Wednesday, February 07, 2007

surviving on $12,000 a year

Student and writer Donna Freedman details how she's going to live on a meager $12,084 in 2007.
In a nutshell, it doesn't sound terribly fun (unless you're the romantic sort). Her article does, however, offer several frugal money tips that could come in handy if ever you need to financially bootstrap it for a while. Granted, the $12,000 living income is wholly unrealistic for some cities (she's only paying $525/month in rent), but the idea remains worthwhile: whether you've set up some aggressive savings goals or you're just completely strapped for cash, Freedman's tips offer a number of ways you can cut back on your living expenses if you're motivated.
Via Lifehacker

It's an interesting read. Freedman is basically living off of a little more than $1000 a month. Ouch. Granted my sister and her new husband are living off that right now, but they also have a free apartment and utilities where they're living. Lucky.
I already know my big-ticket annual costs, too: rent of $6,300 and $1,200 for car insurance. Subtract these from my income and I'm left with $382 a month for food, utilities, clothes, medical deductibles and co-pays, gasoline, renter's and life insurance and any help I give my daughter, who lives on even less than I do.
Freedman brown bags her lunch every day. Drinks only water and combines coupons and rebates for free items like toothpaste and toiletries.
But in order to thrive, you have to hustle, too, always looking for ways to save a dime or to make one. I exchange spent ink cartridges for reams of printer paper at Office Max. Whenever I see a candy dish, I put a piece in my coat pocket; if my energy flags midday, those toffees and peppermints keep me from buying snacks. After I won a basket of specialty coffees at a college event, I immediately sold it on; I sold a "free after rebate" phone that way, too.
It may not be super fun but if you can do it, think of the long-term benefits. We talked Tuesday night about how James says there's an actual army at war inside of us when it comes to envy and material possessions.
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don't have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn't yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. - James 4:1-2
It's funny how if you live without for so long you don't realize you're without. Many people I know that grew up in the depression have said numerous times, "We didn't know we were poor." It's the same with material possessions and me. I don't realize I have not if I don't see what others have. My 19" TV is perfectly OK until I go to a friends house and see their 52" plasma. Then the war begins. "How much more can I put on that credit card? How long would it take for me to pay that off?" I don't need it. I'm perfectly content with my 19" TV, that's actually sitting in storage right now. But when I see what others have I start wanting it and "needing it."
Read Freedman's story and see what you think you can live without.


MMBlog said...

Of course, working for newspapers can also teach you what it's like to live like that -- on the cheap. The salaries and that $12,000 don't differ much.

Michael said...

Great post. I remember living on about that just after college years ago. Supporting a grad student and working in the media can put one in that financial situation. I keep reminding myself that although we are out of the financial desert for now, we could easily be back in that desert.