New Series: Living on Less than $28,000 A Year (pt.1)

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

{UPDATE Feb. 2013: Welcome! These posts are from a series I started in February of 2012. Our income has since increased a little, but we still use these same principles to live on less so we can spend our money on our true priorities.}


Living on Less Than $28,000 A Year: Yes, our family of six lives on around $2200 a month and for the next few weeks I’ll be sharing how we can survive, and even thrive on an income that is less than half the national median income, and what the government calls “below the poverty line” (less than $29,990 annually) for our family size.


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Click here to read other posts in this series.


Before we get started, I’d like to address two issues: (1) WHY I’m sharing the information and (2) WHY we live on such a small income. I’ll address the specifics of HOW we live on a lower income in future posts.



I have written about money saving ideas for some time, but I have been hesitant to put an actual number on our annual income for a couple of reasons. Number one: it’s personal. Number two: it’s personal.

Growing up I often heard that there were two things that you never talk about–politics and religion. I would add a third: finances.

These three topics define who we are as individuals and families within our society, and therefore people have firmly held convictions about them. I really don’t want to get into a debate about someone’s firmly held convictions and let’s face it, people don’t just go around announcing their annual income.

I also don’t want to be judged. Looking from the outside, it’s very easy to say that someone should or shouldn’t do something. There are many choices that our family has made that you may not agree with, and I am taking a risk by sharing them. I am risking my “reputation” and I am risking being criticized and looked down on. (After all, when thousands of people read the blog, I have a bit of exposure to public scrutiny.)

So why am I sharing now? My husband and I have considered these factors and decided that the risk is worth it if we can encourage even one family in their financial decisions and struggles.

There are many people who have mortgages larger than our entire monthly income and who may be shocked that we can live on so little. If you are one of those families, I am honestly very excited for you that you make a larger income. Perhaps you would like to be able to save more, though, and maybe reading this series will give you some ideas you hadn’t considered before.

There are also quite a few of you who live on even less than we make and life is a daily struggle for you. Hopefully you can gain some ideas and encouragement from this series as well. Now to the second point.



There are many factors which led us to make the choice to live on one, smaller than average income. The two that come to mind as I write are reducing the stress from over-commitment and prioritizing relationships.


Simple is better.

Life with four children is busy for anyone, but throw in the fact that our oldest son has Asperger’s Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder), our oldest daughter has a severe wheat allergy and our youngest daughter has behavioral issues coupled with me working a full time job, and you have a disaster. My stress level was unbearable and I was very unpleasant person to be around (sometimes I still am ;)).

Simplifying to one job and one school (home school) keeps me sane and our family happier.


We love Dad (and I’m sure you do too!).  

I am a former public school teacher and my husband has most of his experience working for a non-profit charitable organization. It would make more financial sense for me to work and dad to stay at home, but my husband is much better in the role of encourager and entertainer of the children than he is as homemaker :).

Having no higher level training, my husband’s only way to make a higher income right now is to work more hours and more jobs. He could do that, but we want to have family time just to relax and hang out.

Time with dad is important at every stage, but it is crucial with three teenagers. Girls need their father’s approval and attention to form their identities at this stage of life. Teenage boys need to see how their fathers interact with others, especially how they treat women. Seeing Dad interact on a regular basis with Mom and watching him treat her with respect makes a lasting impression on a young man. All teenagers need someone to bounce ideas off of. Having more relaxed time at home means we have more time to listen and discuss things.


Remember, the judgment I mentioned earlier? Well, at this point you should know that I do not judge anyone who makes different choices than we do. We each have unique circumstances and values, and we each have to do what is best for our families based on those factors.

As a matter of fact, we would like to make more money. We definitely don’t want to stay where we are financially, but if we have to choose between money and relationships (and for now we do), we are going to choose relationships every time. Relationships are eternal. Money is not.

Now that you know WHY we live on less, in the next few weeks I will be sharing HOW we live on such a small income. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment. PLEASE remember to play nicely. I would like everyone to feel welcome here. Thanks! :)

Click here for an index of all posts in this series.


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  • Tonya

    Kimberlee, as I was reading through your blog, I realized that you respond to every single comment left for you! That is a beautiful and amazing thing! You are a lovely soul. Thank you for all of the gentle words of encouragement and your sound and logical advice.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Hi Tonya! Yes, responding to the comments is one of my very favorite parts of blogging. I love to connect with people. Thanks for stopping by and giving me some very encouraging words. :)

  • http://rukopool.wordpress.com/ Flora

    First off I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question which I’d like
    to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior
    to writing. I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.
    I do take pleasure in writing but it just
    seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
    Many thanks!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Hi Flora! For me writing is what clears my head. I make lists, write random words or phrases and jot down ideas as they come to me. I am not trying to write something beautiful or grammatically correct, just get all the stuff out of my brain. Hope that helps. :)

  • Kami

    Thanks so much for sharing this!!! It is super beneficial and your reasons are wonderful!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      You are very welcome Kami!

  • http://www.happymamatales.com/full-time-mom-manage-household-expenses/ Britni

    LOVE your site! I come back here often to see your good advice. Thank you for taking the time to share all about your life. I know sometimes it’s hard to be vulnerable, but it helps us connect and feel like we aren’t alone. I just wrote a post on what it’s like to be a full time mom and learning how to manage household expenses. Thought of you, and maybe you’d like to check it out? I’d love to hear what you have to say! Thanks for all your advice!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Thanks Britni! I read your post and I love that you include the idea of increasing income. Sometimes as stay-at-home moms we become focused on how to cut the budget more and we forget about the option of bringing in a little more income.

  • Nicole

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I thought my husband and I were the only ones! : )

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      You are not alone Nicole! :)

  • http://nestfullofbirdsdotcom.wordpress.com/ Mandy Tirado

    We live on about the same amount a month, but only have 4 humans and 2 furry family members. We struggle most months, too but we’re also getting out of debt, so most of our struggle is trying to pay too much off at a time. (We never have been that great at pacing ourselves, hence the debt!) I really appreciate your candidness and your willingness to share. It’s a blessing for those of us who need to remember to be humble as well as work on our finances consistently. Sometimes, for me, the struggle is so hard, I try to “save face” and become conceited in other areas. Your blog is such a wonderful reminder to be kind, since we’re all battling something.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Thank you so much for your encouragement Mandy – I really appreciate it. :)

  • Angela

    I just read the intro and can’t wait to dive into the rest. Anything that we can do to make a dollar stretch a little bit farther is great! Thanks for sharing your story

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      My pleasure Angela – welcome!

  • Tom Terryu

    I stumbled on your blog and thought
    It made sense. Fortunately / unfortunate
    Both my wife and I are unable to return
    Work due to illness and collect SSDI, than God
    For these safety nets. Our challenge will be to
    Live within these constraints and I believe
    Your blog will help.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Hi Tom – I am sorry to hear about your illness but hopefully you can find some ideas here to help. Blessings!

  • jillea

    This is awesome. Lately I have been dreaming of simplifying my life with more time at home with my son . I also have fibromyalgia. Basically I have been dreaming of ditching consumerism even more so than I do now and working part time. One problem i am a single mom and my dreams sound crazy . So as I am haunted by health insurance and expenses I am some how wishing I could be free. Do you tHink this is possible….im either nuts fur thinking I could give up a full time job and decentsalary or im on to ssomething

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Hi Jillea – I think it is definitely possible but if I were you I would pare down your life to the bare essentials and put several thousand dollars into savings over the next year. If you can live on less while you have the full time job and save as much as possible it will give you a good idea of what life will be like without extras and give you a cushion in case something goes wrong with the plan. Take into account that your child care expenses will be less when you work less so that will help but you need to have a realistic view of what you need to live on.

      Another thought is to start a side business that you can run from home so that you have income coming in without having to go into the workplace. Good for you for taking action on a dream that you have!

  • Alicia Haffenden

    Ma’am, first of all I believe that only God can judge anyone or anything. I appreciate the fact you did decide to share your story and ideas in this article. I came across it, looking for help and advice. I watch suzie Orman and she keeps saying the same thing save up to 6 mos of emergency funds, put a large stock of your income in to the 401k for the future and other things that do not apply to someone just trying to survive. I have heard the judgement of people saying just get a better job that pays more and things will be fine, not that easy or realistic. This was longwinded but again I thank you for writting this. God bless!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      I am so glad that the Living on Less Than $28,000 a Year Series was helpful to you Alicia! Thanks for letting me know. :) I have another resource if you would like to get your money on track called 5 Days to Budget Breakthrough. You can read more about it here: http://thepeacefulmom.com/5-days-to-budget-breakthrough-book/.

  • Allie Jones

    Kimberlee, I have spent hours and hours pouring over all of your posts, and have never thanked you, and now I just feel plain ungrateful! You have inspired me and have given me SO many ideas that have literally changed my life and the way I look at things. I am truly grateful I found your page and for all the comments too. The world is a better place because you’re in it!! Keep on keepin’ on!! – Allie :)

    • http://www.thepeacefulmom.com/ The Peaceful Mom

      Allie- You literally just made me cry. I really appreciate
      your kind words and especially today when I was feeling a little burned out. Thanks for giving me the motivation to get back to work tomorrow. :)

  • Gaye Morgan

    Hello, I’d like to say you are a remarkable woman with a remarkable family. You have a lot to deal with ( 3 children with a problem can be major but you have not only coped, but shared). You obviously worship your children, family and family time. Thank you so much for posting all the ideas related to saving time, money and menu planning. I take my hat off to you – you have a job, a blog and a very full-on family.
    I only found this blog today so I have a lot of interesting reading ahead of me. I will also be telling my close friends about your site. If you ever get negative feedback, please don’t acknowledge it (usually the negative come from narrow minded, healthy people on a decent income, or people who won’t alter their ways to save). I look forward to reading the past posts and future of this blog as well as recieving the newsletters. From a disabled Mum finding life hard. Cheers, XX

    • http://www.thepeacefulmom.com/ The Peaceful Mom

      Wow – thanks so much for your encouragement Gaye! It really means alot. I hope you enjoy reading and please let me know if I can answer any questions.

  • http://www.thepeacefulmom.com/ The Peaceful Mom

    Hi Jennifer! I hope I can give you some encouragement.

  • http://www.thepeacefulmom.com/ The Peaceful Mom

    Thanks Gaye! I have trouble keeping my inbox uncluttered too. :)

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