 2,000 a month. I moved back home after school, and initially planned on moving out right after I got a job, but I think I will be staying here a while until I get a raise or another job.

It sucks watching my friends maintain the lifestyle I use to have while I realize that my days of taking spontaneous trips and collecting Michele watches are over. My parents are nice enough to let me stay at home, and are no longer giving me allowance or funding my adventures.

I've done some different budget using different models. I recommend doing this, because it very helpful to compare them and see different ways to reach different goals. I only hope I can be disciplined enough to stick to a budget. I am considering literally placing cash in individual envelopes to force myself not to overspend. Sounds silly, but I've heard it really helps people.

Guest's picture

My husband and I use the cash envelope method, and it does really help. We never got into credit card debt (just student loans), but actually feeling the cash in your hand and seeing how low the envelope gets toward the end of the month makes us more money conscious. I admit I get a bit swipe-happy with my debit card. I prefer to leave it at home and pretend it doesn't exist.

stephljones's picture

A year and a half ago, my husband lost his very lucrative telecom job. He got his CDL, and began driving a truck. (After many months...during which we lived off his severence package)

Then, this spring he fell and broke 3 bones in his leg, and 2 in his arm. We were on workers comp for 3 months while he recovered...making about $500 a week.

It was tough. We have a large home with a healthy mortgage, which was reduced by refinancing.

We turned in our fancy BMW.

and made HUGE changes in our daily routine. I started couponing...buying anything that was on sale, free, or cheap. I made every single meal from scratch...even bread and tortillas.

No budget at all for clothes, entertainment, internet, cable...nothing. I even dropped our car insurance. (On our paid for auto.)

It was hard. Our fridge also died during this time! We used what we had, battened down, and made do.

He's been back at work for 6 months now...and I'm so proud that we made it through the challenge together.

The key for us was no debt. We owed on our car...that we let go. And our home, which became the first priority with every paycheck!

Guest's picture

You can live very comfortably under $2000 depending on where you live geographically, of course. I live on less than $1000/month for all expenses by personal choice. I live in a 800 sq ft, heated apartment with a garage in a nice area, everything I own is paid for, I eat 3 good meals a day, I have no debt, and I bank and invest a large portion of my income. But I don't take luxury vacation trips other than taking day trips in my car during my time off. I have already travelled the globe in my earlier years and have no desire to get on a plane anywhere, even though I maintain an active passport. I live within in a well-defined budget and I don't deviate from it. Yes, I can afford the luxury toys out there, but I don't waste my money on such fruitless things like that; I only buy what I need and nothing more. I live healthy, exercise regularly, eat well, and live cheap, and I am happy! For entertainment I read a lot and have high-speed internet to Skype with family and friends and watch movies. I am 10 years from retirement and plan to live equally as frugal in retirement, but in a different location in the US or possibly abroad.

Mrs. PAM's picture

Hello all! So here is the situation..... We are a family of 5, hubby, 6yr old, 5yr old, 1yr old, and myself. Only my husband works and he roughly brings in $1700ish a month. I am debating whether to take our upcoming tax return to pay up some of our revolving bills(car ins, cell phone, etc) so that we will have more money each month. My logic is that since we aren't use to having the return money we might as well put it to something that will have to be paid. And in essence freeing up our monthly monies. Note: each month we fall short due to the fact that the income we bring in is not enough for all our bills. What do you guys think???

Guest's picture

We are living off $2180 per month and that cover all our living cost. We take our income tax return to pay my tuition, I'm working on my psychology degree, and what is then left over we put on the phone bill to lessen the monthly payment. My husband also gets a yearly bonus, which again pays my tuition and the remainder goes on our "pay ahead" plan. So...I think it's a great idea! It will give you a little more wiggle room or you could squirrel it away for a rainy day!

Guest's picture

If the tax return is a common thing, you might look at how many exemptions your husband is claiming for his paycheck. If you get a big return at the end of the year, the government is withholding too much in taxes. Ideally, they should be withholding just enough for you to about break even - i.e. the tax you paid about equals the tax you owed. If you have a big return, it means the tax you paid was more than the tax you owed. This way, you wouldn't get a big return, but you'd have bigger paychecks every month.

Christopher's picture

I've done quite a bit of travelling around the country, and have lived in a number of different cities from my adolescent years on, independently and typically making very little.

Specifically for the city dwellers such as myself: Don't own a car. There's no logical need for it if you work AND live in the city. (which many do since the pay is higher, to meet cost of living) I have never even thought about getting one, and from what my friends tell me, between their car payments, gas and maintenance I'm saving thousands because of it. I choose not to work two jobs, so I have a budget to meet and more time on my hands so I take public transit. It's roughly 50-100 dollars depending on the city for an unlimited monthly transit pass.

Also, consider living in a crappy neighborhood. Get off craigslist and walk up and down neighborhood streets looking for private building owners. I shared an apt in NYC with two others for 450 apiece in Manhattan. It wasn't huge, but it was clean and secure, and 20 somethings don't move to the city to sit inside all day.

Most importantly, I've never had a credit card, bank at a credit union and saved as a teenager to pay for a reasonable degree at community college in cash. It was only 3 grand a year, BEFORE financial aid, in NY. I am a good employee so I use my references for the job I want, not my school's clout.

It's my few bits of advice I value because I like to spend that excess on going out and having fun and of course, my savings, but it has skimmed up to 500 a month in rent at times and another 200-300 for a vehicle.

anita garcia's picture

I am a semi retired nurse who has been in medical field for 40 yrs and am going to retire on2000 month. My car is paid, but this breakdown
mortgage 650 month
utilites 160 month
healthcare300 month
interenet, phone and cable 106 monthly
car insurance 90---
cancer policy 25
groceries 200--
gas 200
that is 1731 a month. What kind of health insurance does the 52 yo have? I pay 300 month for poor coverage, no doctor visits 3000 deductible and then only pays 70%

Guest's picture

:) I live in Fort Walton Beach, Fl. I am single and I live off of $1200 a month
$525 rent
$35 electric
$25 Water
$60 Food
Car paid off/insurance 25 month
$120 tithes
$60 phone
$25 cable
$40 Gas
$100 medical bill expenses (copay etc)
$100 savings
$50 pay myself
total expenses = 1165

Guest's picture

[quote=Guest]:) I live in Fort Walton Beach, Fl. I am single and I live off of $1200 a month
$525 rent
$35 electric
$25 Water
$60 Food
Car paid off/insurance 25 month
$120 tithes
$60 phone
$25 cable
$40 Gas
$100 medical bill expenses (copay etc)
$100 savings
$50 pay myself
total expenses = 1165[/quote]

I am moving back home (FWB) and I was debating renting a house or getting an apartment because sometimes they are the same cost. I have been saving for 2 years now and have over $30,000 in savings. I graduate with my BS in fall but was going to become a stay at home mom and attend grad school instead of working. My husband will also be going to school full time. I want to live reasonable so I don't have to return to work in the next year. Our budget as of now is nice, we don't pay attention to what we spend, but that will change so I can "live my dream". Here's my proposed budget ($2500):

Rent: $1000
Car payment: $265 (husband's vehicle, mine is paid off)
Insurance: $0 (Paid in advance for the year)
Cell: $80
Utilities/Water/Trash: $200
Cable/Internet: $120
Grocery: $400 a month
Gas: $120
=$2185 per month

Another thing I need to find out about is health care insurance for children. My husband and I are veterans so we can go to the VA but my daughter will need coverage.

Guest's picture

Make a menu by the week or longer and plan your meals by what is on hand and what is available. You can change days and such but try to figure it out ahead. Make most of what you can from scratch, cakes, pancakes, casseroles even hamburger helper type dishes. Buy flours and rice in bulk. Homemade bread is a real treat and you can beef up the nutrition adding some whole wheat, flax, or oat. Breakfast is cheap so eat it(sometimes for supper even),skip the high cost cereals they are loaded with refined sugars anyway. Buy simple cereal and fruit, make pancakes or waffles, hot cereals, and so on. For the weekend or special days add meat to the meal, keep an eye out for sausages or bacon or ham on sale they freeze ok. Make multiple meals from the same thing. If you roast a whole chicken you can pull extra for soups. Soup and sandwiches make a good lunch or light dinner. Consider one or more meatless dinners. Most kids are happy to help with baking and cooking, if you have several children you may want to make it one at a time helper for dinner. Do not be afraid of used items there is no shame in used goods if they are in good condition. Things like a bread maker, waffle iron can be found often in used shops. Use the library, it is a good outing for kids. Many have movies and music for loan as well and free internet access. It also tends to be heated or cooled appropriately which can be nice if you are limiting electrical use. Walk if you can anywhere, stores, schools, parks and so on, not only is it green, healthy and cheap but it is a great time for conversation or quiet thought. Plant a garden or window pot for tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and such if this strikes your fancy. It is a great money saver and at least you know what went into and onto your food.
Write down what you spend, all of it, then review where you can do better at cutting habitual spending and make room for a special night or expense.
Save for special items and purchases, you may find by the time you have saved the practicality or need is no longer so important to want to part with the cash.
Use free or cheap entertainment, public concerts, art shows, an evening in with family or friends. Make one night a week special for the family, play games or find a show the whole family enjoys and set that night aside. For My kids a good long week was celebrated by Friday pizza, sometime homemade some time cheap frozen but we always had pizza night and a board game. I know it sounds cheezy but they liked the ritual and remember it fondly. After all it is the good things we tend to look back on not the expenses.

Guest's picture

Hi I have a family of four two kids my husband and myself we make 2,054 a month we do pretty good with that My rent is $300 a month and that includes water and garbage. My electric bill runs around $130.00 a month my internet bill is 34.95 monthly my cell phone bill is $25.00 a month I usually spend about 300 monthly on food I usually don't have to buy clothes or shoes people are always giving me stuff. I also search craigslist giveaways alot for stuff too. We spend maybe $100 a month on gas and our insurance is $100.00 a month for our two vehicles. altogether we have 1,364.05 left after our bills we usually save that and buy what extras we need during the month and also some goes into savings. I believe if you cut out the spending on things you dont need then you can live with children on a income this size but it also depends on where you live some places the cost of living is very high so this dont apply to everyone.

homemaker in need of advice...'s picture

Dear All,

We are currently living on 2600 hundred a month with a family of four.

My husband comes from a European family with the tradition of buying the home for one's heirs. I am hoping to reach a compromise of 100000 saved for both girls over the next 20 years. I would also like us to invest in a camper (4-5 ppl) for our vacation time. I know we are on a limited income, but I think future goals should not entirely limit current living and leisure.

We do not have a car payment nor mortgage but we need to learn to budget in order to reach the goals we have ahead of us.

We do have a garden-and so it should yield what we need in a couple of months time, I am learning outdoor cooking skills via scouts and soon I will learn how to cook using a solar oven, which should cut our gas bill down dramatically!
Any ideas? I would like to know of some cost cutting methods in household cleaners. I should learn to make soap within the next two months and then I will be even more self sufficient.

Homemaker in need of advice.

Still Blessed's picture

:) I am very proud of those who can live off of that small amount every month. I use have a good income for living in Michigan. The senior I took care of passed away and my husband's job moved and permanently laid everyone off. He made good money also. Now we both have expensive health issues and are now getting disability. We are in our late late 50's and find that we now must live off of $1878.00 a month. Medicare pays some of my medical bills but my husband who has the heart problems was denied Medicare. He has no medical insurance. We pay cash for dental also and I just paid $600.00 on a tooth that now has to be pulled because the bone is probably fractured. It hurts constantly. Rent is outrageous here in Michigan. We are looking for a studio apartment with all utilities included in Texas, Arizona, or Georgia. We will probably move in a senior apartment that charges rent by your income. We are quiet people and we stay out of trouble. With the small amount of rent we can afford to pay,where can we move that is not going to be a problem area? We are considered low-income and most low-income areas there is a lot of crime. That is the way it is here in Michigan where we live. We are blessed because our daughter helps us out a lot. We have credit card bills also. Water, gas, and electric is about 450.00 to 600.00 a month in the winter months. Most of the money goes on medical, dental, prescriptions. The only good advice I can give anyone is to take care of your health when you are young so you will not have these costly health issues we have. Do not drink heavily or do drugs because when you get older it comes back to bite you like it did for my spouse. Exercise daily and eat less fat and sugar. We want to move to warmer climate. The arthritis is brutal.Does anyone know of an apartment for seniors in a descent area in Arizona, Texas, or Georgia?

Guest's picture

I found this page while trying to create a budget on $1800 a month after taxes. We are a one income family, because my husband and I have two young children and do not think daycare would be beneficial because it would cost more than I probably could earn. We were making it just fine for several years, with no credit card debt... until gas and food prices went up, and now it's not seeming possible anymore. We spend $600 a month on a rental house, which seems great, but the utilities are about $300 a month, and then with gas ($200 a month), food, car insurance, phone (I feel this is a necessity and not a luxury with children in school), and the car payment, I am not sure if creating a budget on $2000 a month is even a logical thought. I have tried depositing what we need for only bills, and using cash for food and gas, but by the time I leave the gas station, I usually have about $75 left, and to be expected to feed a family of four, and have to purchase gas the next week is becoming a cruel joke. We were receiving Medicaid for our children, but my husband got a 19 cent raise with his overtime decreased, and now they think he makes too much money to even receive medical coverage. We are also expected to pay union dues on this income. I know we are far from alone, but I'm starting to think the only way to solve this problem is for me to start working midnights and sleep while the kids are at school.

Guest's picture

im moving to ft walton destin fl area next week and is looking for an apartment under $5oo monthly. Im new to the area so can you recommend any?

Guest's picture

My name is Dan and My wife and I and our 2 children and 4 cats live on $2008 per month. It is very difficult and I do have some help because I am in the Military, but regardless times get hard. alot. I like to think everyone is in the same boat as us, but what I find is that as long as bills are paid, and my family has food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over their heads, what more could I ask for? Its hard living this way but because of It I know that I can pass onto my son the importance of budgeting and being responsible with your money.

Guest's picture

We are a young family of three (myself, my partner and a dog) in college that make it just fine on 1800 a month. We live in Orlando where the cost of living vary greatly inside the same zipcode. Here is our breakdown:

Rent: $586.21 (This includes water, trash and sewage)

Electric: $250 during the hottest months. When it is less than
$250, we save it.)

Cable/Internet: $100 (THe actual bill is $85, but we budget for the occasional pay-per-view movies. If we don't spend it, we save it.)

Phones:$90 (Cheapest cell-phones plans we could find.)

Credit Cards: $80 (Will be paid off in four months.)

Theme Park Passes: $20 (Cheap monthly entertainment.)

Groceries: $200 (And we rarely ever eat out. MAYBE once a month.)

Gas: $150

Car: No car payment, Insurance paid in full.

Dog food: $17.83 (Holistic food, have to buy a new bag every 3 months for $53.50)

Health care: We are both covered by our parent's policies until we are 25.

Leaves $305.96 leftover that we budget/save accordinglyfor all of our other minor categories. i.e Dog, savings, etc.)

Took some getting used to at first as we came from privaleged backgrounds, but we are happy and do not want for many things.

Guest's picture

@ still blessed - we live in Coleman Co. Texas. It's a great place with very low crime and affordable housing. You might check out the city of Coleman's Housing Authority. We know several retirees who live there and really like it. I believe it's priced according to your income. Hope this helps.

Guest's picture

I am going to divorce my husband, we will still be living together, and I am going to leach everything I can from the government that is the way they want it, seems that is the "In" thing to do anymore. I will not have medical so I will like many others I know get medicare, food stamps, etc. every thing I can, even if I have to lie. It works for the illegals coming here, so why not me?

Guest's picture

I am single with no children, so that definitely helps.

My expenses:

$800 for apartment (that's average for where I live)
$150 for groceries (I eat well)
$120 for utilities (heat in the winter is quite expensive)
$33 for cell phone (I use Straight Talk)
$150 for car expenses (insurance, gas, etc, I don't have a loan)
$15 for cat food
$35 for internet
$12 for Netflix
$85 for medical expenses (health insurance, medications I need)
$200 for "mad money" - whatever I would like

That brings me to $1600. I make about $2600 after taxes per month, so I sock away the extra $1000 (50% in retirement, 50% in savings account). It is quite easy for me, and I don't feel deprived in any way. I spend most of my mad money on books and travel. I further save money by making all of my own bread, yogurt, cheese, jelly, jam, and peanut butter. I buy lots of local produce in summer (cheaply) and can it.

Some months I may have unexpected bills (dentist, car repairs, etc), but that is what the money in my savings account is for.

Serena A's picture

Our rent for a 3 bedroom 1 1/2 bath house in the mountains of PA is only $450 a month. Rent varies greatly depending on where you live. We are a family of soon to be 4 and live off of $2400 a month. This includes savings and about $600 towards debt that we are working to pay down.

Pet's picture

I will retire next year.. and will receive a pension of $ 2200/= per month, with a little saivngs of about $ 40000. Can I survive. am worried

Chrisso95's picture

Reading this entire blog has been the biggest bs waist of time. I also my suspicions it started with a entry level journalist to boost a resume. It's a joke. :(

Lynn's picture

The original poster is just a member of the forum, not a professional writer.

Guest's picture

:( i need to find my mom a part time job that pays about 700 a month

Teah's picture

$1,600 monthly income on only the Post 911/GI bill and Drill pay

(90.00) HO Insurance ($1075 yearly)
(86.00) Property Tax ($1025 yearly)
(70.00) Cell Phone Plan
(40.00) Car-Gasoline
(75.00) Car/Motorcycle Insurance
(20.00) Motorcycle-Gasoline
(20.00) Eating Out
(50.00) Movies
(50.00) Entertainment
(85.00) Games (COH/EQ2)x3
(1,466.00)Grand Total of splurging and max priced utilities

chrisstyetroit's picture

im a cna and i make roughly 1500 monthly, im a single mother of one child, and i cant seem to save money nor keep money in my pocket until my next pay day.. i need some financial advice

Cool Kim's picture

I'm on salary for $24k a year & I graduated last year with a college degree. My boyfriend is still in college & his parents give him an allowance of $700 every month to cover food ($200), rent ($280, utilities ($25), internet ($24), gas ($40), car insurance ($650 every 6-months).

We split everything. I pay for food ($200), rent ($280), utilities ($25), internet ($24), gas ($50), car insurance ($670 every 6-months). I put $500 in my savings account every month for cushion when we move out of current town to a new place.

We rarely eat out & we buy a lot of fruit, vegetables, & whole grains so we stay healthy. Not a lot of pre-packaged food in our 700 sq ft apartment!

I also recommend using a credit card (such as Discover) that offers cashback rewards. In 6 months I racked up $100 in rewards in which I could use to credit my account or use on sponsor giftcards, which is a better deal (Applebee's $50 giftcard for $45).

My motto in life is to simplify, simplify, simplify. Live simply so others may simply live. If you own little, you will appreciate what you do have. I donated a ton of "stuff" to Goodwill & I haven't missed a thing!

Brittney's picture

We are a family of 5 and live under 1500 a month, We make buy pay check to pay check and we coupon a lot. I am trying to find a house to buy since we could buy a house for around 40,000 and pay way less than what we are paying now ..Good luck And i am very happy i found this blog

Ren's picture

1058 a month for expenses and 750 set for grocery's yet we live comfortably and are never in the red, plus we have 4 young children all of us have our medical and basic needs covered and never go without....if people who are making more then that are not making it and are in debt going without basic needs certain times of the month your priority's are set wrong. it can be done and i have lived on far less then that still above the red and still not in debt. its all about living within your means and saving up for the pleasures yet still having a nest egg or cushion....people who make triple then what we do and still can't make it need financial and budget advice . If a family of 6 (with 4 cloth diapered children) can make it on 1808 and still not go in the red living comfortably so can you and far less as we have lived on far less (600 total a month in the past),we found affordable decent places to live and through farmers and farmers markets found quality, and far cheaper healthy food. job market has been tough luckily we make enough to ensure we don't go without and cover the basics and non basics, we can qualify for help resources but don't feel we need to apply as we are set our u.s. economy is in the sinker why add to it if you don't need it. if you can't make it on 600 or more a month you make my :jawdrop: before marrying i made 250 doing odd jobs and still made it i may have not eaten the best , dry beans , rice served with chicken for dinner and some veggies, lunch a pb sandwich and breakfast plain oatmeal but i was healthy then and am now, again if i did it so can you . we never settle for less. have lived in decent neighborhoods, are healthy, and have little stress (kids :grin: )there are people in this world who make nothing , have no roof over their head, and starve the majority of the month sometimes for something in their stomach eat dirt or garbage, bugs etc, I think better off country's could learn to appreciate what they do have and realize that poverty , true poverty is having nothing, not even clothes on your back or someone to turn to.To see people with clothing, cars, homes,pets, and food cry poverty....sorry i have seen true poverty and it makes me sick when people have all that and still don't make it because of poor choices :sick:

Guest's picture

:) It is possible to live on 2k a month!
My break down:
Rent- $454
Electric-$125 (On average)
Loan Payment-$243
Auto/Renters Insurance-$119
Health Insurance-$86
Dental Insurance-$23
Groceries (including dog food/supplies)-$300

This includes everything for my spouse and myself. We are lucky to both be employed and make good money. Our goal when we moved in together was to live below our means so we could still afford luxury items like video games and bubble bath, but, also to someday have money to be able to purchase a house.
True, we live in a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment in a decent side of Oklahoma City. There are far nicer and newer areas but, with those areas comes a huge increase in rent.

It's very possible to live on 2k but, if we had children, I do not believe we would be able to live this cheap.

Good luck to everyone trying to achieve their budget goals!
I look forward to reading about them! :)

Fran's picture

Thank you for all of the great ideas on living frugally. Another tip that may be helpful if it is provided in your area is fixed plan utilities. My electric company is Progress Energy, and they offer an "Equal Payment Plan." They look at the annual energy usage and the average that amount out over 12 months. I live in the deep south, and at this time my electric bill is $149 each month.... which is great since I don't receive those surprise elephant bills in the dead of winter or heat of summer. If at the end of the year my average usage has gone up or down... the monthly payment is adjusted accordingly. Hope this tip helps.

Guest's picture

I am a college student with an income of a flat $1500 a month.
I live well and am out in Oregon, in a small city. This is how I break down my budget. I don't spend a lot of money on fancy hair and makeup stuff, and majority of my clothes come from small thrift shops. I live in a crappy 2 bedroom apartment with a room mate, WSG are included in rent so our bills are electric and internet which I pay for because my school is about 8 miles away.
My car is paid off and I limit my driving to around town, except for the occasional trip to see my family. I cook almost everything at home, no pre-packaged meals for us. I do have a hospital bill because I don't have medical insurance but it will be paid off shortly.

Rent - 500
Utilities - 70
Car/Gas - 100
Food - 150
Insurance - 75
Phone - 50
Hospital - 100
Other - 50

Total bills = 1,095

$405 left over a month. I do have 5 nephews that I get Christmas and birthday gifts, also a lot of my friends get married and have babies so I spend money on them. In the summer I try to go to a concert or two with some of my savings... So $2,000 a month is totally doable, however I don't have a family so it is easy for me!

Guest's picture

I am single student and I am doing it great living off of $1424 a month
Break down!
I get two paychecks I use the first pay check to pay rent
rent $575 so I have 137 left
gas $20 (I live close to work so I walk from time to time)
food $50 (buy in bulk use lots of coupons)cook at home
so $67 dollars left I put aside
next paycheck
water $32
Electric $65
Cable bundled $70
Phone $50 dollars unlimited text and talk
gas $20
food $50
leaves 425 plus 67 492 I take 100 dollars and put in savings every second paycheck and then I pay myself 50 dollars
I have done this for 2 years and it has worked wonders for me!

Guest's picture

I'll be retiring in a couple of years, and will be getting approximately $2,000 per month consisting from pension, OAS, and CPP.

1. No mortgage, since it will be paid off by the time I retire
2. Groceries $300
3. Electric $ 50
4. Monthly bus pass $124
5. Scooter gas $ 20
6. Scooter maint/ins $ 50
6. Home insurance $ 30
7. Property tax/Municipal utilities $ 80
8. Medical/Dental $100
9. Strata Fees $250
10 Phone/Internet/Cable (Bundled) $150
11 Entertainment $200

Total $1354

Jamie's picture

My boyfriend lost his job, so we are now living on my part time $2,000/month job until I get a second job or he finds a new job. We're in San Diego, which is not a cheap city, so we've had to make a lot of changes. Here are some of them:

- Home haircuts! With a little research and practice, we've learned to do a good job.
- Shopping at Food 4 Less instead of Vons and then cooking at home. Also using all parts of what we buy - beet greens, making soup from chicken bones, etc. Our grocery bill is half of what it was.
- Growing veggies from seed and canning fruit from our fruit trees.
- Netflix (basic DVD delivery plan) instead of going to the movies
- Hulu instead of cable
- Using Groupon or hitting happy hour when we go out
- Library over Amazon. It's also become a fun weekend afternoon outing.
- Using one car instead of two (possible because we do live in the city).

We've been forced to learn a lot. We're excited to get our new jobs because we hae new strategies that will help us save up for a house.

Guest's picture

I've lived on 800 a month or less take home pay my entire life and that's 30 to 40 hrs a week of work and I'm 40 now with an 18 yo son. Paid everything from checks from work but in 2011 had to move to housing and get on foodstamps since prices went up so much. We're about to get a job making 2k a month each.

2k a month to me is double and a half what I have made for eons now and to me that is RICH. I'm grateful to finally make awesome money, even if to some that is nothing. To me, that is equivalent to 70k a year.

poster again's picture

to add, this is my breakdown:

whole rent/utilities included: 250
no car
food: 200
home phone/net: 80

we live in a super small town where you don't pay over 350 a month, even the gorgeous 4 bdrm houses aren't over 350 a month. No crime, it's just like Mayberry, really. Everyone is friendly, doors are left open, people come and go in and out of neighbors homes, everyone helps everyone. I found heaven.

guest's picture

Now I'm envious! I'm old enough to remember Andy Griffith show and Mayberry, and the closest I've come to living to Mayberry is the street a few blocks from us. Seriously! Sigh. :)

Guest's picture

I live in the outskirts of Houston (clear lake). I take home about 1900-2000 a month. It is very possible to live off of that budget in Texas, where you can get 1,000 sq APT for less than $1,000 depending on area.

But here is my breakdown
-Rent- 700 for a 2 BDRM 2 BTH (including gas/water/trash pick-up)
-Lite bill- $60-90 (depending on the month)
-Car note- 262.32 (2012 Altima)
-Car INS- 192 (for two cars, one is paid in full/ If you are wondering why its so high I'm 22)
-Cell bill- 120
-Health INS (paid through my job)
-Internet- FREE (courtesy of my neighboors :) )
-food- ???
-gas- ???

I know what you are thinking how do you not know how much you spend on gas and food. Annnnnnd i dont have an answer, sorry guys. But I would guess 300 for both so that brings a grand total of 1,664.32 wich leaves $335.88 ...

Welp, now that I physically look at it, thats not much $$ left. lol but its still possible. I have back-up though. My GF/Mother of my child takes home about $1,300-1,500. I know yall were worried for a sec about me but its ok put your minds to ease.

Guest's picture

I forgot

-netflix- 8.95
-xbox live- 9.99

New grand total of $1,683.26 :jawdrop:

Matt's picture

Ok, so currently I am Spliting the cost of rent with two friends for a three bedroom apartment.
So, I make around $700 a month and here is the way my money runs away:
-450 (rent, utilites)
-100 (food)
-47 (bus)
And that's about all I pay. I am usually never at home. I spend a good proportion of my day hanging out with my friends, or at the public library mooching off the wifi.

Jon's picture

I've read all this and it seems like the solution is to work more or make more money.
I am 51 and I agree rents or mortgage payments of $250 a month seem pretty low. My wife and I live in Indiana and used to make over $100 k a year. We have 2 children at home. I started a business 8 years ago and she quit her job to stay home with the kids. Our income went down to about 30k a year and then the recession hit.
We have a 3 bedroom house 2 bath with 5 acres and our mortgage is $940 a month. The house is only 9 years old and is 1600 sq ft with a 2 car garage. Here is our budget breakdown
940 for house payment. Will be paid off in 2 years.
146 for electric
25 for water we have a septic tank so no sewer bill
300 for food. Shop Aldis or such places grow a garden and can
300 for gasoline. Cars were all paid for with cash.
160 for tithe we work and volunteer at church also. This is important to us
200 for insurance and property tax
150 misc
We save about 800 a month on top of this
Find work that you can make a lot for your time
Don't get into car payments. Save up and buy a Toyota
Don't eat out.
Keep about10kin the bank for a cushion. It takes time but it can be done
Get rid of the tv and the games and get another job. Who says you only can work 40 hours a week. Build up the emergency fund and get out of debt the you can work 40 hours a week.
Save for retirement.
You can do this on 30k a year. I do probably 24k if you cut out the eating out and tv stuff

Guest's picture

Heheheh! You guys are great!
I lived on $1200 for a little over 3 years.
Then I lost my job, I found another part time job. I lived on $800 a month for 3 months-THANK GOD my work provided me with free sandwiches every day that I worked.

Now I'm making $1800 a month, and due to my current living situation, and my car pooping out on me, I am able to save $900 a month. Beautiful.

Reading these posts, and seeing other people's stories has really instilled within me a sense of gratitude for my own living situation. It may not be what I consider to be ideal, by any means, but I'm doing OKAY. I have plenty of food, a roof over my head, and I'm actually able to save money.

Psst. I've always rented houses. Either I find someone who has a room to fill, or I go sign a lease and find people to fill the rooms. For the last 8 years I've paid between $350-$500 a month in rent and never a penny more. Being able to judge who would make a good roommate is important. When you have many roommates, you have to be able to hold regular house meetings, and be very diplomatic when solving issues between people. It can be a very challenging experience, but it also teaches you a lot about people. Many folks I've talked to just wouldn't want to deal with the implications of living this way, but it has been overall an awesome experience for me, and a good majority of the people who I've lived with.

Guest123's picture

we live in the mountain region of SC, and the worst financial county of the state. To find work that will pay good money is at least an hour and a half drive one way, and when driving a 20 year old oil dripper you don't really want to risk being to far from home especially if you need a tow to the nearest junk yard.
Also having an education of only a GED will limit what type of work you can find. Don't think my lack of education means I'm not smart enough to have or do better. It just means I work harder than any paper pusher.

There are 5 of us in the household, 3 of which are children. Our 30+ year old mobile home (a 12x50) is paid for and we have the cheapest rent cost for the land our home sits on. $90/month for 2& 1/2 acre property.(option to buy if we can come up with enough to put down.)

we decided in February to let go of our food stamps so we could try to qualify for medicade, since Obama-care is going to happen, We are still waiting to find out. The rising costs at the grocery store is stupid crazy. What makes them think the same product in a smaller package is worth 3 times as much as it was a year or two ago? Don't even get me started on the electric bill....

To give you an idea of how poor we really are, my paycheck is a whopping $144 every week, my husbands check ranges from $180-$230 a week. I feel we live fairly well with what little we have as we found ways to stretch every dollar.

Most importantly never live beyond your means.
secondly, find a bargain food store, the closest to us is an hour and ten minutes away, but we try to go every 6-8 weeks. you can spend $150 and have enough to last a good while. For example a box of skinless, boneless, ice glazed chicken breast contains approx. 75 breasts and costs $27.(this is good real meat, not that chopped formed and compressed junk) Many items in bulk lasts longer than spending the same money for only a third of the product from places such as Wal-Mart which claims to be the low price leader. nothing beats bargains, not even aldi's or
save-a-lot can come close, however these are the places I will go to for the items I need more often like milk bread and eggs.

We don't have the money to do pleasurable things like going to the mall or the movies, so we sometimes go to yard sales and buy dvd's for 1 or 2 dollars each, or clothing for the kids from 50 cents to a dollar. We don't buy things we don't have to have. We rarely get take out, which is really just from the dollar menu. I can cook better than that anyway.

I think our combined income levels are around 1400 a month. It seems as if we would have a lot left over at the end of the month, but living actually takes it all. After you account for your bills, living costs, and groceries, you still have to put gas in the cars, and buy your household items like cleaning supplies and pet foods, you don't really have the amount Obama wants to make you spend on health care.

I am deadset against forcing people to buy healthcare coverage. The last time I even seen a doctor was when I last gave birth 10 years ago. So Obama wants me to waste my money for something I could never afford to use in the first place? If I had the money for that, I would be paying a mortgage on a nice doublewide.

so most of the time I sit by idly waiting for the second coming of Christ, and prey that all in this household will hear his angels trumpet call.

There are times I wish we would win the big lottery, just so we never again have to worry will we have dinner tonight? But I would not stop after providing better for my family, I would open a food bank in my small town, and feed my entire community. I would also like to bring a manufacturing establishment in this small town to know my community would have a close by place to earn good money.

I would never leave this small town for anything. My specific location is on top of a mountain looking at more beautiful mountains. Something would be wrong with you if you stood in my front yard and did not feel closer to God.
And with that, we get by just fine.

Lynn's picture

Not trying to get into the politics here. I just want to make sure you have information that might help you, since the ACA is settled law. It's not going away. You may know some of this. BELIEVE ME when I say I am not trying to insult your intelligence. People making it on what you're making it on HAVE to be pretty smart.

Unlike many other states, South Carolina has refused to accept federal money to expand its Medicaid program to its poor, and it's also chosen to abdicate local control of and responsibility for its health care exchange. That means South Carolinians must use the federal exchange. (I live in Oregon; we set up our own.)

The ACA provides monthly subsidies for paying for health insurance, but only for those between 100% and 400% of the poverty level. I'm using $15,000 as your gross yearly income, based on $144 + $230/week and zero knowledge of how much you pay in taxes. That's well below the poverty line at 54%, as you are more than aware.

In fact, you make so little money I don't think you are even required to buy health insurance or pay the non-insurance fee; the ACA says you're exempt from the fee if "the lowest-priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8% of your household income." That sounds like it covers you; 8% of my estimate of your income is $100/mo, and you can't buy even bad insurance for that.

Basing everything on the above and SC's Medicaid website:

Your children more than qualify for Medicaid in South Carolina, even with the lack of expansion, and at your income level have qualified since March 2013. Your income level is so low I don't even think food stamps would change that.

If you need family planning services or prenatal and delivery care, you yourself qualify for those right now and have for some time. You also qualify for breast exam coverage. Your income level is so low I don't even think food stamps would change that, either.

Looking at the ACA changes to Medicaid requirements, even taking into consideration South Carolina's refusal to participate in expansion, you're under their threshold for full Medicaid for your entire family, which is 62% of the poverty line in South Carolina as of January 1st, 2014 when the ACA takes effect. You likely had to give up food stamps THIS year to qualify because South Carolina rules that as income; after the ACA takes effect, it looks like it DOES NOT.

I don't know where you live or I'd research it, but I urge you to find in-person non-government community-based help navigating your state's system; it is CRAZY complicated, and I want your family to get help if possible. No one who works hard should EVER have to worry where dinner is coming from, and you sound like you work very, very hard.

God bless you and keep you, and may better times come for all of us.

Lynn's picture

Many ACA opponents are flat out lying, even people who say they're being negatively affected by the law. I am NOT saying you are lying. I completely believe you're telling your truth. I'm saying that you may be getting unreliable information from people you trust. Here's one example:

Again, I truly hope things improve for you and for us all.

bro's picture

don't you know that anyone making less than 40k a year is not wanted in the U.S. anymore, you are a drag on the country, that is the thanks we get for working and supporting the country... :sick:

Guest123's picture

well ok bro...maybe all the people living at or below poverty levels are no longer wanted here, but we are not the ones bringing this country down...that belongs to the greedy crooked politicians running this country in the first place. Just look at what they are doing now. Wouldn't you want them to do better with what you give them? Its the same for us, poor people.

We work and pay our taxes just like we are supposed to.
Ever hear "The more you make, the more it takes." ?

sailor's picture

I am 70 years old and I am doing it. Not really a big deal, and guess what, I am doing it in one of the most expensive area in the US - DC metropolitan area (in Northern Virginia)

Adjust your lifestyle and spending and you can do it. Of course these days everybody thinks that there are so many thing one has to have. Oh well, not really!

jerry's picture

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The Retro Homemaker's picture

My husband and I live on $2470.03/month:

-$795 on rent
-$355.62 on car payments
-$121.68 on life insurance
-$93.87 on home and car insurance
-Around $115 for phone and Internet
-$92.11 for TV and piano
-$8.25 bank fee
-$75.43 electricity
Rest is spent on food, gas, etc.

The Retro Homemaker's picture

I forgot, cell phone is around $109 a month, leaving us around $704.07 for the rest.

Lynn's picture

I'd guess many people are making do on that, or even less.

TG's picture

$450/month RENT - where?? What kind of apartment is it? Also, you say you live in rural area and are a freelance professional. Well, what about those of us whose paycheck depends on a service/activity close to or even in the heart of a more densely populated (hence expensive) center? Where I live, 1bd apts go for 40% or more of the net incomes of singles in the lower bracket.

RE: anyone making less than 40k a year is not wanted in the U.S. anymore - Where are all the jobs that pay 40K/year?? Looks to me like there is definitely a demand for cheap labor...

Sue M's picture

It is possible to live relatively cheaply if you keep your non essential expenses under control. We have found that entertainment and dinning out to be two of the biggest drain on our income. We now very rarely dine out and we have restricted our entertainment to special holidays and matinee movies. We cut down are utilities as much as possible , the house is always 62 during the winter while we are sleeping, and since I can't sleep if the house is warm we keep the house at 80 degree during the day in the summer. We also reduced our showers to one a day and have a time that limits hot water to 10 minutes, that really took some time to get use to, but now is no problem. We now buy certified used cars instead of a new vehicle and only every 10 years not every 3 years as in the past, It takes a lot of dedication to cut expenses, put it is possible and people can adapt to most things given enough time and motivation. One big thing is not to run up credit card debt, should have one or two cards and keep the balance paid up Hope this helps.

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