6

votes

Could you live well on $11k per year like this guy?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 21, 2011 at 1:16 PM

This fellow was featured on the Yahoo Finance page for living well on under $11k per year.

http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-113691-11403-3-true-story-living-well-on-11000-a-year

Better still, he follows the Paleo diet.

I make much more than that and I don't consider myself to be living well. I am trapped by the dance of working to pay bills that are incurred due to the cost of working.

How have you simplified your life?

Medium avatar

(1029)

on December 13, 2011
at 04:14 PM

Standard of living is vastly better in the us than places like Russia or Turkey.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 22, 2011
at 11:19 AM

My parents loved what they did, too, and they had no health issues preventing them from continuing. But they love being retired. They travel extensively, volunteer, spend more time gardening and preserving food, spend countless hours reading about and researching topics of interest to them. It's great that you want to keep working forever and no one should be forced to retire if they don't want to. But, not everyone wants to spend their entire life working.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 22, 2011
at 03:47 AM

Nope, Geoff, I'm not a Boomer (LOL) and I've traveled and worked all over the world, mostly in the emerging economies working FOR local entrepreneurs. Working and living side by side with locals for an extended time gives you a pretty good idea of the trade offs, rather than just popping in for a vacation and living in a hotel. I know, I know, you're thinking I'm an "arrogant American", blindly patriotic, by that Boomer comment, but that's not how I operate. My ability to blend into, and respect, local cultures has given me a few eye opening conversations in many of these countries.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 21, 2011
at 09:49 PM

I remember when I was a kid my grandmother yelled at me for calling people trailer trash because I have relatives that live in trailers :) Either way, he doesn't seem to want a wife and kids. Not every person wants that. I didn't see that the article was telling people to chose his lifestyle, it was just an interesting piece.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on October 21, 2011
at 09:01 PM

As long as you take care of your RV/van, it wouldn't be so much of a crash. Plus, he's a musician...isn't living simply part of the stereotype/allure? 8)

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Since we're making this political...of course he can have kids! We'd just get to foot the bill.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Why yes I have been to Russia and Turkey. I've also been to many of the 12-16 countries (depending on what index you look at) which rank above the US. Im glad I'm not one of the 50 million Americans on food stamps but that is a ridiculous # I'm guessing you're a baby boomer http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/getting-ahead-you-only-think-so.aspx

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:19 PM

@RichfrmTx:If your health & lifespan are optimized through a Paleo diet & lifestyle, then why would you feel the need to retire? I'm certainly not planning on it! I am self-employed and love what I do for $$.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:18 PM

If your health & lifespan are optimized through a Paleo diet & lifestyle, then why would you feel the need to retire? I'm certainly not planning on it! I am self-employed and love what I do for $$.

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on October 21, 2011
at 07:51 PM

Exactly, I definitely had times when I was single that I lived on less than that...I had lots of housemates, didn't own a car, rarely went out to eat, shopped thrift stores, etc. Actually, besides the cars(which we fully own) the rest still applies, but now all the housemaes are my family!

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:48 PM

I don't know how much of a 'crash' to one's love life it would be. I know it wouldn't be an issue for me and my beloved -- and we met when I was a 'transient by choice'. At the same time, I personally can't see myself falling in love with someone who was attached to an attitude that "owning stuff" is what is sexy, and who is wrapped up in his or her own "conspicuous consumption".

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:46 PM

Ummm..have you been in Russia? Turkey? I have...and what we have in the US is FAR better. In equity is very different from standard of living and the US' standard is very high when compared to the rest of the world.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:45 PM

Personally, I think that, if you're single, there's nothing wrong with choosing to simplify -- and I think that it's possible to agree with personal simplicity and still *disagree* with income disparity combined with social ignorance. Choosing to live within a framework that recognizes the difference between 'want' and 'need' is a personal decision--and whether the individual perceives that boundary as being $11,000 or $20,000, or $5000 -- its a decision in which at least people are thinking about it -- instead of choosing to ignore it and take everything they can get.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:04 PM

For me it'd be kinda easy, actually. I would have to work on it though. Right now my food costs 10$/day.

Medium avatar

(5639)

on October 21, 2011
at 06:37 PM

Careful...you're getting mighty political here. Some of the more *ahem* conservative mods might not like that!

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 21, 2011
at 05:05 PM

Of course, not all of those families would feel like they were living well which is an important distinction.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 21, 2011
at 05:04 PM

I think that is a really important point. He has eliminated what is, in a family, the shared expense of rent/mortgage--meaning that adding more people to the household doesn't increase the cost, providing everyone can fit into the space. Everything he is paying for is an individual expense (food, insurance, clothing, etc.). If you extrapolate that to a family of four--$44,000--it doesn't seem nearly as remarkable. That's not much below the median household income in the U.S. Lots of families live on less than that *while* paying rent/mortgage.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on October 21, 2011
at 04:11 PM

That sounds ideal!! ...if you like his parents.....

220994a1bcff1923ef0388192bdba8d4

on October 21, 2011
at 03:28 PM

Very good point. I only make $500 a month as a sustainable farming apprentice, and when I had to get work done on my car it was devastating because I didn't have much saved up. Having a financial cushion makes a big difference when it comes to feeling secure and low-stress.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on October 21, 2011
at 03:15 PM

Yes I agree, living on 11K year is possible. If you only make 11K and were eating paleo, it would be hard to save enough for retirement if you only earned 11K/yr.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on October 21, 2011
at 03:13 PM

I don't make a lot and am doing a good job living on not very much. I re-adjusted my thought processes, use my bicycle and feet more, really looked at where my money was going and made changes where necessary. My dog is 5lbs of awesome so no need for a tv, she provides some killer entertainment. Also, living in NY you can really find neat stuff to do without much out of pocket. I'm careful but eat well and am happy.

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on October 21, 2011
at 02:53 PM

Less stress and a shorter commute are more important than the figure, IMO.

6229cd9a7ca9882590259fae022e2647

(3209)

on October 21, 2011
at 02:52 PM

Yeah I have 3 kids. One is still in daycare, which is quite expensive. Then again, the 13 yr old is expensive too. LOL

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on October 21, 2011
at 02:48 PM

i could (and have) if i didnt have kids.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on October 21, 2011
at 02:06 PM

i dont make a ton either - enough to eat well and not worry constantly. but my commute is 5-10 minute walk. that means a whole lot to me

6229cd9a7ca9882590259fae022e2647

(3209)

on October 21, 2011
at 01:53 PM

I took a job over a year ago that was a big boost in pay, but I went from driving less than 10 min to get to work to driving 45min. Even though my take home pay is nearly double what it was before, I am certainly no better off. Don't get my wrong, my bills are paid and I am not behind or anything like that. I just don't feel any happier and I don't have any cool stuff. Some days I feel like just putting my house up for sale, packing me and the kids up, and just moving back in with my Mom and Dad.

B9cc28905ec54389c47cde031d709703

on October 21, 2011
at 01:29 PM

But yes I could. If you look at money as a resource rather than something disposable, because essentially when you pay for something you're throwing away time, the things you do purchase will be of more value, will last longer, and you'll be a happier person.

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14 Answers

8
464e1c66609d402615ae2b3cf72d53fb

(1472)

on October 21, 2011
at 02:31 PM

Hell, I'm living on less than this now. It can be done.

8
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 21, 2011
at 02:11 PM

I think it's great that he is simplifying his life, but the article is a bit misleading. He only spends $11000 a year, but that isn't his yearly income; he's just putting the rest into savings. So, unlike people actually living in poverty he has funds available to cover emergency expenses (like a huge health insurance deductible). And, of course, not having a family makes a big difference, too.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on October 21, 2011
at 03:15 PM

Yes I agree, living on 11K year is possible. If you only make 11K and were eating paleo, it would be hard to save enough for retirement if you only earned 11K/yr.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 22, 2011
at 11:19 AM

My parents loved what they did, too, and they had no health issues preventing them from continuing. But they love being retired. They travel extensively, volunteer, spend more time gardening and preserving food, spend countless hours reading about and researching topics of interest to them. It's great that you want to keep working forever and no one should be forced to retire if they don't want to. But, not everyone wants to spend their entire life working.

220994a1bcff1923ef0388192bdba8d4

on October 21, 2011
at 03:28 PM

Very good point. I only make $500 a month as a sustainable farming apprentice, and when I had to get work done on my car it was devastating because I didn't have much saved up. Having a financial cushion makes a big difference when it comes to feeling secure and low-stress.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:18 PM

If your health & lifespan are optimized through a Paleo diet & lifestyle, then why would you feel the need to retire? I'm certainly not planning on it! I am self-employed and love what I do for $$.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:19 PM

@RichfrmTx:If your health & lifespan are optimized through a Paleo diet & lifestyle, then why would you feel the need to retire? I'm certainly not planning on it! I am self-employed and love what I do for $$.

7
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on October 21, 2011
at 04:30 PM

If we think of $11,000 per person, then my family lives on less. If my family of four tried to live on that, we'd find a way, but it sounds horribly stressful.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 21, 2011
at 05:04 PM

I think that is a really important point. He has eliminated what is, in a family, the shared expense of rent/mortgage--meaning that adding more people to the household doesn't increase the cost, providing everyone can fit into the space. Everything he is paying for is an individual expense (food, insurance, clothing, etc.). If you extrapolate that to a family of four--$44,000--it doesn't seem nearly as remarkable. That's not much below the median household income in the U.S. Lots of families live on less than that *while* paying rent/mortgage.

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on October 21, 2011
at 07:51 PM

Exactly, I definitely had times when I was single that I lived on less than that...I had lots of housemates, didn't own a car, rarely went out to eat, shopped thrift stores, etc. Actually, besides the cars(which we fully own) the rest still applies, but now all the housemaes are my family!

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 21, 2011
at 05:05 PM

Of course, not all of those families would feel like they were living well which is an important distinction.

7
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 21, 2011
at 01:41 PM

I am giving serious thought to the reality that the amount of money that barely qualifies as a house down payment here in DC will outright buy a house where I'm originally from ... including enough land to be able to grow some of my own food. Since I am currently in a job that qualifies as a telework position, I am definitely considering simplifying!

6
9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on October 21, 2011
at 06:30 PM

I saw this article and I must admit I am in love with the idea, but man Im not sure if it would be worth the crash you sex life would suffer from "living in a van.... down by the river."

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on October 21, 2011
at 09:01 PM

As long as you take care of your RV/van, it wouldn't be so much of a crash. Plus, he's a musician...isn't living simply part of the stereotype/allure? 8)

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:48 PM

I don't know how much of a 'crash' to one's love life it would be. I know it wouldn't be an issue for me and my beloved -- and we met when I was a 'transient by choice'. At the same time, I personally can't see myself falling in love with someone who was attached to an attitude that "owning stuff" is what is sexy, and who is wrapped up in his or her own "conspicuous consumption".

5
B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on October 21, 2011
at 06:18 PM

I think simplicity is great and I try to follow it myself but I also wonder how much of this is a propaganda piece. I think that this quote from the comment section sums it up nicely

"R U Serious - NY 2 minutes ago Report Abuse No no, I read that article about living making 20k a year. And the comments weren't that it's a kings ransom, but that the family had to forgo children and are severely unprepared for the inflation and healthcare costs coming down the road. Wow... Now for a mere 11k a single man can live to be trailer trash. Great. So the 99% should all live like trash so the 1% can spend 40k on a kid's playhouse so their kid can have a playhouse with running water and electricity..."

I disagree with the trailer trash sentiment but to live this way this guy can never have kids, never put roots down. That's okay if he chooses this but one should never be forced to live this way.

"As of 2006, the United States had one of the highest levels of income inequality, as measured through the Gini index, among high income countries, comparable to that of some middle income countries such as Russia or Turkey,[8] being one of only a few developed countries where inequality has increased since 1980.[9]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_in_the_United_States

#OWS

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Since we're making this political...of course he can have kids! We'd just get to foot the bill.

Medium avatar

(5639)

on October 21, 2011
at 06:37 PM

Careful...you're getting mighty political here. Some of the more *ahem* conservative mods might not like that!

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:45 PM

Personally, I think that, if you're single, there's nothing wrong with choosing to simplify -- and I think that it's possible to agree with personal simplicity and still *disagree* with income disparity combined with social ignorance. Choosing to live within a framework that recognizes the difference between 'want' and 'need' is a personal decision--and whether the individual perceives that boundary as being $11,000 or $20,000, or $5000 -- its a decision in which at least people are thinking about it -- instead of choosing to ignore it and take everything they can get.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Why yes I have been to Russia and Turkey. I've also been to many of the 12-16 countries (depending on what index you look at) which rank above the US. Im glad I'm not one of the 50 million Americans on food stamps but that is a ridiculous # I'm guessing you're a baby boomer http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/getting-ahead-you-only-think-so.aspx

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 21, 2011
at 09:49 PM

I remember when I was a kid my grandmother yelled at me for calling people trailer trash because I have relatives that live in trailers :) Either way, he doesn't seem to want a wife and kids. Not every person wants that. I didn't see that the article was telling people to chose his lifestyle, it was just an interesting piece.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:46 PM

Ummm..have you been in Russia? Turkey? I have...and what we have in the US is FAR better. In equity is very different from standard of living and the US' standard is very high when compared to the rest of the world.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 22, 2011
at 03:47 AM

Nope, Geoff, I'm not a Boomer (LOL) and I've traveled and worked all over the world, mostly in the emerging economies working FOR local entrepreneurs. Working and living side by side with locals for an extended time gives you a pretty good idea of the trade offs, rather than just popping in for a vacation and living in a hotel. I know, I know, you're thinking I'm an "arrogant American", blindly patriotic, by that Boomer comment, but that's not how I operate. My ability to blend into, and respect, local cultures has given me a few eye opening conversations in many of these countries.

Medium avatar

(1029)

on December 13, 2011
at 04:14 PM

Standard of living is vastly better in the us than places like Russia or Turkey.

5
Medium avatar

(12379)

on October 21, 2011
at 04:13 PM

In my opinion it is all very dependent on where you live - and who lives with you. I live in one of the most expensive places in North America, so living on that would not be feasible here; especially with my husband and son.

The article that you pasted is very interesting. I love to see how other people live and what they do. BUT this type of RV living is not terribly appealing to me right now - maybe when my husband and I are retired or older and our son has grown up and moved out...but for now we need slightly more square feet!

5
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on October 21, 2011
at 02:03 PM

My boyfriend and I are having to downsize from our large home in a nice suburb to fixing up and moving into the guest house on the back of his parents' property. The guest house has been vandalized, I don't think there was a single window left unbroken. We just had the windows replaced, and are working on getting the closet-sized bathroom renovated by a handyman. We're looking forward to moving in and being able to bring down our cost of living.

The dogs will have more space to run around in, there are a ton of oak trees shading the property (which will help save on a/c costs in summer), it's a concrete block home instead of wood (like our current home). The best part? No stairs!

We're also planning on getting a half dozen chickens at some point so we can have fresh free-range eggs on a regular basis :)

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on October 21, 2011
at 04:11 PM

That sounds ideal!! ...if you like his parents.....

5
B9cc28905ec54389c47cde031d709703

on October 21, 2011
at 01:26 PM

I pay cash for everything. That's a pretty good master regulator for simplifying a good portion of your life, keeps you debt free, and typically makes you have to find more organic things to occupy your time with.

B9cc28905ec54389c47cde031d709703

on October 21, 2011
at 01:29 PM

But yes I could. If you look at money as a resource rather than something disposable, because essentially when you pay for something you're throwing away time, the things you do purchase will be of more value, will last longer, and you'll be a happier person.

4
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:36 PM

I simplified my life years ago.

We work for ourselves, have no debt and live well on between $18,000 to $24,000 a year, depending on how much traveling we do.

The book "Your Money or Your Life" was a great catalyst & resource in getting clear on my priorities & my relationship with money.

2
Medium avatar

on October 21, 2011
at 04:34 PM

I'd like to see him try that in NYC. The only places he'd be able to park that thing is where the NYPD wouldn't be harassing him for his cash via parking tickets, fines and summonses. That would be out in Gowanus, or some of the run down places in East New York or industrial parts of Queens with no active meter maids...Under bridges and overpasses, down by the waterfront maybe. Wouldn't take long before the Atlas Squad showed up at his "front door," pegging all kinds of terrorism charges on his head and confiscating his van.

I've been thinking about what life would be like outside of the city, as well. We stay because my girlfriend is an actress/singer/dancer on Broadway professionally, though I could theoretically make music anywhere. The scene is just more available and vibrant here, it seems to me.

I'm a bartender by trade, as well as a musician, cook, artist, etc, so I have many marketable skills, can manage bars/restaurants, no problem. I would consider living in an RV, if it was a) large enough and b) ran on bio-diesel.

0
2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

on December 13, 2011
at 03:55 PM

i am lucky to make that in a year work on a farm:) it helps... you have to accept the luxury that our ancestors enjoyed socially, spiritually and environmentally just as you do health and eating wise..... i am not saying revert to holing up in a cave, although daniel suelo does make a good arguemnt for it, i am saying that there is a sweet spot in human evolution and lively hood that makes use of our abilities without doing harm, but living in harmony with all beings on this planet

0
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on October 22, 2011
at 03:53 PM

I couldn't do that in my area easily. People aren't allowed to park RV's just anywhere. I would have to find a friend with a long driveway and no CCR's. Nice concept though, and should encourage us to think.

0
61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on October 21, 2011
at 08:59 PM

Yeah, I could do it. Not in my current situation (I have a mortgage, commute to work, etc.).

He makes it sound fun, but of course if you have kids (like others have mentioned) that would make it more difficult. Also the type of job you have would make a big difference. Work-related expenses add up!

A lot of people work their whole lives to be able to live how he's living now: a permanent road trip, seeing what he wants and doing what he wants.

I'm impressed and a little jealous. 8)

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