How I Live on an Extreme Budget Without Missing Out
I have been practicing living on less and extreme budgeting in order to get a better vision of how it would be once I retire and understand if I could retire early.
Many people start budgeting with a big goal in mind, like a house, a wedding or a child, or perhaps getting out of debt.
Today, I want to show you my extreme monthly budget.
Before I get to it, please bear in mind that everyone’s budget looks differently. I live in a rural area in Kansas, I do not pay for my water or trash pickup, my car is paid for, and I do not owe a mortgage.
Besides that, we have a very large family, with eight kids, 14 grandkids, and significant others, which affects the budget for gifts. Everybody's budget fits their lifestyle, their needs and their vision of their future, so frugal living does not look the same for everyone.
I believe in handwriting, and I handwrite my budget so it sticks in my head better. I have the categories in ink and the numbers in pencil, because the budget is such a fluid thing, and I plan on moving things and tweaking things as I need to. Let’s get into it!
Medicines - $44 a month.
Eating and entertainment - $30 a month. If I need to, I will eliminate that, which is why there is a check mark there.
Car tags - $7.08 a month.
Property taxes - $61.10 a month. I expect those to go up this year.
Car insurance - $36 a month, i.e. $432 a year.
Internet - $61.95 a month. It is expensive and also not that fast, but unfortunately we do not have any other options out here.
Cellphones - $120.37 a month. I do pay for my cell and my son's cell, as he is still in college. I have always done that for my kids, as long as they are in college. He is totally self-sufficient other than that, and I am very proud of that.
Cat food - $50 a month. We have a bunch of outdoor cats. I accumulated a lot of them when my brother went into the nursing home four years ago.
The household and groceries - $245 a month.
Car repairs - $55 a month. This sum is just in case something comes up, and it accumulates.
Gas - $130 a month. That could go down if I am not working.
Spotify and Hulu - $10.99 a month. I share these with my son, and he is the one who uses Spotify.
K-tag - $1.80 a month. This is if we have to use the Turnpike to go out of state or in state to visit relatives. Last year we spent $21.65, which is what my budget is based on.
Clothing - $11 a month. I rarely spend that budget. This year I did have to replace a few things and I will usually let that budget accumulate so that I can buy the things that I really need.
Haircuts - $3 a month. I only get my haircut once or twice a year.
Christmas and birthdays are two of my biggest expenditure areas. I budget $260.88 a month, as last year we spent $3,130.56 on those, mostly on gifts for the entire family.
Propane and electric - $170 a month. The extra that is not our electric bill goes into the propane fund, which we buy one or two times a year. Our electricity has been running about $122 a month recently, and the rest is propane for when we need it.
Amazon Prime - $11.58 a month. I share that with a daughter and a son. We use Prime video on TV.
All these come up to a total of $1,309.75 a month, which is $15,717 a year.
Now I can add in the vacation and the snacks at $300 pp for vacation per month and $30 for snacks, which adds up to $1,639.75 a month, or $19,677 a year. I know that vacation amount may seem exaggerated, but we cut back in a lot of areas because vacations are important to us.
As a frugal person, you can set up your budget however you like to route the money into the areas that are most important to you. Our biggest expenditures are vacations and Christmas and birthdays, because we like to give gifts to our children and grandchildren and go on holidays. We invest in our priorities, and the rest of the year we are pretty frugal.
All things considered, we still live under $20,000 a year, which is poverty level. For us, however, this lifestyle provides everything we need or want. We are not suffering, we are not going without, we have good nourishing meals and a roof over our head. We have four and a half acres where we live, allowing us to enjoy the outdoors and the country life, which is what we both love.
If you are close to retiring, I encourage you to try living on an extreme budget and see if you could manage to live off your retirement funds comfortably. And whatever your financial goals may be, make a budget, figure out where your priorities lie and how you can filter the money into those areas.
Where are you at with your budget? Are you practicing on living on less? Why or why not? What are your financial goals? Let me know in the comments below!