Frugal Living: Can You Survive on a “Poverty Budget”?

Among the fabulous ladies I met while living in Syracuse is running an interesting project this month: She’s living on a “poverty budget”. (You can check out the details of the poverty budget project here). I calculated what the poverty budget for our family of three would be: $1,514 per month. I’m already disqualified, since our mortgage payment alone is $1,300. Just our “living” expenses put us well over the poverty budget.

But, of course, there was a time when we existed on a poverty budget. When I was in grad school (along with my husband) we were living on something very close to $1,500 a month. And we didn’t necessarily live well, like Heather plans to do on her poverty budget. But we also paid rent, instead of a mortgage, and the rent was about half the mortgage we pay now. If we were back in a two-room apartment, buying almost nothing, we could probably do a poverty budget.

This, of course, causes me to reflect on the nature of lifestyle as our income has increased. Our expenses have gone up as we have been able to afford things like:

  • Health insurance.
  • Life insurance.
  • Buying a home/mortgage.
  • Entertainment.
  • Retirement account funding.
  • Travel.

Even though we could buy another car, though, we’ve stayed faithful to only one. We don’t actually need another car, so it seems pointless to buy one. (Except at times when the car is in the shop for repairs.) But there are things I realize that we could cut back on. Especially after the money hemorrhaging experience that was the month of December.

So, even though I won’t be participating in the poverty budget challenge this month, I will still be reflecting on what I spend my money on, and considering the answer to this question: Just because I can spend money on something, should I?

3 thoughts on “Frugal Living: Can You Survive on a “Poverty Budget”?”

  1. A late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! I really liked this post because 1) It helps me and hopefully others reflect on those less fortunate who live on $1500 or LESS a month and 2) Helps those with more money than that realize how blessed they are and 3)Hopefully it will help humble us, spend less, live more frugal, etc. Good luck to your friend on her project!

  2. Hey! Nice to “see” you again! I agree that this project of Heather’s is a great thing. It promotes reflection, and hopefully encourages us to live better — in a spiritual and emotional sense.

  3. Hey there,

    Just found this blog post after searching “frugal mormon living course” as my wife and I have heard about good financial and frugality stories surrounding the Mormon community.

    We are looking to reduce our spending as much as we do now by almost 70%.

    While that would mean we couldn’t accept the challenge of living on a poverty budget, the idea has sparked a greater interest in learning more about living frugally.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this post.

    Regards,
    Tony

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