Money Matters » How we live on $18,000 a year

How we live on $18,000 a year

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Living off a lower income bracket can be extremely tough and frustrating. Here’s how one of our members, Mdowdy, weighs in when asked how she and her family thrive off just $18,000 a year.

How we live on $18,000 a year

Ok, I had a request to list how we live on 18,000 a year. This is what we do:

1Dining In or Dining Out?

1st We do not eat out if we do it’s the dollar menu at one of the local fast food joints.

That way we all eat for a little over 9.00 our order looks something like this three double cheeseburgers, one large fry (we split it) a tea (I love McDonald’s tea) a cheeseburger and they let me buy a toy for $1.00 instead of getting the whole Happy Meal. This is limited to if we can spare the money some months it may be once others it maybe more.

My dad comes and takes us out every two weeks; One night, he pays so that is not included. He says he does this because he knows I work hard with school etc and it gives me a break. We do eat out for my boyfriends birthday this is ordered in so my daughter and I can split a plate with no complaints from the restaurant.

2 2nd Coupons anything I buy at the grocery store is with a coupon or on special or both.

3 3rdI make most everything from scratch.

4 4th I buy most groceries at Sam’s Club ( I really think it depends what you buy if this saves)

When I shop at Sam’s Club it will last definitely a month, most of the time the veggies etc will last 2 so one month I may spend $400 on groceries but the next month all I have to buy is meats because everything else is still lasting. The extra money from groceries is put into savings.

I throw nothing away as far as leftovers, we either eat it or freeze it within two days.

5 Streamline your Lifestyle

5th everything is streamlined. We do not have HBO, Showtime, etc on cable we have the lowest package possible for my little girl to still get noggin and sprout.

We do have cable net but that is the slowest speeds they have available. We watch what is on television and limit ourselves to one rented movie a month.

Our phone is the basic, we do have caller id but that is it no call waiting or long distance. If we make a long distance call it is on the cell. We are switching to magic jack as soon as they get a local number to cut down on this.

My cell phone has 500 minutes per month. I do have text for 7.99 (this gives me unlimited mobile to mobile and 400 extra texts not mobile to mobile) my total cell bill is about 65.00 (I am looking for a way to lower this but can not give up my text because that is how my older kids talk to me LOL) My entire family has the same cell phone company since my siblings work there so our phone calls to each other are free.

For some reason people think we need clothes even though we have too many now, so we have to buy few clothes cause someone is always giving them to us.

My daughter gets new toys on holidays and her birthday unless someone else gives them to her. Trust me she is not lacking in the toy department.

If she gets candy at the store she is limited to 75 cent which we give to her so she can pay for it. This is about once or twice a week and we put her change in a jar where either the whole or part of the 75 cent will come from.

Since my boyfriend doesn’t work and neither do I (outside of the home) gas costs me about 20.00 a month because all I have is errands appointments and my daughters playgroup to go to. When gas was high I shopped on this side of the river so I didn’t have to go all over town.

My car is paid for, and my car insurance plan is the minimum state requirement.

The electric bill is something that we battle with but I think I now have my boyfriend talked into signing for the equal pay plan where they take the total for a year average it and this is what you pay monthly. Once this is done we will not have anymore $500.00 bills during the winter.

We only heat the part of the house we use the most. The rest we shut it down for the winter. Right now the only thing shut down is my boyfriends hobby room. He loves to shoot so this is where his shooting supplies are located.

The only time that room is heated is when he is reloading (he makes his own bullets and ammo instead of buying them) This room is heated by a space heater so we don’t have to try to warm it up with the gas heater in the house.

Our house payment is $500.00 a month will be paid off not this June, but next. It is through a private seller and not bank so we can’t do much about the house payment unless we refinanced through a bank but really don’t want to since its almost paid for. Our house insurance we pay all at one time so we don’t have another bill monthly.

If we need to make a purchase we pay for it with cash (we save for it)we do not have a credit card at all

Savings is not touched unless it is an emergency and we don’t have time to save for it before we have to have it.

Our spending money comes from my school checks. These checks we split. With my half I buy extra stuff I want for the kitchen etc, Christmas for my side, and birthday presents for my side.

I also take my older kids shopping and give my x some money to help with football, basketball, and dance classes. My boyfriend buys whatever reloading or shooting thing or anything else he wants, presents for his side and we split the cost on anything our daughter needs.

Like with the next check we will be buying school stuff (she will get brand new clothes for this, she loves to shop) My checks come in about every four months and usually average about 2500.00

When things happen like this light bill I streamline the cable or the cell before cutting back on groceries. Why? Because food is needed cable and cell is not, although I do have to have my internet since I go to school online. Contrary to popular belief if you have to you can survive without cable and a cell phone.

It is true we have no extra money during the month and if my school checks weren’t coming in we probably couldn’t do it without cutting out the cell, cable(except for internet) and cutting back on groceries. And thank goodness I was expecting the electric bill from last winter and stocked up on groceries.

We save all our change as well as have yard sales etc during the summer.

i am careful where I shop for clothes, this consists of the thrift store (if they don’t have to be brand new), Walmart or anywhere else having a really good sale. I refuse to pay $100.00 for a pair of tennis shoes or over 25.00 for jeans (these are for my older kids they still get to shop at their favorite stores but are limited to whats on sale or a decent price) and they have a spending limit.

For Christmas my kids are limited to $300.00 a piece. The can pick a present to ask for for the whole amount or just get the money or give me a list and let me pick. This year they got Ipods. I was able to order them through the school I go to with a discount from apple so I got the nanos for $79.00 a piece the rest went on cheaper items they had on their list and then if any was left they got the money.

I think I covered about everything, if there is something you are wondering about please ask. Hope this helps

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / mirzavis

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