Living on Less

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Today, while doing my morning check-in to Twitter, I saw that my favorite Bloggy Mom, Tiffany, wrote a post about living on less. She was inspired by the article written on Yahoo Finance and wanted to create a post and blog hop dedicated to it. So, i’m hoping in!

Do you avoid a lot of the expenses that many of your peers spend money on, such as technology and meals out? 
This is a tough one for me to answer because I have to provide a “yes and no” response. I have married a man who loves technology and also loves music. So, whenever something new comes out that can help him progress in his music career, we have to try to work it into the budget. On the other hand, I’m one of those people that isn’t satisfied with the purchase of something technological until I have run it into the ground, bought it back to life at least twice, and then run it into the ground for the final time. This is the reason I decided to keep my old cell phone for 4 years and didn’t have any qualms about upgrading to an iPhone once it died on me. Luckily for this marriage, the yin and yang of technology works in our favor and tends to not break the bank like it would if we were both into always having the bigger, better deal.

When it comes to eating out, it’s always with a coupon, gift card and our “eating out” savings from our budget. The only time this may not apply is during birthday times when a family member may request a restaurant that I don’t have coupons/gift cards for. But, that money still only comes from our “eating out” budget.

What is your typical meal?
As most of my readers know, I worship the whole chicken. It can provide lots of meals from one night of labor and I’ll never turn my back on it. But, if the price is right, a nice big pot roast made in a slow cooker will yield the same results. One of the best meals to have around here is a pot roast with carrots and au jus served over orzo. It’s gotten us through many a winter.

What about clothes?
When it comes to clothes for the kids and I, they come when the sales do. I check out thrift stores, consignment shops and re-sale stores for the kids clothes and that has been working out great thus far. I also make sure to ask family and friends to bypass toys as gifts for holidays and birthdays and grab a cute outfit or two for the kids. It always works out great because adults love shopping for clothes more than toys. They can go to Kohl’s or Old Navy on a weekday, grab an outfit for the kiddo and maybe something for themselves lol.
With myself, I always keep a lookout at clearance racks at the stores we frequent for groceries, like Target and Walmart, and I always make sure to take advantage of any one day sales or coupons for stores that may come my way. I keep a list of items that are needed in my wardrobe, and if I see it at an awesome price somewhere, I grab it up.
My husband’s wardrobe is a whole other story. He has been steadily losing weight and most of his enormous wardrobe is starting to not fit. We’ve been trying to keep up with his essentials by finding inexpensive items at Old Navy and his favorite store, Burlington Coat Factory, but it’s hard to do when you are losing lbs weekly. His wardobe will continue to be a work in progress.

What about going on dates?
 We try to make sure to do this at least once a month. Whether it’s a quick trip to the movies, a night out at dinner, or double dating with friends, we make time and save money for it. Some might say that a night on the couch can be a date if you make it so, but we spend time like that together every night. We watch our favorite shows, talk about our days and crack a few jokes to make each other smile. Unless DH has class that night, it gets done every night. So, a “real date” is something we cherish and even dress up for. We both see it as something that’s worth the investment.

Do you indulge in any luxuries?
We really don’t. Our budget has been stretched to the max, especially with the addition of our little girl this past year. We take trips to see family in Ohio and we used to be able to do this at least every 2 ot 3 months. Now it’s down to twice a year or less. We have decided that next year we will make time to take our kids on trips outside of our state and give them a real vacation experience. We’ve also decided to take ourselves on a real vacation experience as well, since we havent been on one for about 5 years.

Do you have health insurance?
Thankfully we do. My husband works for the state, so we have one of the best insurance plans offered to NJ employees. We would be in real trouble without it.

Do you have any savings for emergencies?
Sort of. I have an account set up for savings from a percentage of my monthly military paycheck. I say “sort of” because you do have to jump though hoops in order to get the money, but I opted for it to be that way. Even though we have been diligent on our other savings, I still don’t trust our views of “emergencies.” DH and I still don’t agree on what qualifies as an emergency and what doesn’t, so until we do, I’m going to keep that savings on the back burner and just let it slowly grow.

Do you anticipate or look forward to having a higher salary one day?
Absolutely! My dream would be to work from home as a professional blogger, but I’m still on track to becoming the High School English teacher i’ve been working towards for the past 6 years.

What about retirement? Do you ever plan on saving enough to retire?
Definitely. I don’t think we’ll be fortunate enough to retire at 65, but it may happen. Right now, we have time on our side for planning everything we need to plan, including college funds for the kids. All it takes is sitting down and taking the leap to save, little by little.

Do you have any advice to others trying to live on $20,000 a year?
There is sanity in planning. Treat your money like it’s a game of chess; plan where each piece, or dollar, will go before you spend it. See how that action will effect you later on that week, that money or that year. If you treat the “pawn” of a penny with the same respect as the “king” of a 100 dollar bill, you’ll succeed in your challenge.

What about you all? Any of these questions really make you think? If you have a blog, are you going to give these questions a go and share with your readers?

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

Plan Your Year Now!


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  1. 10.11.11
    Lindsey said:

    I love what you said about planning where you put each dollar! When you actually stop and think about where all of your money is going, one-you might be less likely to buy something you don’t need, and two-it’s so much easier to track!
    love this post!!

  2. 10.13.11
    Dana said:

    Yes! Agreed – pinching pennies is hard when there is a lot of peer pressure to spend. It’s definitely true that when you make more money, it’s harder to save sometimes because those pennies start to seem inconsequential.

  3. 10.14.11

    I would be able to live on 20,000 a year if I didn’t have a mortgage and the bills that go along with the house. I’m super frugal as a single mom. No choice!


  4. 10.14.11
    NerdMom said:

    I am a big believer in coupons but used wisely! NerdDad and I have gotten bargain movies and bargain dinners that way!