Feb
20
2012

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.}

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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.

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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.

 

WHY AM I SHARING THIS INFORMATION?

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.

 

WHY DO WE LIVE ON SUCH A SMALL INCOME?

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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{ 1036 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah July 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I came across your site accidentally. I am in the group that has a larger income but has a heavy debt load. Husband has the job, I stay at home with four under the age of 7 and are stretched beyond our means. mostly because of the need to still keep up with the jones’. This site may help me to determine how best to pull the excessive spending habits and get back to some important things before my children think monetary wealth is king.
bless you and your family for sharing.

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Kimberlee July 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Hi Sarah! Some “accidents” turn out to be a good thing, right? :)

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Brittany July 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Thank you so much for posting this. It is good to know that I am not the only one playing this balancing act. And that is struggling with money the way that I am.

My husband makes around 18k a year, and supports our family of 5 on one income be we also live in the cheaper part of the Midwest so that smaller income is compensated some by having cheaper housing (next time you think man I want to move there it is soo cheap to live there remember it comes with a cost. It is VERY difficult to find a job that pays more then national minimum wage).

I can’t even express to him how thankful we are to have him even though it may not seem like it some days. I hope by getting some time to read through this blog I’ll get some more ideas on how to manage our money better (I’m in charge of all the finances which makes me really nervous cause I therapy shop when I am upset not always for useless things but not wisely either).

Also I’d like to thank you for posting it so beautifully. I try to express to my mother/ sister and others why I chose to stay at home and no one can see a point. I’d make more money and struggle less if I used my degree and pursued a career, my husband could benefit also by being able to complete his degree without all the burden on his shoulders. But with 3 young children, one of which who is still quite young and VERY dependent on her mama, and two in the very beginnings of their school life. I want to be here for them where my own mother couldn’t. To teach them values that got over looked when i was young! Thank you again. It gives me more courage to stand up for what I believe now. Especially with the consideration of home schooling in my very near future.

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Kimberlee July 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I too am a shopper. I’ve just funneled my shopping “needs” to the thrift store–haha! I’m so glad that you feel encouraged Brittany. :)

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Faye July 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I came across your site as I was browsing you tube for frugal living videos. I come from a completely different point of view in that I am not married and I do not have any children. I am the daughter of a couple who made the same choices you and your husband are doing. My parents made the frugal choices so that my mother could stay home and we lived on a very small income which my dad brought home. IT MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE WITH ME AND MY FOUR SIBLINGS!! I loved having my mother home and although we did not have all the expensive things (vacations, latest toys/games, expensive furnishings etc) we did have our parents attention. I loved having QUANTITY time with my parents. My friends only had a small amount of quality time with their parents and even then their parents were exhausted as both worked full time jobs. My parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and I thanked them for being HOME and AVAILABLE to me as I was growing up…So to all you mom’s who wonder if your kids will feel deprived due to the choices you are making in staying home and available I would just like to say NO NO NO once your kids are grown they will thank you!!

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Kimberlee July 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Thanks so much for your perspective Faye. I appreciate it and I’m sure other moms will too. :)

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Michelle July 7, 2012 at 3:29 am

I am so looking forward to reading your blog on this topic! I work two jobs (one full-time and one part-time), my husband works graveyards, we have a teenage Aspie boy (I don’t have to tell you how stressful that can be some days) that is 14 and our other son is turning 18 but has not been able to get a job due to the economy – we are helping him with gas and car insurance in the meantime. Stress is my middle name these days and I would love to reduce that if I can find a way to do it. Thanks so much for sharing.

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Kimberlee July 7, 2012 at 7:58 am

I’m sorry that you have so much going on. I hope that you can find some ideas and encouragement here.

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Tracy Culley, Columbia, MO July 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Kimberlee,
I also found your blog on Pinterest and am excited to read the rest in this series. We have one son after 5 pregnancies, so we also made the decision to be a one-income family. We barely got by at first, it was really hard. Really, I think the only reason we made it early on was lots of prayer and my husband’s pension from his service in the Navy. We now make quite a bit more than that, but after having done Financial Peace again recently I am re-inspired to work hard to pay off our debt. Thank you for being transparent and real.

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Kimberlee July 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Welcome Tracy! I’m so glad you’re here. :)

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Sarah M July 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Hi, I haven’t read more than the introduction to your series of posts, but I wanted to say thank you already. I’m sure I’ll find lots of helpful information here. My hubby is currently military, but he is getting out soon, so we are trying to learn to live on a smaller income. I just got a part time job, working evenings, and I’m excited for the additional income. We aren’t looking forward to the time apart from each other, as he works all day, then I’ll be gone at night. But for us, having one of us home with the kids is more important. Our youngest is only 2, so for me to work days, he’d have to be in daycare. I am not comfortable with daycare when they are this young. They can’t tell me if they’ve eaten all day, if they were in dirty diapers, if someone hurt them. If he were older, I may would consider it, but not now. We figure he’ll be in school soon enough, so we’d rather have a parent home with him all the time. We know we will make our relationship work just fine, even with us working opposite shifts.

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Kimberlee July 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm

We did the same thing for two years when our children were very young and I had to work. I taught during the day and my husband worked a shift from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.. It was difficult, but so important for us to have one parent at home with the children.

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Krista July 9, 2012 at 12:09 am

Very much looking forward to reading this series. Your family’s situation sounds similar to ours in many ways.

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Elisabeth July 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I am 4 months pregnant (it is a little boy),and my boyfriend and I have been stressed over the fact that we will be losing my half of the income every month, we decided me staying home is much more important then the money. I am so thankful that you are sharing such great knowledge, and I plan on bringing it into my home to help my growing family.

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Kimberlee July 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Congratulations on your little one Elisabeth! I hope you find lots of help and encouragement here.

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Naomi H, Surrey, BC, Canada July 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Have only read this one post so far but excited to see more! Thanks so much for your courage in sharing. We live on a similar income… or will after a raise coming up in the fall. Hubbie has a potential to earn more in the future and has a few on the side entrepeneur opportunities, but the Vancouver area is one of the most expensive in Canada for living so it’s tough for now. We only have 2 kids so far, but I also plan to homeschool and choose not to work because we feel it’s the best choice for our future. Looking forward to getting to know you more and being inspired :)
bless you

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Kimberlee July 10, 2012 at 7:03 am

Welcome Naomi!

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diane faulk July 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm

awesome–i get ridiculed sometimes for my money saving ideas-hippie, cheapskate etc. but i love my family, the Lord, and the Earth and i believe consumption will be the demise of our society as we know it–i look forward to the updates–i too have a full time job, kids with learning disabilities and it DOES make me horrible to be around sometimes–thanks for your honesty.

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Kimberlee July 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm

It’s just hard to juggle all that Diane. It’s understandable to be a little grumpy sometimes. :)

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noreen July 14, 2012 at 12:18 am

kimberlee, i say KUDOS to you for being so daring…but so sharing!! {i actually had not meant to rhyme that…} so very many of us ~ too many of us! ~ have financial difficulties of some type or other, so any helpful, useful information we get is only GOOD!! & no matter WHAT a person posts, there are sure to ALWAYS be “naysayers”. there will ALWAYS be those who feel they have the room & the right to “judge”… so then… let them!! that merely shows that THEY have issues…not necessarily the person they are judging!
thank you for your openness & honesty ~ 2 quite refreshing & inspiring qualities for someone to have!! 8-)

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Kimberlee July 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

Thanks so much for your encouragement Noreen!

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Kristen July 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm

THANK YOU for sharing your personal experience and for “keeping it real”. I too have a son (15) with Aspergers and also a 12 yr old daughter and even though I no longer home school I still stay at home. We survive on my husbands salary alone. (he’s a mechanic so it’s safe to say we’re definitely NOT living high on the hog)

We’ve learned to give up many of the things that our 2 income friends enjoy but to me the time w/ my children growing up is worth cutting corners financially, here and there.

I get laughed at for hanging my laundry to dry. And am asked “how can you keep your thermostat at 65!!!?” but it doesn’t bother me. The time my husband and I have together as a family is something I’d never change, not for a million dollars.

I’m looking forward to reading ALL your posts & ideas.

:) Kristen

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Kimberlee July 14, 2012 at 11:55 pm

We laundry hangers have to stick together Kristen. :)

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Sarah July 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I know how you feel Kristen when people walk in my house and ask me dont you have a/c and I reply yes but it is not cheep to run so it is set at 82 which should still feel nice when its 110 outside and in the winter it is set at 62 like my father always said if you are cold put some clothes on. When it is that hot outside it takes less time to dry your cloths ont the line than it does in the dryer.

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Dawn Roscoe July 15, 2012 at 11:30 am

I stumbled across your blog via Pinterest. My family is fortunate that my husband makes a very good salary, but he was recently laid off, and took a paycut of nearly $50K per year. We had to relocate from the fast paced East Coast to the midwest. The psychological toll that took on him is indescribable, and I believe that it is because we have become a society so focused on dollars and “things.” It’s not even the “things” we have as much as how much they cost… A slower life has taught us in a couple short months how much more valuable “things” like family time, are so much more important than all the “things” we had to keep up. I haven’t read all of your tips yet, but I am excited to learn more. Everyone could benefit from a change in perspective.

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Sarah July 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

Thank you for sharing your story I am in just about the same boat as you with 2 teenagers and 2 toddlers. I am always looking for ways to simplify and have more pocket money. I am pretty much down to just buying garbage bags, toilet paper and diapers (hopefully not for to much longer the almost 2 year old has been quit a challenge to potty train) every other thing we need for our house I have started making. We had bought a house got moved in and 2 weeks later my husband got laid off and his unemployment was a joke. Between our house and land payment we are close to 1200 a month. We have weighed the option of me working and it is just not feesable with 2 toddlers and 1 car. I am sure there are many things we can still change and look forward to reading your blog and again I thank you for putting yourself out there for the rest of us.

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Kimberlee July 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I feel your pain Sarah. I had three in diapers at one point and the oldest refused to potty train. He finally decided to leave diapers at the ripe old age of 3–ack!

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Danielle July 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi, I’m not a mom but I came across your website because I am interested in saving and living on less.

I know this may seem like a pertinent question, but where do you live? I mean I don’t want to know your neighborhood or street but could you give a general impression of the state? Because I live in Miami, FL and let me tell you that living on 28,000 w/ four kids, even as a single person sharing a salary with her bf is a real struggle, esp when you include the cost of healthcare and transportation that is essentially necessary and we have to pay out of pocket. I’m not saying it can’t be done, just yeah it would give me an impression of the kinds of monetary challenges you are coming across if I knew of your general area.

Once again I’m really sorry if that seems presumptuous to ask, I apologize and mean no offense.

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Kimberlee July 18, 2012 at 6:47 am

Hi Danielle!

My point in writing this series is not to suggest that everyone can live on less than $28,000 a year, but that you can probably live on less than you think. By making different choices and using your money differently, you can live your true priorities. It is more difficult when you are single and do not have someone to share expenses with, but if you stay out of debt (no credit cards, car payments, etc.), and plan your spending, you can make your money go much farther.

We have made a lot of sacrifices to be able to live on less, but we made them because we value being able to spend time with our children and we enjoy a simpler lifestyle. If you choose to read the rest of the series, you will have more of an idea of how we live on less, but of course, you must make your own choices based on your values.

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Jessica July 17, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. I’m a college student and saving money is really difficult. Some of your saving tips I already do, but I love finding new ways/strategies to save. I eat out a LOT because well, I’m in college, but I’ve recently started cooking in and man, do I save a lot of money! Great tips on this blog and I look forward to reading more and figuring out ways I can apply it to my way of living! :)

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Kimberlee July 18, 2012 at 4:51 am

Hi Jessica! I am so glad that you found something here that you can use.

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Diane July 19, 2012 at 12:07 am

Thanks so much for this series! I just came across it tonight and it is perfect timing for me because I am buying my first home and am nervous about the monthly numbers and making things work. Your advice is so helpful and I will be using your tricks and tips to help me save money and live comfortably. Thanks again!

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Kimberlee July 19, 2012 at 7:22 am

You are very welcome Diane!

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Janet July 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hi, I was wondering about ideas for baby shower gifts. I always feel so cheap. The max I spend is $25 but I somehow feel that it “isn’t enough”. I always try to get bargains, but I can’t store up stuff and then give it because they’ll know it’s not from this year and they can’t return it. Actually, $25 is difficult. We have had so many wedding showers and weddings and now this is the 2nd baby shower. Why do people expect so much?

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Kimberlee July 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I have an upcoming post about this, but here are a few ideas: (1) go in with others so your $25 goes toward a larger gift; (2) make something personalized–I received hand painted baby shoes from one friend that I treasured. You could monogram a baby blanket, make a framed piece of art with the baby’s name (Pinterest is great for ideas), etc.; (3)Buy diapers on sale with a coupon. Most moms I know really appreciate it and you can attach a nice card; (4) Don’t worry about it. If someone is so rude as to be ungrateful that you are giving them ANY gift, I don’t think they deserve a gift from you in the first place (there, I said it). Just give whatever you can afford and go on with life.

Hope that helps! :)

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Shonda July 23, 2012 at 12:29 am

Just found your blog after looking for ideas for frugal living. I was one of those that stayed at home with our child, while my husband worked. We made the decision that our daughter was more important to us than money or things. We made sacrifices, but with the help of the Lord we never missed a meal or a payment. We lived within a budget, looked for free things to do as a family, and bought second hand clothes. Living now as empty-nesters we have no regrets.

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Kimberlee July 23, 2012 at 4:58 am

Thank you Shonda. It is so good to hear from someone who is a little further down the road than we are. Blessings to your family!

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Kelly July 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I look forward to reading it:) my family is a family of 5 currently at home and we only make $23,000.00 yearly, so we know what its like:).

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Amber Campbell July 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm

With everyone struggling (it seems like) these days, I know my friends and family are always trying to find ways to cut costs! I welcome your willingness to share what works for you! I know I have always been taught to live below my means and that being frugal is a good thing, a wise and less stressful choice!

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Neeta July 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

Thank you soooo much for your courage! It means so much to all of us that are looking for ways to live with less..but more at the same time. I love you and don’t even know you. Praying for you and your family! Blessings to you!!

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Kimberlee July 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Thanks so much Neeta. That really means a lot to me!

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Ashley July 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Month after month we have struggled to get by with our family of 6. I plot and plan and budget; it’s never enough! I ran across your website this week when I felt like we finally hit rock bottom & spent my day in meltdown mode (a rare thing for me). I revisited the site today to find this article and felt some since of relief knowing there was someone that shared our income level/household size. We spend lots of time praying about where our life is and trying to simplify every aspect of it so the children can learn to appriciate things. I hope I was brought to you site for a reason. Thanks for sharing!

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Kimberlee July 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Welcome Ashley! I am so sorry that you are having difficulty. I will tell you that many times we have to see God provide because there is just no money at the time we need something. He is always faithful though! Let me know if you have any specific questions.

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Bernice July 28, 2012 at 11:27 am

My husband and I are now trying to live off of one income, he is making less than 25 000 /yr we are a family of 4, I am stay at home mom, I work at nigth crafting and doing stuff for birthday parties, that does not provide much but at least I can take care of my little ones. I am glad to hear from you, looking forward to read all about the tips. Thank You for sharing and encouraging me.

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Kimberlee July 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hi Bernice! I’m so glad that you feel encouraged. Let me know if you have any questions. :)

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Judy Hoover July 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

Just found your very helpful sight. My husband and I are retired and live on a farm where something is always breaking or needing replacing. We each get small social security checks but try to supplement by selling produce in summer and firewood in fall and winter. Thanks for any help!!!

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Kaylee August 6, 2012 at 1:44 am

Thank you for posting this. I’m 19 years old and I live with my parents. My dad had his own business and it plummeted because the demand for the business he ran, went down. Since I live in Michigan, and most of the General Motor plants have closed down, many families, as well as my own, are so strapped for money, and are just trying to find ways to make it through the month. I’ve just started to read your posts, and I am going to start bringing these ideas up to my parents. I’m so glad though, that you have chosen to spend time with your children. I feel like more often than not, relationships are kind of left in the dust, because of all the stresses to deal with, when it comes to work. You are absolutely wonderful for posting all of these amazing ideas. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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Kimberlee August 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hi Kaylee! I am so, so sorry that your family is going through such a difficult time. I sincerely hope that you can find some helpful ideas here. I know everything we do won’t work for everyone, but maybe it can start you thinking about ways you can save more. Blessings!

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Deacon August 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm

This is so encouraging. I just wrote a post on How to Buy a Home Without a Mortgage and a main reason that is possible is by keeping expenses low. Thanks for sharing!

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Rhea August 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Love that you are able to do this for people! When my husband became sick with a brain tumor 10 years ago we learned to live on 1/3rd of our original income. It was not only hard but was also an eye opener as to how much waste we had in our lives. We quickly learned the difference between a want and a need. I feel like our whole family (my husband, myself and 4 children) grew and gained a new perspective on life during this time! Bless you for being brave enough to tackle this journey.

To those of you trying to get out of debt so that you can live a simpler life I would suggest Dave Ramsey’s – Total Money Makeover. Take it from the Pitt’s Family “It really works”!

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Mindy Gasparek August 10, 2012 at 12:11 am

I can’t believe I haven’t come across your site until now! I’m bookmarking it so I can peruse it more over the weekend. Although I don’t have kiddos, I think I can still learn a lot from your site! I’ve been reading a lot about Simple Living over the last year and it completely makes sense to me! It’s something I’ve become passionate about! I am working on getting out of debt and striving for the simpler yet inwardly richer life. AAhhhh. I’ll get there!

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Kimberlee August 10, 2012 at 5:39 am

Welcome Mindy! I hope you find some ideas that you can use. :)

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Paula Parrish August 12, 2012 at 10:10 am

Oh my Gosh! I’m so happy that I found your blog! Our stress level is so high and we need to find way to live on less money. Thanks for sharing your personal information with us, for our benefit. I am so grateful. ;o)

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Kimberlee August 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm

You are very welcome Paula. :)

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Rachel August 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Oh my, no judgement here! We are like two peas in a pod, sounds like. I have only read your intro so far and I have so much respect for you. So true you cannot take the material stuff with you, but the memories are forever! Kudos, my friend!!

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Kristy Williams August 13, 2012 at 3:02 am

I can’t wait! I have gone through a lot this year already and my husband and I are trying to stay positive and begin a new fresh start. I hope to get a lot of ideas from you. Thank you for sharing :)

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Kimberlee August 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

You are very welcome Kristy!

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Wesley cooper August 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm

In so glad to have happened upon this site! I’m a new(er) mom and my husband is in med school so we have very little income and ALOT of debt! I’m in the process of taking over the finances plus trying to save so we can eventually buy a house, and I’m trying to figure out how to stretch less than 22,000 in an area of very high renting rates! Thank you for sharing your wisdom for women like me who have decided to trade money for mommy time!

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Kimberlee August 15, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Welcome! I hope you find some good ideas here. Let me know if you have any questions. :)

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Lauren August 15, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I just want to say that I totally respect your view point on this. It’s so rare for people to choose quality of family over chasing dollars. Thanks for being open!

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Leila August 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hi. I found your site on Pinterest. I am very excited about it as I am a new teacher starting out my first full-time job this September. Up until now, I have done supply work (for two years), and that income is not steady. I have the burden of student loans that need to be paid back, and I’d like to do that as quickly and by paying as little interest as possible. I am hoping that your site will help me save money and live economically but happily with my boyfriend of three years.

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Whitney August 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I know this comment will probably get lost amongst all the others, but I just have to say thank you for being so honest. It’s SO nice to hear about someone else who puts family above money! My husband chose to be a school teacher, and we both believe in a stay-at-home-mother. Many people think my husband is crazy for choosing a low paying job that still requires a degree, and me for staying home instead of making more money (and even think it irresponsible for choosing to have a family before finishing school, having a good job, & owning a home). THANK YOU for showing me how someone else does it on even LESS than we make now! I guess it’s just nice to know that other people (YOU!) put their kids first and, honestly, are probably happier than with whatever money could buy. I am so excited to read the rest of your blog!

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Kimberlee August 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Hi Whitney! I am so glad that you are encouraged. Welcome! :)

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Whitney August 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I know I just posted, but after watching some videos… is that a dream board behind you in your dining room? If it is, SO COOL!

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Kimberlee August 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Yes, it is one of the inspiration boards I made. Do you have one?

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Priscilla August 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Our family of 5 lives on $28,000 a year and I also stay home. Thanks for this website. There’s a little bit of “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” mentality with me about staying home. I stay home but am so jaded frustrated and stressed about living paycheck to paycheck. I am always praying nothing breaks or no one gets sick because we can’t afford health insurance or an emergency. Our 3 kids are 4 years and under. I can’t go back to work with the daycare costs, it just wouldn’t be worth it (also a teacher). I find that I am not the “peaceful” mother I want to be solely on the fact that we don’t make enough money. My husband is always working and I’m here with the kids. We cut out more than anyone can believe and even live in my mother-in-laws house, for free! I’m of course going to check out all your tips and know I’ll learn more than a few things. I’m glad you are so peaceful! I’m hoping to get a little of that :)

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Kimberlee August 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Hi Priscilla- First of all it is very difficult to be a peaceful mom with 3 kids ages four and under. You are in a difficult stage in life and definitely need to find an outlet like a mother’s morning out or trading kids with a friend (or Saturday coffee date with a friend while hubby keeps the kids). When our kids were that age I had to go back to work and we worked opposite shifts so we didn’t have to put them in daycare. That arrangement enabled us to parent our children rather than send them to someone else, but it was very difficult on our marriage.

I wonder if you could start tutoring privately to bring in a little extra money, or teach an online class one or two evenings a week. It is difficult to live on less than $28,000 and if you are being very careful and it is still not working for you, maybe you need to find a way to increase your income. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

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Chris August 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I applaud your choices and that you want to help others by sharing your story! Time is our most valuable commodity. “Stuff” is used up, fades away, or gets cast aside, but memories last forever! My parents raised us in a similar way. I may not have had everything I ever wanted as a kid but we were rich in other ways! The memories of times spent together will last a lifetime and they mean even more to me now that my dad has passed on.

On an unrelated note, your story reminded me of something I read recently on a different blog site regarding nutrition, children and food allergies. You may find the info interesting so I’d like to share: http://whole9life.com/2012/02/the-whole30-and-pdd/

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Kimberlee August 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

Thanks so much Chris!

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erica August 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm

thank you for sharing this post. while we’re fortunate enough to live on a larger salary, our expenses have gotten so far away from us that it’s not uncommon for our bank account to be overdrawn the day after payday. i’m a sahm with 2 littles and as the ceo of our home, i’m committed to making it work with what we have. thank you for chronicling your journey.

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em August 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

Yay! So excited to find your blog! I can’t tell you what a relief it is! We’re a young family of 6, oldest child with aspergers and gluten allergy, a conviction to stay home and homeschool even though it means living on a tiny income. It feels like an impossible puzzle but I’m so encouraged to find out there is someone with such a similar situation making it work… a huge thank you for sharing, I can’t wait to read all your posts!

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Ali Bassler August 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

Looking for ways to save and keep the family happy.

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lynn August 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thanks so much for being courageous! Your lifestyle alone makes you very brave – but to actually make yourself very public is admirable. We are now in our early 50″s, and almost empty nesters, but we were a mid to low income family with 5 children and always felt the judgmental eye, (even from my own family). I will pray for your family and very much enjoy learning even more ways to be thrifty! Thanks again for this site!

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lynn August 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

P.S. We homeschooled too!

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yvette August 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

Thank for this. I’m a single mother of 4, I make 19200 a year and no child support.!!!! This helps a great deal.

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Kimberlee August 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

Wow Yvette–you are in a tough position. I hope you find some help and encouragement here.

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Michelle August 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I can’t wait to hear the rest of your story! I work and so does my husband. we have a lot of bills as well as supporting our daughter, her husband, and their newborn while they finish school. I need to save money!

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Jessica August 22, 2012 at 12:19 am

I found your blog from pinterest, as I’m sure many others have. I am looking forward to reading your articles. I love the way your write and how straight forward you are! I hope you’re getting a lot of positive feedback and those that might not agree with you just leave your website alone instead of feeling the need to “teach you a lesson”. I can’t wait to be educated!!! Thanks for posting this! I know it’s personal and am VERY thankful for something out there I can try to help make a difference in my family’s situation. Thank you again!

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Kimberlee August 22, 2012 at 11:46 am

You are very welcome Jessica. Once you have read the Less Than series, check out my new series “Beyond $28,000″: http://thepeacefulmom.com/2012/08/21/new-series-beyond-28000-a-year/

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Shantavia August 22, 2012 at 2:36 am

Thank you for this. I found your blog on Pinterest. My situation is a bit different – we are fortunate in that I no longer have to work (and we are moving abroad for hubby’s job). I am learning how to live with just one income. While, we are very lucky and blessed to live comfortably on his income, I am still happy to find thoughts, tips, suggestions for living frugally. I can’t wait to read more from you!!!

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Annie August 24, 2012 at 3:56 am

Wow! I don’t even know how I came across your blog, but boy, am I glad I did! We have so much in common! My oldest son has ASPERGER’S and is gluten free. My youngest son is ADHD and is being checked for seizures. We now homeschool because, like you, it would be next to impossible for me to work outside the home now!

So, so glad that I found your blog!

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Kimberlee August 24, 2012 at 10:34 am

Welcome Annie! :)

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Jacki August 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I may not have any children, but I do live on just one very small income and I am always on the lookout for tips on how to save. I have had to learn some hard lessons lately and this blog has given me some very good ideas on how to save so I can live the life I want. Bravo for putting yourself out there like this!

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Kimberlee August 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I’m so glad. Thanks for letting me know Jacki!

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