Is it even possible to live on a small amount of money in today’s world? I was asked this question recently by someone when I told them of my plans to reduce my expenditures to just a few hundred dollars per month. They couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that there are a lot of people in this world who live on very little money already and are not completely miserable.
But what is misery? Is it being unable to drive the newest, shiniest, gas guzzling car on the road? Or is it slaving away at some job you hate 40+ hours a week so you can pay for that new, shiny gas guzzler? All things in life are relative and you have to decide what is important to you
Food, water, clothing, and shelter from the elements are pretty standard items on anyone’s short list of necessities. Once those needs are met though everything else is merely icing on the cake. So do you think you could provide those necessities for under $10,000 a year? Sure you can. If you paid $600 a month for rent that would leave you $2800 for everything else.
Rent a house or apartment (all bills paid) and take in a roommate or two that can help out with the rent and you can easily cut your housing expense to $600 or less. That leaves $233.33 a month for everything else. Purchase a good used bike for a hundred bucks or so and your transportation needs fall to almost nothing. $233 a month is certainly enough money for one person to eat on for a month. If you’re really frugal in this area then you should be able to cut your weekly grocery expense down to $35 a week or less.
If you can do that then you’ll have nearly a hundred bucks left over for other things you want or need. Buy a cheap prepaid cell phone from the dollar store for $20 and purchase minutes when you have the extra money and conserve minutes when you don’t. Buy most of your clothing from thrift shops and yard sales.
Keep track of your expenses so you can see where the money is going and make adjustments as needed. A couple of years ago I was living in a large metropolitan area and I kept track of every cent I spent over the course of a few months. I was able to reduce my monthly expenses to just over $500. I met those expenses by working odd jobs in my spare time.
You probably think that I was miserable but I really enjoyed myself. I worked less than twenty hours a week at times that were mostly convenient for me and the rest of the time I spent exploring the city. It was more like an extended vacation to me than some poverty stricken existence.
Now let’s say that you can find a way to reduce the cost of most of life’s necessities to near zero! Do you think that you can live a pretty decent life on $10,000 a year? Remember, everything else is just icing on the cake and $10,000 can buy a hell of a lot if icing. It might seem impossible to reduce your expenses in this area to almost nothing but it is entirely possible.
If you traded in your car for a good running van and converted it to a “mini” motor home all you would pay for is gas, maintenance, and liability insurance. If you didn’t drive around all day then you could get by on two or three hundred a month-not including food. Check out the web sites, Cheap RV living and Cheap green RV living for plenty of good info about this lifestyle as well as articles about converting a van into a home on wheels. You can find links to these sites on my links page.
Living in a van seems a bit extreme to most people however so if this isn’t for you start your search now for that perfect little place you can call your own. Buy a cheap-ass piece of land somewhere and a cheap-ass crappy trailer. Pull your trailer out to your land and set up camp. If you can pay cash for the land and the trailer your rent dilemma is solved. If you can’t get the money together to pay cash for a chunk of land then pay it out. Don’t go into debt long term however.
In fact if you have a lot of debt right now you should work as hard as you can to eliminate that debt because that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Pay it off as fast as possible and implement a “cash and carry” policy in life. Look for ways to reduce or eliminate monthly bills and you can live pretty damn cheap!