2015 was the year of survival for us. My husband’s business had barely started at the beginning of the year, and my blog was making pennies per hour that I put into it. Our income potential was slimmer than ever before in our marriage, but we were blessed to be able to cut back on all our expenses to the bare minimum.
© aquarius83men / Dollar Photo Club
The average amount we lived on throughout the year was less than $1,500 each month. That is less than $18,000 for the year. In other words, we lived in poverty since we are a family of 4 and we lived on less than $24,000.
But, honestly, we didn’t live like we were in poverty. At least not the way I think of poverty. We had food on our table at every meal and we had a roof over our heads the whole year. The only issue we really had was that our car didn’t work so great and we had to stay home much of the time.
I honestly believe we were only able to get through on such a low income because of lots of prayers, our own and those praying on behalf of us.
You see, the year before when my husband had a full time job, he was making more than twice what we lived on this past year, and we were still struggling to figure out how we were going to pay for everything each month. I was even dipping into savings.
Now that we’ve been through an entire year of extremely low income, I don’t think we’ll ever struggle again like we did when we were actually making a decent income. We know better than to spend money on the frivolous things in life.
As my husband’s business was in its first year, it didn’t bring in much money, especially the first half of the year. My husband was only able to withdraw about $625 (average) each month throughout the year. The rest of the money that we lived on came from our savings and a few other side hustles. So from these sources (and the help of others) we made it through the year without losing our house and with food on our table at every meal.
Fortunately we received a nice tax refund last year that gave us more padding in our savings. Because my blog wasn’t making much, I wasn’t able to contribute to our income.
It really doesn’t matter how much money we had, though, because we are incredibly blessed.
How Our Family of 4 Lived on Less than $1,500 a Month in 2015
Let me warn you that you won’t see any of our actual expenses listed here because I feel like that’s much more personal than how much income we had to work with. To give you a better idea, our house payment was a large chunk of that $1,500 amount, which is why we are currently house poor.
I didn’t write this to make anyone feel sorry for us. We own up to the decisions we have made and know that they are for the better. Instead, I want to share this with you so you can do better than we have and so you can be better prepared for times of trial in your own life.
In essense, we did three main things that allowed us to live on less than $1,500 a month in 2015.
The main thing we did to live on such a low amount of money was prioritize our expenses. Our house payment was numero uno, then came food, utilities, and all the other little things. The easiest way we prioritized was cutting out anything that wasn’t a necessity. You can easily find out what your needs vs wants when you are put in a position like this.
We Lowered Our Expenses
Once we knew the expenses that were most important to pay first, we tried to figure out ways to lower them. Most of them were already as low as they could get, but we were able to do a few things to lower our utility bills and our grocery budget.
The one expense that ate at me the whole year was our small amount of debt (it was less than $3,000), because we could only pay a little bit more than the minimum payment since we had to choose between that and buying food. It’s really annoying to pay interest, but sometimes it is necessary. 🙁
We Did Without
Finally, for the most part, we just did without when it came to the rest of our expenses. We drove our car rarely and never bought clothes (thank goodness for grandmas and aunts!). We turned on the TV only a handful of times, and we even got rid of it at the end of the year. Now we just use our computer and YouTube if we want to watch something. When there was a birthday party or a wedding, we had to unfortunately decline (except for my own brother’s wedding, of course!). Although, I did realize toward the end of the year that we should still attend but be more creative.
Basically, if you were our friend or relative you really didn’t see us much last year. We were homebodies, and all because staying home really does help you spend less money.
It really came down to these three things when we were trying to pay for our bills last year. I wouldn’t say it was the worst year ever, but it was pretty bleak when I thought about everything I couldn’t do. Fortunately, when I did my one month spending freeze challenge in October, I was able to step back and consider my circumstances and really see just how blessed our little family is.
We are going to be okay, because we have people surrounding us who love us, and we have a God up above who is watching out for us.
We were so blessed that very few things went wrong the entire year (we just had lots of car problems, but since we weren’t driving much it wasn’t a huge deal). Fortunately, no major house repairs popped up.
I wish I could say that our income has magically increased this year. It hasn’t, but I am happy to report that both my blog and my husband’s business are making more money and we should be able to start buying clothes again, driving our car, and even attending birthday parties and weddings! I also will be adding more money to our emergency fund to replenish it, and I think 2016 will be a much better year overall than 2015!
If you are in a situation like this, where your income is super tight and you really need some guidance on lowering your expenses, I encourage you to go through my one month spending freeze challenge. I think it can help you put things into perspective and figure out ways to save more money that you may not have thought about before!