Every mom should have an option to stay home with her children, regardless of income

How to Live on $700 a Month

Today, I’m a single SAHM who lives very WELL on $18k/year. I know that must sound like such a small amount to live on, but I assure you, I do very well for myself. Our family has just as much as a family making $60,000+/year I assure you. God is very good to us and I work extremely hard to provide for my family. It’s as simple as that.

UPDATE: I began making $10k/month (see my journey in my new book, How to Become Financially Free, where I share my journey from homeless to 6 figures and what steps you can take to get on the right track as well. You can find the book on Amazon here).

But it’s not always been glitz and glam on what the world calls poverty level, 4 years ago, I lived on MUCH less: $700/month, which is $8,400/year.

If you want to get technical, the lowest amount I’ve ever lived on is $5, but I was living in a homeless shelter at the time, so I don’t count that. 🙂

As a single SAHM, I live quite well on $18k/year...but it wasn't always that way. There was a time when I lived on just $700/month. Here's how I did it!

My first apartment after I got out of the homeless shelter cost me $450/month. It was a 2 bedroom, very nice apartment, that was a new construction. I think that was key to my very low power bill of only $40/month. I suspect that it was insulated to top-notch quality, though I have to tell you, that the large house I live in now, only runs me $80. Perhaps it is because I have learned to lower my power bill by a large amount over the years, I do not know.

Here are the exact bills I had and how I did it. At the time I lived on $700/month, my bills looked like this:

$450 Rent
$30 Debt
$25 Debt
$40 Power
$20 Gas
$25 Car Insurance
$10 Tithes
$0 Water (apt. paid)
$0 Sewer (apt. paid)
$0 Trash (apt. paid)
$0 Internet
$12 Phone
$0 Cable
$0 Groceries

I refused to get a room mate, so it was just me and two little ones trying to make our way through our new situation.

The apartment clubhouse had internet, so I would be found once a day on the internet looking for jobs, etc.

Since I lived in an apartment, and not a house, there was not a water, sewer, or garbage bill to pay. They had washer/dryers in my laundry room inside the apartment for me to use at my leisure. Some apartments, you have to buy your own, but these I did not, thankfully.

My phone bill was so low, because I was on a low-income program with the phone company.

Also, even though my power bill was so low, I was also on a low-income power program called LIHEAP. You’ll want to google it for your own state (or call your power company and ask), but I believe it is in every state. LIHEAP usually pays anywhere from $80-$300 on your power bill as a one-time payment once a year. At that time, I received $300 as I was in Oregon and it’s higher there. So, that $300/year paid for my power bill almost 8 months of the year! The next year I got something like $240 as my income went up and I just kept digging myself out of that giant hole.

I didn’t have cable. We had a TV and a VHS player I got for $10 at a yard sale and played tapes that way. My entertainment center was a nice end table that someone didn’t want and I grabbed it. Same with my rocking chair. My couch I paid $100 for and everything I got to furnish my apartment was super cheap. I would check out Craigslist daily and thrift stores every time I went shopping.

Gas was cheap for me because I didn’t really go anywhere. I didn’t have to money to go anywhere really. When I ran errands, I did them all at once to save money. Car insurance was low because I was under the 10,000 miles a year setting and because the state I lived in at the time, had good insurance rates due to less accidents overall.

I did have debt back then. I do not have a dime of debt now, which is EXTREMELY helpful to living on so little.

Food was paid for with food stamps** and WIC, though I was able to get off all support in time and haven’t been on any sort of welfare for a really long time now.

My total bills were $612 and I had $700/month at the time, so the rest stayed in my checking and I spent very frugally, almost non-existently to get ahead. It was my fervent goal never to get on cash aid. I do NOT agree with their program for cash aid and have never wanted any part of it!

Another thing that drastically helped was that I came across the idea to start selling things I’d get for free to add to my income. It was my first step toward getting where I am today. I didn’t have much, but I still had my kids, and I had help. It is possible to live below “poverty” and still have “enough.” It is our world that tells us we need the biggest fill in the blank to be happy. Just me and my kids, a roof over our heads, food in our tummies, and clothes on our backs.

There are reasons why a person would want to live on as little as they possibly could:

• To simplify their life and make life easier. Things get real simple when you are living on so little. Those fancy cars, fast food tabs all the time, elaborate houses, they all disappear in comparison. You start to realize exactly how little you REALLY need in order to survive through life. THEN, when you do have more, you can appreciate it all the more!

• To get out of debt. Many people deliberately live on less in order to get out of debt. This is, in my opinion, extremely wise. If you’re serious about getting out of debt, you’ll need to make some drastic changes. While that may not be living on $700/month, it could be living on half your income. If you are married and you both work, try getting to the state of living where you’re not dependent upon both incomes, but only one. If one spouse makes $2,000/month, this means you have $2,000 to put on debt! You can get out of debt super fast that way and then once you ARE out of debt, go back and get your nice house again, get that nice car, just pay cash for the car and rent, so that you’re not getting BACK in debt!

 • To retire early. Who wants to work all their life? Not me! I’m working 80+ hours a week for the past 4 years now for a reason. So that I can provide for my family as a single mom, making $10k/month and get somewhere. Put money aside to buy a house with cash (I just bought a brand new car with cash), to put away for college for the kids, their cars, my retirement, and so on. Work hard now, so that I don’t have to work so hard for the rest of my life.

• To prepare for emergencies. What if you or your spouse were laid off their jobs? What if a natural disaster overtook your home? There are a million and one things that could happen and having a nice, well-stocked savings can drastically help in the event of an emergency.

• To prepare for kids. Some people like to live on little in order to prepare for having kids or adopting. While I feel kids are inexpensive to raise (see my post on how I get my kids clothes completely free here), they still do add to the expenses each month. You might need a bigger house with more bedrooms, a bigger car, more food, and so on. Saving now to prepare for those expenses is wise.

• To start your own business. Depending on the business you want to start, it can become very costly. Blogging is probably one of the cheapest businesses to get started in, but it requires investment just the same…in your time. You have to build it. It can also be very lucrative. Within 1 year from my starting a blog, I was making $10,000/month! Going from making $18,000 a YEAR to $10,000/month was insane and it’s something I’m STILL getting used to.

My life has not changed, outside of the fact that I did buy the car and am now renting my dream house. I still save money like crazy. I still work hard, because I want to get somewhere one day. Being self-employed has changed my life and it may be something that you can do as well. Best to have the money to start upfront, so you can really ROCK it. Here’s a post that will walk you through all the things you’ll need to think about before starting a blog, if that is the direction you are thinking about. And of course, check out my best blogging tips and tricks here!

How to get your cost of living down on whatever income you’re at:

• Don’t use any credit cards. You don’t want to incrue any debt. Being debt-free allows you to have a completely free lifestyle.

• Find and use the cheapest cell phone service you can. Net 10 is a great prepaid service and if you don’t use your phone much, the prepaid cards can last you 3 months! Last time I used their service, it was $30 for a phone card, which lasted me 3 months, so $10/month.

• Use cash back sites like Ebates. You’re going to spend the money anyway, might as well get paid to shop! If you don’t have an account, you can sign up here and get a free $10 gift card! To receive your free gift card, just make one purchase of $25 or more and they have every site I shop at on there, so it’s very easy. I put a sticky note on my computer so I remember to go through them first. I’ve been with Ebates for about 3-4 years now and have earned over $2,000. They are a pioneer in the cash back industry and I highly recommend them!

• Negotiate your bills. Did you know that you can do that with some of them? You totally can. Negotiate credit card bills, everything, and get that DOWN!

• Use free budgeting software and tracking services like Personal Capital. If you don’t have a pre-set budget, you’re dead in the water before you even start. You have to tell your money where to go each month or it likes to spend itself!

• Meal plan. Like budgeting, you have to tell your meals what to make (here’s cost-effective and quick meals for those on a budget) or it can take over your expenses. You’ll go out to fast food too much, nice dinners, and so on. Having a meal plan set up makes things a lot simpler. In a little bit, I’ll be sharing with you how I took my grocery bill from $600-$800/month to only $200 with ONE simple trick, so be sure to look out for that post coming up soon!

• Stop paying for stuff. Just decide that there are things you won’t pay for anymore! Here’s my list of 15 things I refuse to pay for. Here’s a post I wrote about how I get all my household products for FREE, including diapers, baby wipes, pull ups, candles, soaps, dishwashing detergent, cleaners, and SO much more!

Increase your income to put into savings:

• Start a blog. Staring a blog is first because it’s my own favorite personal way to make money by doing what I love, serving others! If your heart is about helping others and sharing your knowledge with the world, then you should go for it. I started out with a dream of making $1,000/month by 1 year and ended up making $10,000/month by 1 year! My life has changed drastically. Though the results are not typical, you never know until you try. I surely didn’t know when I started, but God did!

I recommend going through Bluehost and through my site, you can get the cheapest cost (I worked out a deal with them on your behalf!) You have to pay upfront for how many ever years you want to choose, but by far, this is the cheapest and best plan. I pay ONE MONTH for what YOU can get for one YEAR!

• Take surveys online. It won’t get you rich, but it’s income and you want as MANY revenues for income as you can. You can check out my 25 best survey companies here.

• Sell things around the house. Here’s a post I created teaching you how to find FREE things to sell and here’s a post giving you 40 ideas of things you can sell right now that you might already have in your home!

Related: 5 Real Ways to Add $500/month Steady Income (you can find even more ideas for increasing your income here!) Still looking for more? Here are the 10 best articles that teach you how to make money from home.

UPDATE 8/2/15: I’ve been asked a lot about how long ago this was. People are skeptical to believe it can be true of today. I can assure you, that there are many states where you can get a 1 bedroom for $350/month or a 2 bedroom apartment for $450-$500ish/month. In fact, 2 years ago, I had lived in a 3 bedroom 1200 square foot house, fenced yard, 2 car garage for $700/month in one of the best subdivisions in our area. It all depends where you live of course.

I’m sure there are more states that offer such reasonable housing, but Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota are all great places to look. I would encourage you to think about moving to another state if you are miserable and can’t make ends meet. This opinion will vary from person to person. There’s no right or wrong. But our family chose a better quality of life than living near family. This is not uncommon and why be near family if it means you’re miserable the rest of your life? Working your tail off to get NOWHERE. Would your parents/family not want you to be happy? I moved from Cali for just that reason and am able to live the life I want because I took a chance. No risk, no reward is something I believe in, and it’s gotten me to where I am today.

You can see some pictures of where I live today on my blog through out posts, but I will tell you, solely for encouragement purposes, that I haven’t accepted monetary help in like forever and I live in a 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 3 car garage, 2 story home with granite countertops, beige walls, and a nice fenced backyard with two gardens. I do this as a SINGLE MOM. I don’t buy that other people can’t do this too. Not when most people have another income and I only have one. It’s lies fed to you by society.

For most people, if you do the math, using the budget sheet in my newsletter here, you’ll see that it costs you MORE to have both working parents than 1 parent working and 1 being able to stay home with their kids. Thus the whole reason for this site!!!! I’m living proof it happens.

Yes, it takes work, but no more work than you’re doing now, spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. The answer is NOT make more money. They’re WRONG! The answer is getting your cost of living the cheapest you can while still living in safe conditions. THEN, you can add income and it won’t fly out the window to everyone with their hand out!!!

 

As a single SAHM, I live quite well on $18k/year...but it wasn't always that way. There was a time when I lived on just $700/month. Here's how I did it!

Have you ever had to live on a very little amount? What are some of the tips and tricks you can share to help others out there who are frustrated with their circumstances and feel like they can’t get ahead?

Want to learn exactly how I went from being homeless to having all that I have now? Step by step, nuts and bolts, detailed information? Leave a comment and let me know if this is something you’d love to see more of! If there’s enough interest, I will create a massive, in-depth look at ALL that I’ve done between then and now and how you can get out of your dire situation as well. 

**I know that I will get blasted with mean comments about how I took money from the state, so, I’ll be perfectly clear upfront. There is NOTHING, absolutely nothing wrong with taking food stamps or government assistant when you need it. At the point I was living on $700/month, I had JUST gotten out of a homeless shelter and I was VERY grateful for the helping hand. I have since gotten off all government assistance, even though I still qualify I just prefer not to be on it, but am thankful it was there when I needed it.  ALL comments that are mean or derogatory are NOT welcome on this encouraging site and will not be published. Feel free to disagree, as long as you are not being mean. As a general rule, this site never publishes hateful comments. 

Want some practical ways you can learn to save money everyday? Check out, 30 Days to a Better Life here…

30 Days to a Better Life

 

Get my new book, How to Becoming Financially Free for super cheap here on Amazon.

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Comments

    • Thank you for sharing your insight on living in your means. There was a time when our family was poor, yet we never ran out of food, we had a roof over our head. I know we were receiving blessing from heaven then. I’m so grateful for programs that are there when you need help, keeping a family together.

    • Sarah, God bless you & your family! That is exactly what those government programs are for. Keep up God’s work. Everything you say about financial freedom is scriptural & in the Bible!

  1. I would love to learn more about how you sold stuff you got for free. I have started trying to sell stuff I no longer need. I was surprised that I was able to sell the coffee carafe and espresso carafe from used coffee maker I had that no longer worked. I also sold a used set of party glasses and shot glasses that I had no use for and just took up space.

    • That’s awesome Dawn! Yes, it’s totally possible to sell broken stuff. There’s a trick to it though, and if there’s enough interest, I’d love to share. 🙂

      • I do quite well selling broken toys, games with missing pieces, damaged books,broken dishes,etc on Etsy. They all make fantastic art supplies 🙂

        • OH DANG. I wish I would have thought of that! LOL My daughter LOVES crafts. What a wonderful idea, Jupiter! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

      • I would live to learn how you sold items! I am hoping to pass information like this on to my children showing them how to work for what they would like.

    • My friend “shops” on trash day – we live in Orlando. She walks around nice neighborhoods and checks out the things people put on the curb for trash pick up. She found a micro fiber sofa and love seat that was left out for trash collection. Her dad came and picked them up for her. She advertised them for free on Craig’s List and sold for $350! She also spotted a nice looking rug and brought that to her garage sale which then sold for $80!

  2. We do pay for Internet because it would be hard for me to work online w/out it ,so we do use that as a TV option but the library is our real free entertainment goldmine. We’re fortunate to have a great library system with a great selection of DVDs and everything else.

    Also, besides Craigslist, Freecycle has been a great resource for us (both to pass on things we don’t need and acquire stuff we do)

    • Yeah, library’s are WONDERFUL resources. Our library has DVD’s and all kinds of fun stuff. Story time, reading programs, the list goes on and on. Most library’s also have free internet for those without that service and you can even print there, like coupons and stuff for a very small cost.

  3. I absolutely loved reading this article. Many people think that they cannot live off of little to no money, but your life story proved that wrong. Even in your hardest times you made it work and figured out what you could do for you and your kids.

  4. I would love to see details. Although, I don’t believe I can live the same way. I currently live in Washington DC. The lowest rent is $960 in a bad neighborhood. I’ve considered moving but my son is in a great school and my family is here.

    • I live in NJ, my real estate taxes alone are almost $1,000 a month and a 1bedroom before I owned was well over $1,000. It gets frustrating reading articles like this over and over you already know the person does not live in the northeast near any of the major cities or anything.

      • Very true. I’m sorry it’s frustrating for you. Is there no way to move out of the area? I wouldn’t live in a city where it was so expensive personally, (I’ve lived all up and down the western side of the US looking for cost effective places to live) but I know many people have their reasons for staying in expensive cities. I was born and raised in Cali, where it’s SUPER expensive, so can definitely relate.

        • Hi, there are not many safe places to live in California where rent is cheap. Plus if you do have children, I would sacrifice other things to get them into a good school.

          • Absolutely agree. It really depends where you live and what stage of life you’re in. As for Cali, I was born and raised there and tried to have a quality lifestyle there, lived all up and down CA, but nothing worked, so we moved out of state. Best decision I could ever make. I don’t understand why people feel the need to stay in a place they are unhappy and can barely make it. Not when there are so many other states, where things are so much cheaper and you can live the life you want, not have to work like a dog, and commute in horrible traffic (like CA). Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana, North and South Dakota are all great examples of this. 🙂 I’m sure there are other states as well where things are cheaper. I know it’s hard to leave family, but, at the same time, I chose my kids over family. A better life for them rather than trying to please parents. Everyone’s opinion will be different on that. No right or wrong, but I couldn’t be happier!

  5. I would love to see more details. My family and I are just coming out of some hard times. Thankfully my family has been there to put a roof over our heads, but I would love to learn what you did so I could maybe apply them to my family!

  6. I am so proud of you for taking the courage to write this. Very inspirational and motivational. You did what you have to do for your family and you did it right. Thank you!

  7. Thank you for this great article! It is so encouraging! I would love to hear more details as well as how you live now. Thank you for encouraging those of us who are on a small income, it can be done! Just what I needed to hear today. 🙂

    • Betsy, I’m so glad that I could be used to encourage you today, right when you needed to hear it. Currently, I live on $18k/year and do quite well. You can find a little bit more of the story here. 🙂

  8. I would love to hear more of your comments. I live is California and rent is $1250/2-bedroom. My daughter has twins, so I hear what you are saying about taking assistance when you need it. I agree when it is needed. I love your site because I get so many ideas on saving money.

    • Glad you like the site Jackquie. 🙂 Yes, I was born and raised in Cali until I got married, and after I got married, lived all up and down the state, so I definitely get the high cost over there! My nice home is not much different in rent now, but I still make it work on $18k/year and you guys can too. 🙂

  9. “It is our world that tells us we need the biggest (fill in the blank) to be happy.” – I love that!

    Years ago when my first husband left me and I was working three jobs just to stay afloat, I had to say no to eating out with friends. Sometimes they would look at me like I was crazy but I knew I didn’t have a choice. Sadly, our society doesn’t know how to say no – we want everything and we want it now!

  10. You are an amazing inspiration to mothers all around the world. I would love nothing more than to hear your story of hope and inspiration! Thank you and God bless!

  11. Sounds all to familiar. A year and a half ago I was unemployed with an infant. I was reviewing unemployment, a little over $400 every two weeks…. So around $850 a month? I was denied for food stamps (I found out later they had me in the system as receiving a lot of child support…. I wasn’t!) I paid $550 in rent for a mother in law suite… Bedroom and bathroom, shared the kitchen and laundry. And everything was included, all utilities, laundry, parking and internet. I was so blessed to find that family. I made my WIC checks stretch, paid off some debts, and somehow was still able to always have enough diapers. Looking back I feel like I had more spending and saving money then then I do now with a full time job! It’s amazing what we can get through isn’t it?

    • Thank you for sharing your story Tiffany. Oh yes! I definitely feel that in many cases, it’s much more cost effective to not work outside the home. In my situation and many others, I save more money by staying home and now that I work from home, even better. I don’t have extra gas and extra car insurance for having more mileage, child care expenses, extra food bills out of convenience, the list goes on and on.

  12. Thank you for this! I plan on working until my husband is out of school and established in his field. Then I want to be a SAHM. I’ve told him that we’ll make it work on whatever he makes, so it’s nice to see people already out there doing it! And, I’d love to hear how to sell things you got for free!

  13. Hi, Sarah! I have enjoyed reading your FB posts/blog posts for a while now. I appreciate how candid you are because there are so many who feel ashamed of falling on hard times and it helps to know someone else (like me) has been there. I also lived in a shelter for a while — to get away from a very bad marriage. I did the wrong thing, however, by living on my credit cards for a year and a half. Don’t do that anyone. I would love to know more about selling things. I knit and have not had any luck selling my handmade items online or otherwise. 🙁 I get so many compliments and occasionally I am commissioned to make something for someone, but I’m stalled on this one.

    Thanks again for sharing and Best Wishes!

  14. My family of three also lives on about $18k a year. We are struggling and we do receive food stamps. I have several online garage sale sites on Facebook for my area. This is a great resource for cheap really nice things to buy – or to sell whatever. I traded a cuisinart that I no longer used for a used microwave to replace the one that had just broken. I have also sold stuff and the extra money comes in hand!

    • That’s awesome Jonnie! I LOVE the idea of selling something old to get something new. This is exactly how I do things as well. If I need to purchase something, I figure out how to get it without spending any money. Whether it’s kids clothes, a desk, or anything else. 🙂

  15. I applaud you for your hard work and perseverance. You are an inspiration. I for one am thankful that I had to change the way we were living when the stock market and housing market crashed in 2008. I got reconnected to the way I was brought up. I’ve actually enjoyed eating at home more, making my own cleaning and toiletries, mending and sewing, and especially Homemade Christmas, birthdays etc. I’m proud and happy with the way we live now.

  16. You certainly inspire me. I want to temporarily be a SAHM so I can go to nursing school full time. I know the short term sacrifice will be worth it! Keep sharing please!

  17. I just came across your blog! Love it. This article gives me hope. Thank you for sharing and I would love to hear the whole story!!! Can’t wait.

  18. Sarah,Your posts are always so encouraging! As a single mother, I am so encouraged by your posts like these. Thank you so much for sharing! I would love to hear more. 🙂

  19. Thank you for sharing your story! Your post has helped me feel better about a recent decision we’ve made concerning assistance. Money’s been tight since my husbands’s recent layoff, and we’ve been trying to stay afloat without applying for aid, but we need to at this point. We’re grateful that it’s available, but we also hope that this storm is temporary!

    • It takes courage to realize we need help and even more courage to accept it. I will pray it’s only temporary as well. 🙂 With that said, it is a great feeling being off all aid, standing on my own two feet. I will pray the same for your family!

  20. I commend you, Sarah, not only for how far you have come in life, but for being willing to share your story in an effort to encourage others. I’m sure that it takes a tremendous amount of courage to step out in faith like this, and I pray that you and yours will be blessed as a result. Thank you for being a source of encouragement and inspiration to us! You are an excellent reminder that while most of us feel like we are struggling financially, it really is all a matter of perspective. Blessings!

    • Thanks for sharing Heather. Wanna know the funny thing? I make more now than I did back then and yet, we were happier back then! I think that it’s really hard keeping a godly perspective. We always just want more, and more is never enough. Back then I was thankful for laundry soap. It’s so easy to take things for granted now. I like that verse in the Bible that says something like please Lord keep me rich enough that I don’t steal, but poor enough that I don’t forget your name. I need to tape that verse on my mirror or something as a reminder! 🙂

      • So true! Contentment is so important. I can relate to you, in a way, in that our income continues to decline and the more it does, the more thankful I find myself for the simple things that we do have: shelter, food, clothing, etc.

        Perspective is also important. I can focus on my lack compared to others who have so much more, or I can realize that we have more than most of the rest of the world.

        Thanks for the conversation, Sarah!

  21. I’ve always had to live with poverty wages though I always worked in banks and offices 40 + hours a week. My previous husband was lazy and selfish and always spent every dime that I brought into the household. I would go into the kitchen and perform miracles making dinner out of nothing. One thing I did and still do, when I had beans, carrots, potatoes, okra, etc leftover (no matter what small amount) I would add them to a ziplock bag in my freezer. Before long I had enough to make vegetable soup. Good for you. You should be proud of what you have accomplished.

  22. Its an amazing story. I always tell my husband to stop complaining, because someone out there is in a worse situation then we are and simply learn to appreciate what God has blessed us with. We both work and budget but sometimes we can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment for 5 years and a 2 year. Finally, we were able to save enough and bought our first home. Now we are down to zero reserves and catching up on our budget attack plan to save. With my pay check I pay the essentials for living (mortgage, w/s, power, and phone) and my husband pays for the rest and whats left pay debt, no savings. One day at a time. Once again, amazing story. God bless your family. PH

    • Thank you for sharing Patricia. I definitely understand what it’s like to not have anything in reserves. I also know what it’s like to have plenty in reserves. It’s something that I’m currently writing a book about, How to Become Financially Free. I hope you’ll check it out when it comes out…should be within about a month. 🙂 I’m excited to share more of my story so as to help people on a deeper level.

  23. Excellent job doing what it took to get out of a rough place and into a very stable financial position. And yes, it sounds like you guys were exactly the kind of people that WIC and food stamps should be helping. My husband talks about him and his mom being on WIC when he was little and she was still in her teens. Now she’s been a working cosmetologist for a few decades and he’s got a degree in nursing–they just needed some help getting started in life!

  24. I love that you’re trying to help people. Where I live $700 a month is just not possible without government assistance. Rent for a bachelor’s pad is $800 at the very least. If i add my basic expenses that i paid as a single mom 3 years ago i spent $1,550 a month. But only because i was lucky enough to know someone, who needed a person to inhabit their two bedroom mobile home while they were trying to sell it. $900 rent all utilities included $200 child care $300 food and $50 for my phone. i now pay $70- $100 for power and $1075 rent for a two bedroom not to mention paying for laundry and food also $80 for my phone.

  25. Praise the Lord for His provision for you, and your frugal mind! Thank you for sharing and encouraging others! You don’t need cable, etc…

  26. Saying hi from Thrifty Thursday. Your story is very interesting and I would like to know more about how you make money off of getting stuff for free. Please tell. I am more motivated to look at my budget and see where I can cut unnecessary expenses. Thanks!

  27. I apologize for my bad english, because its not my language. I think you are very corageous and you did it perfect. I don’t think take money of state is bad because state is for that, help people to go ahead when they need it. You are now independent and can live with your kids with no state help, you are a very good example for everybody. Congratulations and good luck.

  28. Hi, very inspiring and I would love to know more about how you came from so little and then turned into something so livable 🙂 God bless and look forward to hearing from you!

  29. You are awesome!!! You may not even read all of this but here’s my story anyways. I have a 3 month old daughter and my boyfriend and I both live with my parents so I constantly hear my dad talking about the millions of bills he has to pay (He was doing that before I got pregnant) Sometimes I cry about it because he seems so stress and stresses everyone else out. I even tell him I don’t want him talking about that around my daughter. He does it to himself doe. We pay so much on Internet, cable, car insurance, and more. I just wish he understood that there are alternatives. My brother has a great paying job but my father still decides to pay his car bills every month. (My dad doesn’t even have a car of his own) I just wish things were different around here and that he understood there are ways to say money and that it’s okay to say no if he can’t afford something. He’s been wanting to buy a house for YEARSSS and now that he really wants to do it (Since my daughter is born) He always talks about how he can’t do it at the moment because he is in sooo much debt.

  30. First I want to applaud you for the strength and courage to tell your story. I really hope you received no negative posts because you are a warrior, my friend. I have so much respect for you being the truthful soul that you are and for not being fake and ashamed to tell it like it was. I am a working mom that trust everyday to find a way to earn money so I can one day be a stay at home mom but realistically I’ll probably never be able to. I respect you so much for valuing and appreciating the joy of being able to. Anyone can tell you busy your behind to make a good life for your children. You tell your story girl and I hope it brings even more income to you because I can tell that you would not forget where you started. You sound like a very true kind person and I appreciate that you keep it real and are not fake on your blog. I would much rather read your blog than someone who is well off and faking how they have a fairyland life. Truth shows through! Assistance is there for people like you who are trying to make a better life. You are an inspiration to SAHM and working moms who wish they could be at home with their babies. Keep going, my friend. You have a lot of people in your corner:) God bless you and your children!

    • Thank you Heather. I truly treasure your words. As for not being able to make income, there are a myriad of ways to make income from home, you just have to find one that works best for you and your skills. I wish that I could talk to each person in depth and line them up with what works best for them and then create a step-by-step plan of how to do it, but I haven’t thought of a way to bring that idea to life practically.

  31. i live where I was born, in NJ. A 1 bedroom is well over $1,200 before utilities. We also have the highest car insurance in the country ( I pay 150/month for a 2006) and 7% sales tax with 6% income tax. I currently own a home and $900/month goes to my real estate taxes. There’s no way to live like this on the northeast. I wish there were more articles from people that lived in populated areas of the country.

    • I agree. Sorry it’s so expensive there. I don’t know of anyone personally or any bloggers who live in very expensive areas like that. Is there no way you can move somewhere cheaper? I’m on the western side of the US. $1,200 gets you a 2 story really nice home. :/ I guess it all just depends on where you live. I lived in Cali and it was so expensive there. When my husband was around, we moved first thing.

  32. Loved reading your article. And would love to hear more details. I just currently finished paying off my debts but I still have hunger for knoweledge on how to save money and be frugal

  33. Sarah, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your website, all the articles you write, especially this one. While I was never homeless, I left my husband and moved 300 miles away and worked at a job making barely over minimum wage (only part time-was all I could find at the time in a small town). Minimum wage back then was over $4/hr. I had to leave my son w/my ex for 3 months to try to get some money together to get my own place as I was living w/my sister and her husband. I actually had to go to the food shelf for the first time in my life as I had barely any food. What I owed on my car I had to put it on my credit card as I couldn’t afford the whole payment which was under $200 at the time. I finally found a 2 bedroom duplex to rent which wasn’t the greatest but was only $340/month which included heat thank goodness as I live in a cold/snowy state. Only had to pay for electric, garbage which I split w/the other person who lived in the duplex along w/driveway plowing in the winter. I couldn’t afford a phone so I went w/out for quite a few months. I finally got a job working part time and making more money and then moved up to a higher paying position making over $7/hr. It’s sad that people don’t understand what broke really is! So many people can’t go w/out cable, spendy cell phone, etc, etc, etc. I have never been about keeping up w/the Jones. That has been over 20 years ago. I sold my doublewide trailer and paid off all of my debt and had some money left and moved and quite my good paying job w/benefits. Now I live w/my boyfriend. Some things just aren’t important in life. I’d rather be happy then be working at a job that causes me so much stress and has messed w/my health. I have just started a new job this week. My car has been paid off for years. No payments of any kind of debt. Loving the feeling. I love it that you know what it’s like to do w/out, to struggle. That makes you real! I wish I had friends like you Sarah!!!!! You are an inspiration! Thank you!

    • Thank you for sharing Bonnie. I definitely know what it’s like to go without….and honestly, I get kind of irritated when I hear others who just don’t get it. I was talking to a young man this morning who was all enamored that he got to drive a $250,000 car 20 feet. Said it was the best experience of his life. I went to a dealership today because my Ford Escape has a recall on it and they were all talking about the best cars out there and all the features. They just don’t get it. I’d much rather have a 2003 car that gets me from point A to point B no problems and BE HOME with my kids, than to have a 2016 hybrid and have to work 100+ hours and never see my kids. Sometimes I feel all alone in my own little world of saving money and having a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT perspective on life. Thank you for encouraging ME! 🙂 I don’t need STUFF to make me happy. I’m not going to turn it down if I could have it (I’m saving right now for a brand new car; I want to pay 100% cash), but I’m not going to leave my family for it either and get into debt. I guess that makes me weird….I’m okay with that! 🙂

  34. Hi Sarah!
    What a great story! I stumbled across your blog when searching for information about essential oils. My company I work for just added essential oils as additional products to choose from for our customers and I don’t know the 1st thing about it. What an amazing opportunity for us all and our customers, but I want to learn more.

    I love your story! We all have a story and it’s about owning it and sharing it with others to help them grow and teach them that they are not alone. I truly think you do this! I’m so proud of you and I don’t even know you!

    I’m also new to this on-line Social Media thing…but I’m slowly learning! I’ll try to “Favorite” your blog so that I can keep in touch (if that’s what to do) …because I’m afraid that I’ll never come across it again in the maze of the WWW. LOL

  35. May I ask where you live?
    Between this and the what to stock up on in June list… The costs are extremely different from where I live now and where I was looking at moving to from here. For example, in Anchorage, Alaska (where I am now) a watermelon is $5 at Costco and closer to $8 at the regular grocery store but is only $2 on your list…
    I love that you have this site and this information but it feels kind of discouraging sometimes because there is no way that I could spend so little. My mortgage alone is $1070. My mother in law’s 2 bedroom apartment is $1200 a month. Both of those aren’t counting utilities and we’re both in one of the worse neighborhoods. It would be amazing to be able to live on 700 a month (which is currently my family’s monthly groceries and pet supplies).

    • It definitely depends on where you live. I actually moved states at that time to get things a lot cheaper and have never regretted it. Ultimately, where a person lives is a choice. Yes, it’s nice to be around family, but if it’s killing someone financially, if they never see their kids, if they’re miserable…is it worth it?

  36. I love your story, your spirit and appreciate that you’re so open to sharing in order to help others 🙂 I am a bit confused (it happens, lol) because you say you make $10,000 per month, but you also state towards the end of your post on this page that you still qualify for government assistance. I, too, am *forever grateful* that I benefitted from government assistance for just over one year. I didn’t feel guilt or shame, it’s there to help us and it helped in so many ways, not just financially. Counseling is also available and I encourage all who are open to it, to accept the offer and participate. It’s been a few years now and it’s an absolutely incredible feeling to be able to give back and help others.

    • Great question. That is correct. At the time that I wrote the post, I wasn’t making $10k/month, but I was making enough to live well. At the time, I still qualified for government assistance, but had worked myself off of it. Even though I *could* have taken the assistance, I didn’t. The $10k/month reference was an update. Hopefully that makes a little more sense. 🙂 It’s definitely been a journey. If you want the full story and how I went from homeless to well off with great detail, I wrote a book that is going to be on paperback very soon. It’s an ebook currently on Amazon. You can find it here. 🙂

  37. I personally raise two kids on roughly $500 a month. I am so glad to see the result of someone able to get out of m situation. I have been out of shelters for about 9 months now and I have just recently opened my own travel agency here out of my home. I am trying to give my children everything I can for their future. We do not have cable, but do have internet. I pay electric and water since I rent a house. I am currently on government assistance, but am in school and run my own business. I do not have a cell phone instead pay $10 a month on a home phone, which I think I will change. I do not have any help though and am starting to see how hard it is to not have support, especially when you have two babies and try to run a business. I would love to learn how to sell things as well because I need to get the extra income. I am made fun of all the time for my choices to live without, but I do not need others to tell me how to spend my money. Where I live BTW, rent is about $500-$600 a month for a one bedroom in a safe area.

    • That is great that rent is so cheap where you live for a safe neighborhood. Living on $500/month can be extremely tough, but I also think it can be done as you’re proving. Just in case you ever begin to let those voices discourage you from being with your little ones, here’s a post I wrote about yesterday that will encourage you, Kids Don’t Need Fancy Toys, They Need You. I applaud your effort. One day it’ll be better. Your sacrifices will be rewarded. 🙂

  38. I’ve been reading posts on your site sporadically all day long. Love love love what you are providing for people. I’m an empty nester so I don’t have kids at home anymore, but we seem to be struggling more financially than we ever did before. I’ve gotta change that! So, I’m going to keep reading.

    Thanks Sarah!

  39. Good article. I had a personal blog but started a “focused” blog last summer. I’m hoping it’s just one of many platforms for my ultimate end result–still many facets in work. 🙂 And, yeah, California is WAY expensive. When folks ask if I plan on moving home after I get out of the military I say “No way! Too expensive, too crowded, and too smoggy.”

  40. I live in Utah in a nice two bedroom apartment with brand new tile and carpet and only pay $500 per month for rent. If I didn’t have a dog I would only have to pay $450 per month so there are still places that you only have to pay $500 per month or less. I also don’t have to pay for water sewer or garbage. Unfortunately my apartment doesn’t come with internet so that is something extra that I choose to pay for. I guess I could go to McDonald’s for free internet if I wanted to but then I would have to buy fries and a coke so that would be counterproductive lol;) the only other major bills I have are credit cards (made some bad financial decisions) and my phone bill. My husband and I are thinking about trying to live off of only one paycheck so that we can put the other towards my student loans even though they are currently in deferment because I’m in school again. This post was very helpful and inspiring! I might have to start blogging it seems like a good way to make extra cash:)

  41. Your life experiences are an inspiration to me. As a disabled widow on a fixed income, I plan to implement your tools of success in my life. Thank you. God bless.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but I’m glad to hear you will be implementing these ideas. All the best in your endeavor! 🙂

  42. This has given me so much motivation, hope, and inspiration to know what to do with money instead of running around like a chicken with its head caught off. I’ve been so stressed out about having little work experience and trying to get a job in a smallish town with little opportunities. I’m 20 years old, just dropped out of a [greedy] college, with one temp job from last year on the holidays. I pulled out student loans in hopes of a better future, but realized that college was not for me. The jobs I’ve been looking into have been minimum wage (about $7.65) and although my fiance is going into the Marine Corps boot camp next month and will be making $1,000/month for the 3 months he’ll be in there I was still worried. I mean, I still have to get a ride to work (don’t own my own car.) On top of those worries, I’ve kind of worried about getting a wedding ring, a nice (affordable) dress, and enough money for us to eat dinner after the court house. Don’t get me wrong, I’m content with getting married on the cheap, but I’ve been concerned with overwhelming myself. I still have student loans and my fiances hospital debt and student loans (we’ve agreed to take on these debts together as a married couple.) However, this blog has really made me feel like even though I’ve never been properly educated on finances I can still do it. It’s not going to be easy, but with these tips I feel like I’ll at least know what to do. I just need to put these things in action! Thanks so much for this article! I was honestly skeptical at first, but throughout the article I realized that this was coming from someone who’s been there and genuinely wants to help. 🙂

    • Kathi, I’m so glad this article inspired you. Yes, I’ve been there…I was homeless…can’t get much worse than that. But God was faithful and helped me out of it all, set me on a rock, and made me the person I am today. If I can do it, anyone can! <3

  43. Great job. I live on 700 a month too and sometimes less than that. I love it. I have a garden too. I am a BIG coupon user. I recently purchased a 2 bedroom with yard. Its a fixer-upper, but I can do almost all the work. And have improved the value already. My monthly costs are very simple. No rent. Just power, water, sewer, phone that comes with internet. And homer owners ins and car ins, no car payment (I have a 2005). I love the less stress and can save a lot. I even have 2 kitten. We live very good I think, and less stress. My friend thinks I should start a blog, hmmm.

  44. I was a single mother and I know first hand how hard it can be to raise children on your own. That alone forced me to work harder and I was fortunate enough to buy a home of my own. It wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of the fact that I was able to do it on my own. I do wish however that I saved more and spent less. I live in one of the most expensive areas in the country and want to move somewhere more affordable. I’ve been resistant to move out of state because I wanted to stay near family. Your post has given me the encouragement to pack up and move somewhere more affordable. You’re right, what life is that to lead if you’re miserable?

    • Definitely a decision up to each individual person. For me, I moved and it turned out to be the best decision. My quality of life was SO much better. 🙂 I was able to work from home, so I didn’t need a babysitter when the kids were little. Thanks for sharing Shanetta. 🙂

  45. Inspirational! It was funny when I moved to California, I was renting a 1 bedroom for $1,270, but in Eastern WA I had a 2 bedroom for $375… People did not believe how cheap my old apartment was!
    Then when I moved back to WA, and had my first child… My husband and I made a whopping $23,000 a year. I will always remember the snotty remark someone said, “I don’t know how a family could live on $40k a year.” And I was sitting there thinking about how bad they must be with money because we lived on about half of that!

  46. Hi!! I am really interested in starting a blog. I am married with 2 wonderful girls and an amazing husband. But….. I am 100% disabled, due to multiple back and neck surgeries, among about 10 other surgeries. Living with a pain pump, and chronic pain, I truly believe I could help alot of people who are in the same situation. We also lost our 18 mth old son almost 6 yrs ago, and living with that grief with a child who witnessed this tragedy, I believe I could he helpful to parents of grief as well. Can you help?

    Thank you,
    Tara Ball

  47. Sometime in the future I’m going to have to live on 900.00 month social security. Currently I have a paid for car but my insurance is too much 70.00 month!! I have Virgin Mobile unlimited data 35.00 month can’t give that up because I may have to live without wifi!! Cable tv, I don’t mind doing without but I’m on my iPad a lot!! I’m 62 btw. Can you give me some ideas I should start planning now?

  48. Dear Sarah Titus, I love you and your blog. I’m so glad I found you. I just wanted to thank you for not posting mean and derogatory comments. We all have enough negativity and wrong thinking to overcome and I just don’t think we need to read more of it. I find your blog honest and inspiring. I don’t think people who have not experienced these bad times and needed help really can’t comment on them. I just keep thinking they have not walked a mile in my shoes or yours and no one ever really knows the path God has someone else on. Again, I appreciate the inspiration and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who used help when I needed it and I thank God every day that it was there for me in those dire times. Your blog is the only blog I follow faithfully and I appreciate all of the information you publish. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for the wonderful advice to help us all get back on the right track.

    • Absolutely Paula. <3 I feel the exact same way. There's enough negativity out there in the world. This is a place where people should be free to share how they feel about something (in a kind way) and not be attacked for it. Because most of the time, there IS no right or wrong. Everyone's experiences are different. I used the help when I needed it. I did not take advantage of the system, and I got off of it far sooner than anyone ever thought I could, because my goal was to be self sufficient. Am I glad it was there? Absolutely. Although I didn't get cash assistance, I did use food stamps, WIC, LIHEAP program for electric bill, etc. There's nothing wrong with getting help when you need it; that's what it's designed to do. It's all about each individual person's motive and they answer to God, not me. 🙂