Proof You Can Live off 50% of Your Income

by J. Money on Wednesday, December 3, 2014

money cats

One of my most visited posts on this site is on living off 50% of your income back in 2012. It wasn’t the most well written or Earth shattering article ever done, but it did open up some great discussions on what’s possible out there from plenty of people doing it.

In the 118 comments left so far, people fall into the following categories:

  • Those who wish they could save 50% or more right now
  • Those who ARE saving 50% or more right now!
  • Those who used to be saving 50% but have since scaled back
  • Those who are *about* to start saving 50% or more
  • And then those who say it’s stupid and not possible

Today’s post is for those who think it’s not possible :) It may not be for everyone at every single stage of their lives, but it’s certainly doable during many of them. Depending on how badly you want it of course. And I’ve personally gone in and out of these stages myself over the years (a 90% rate at my peak, and a negative % at my low – when you spend more than you earn!). Life and motivation always get in your way, but it still doesn’t mean it’s not attainable.

To better help this sink in, I thought we’d feature some of the comments people have shared on this post over time to help inspire us. And they come from all walks of life and situations!

I’ve done this for almost 5 years since I graduated college and started working. I budget $2200 in expenses and bring in about $4400 after taxes and Pre-Tax deductions (401K, medical, etc). Not surprisingly, I have 113K in cash and my 401K and Roth IRA add up to about 70K. My goal is to put a down payment on a house of about 50% and ideally my mortgage would be about what I pay in rent right now.

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We did this over 2 years ago. We went from spending ALL of our money to spending only 1/2 of what we earned. We put one salary towards our debt and the other to our expenses. We both made about the same. In 7 months we had paid of $35,000 in credit card debt. Next we tackled our car loan and emergency fund. This past year we BOTH lost our jobs. It was not a time to freak out but to thoughtfully decide what we wanted to do next. It did put our savings plans on hold (or so we thought). When we looked at the end of 2011 we had still saved over $6,000!

It sounds so easy when I type it out into these simple clean sentences but it wasn’t and it was. We have two teenage kids that we didn’t want to ‘scar’, there were times we wanted ‘stuff’, but we made cutting back into a hobby. That’s the best way I can describe it!

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We (my husband and I) have lived off of about 50% of one income for several years, even when he was in the military. He makes significantly more now post-military, but we generally live well below our means. I would say our quality of life is pretty good, neither of us (or our children) really go without. If I go back to work, my paycheck will go straight into retirement or savings and we will adjust living off of one paycheck as needed to cover additional expenses like gas and day care, but we will most likely pretend we are still at 50% of one income for day to day expenses. Some months, we are above 50% of his paycheck for expenditures, but it is mostly due to medical expenses for our child with some pretty severe health issues.

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We saved between 65-75% of our income for about 10 years and then quit our jobs (we also made more money than a lot of people — our expenses were about $40K/yr including the mortgage — we now live an extravagant life on $20-24K per year with mortgage paid off)… but, when you realize that stuff is not what makes you happy, you end up leading a richer and more frugal life forever and somehow it becomes really easy and quite freeing…

Imagine if we all stopped buying so much stuff and spending so much time working/commuting? If we could all volunteer our time, be with our families more often, and build communities and gardens together? I think our society and the health of our planet would be much better off… That’s my dream anyway. :)

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We’ve cut our expenses to the basics so that we can live on ~55% of our take home pay… Because we live on way less than we earn, we have a weekly opportunity to fund unexpected expenses or little splurges, but most of the time it all gets moved somewhere sensible. I find that by not budgeting for entertainment, clothing etc we don’t feel entitled – as if we’ve pre-approved ourselves to spent that amount without pausing to question whether we really need it. Instead there is no planned budget for these items and anything we spend is coming out of what would otherwise be available for the Friday transfer to savings or the mortgage.

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Two months after 9/11 occurred I quit my job to stay home with my 2 children without even thinking about the consequences. We went from a 2 income earning family down to 1. I had no idea where we were going to come up with the difference. On top of that we had just bought a brand new house.

We did it though. It was tough. We cut back on everything from cancelling Satellite TV, the newspaper and magazine subscriptions. We didn’t go out to eat which saved on dining out and the cost of a baby sitter. I no longer had to pay daycare expenses or for the wear and tear on my car not to mention clothes for work.

I cut coupons and made most of our food from scratch. I even washed out my ziplock bags. Vacations for us were walks on the beach or a picnic at the zoo.

Fast forward 10 years. My kids are in school and I’m still a stay at home mom. We are debt free, have a 6 month emergency fund, our retirement account is fully funded at 15% as well as the kids college. We go on at least 2 nice vacations a year and life is good. Living on one paycheck or 50% of your pay can be done you just have to want to do it.

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I have a RIDICULOUS amount of student loan debt and decided to sacrifice living on my own (moved back to the parentals’ house) to save money and pay off my debts. Half of each of my checks go completely to my living expenses (car stuff, insurance, food) and my outstanding debts (credit card and student loans). I’m feeling the buckle, but I’m realizing how much money I blew on stuff that I really don’t need! And it’s nice seeing my money owed numbers dwindle and my savings amount grow soooo much faster. I’m gonna live with these people until they drive me nuts, but at least I will have made some progress… lol

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I do not live on my salary. I live on 35% of my income, so living off 50% means investing less. When you have multiple streams of income, you get to depend less and less on your salary, and eventually do not depend on it anymore. It starts with living below your means, paying yourself first, and investing your savings in assets, starting from fixed income investments

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My husband and I are currently living off of less than 20% of our pay. Even so, we live pretty freely, and honestly by just saving on simple things like using cloth napkins instead of paper, using laundry detergent sparingly, only throwing trash out when the bag is full, etc. we save enough to splurge on a nice dinner or something every few weeks without going above the 20% line. Of course, once we have kids, that will change, but that’s one of the reasons we’re putting that other 80% in savings :)

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I am 40 years old and I live off 50% of my income. The cons: I live with parents, I have bad credit, I am a single parent. The pros: I have a six-figure bank account. When I get my credit straight, I will finance a home or I just may pay cash.

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We did this (lived on one paycheck even though both of us worked) when we were about to start a family. It was a SCARY time because we tried to pretend like we didn’t have any of the second income and overdrafted many times before learning how to manage. It’s hard going from living on two incomes (eating out, spending money like fools, etc) to cutting back 50%. But it was so worth it and I’m proud to say 7 years after quitting my job, I have not once felt the need to go back due to financial strain. I won’t say it was easy, but so worth it. You can really learn to live on less if you’re willing to make sacrifices.

And Personal Finance Bloggers are Hip to The Game Too:

There’s even a 50% Savings Club! :) And it’s not just about the *savings* aspect here either.

As many of those commenters shared above, there’s a ton you can do with 50% of “extra” money outside of merely saving it. Such as paying off credit cards, crushing mortgages, changing careers, starting businesses, donating, and more. With the biggest reward being that of financial independence.

And anyone chasing early retirement knows it all comes down to how much you need to live off that determines when you can call it quits. It’s the major key to forecasting. Some go by the “magical number” you need to safely retire, while others make up their own personal calculations altogether. Either way you look at it, expenses is a major factor.

The Takeaway Here

The takeaway here is pretty obvious: If you can live off 50% of your income you’re a freaking baller. It doesn’t come without some sacrifice and shift in mentality, but these hustlers above are proof that it’s very much attainable. And quite frankly, we all know what we have to do to reach it, the question to ask ourselves is, how badly do we want it?

This message is as much for me as it is for you, btw. I ain’t saving no 50% these days, that’s for sure! Hell, I’m not even saving 25% right now and it pains me to admit that out loud. I have plenty of valid reasons excuses for this, but it still doesn’t make me feel any better financially.

So it’s time for me to have a nice long chat with myself about it too :) And I hope you’ll join me today, and as we go into the weekend, as well. You don’t have to make any rash decisions of course, but it never hurts to pause and do some good reflecting. Where do you want to be in 1-2 years? How about 5-6? (Or even 50-60 for some of you millennials?)

That’s the real takeaway here today. Fighting for what we want in our lives.

And just like we did on the original post almost three years ago, I’d like to now open it up to all you and ask that you share what your saving rates are looking like these days… Let’s see if we can top our old post, shall we? :) It would be interesting to hear updates from any of you who chimed in back then too!

How much of your income are YOU living off right now? What have you been able to accomplish because of it? What does the future look like?

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PS: If you’re in need of even more inspiration, check out this proof on how getting out of debt is very much possible, as well as how it’s attainable to become a millionaire too. And not the lying type ;)

[Money cats photo by edenpictures]

{ 156 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eloise December 3, 2014 at 5:26 am

We’re doing this but without the benefits. We faced a nasty custody battle with my ex a couple of years ago and had to put most of the cost on credit cards. Now nearly half of our income is going to those bills. It’s terrifying. We’re running of time to have a child together because we’re getting older, we’re not saving anything, and the cars are starting to have issues. But in another 1.5 years the first of those bills goes away at our current rate of repayment and even if we don’t add to the second card’s payment that will disappear two years later. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, I’m doing freelance work on the side for things like Christmas presents and birthdays and car repairs and it’s hard. But it can really be done. We don’t eat out, we don’t go to movies, we don’t go on vacations, everything is the debt repayment.

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2 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Oh man, I’m sorry to hear :( I’m glad you’re focusing on the light at the end of the table though! And imagine if you can get used to this new $$ lifestyle how GOOD you’re gonna be later once the cards/debts/etc are gone?? It’s amazing what we’re able to do under pressure when we’re forced – even if it takes a while to get figured out. Hang in there friend, remember it’s all temporary!! Keep hustling!

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3 C February 10, 2016 at 10:59 am

I have to ask why didn’t you work out a payment plan with your attorney?? Most work with people after you put down your initial retainer and you are making payments.

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4 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life December 3, 2014 at 5:26 am

I want it! My plan is to double my income (at least) to get that kind of savings rate.

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5 Jason @ Islands of Investing December 3, 2014 at 5:39 am

I love hearing these examples from different people with differing circumstances – it’s pretty hard to argue with it being impossible when you see this!

My savings rate has probably hovered around 10% the last year or two, which we adjusted to after my wife stopped working – it used to feel like a gushing fountain of income when we had both of us working! Unfortunately we’re about to hit one of those more challenging savings periods, now that we’ve gone and doubled our mortgage by buying a new house. So I’ve just gone and made a 50% savings rate technically impossible right now – since more than half will be mortgage :S

But we’re going to fight to keep that savings rate from going negative in the short-term, and work hard to increase the income side of things… I’ll be back in a couple of years with hopefully some much better news :)

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6 Nina December 3, 2014 at 5:55 am

We live on 40% of our income right now. This will change because soon our passive income will be higher and I will quit working for a year (baby 3 is on its way).
So we hope to still save a lot next year and built up enough passive income to make my husband quit his job. I m only working part time so we would live from my part time salary and our passive income alone in a few years time!!! I think thats pretty neat for a family with 3 children!

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7 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Holy $hit, yes, I would agree!

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8 MMD December 3, 2014 at 6:22 am

Reading through all of those comments is really pretty inspiring. Even though a lot of them say it was hard, the collective voice of all of them combined make me feel like it is more than 100% possible to accomplish. I’m definitely going to take a second look at our budget upcoming for 2015 and see how close to 50% we can tweak it.

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9 Mrs. Frugalwoods December 3, 2014 at 6:45 am

It is definitely possible! Achieving these high savings rates isn’t without effort and some sacrifice, but, once you get into the swing of it, saving like we do becomes second nature. Thank you so much for including my post–I really appreciate it! And, I hope folks will be inspired to bump up their savings rates too (you can do it, folks!).

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10 theFIREstarter December 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Agreed it is possible!

Me and the Mrs savings rates from the last 6 months are:
June 34.19%
July 12.82%
August 70.35% (Bonus month!)
September 1.73%
October 36.14%
November 59.04%

This combines to a total of 43%. OK so it’s not quite the 50% rate, but I have been on two holidays, a long weekend golfing holiday, and fricking well MOVED HOUSE in that time period (hence the appalling 1.73% rate in September!).

As things have settled down in November we are back to 59% and should easily keep hitting 50%+ each month from here on in. I earn a fairly good wage in the UK but my wife earns below average, so overall we are a pretty average household, and live in a fairly high cost area in the South East (i.e. near London)… so if we can do, I don’t really see why anyone else cannot achieve the same rate.

We don’t live a spartan life, just smart, efficient, and frugal (see “2 holidays” this year as mentioned above!)

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11 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Rock on! It’s so cool you’re already tracking all this too, haha… we’re such nerds.

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12 theFIREstarter December 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

I’ve only been doing it properly for the last 6 months to be totally honest. I used to do a manual spreadsheet budget every month but it got tedious trying to balance it and we’d always go over my estimates which frustrated me :)

Also I hadn’t found any decent software such as mint.com (which doesn’t work in UK) but 6 months ago I found Money Dashboard. I wrote a post about it here:

http://thefirestarter.co.uk/track-finances-ease-introducing-money-dashboard/

(hope you don’t mind me posting but it might be useful to any other UK readers you have, if so please remove and leave up the rest of the comment, cheers!)

Anyway, since using this, I can just retrospectively check spending rather than budgeting ahead, which works well for me because a) you don’t feel bad about going over your budget. b) you can look at where your money has gone easily, and it just makes you more aware of spending going forward. Realise you must love budgets (well duh!) but really this method is just retrospectively budgeting. Or something like that :)

Anyway the bottom line is yes, we are nerds. But everyone knows that the nerds always get the girl… ;)

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13 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm

You got that right, brotha ;) And don’t mind at all you dropping a link that’s helpful to others – thanks for doing so! And keep on nerding out!

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14 Liquid December 3, 2014 at 6:50 am

In 5 to 6 years I hope to have a net worth of $500K. :D I’m only able to save about 30% of my income right now. This rate has been fairly consistent over the last several years. I think I can save up to 50% if I really tried but I’ve decided 30% is a good balance for my situation. By having a healthy savings rate I’ve managed to build up my financial assets and max out my retirement contribution room. :) But I think after a certain point during one’s career, making wise investment decisions is more important than having a high savings rate. Saving a lot of money at the beginning of one’s financial journey would have the biggest impact for paying down debt and building up a lucrative asset column. And once the investment portfolio becomes large enough it’s time to focus on growing that nest egg organically and use money to make more money. For example, so far this year I’ve saved less than $20,000, but my net worth has grown by more than $100,000 since the beginning of 2014. My savings is limited by my income, but my returns on investment is limitless. :) Both factors are important to help me reach my financial goals though.

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15 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hell yeah!! The market does wonders for your $$$ once it’s invested!

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16 moneystepper December 3, 2014 at 8:00 am

My “savings rate” over the past two years has averaged at around 66%, so I definitely agree that its possible!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about “savings rate” and its definition, to try to create something that is fair for everyone, no matter what stage of their financial journey they are at.

For our 2015 savings challenge, we decided on the following:

Pension contributions + Investments outside of pensions + Savings outside of investments + Capital contribution to all debts (any amounts paid to any debt (inc. mortgage) above the interest accrued)
/
Net income (exc. pension contribution)

This seems to give a fair way to measure for everyone independent of where they are on their financial journey.

What do you think about that definition? Do you use a different one when you speak of “savings rate”?

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17 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I think that’s a good way to do it :) I probably wouldn’t put any principle payments that’s already included in your normal mortgage payments in there, but I’d include any “extra” payments on top of it. Most of this stuff comes down to personal preference though so it’s whatever feels right at the end of the day. I think it’s good for your new challenge :)

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18 Holly@ClubThrifty December 3, 2014 at 8:01 am

We don’t always save 50%- sometimes it’s a little more and sometimes it’s a little less. It also depends what you call savings. This year, we didn’t get 50% into investments but we did if you count what we put in Health Savings, the kid’s 529 accounts, mortgage prepayments, and cash savings.

I think saving gets infinitely harder when you have kids- not impossible obviously. We could probably save 60-70% if we didn’t have kids and daycare and all of that =)

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19 Darrell December 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Arbitrary rules from a dude with no business making them up: cash savings doesn’t count until you put it in something more permanent. Then you risk double counting if you save 5% into savings, but then move it into a Roth the next year and count that as 5% again. Mortgage prepayments should count. 529 savings should count. HSA should not (would you count it if you were just paying a higher payment with lower deductibles?)

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20 Holly@ClubThrifty December 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I agree about cash- it isn’t really a net improvement to our finances until we do something with it!

Disagree about the HSA funds though- they can be used for retirement if we don’t use them and my HSA funds are all invested into Vanguard funds through HSA Administrators.

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21 Kristy December 3, 2014 at 8:07 am

I’m 36 and my husband is 37. We save 47% percent of our income. We do have a higher than average income, but we love living below our means. It is my hope that we hit $1 million by the time I’m 40. It will be close depending on the market.

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22 Brian @ Debt Discipline December 3, 2014 at 8:28 am

I agree it’s possible. I think if you can start off this way it’s easier to accomplish, tougher to accomplish once you are knee deep in debt or home mortgage, but not impossible. Just depends on how bad you want to sacrifice to get there.

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23 Michelle December 3, 2014 at 8:34 am

I’m working hard to get into this category on living on a lot less. At the moment, I’m living on probably 60-70% of my income, my car is my biggest expense. Ugh. I’ll be super happy when those payments are gone which will be very soon.

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24 Rudy January 22, 2016 at 10:09 am

Hi Michelle,

Did you ever think to sell the car and buy a bicycle?

I used to go to work with the bicycle and it was healthy and helped me to kick start my day.

Just a thought

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25 Natalie @ Financegirl December 3, 2014 at 8:50 am

I live off 50% of my income. While I don’t feel rich yet, that’s what I’m working toward. I save 10% of my income and the other 40% goes to my student loans. The good thing is that once the student loans are repaid and my income continues to rise, so long as I don’t drastically increase my standard of living, I will be filthy rich in no time.

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26 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Your future you is going to be pretty damn happy!

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27 John @ Frugal Rules December 3, 2014 at 8:53 am

I love reading all these comments and seeing how so many are doing it! I used to think that it’s not possible at all and that trying to wouldn’t be feasible. If I could only go back and smack my younger self, lol. Over the past several years though we’ve come to see that if we want something badly enough then it’s on us to make the changes to save as much as we can. It ebbs and flows a bit for us with the uneven income, but we’re very close to that 50% mark (I’d say give or take 5ish%) and looking for ways to up that more. We’ve just come to the realization that if we want a certain type of lifestyle in the future, then few expenses are worth keeping us from trying to reach said goal.

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28 Kathy December 3, 2014 at 9:10 am

When I started thinking about this I thought there was no way we could live off 50% of our pension. We track our spending religiously and there are just too many things that we can’t or shouldn’t cut, i.e. insurance. But then I thought about it and realized that we have more income than just our pension. Our investments bring in as much dividend and interest income as what our pension does without even considering the growth they have. So yes, we do live on half or less.

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29 Even Steven December 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

With big chunks of my earnings going towards paying off student loan debt, I am not there. As a household we are closer, in the 40% range, with a large portion paying off rental real estate as savings.

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30 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar December 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

We’re at 54% when taking into account 401k contributions and principal for our mortgage. This is up from 43% last year. It really doesn’t feel that hard. As my wife graduates next year, her income can double too, so hopefully, that’ll all just keep going into savings!

The neat part for me is being able to save money towards our house improvements using only my side hustle. This allows us to keep plowing down the mortgage with our leftover monthly money.

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31 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Exactly the beauty of side hustles! Can go to all extra stuff, whether they’re “wants” or “needs”.

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32 Gretchen December 3, 2014 at 9:43 am

It sounds like it all boils down to stuff. The less you value stuff, the more you value experiences, and the less money you will spend. I admit that materialism is something that I struggle with daily – I am not a frugal person by nature – but change takes time. One of our goals is to save 50%, but this really opened my eye to the fact that materialism is the problem!

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33 Shannon @ Financially Blonde December 3, 2014 at 9:43 am

It’s true, anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I have one client who was saving 5% of her income when we started. Then she hit 20% but was still spending more than she should, so we raised her savings goal even higher and now she is close to 40% without even thinking much about it. She is even pushing herself now to see if she can save more on her own. It doesn’t have to be an overnight process, you can go in stages just like my clients. What’s awesome for her too is that she has a HIGH salary so she is saving HUGE bucks. Good stuff!

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34 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Client of the year right there! And teacher!

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35 Will December 3, 2014 at 9:58 am

Right now I’m reading a fascinating book on how to develop better self-control. I’m not finished yet but it seems like a must read for anyone wanting to control their spending! http://www.amazon.com/The-Willpower-Instinct-Self-Control-Matters/dp/1583335080

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36 Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 9:59 am

Woo woo! This post made me wanna dance. I’m living on 48% of my income this month (usually 50-55%), which is something I’ve been striving to get down to since the summer. It’s taken little sacrifices here and there, I guess, but mostly just more *conscious* decision-making. The other 52% is split between travel (29% this month) and savings (23%). My goal for next year is to continue to live on 50%, spend 25% on travel and put the other 25% in long-term savings, so basically what I’m doing now… which means I’m already living out my dreams, to some degree. How freaking cool is that, friend? Thanks for sharing my post!

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37 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Thanks for helping to inspire!!

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38 Samantha December 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

Now that we’ve paid off the mortgage, we live on about 40% of our combined income. The peace of mind is so wonderful, knowing that one of us can quit our job (or lose our job!) and we will not even have to touch our emergency fund!

But I do have to mention – we’re not making minimum wage or anything! Together we take home about $80K, so we’re not living like paupers. $32k in expenses per year (with no mortgage!) is pretty luxurious – smart phones, restaurants, two cars, etc.

I think it would be much harder to hit the 50% goal if only one of us were working, or if we worked in fast food or something that only paid $8/hr.

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39 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Damn good position to be in :) And well earned too, I’d imagine! There’s a lot of naysayers on paying down the mortgage vs investing that $, but the psychological benefits can far out weigh the financial ones for many – myself included. And it’s not like either is bad anyways! Win-Win no matter which way you go!

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40 Melody December 3, 2014 at 10:32 am

Great post! I’ve been doing this for the last couple of years. When I have mentioned this to others people think one of two things: 1) that’s impossible or 2) what a show off. I think people have so much shame about their money that when they perceive someone else as handling their money “better” they project that shame onto the discussion. Pretty interesting stuff.

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41 Noelle December 3, 2014 at 10:44 am

I’m currently at around 65% for this year, and last year was a little higher even but I took off time from work to travel this past year.

I’ve gotten my fiancé up to about 52% and honestly that’s the bigger accomplishment, since he’s more of a spender and I’m more of a saver to start with.

I know we won’t be able to keep this up forever, we want to move to a higher cost of living area (with a better climate and lifestyle!) and we have a lot of big plans to travel, buy a house, have a family, etc.

But having this kind of savings rate makes me really optimistic about the future! It would be hard to envision taking on a mortgage and having children if we couldn’t save 50%+ when we are DINKS (double income no kids).

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42 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Indeed! It gets a lot trickier with kids and/or mortgages and/or both! Still do-able, but better to get into the rhythm and mindset earlier like you’re doing. Well done :)

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43 Bridget December 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

Totally possible with an income above a certain threshold.

My essential bills come to $18,000/yr. I need to net $36,000/yr to live off half… I net twice that so all good here. That said, I’m probably NOT going to live off 50% of my income right now — got a wedding to plan and a big vacation coming! haha

That said, lately my fiance and I have been talking about going down to one income: living off his and banking mine. This would represent us living on even LESS than 50%, since I’m the higher earner in our relationship. We haven’t committed to this plan yet, but I think we will after our wedding. I can’t think of a better way to start off married life than with tons of financial security.

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44 mike December 8, 2014 at 11:42 am

just go to the cort house get married done deal save and bank the overly costly wedding bs fees

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45 jojo June 26, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Omg i totally agree! I would budget the wedding or the holiday….actually i would budget both because thats how i roll! Atleast after both you will have money left over and you wont be going into your marriage broke! Lol

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46 Mom @ Three is Plenty December 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

If we just take what’s earmarked in our budget for “savings” and not spending against our net income, we’re averaging about 49% right now. That will change once we move into the new place (no more free rent!), but it’ll still be about 31% – and that’s not including what we’re saving pre-tax to the 403(b) accounts. My goal is to make it into the 50% savings rate group by the end of next year – we’ll know what all of our new housing expenses will be and what we need to save.

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47 Lance @ HWI December 3, 2014 at 11:44 am

It’s pretty awesome. I just took home our family finance list for December to show my wife where we were 1 year ago, 2 years ago all the way to 7 years ago. 7 years saving over 50% and investing it. Financially life-changing!
Plus when you save so much and have so much invested your money really starts working for you…then 50% isn’t even a challenge. It is easier to start life this way than to try and change up financial commitments later on, but it can be done. Don’t give up, everyone wishes they could change something financially…but you never really learn without some financial mistakes along the way.

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48 Michelle December 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

Pre-tax, I’m saving 48% of my income. After taxes, it’s 63%. I rent and don’t own a home yet, so that’s my biggest expense. I’m currently working on getting the discretionary spending down even further as well.

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49 Crystal December 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

It was easier to track this before we were self-employed. Right out of college in 2001, we were living on about 85% of what we made since we made so little. Then my husband got his first teaching job and we lived on 50%-60% of what we made – that lasted a couple of years. Then I started my blog in 2010.

From late 2010 – late 2012, we lived on just under 40% of what we made normally. That’s the period we paid off our first home completely and started saving for 20% down for a $260,000 house. Then we bought that new home in late 2012, turned our first home into a rental property at the same time, and the online business started slowing down quite a bit. We still lived on less than 60% of what we made, but that percentage has been creeping up any slow month of course. Now it fluctuates a lot. One month, we live on 90%-ish, one month we live on 60%ish…just a grab bag based on what we earn. Overall, we’re happy with this situation still since we haven’t had to dip into savings yet to pay bills. And self-employment with fluctuating but liveable income beats getting a “real” job again for both of us…

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50 Crystal December 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

College ended in 2005, not 2001…

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51 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Yup, I’m in the same position as you currently. Big months and down months (mostly down for 2014) but we were smart and banked a ton during the gravy days and now we all just try and get back to it while living our cool blogger lives, eh? I don’t mind saving as much/little having the dream career :)

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52 Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 3, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I think they key is what you said in how willing are you to make those sacrifices to do that. Of course it totally depends on income. For me it would mean a HUGE sacrifice, depending on the month but let’s take the last four months: HUGE sacrifice. And some which in complete honesty I’m not willing to make. Two of the most expensive and most important: food and home. Food because good health is top priority #1, and housing because I like a safe place to live. There is so much gray area with that second thing but it would be a very long winded comment. :) Maybe at some point I will change housing…it all depends on circumstances. I’d like to get to the point where saving 50% is not as much of a sacrifice…and that means higher income! :)

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53 Joe December 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm

We live on about 50% of our income. It’s good because we can boost our portfolio for a few more years. When Mrs. RB40 retire, then we’ll probably live on 100% of our income.

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54 Dividend Diplomats December 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Budgets AS,

Thank you so much for the mention! By having a higher savings rate and moving past material items that bring satisfaction for less than 24 hours it challenges us to get to the destination of real happiness faster. If you are at a position where you don’t like your one hour commute, don’t like your role at a company you work for and do not want to work for anyone else – a high savings rate helps with this! There’s nothing more fun than saving, investing and increasing cash flow from your investments to have the ability to choose what you want to do.

Great post and again – humbly appreciate the mention!

-Lanny

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55 Hannah December 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

We had a super high savings rate as DINKs (maybe 80%), but that slowed to just 15% when we became a single income, one student, one baby (in daycare) family. Recently that has picked up to right around 30% thanks to increased income and growing our frugal muscles, and another upcoming increase in income (thanks to purchasing a rental house) should see us up to about 40%.

For us, the key to increasing our savings rate has been establishing a budget (which includes prorated future spending and giving), and then making “investing goals” each and every month. We have to force ourselves to do things like putting 2K in my Roth, or moving 2K from checking into our “future real estate” account. If we don’t, we don’t typically spend it, but we don’t invest it either.

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56 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Day care is no joke right? We pay more in that than our mortgage!!

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57 Hannah December 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Here’s a blog post for you: Things I can afford to do when my youngest child starts first grade.

I’ll get you started:
1. Hand three people $100 every week
2. Buy a brand new bike every month
3. Max out someone else’s 401K (not quite for one kid, but for 2 almost guaranteed) every year
4. Pave my driveway in $20 bills

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58 J. Money January 31, 2015 at 2:37 pm

HAH! Best thing I’ve read all day…. I might just do that :)

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59 Darrell December 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Well, I felt like I was doing pretty good, until reading this article and comments. I have excuses galore: a.) I spend about $8k a year on healthcare alone AFTER including contributions by my employer. b.) I have lots of kids. c.) I live in Southern California and moving away from family is a deal breaker.

My mortgage payment alone is more than some of these people’s budgets. I do some good things: a.) I max my 401k which also gives me a tiny match. b.) I max my roth and max a spousal contribution, too. c.) I save about $7.5k for my litter of kids future education needs.

I could do many things better: 1.) I spent over $19k on food. seriously. 2.) I don’t have an emergency fund (I guess I’d use Roth dollars if I really needed it?) 3.) we keep doing projects on the house that we don’t NEED to do.

I think my family can spend about $15-20k in net dollars less than we did in 2014. Not as big of a cut as it sounds, because we had some lump sum expenses that won’t recur. It would be great to start a taxable account to fund my “bridge retirement.” How are we doing this math…% of net pay, I assume? If so, this cut COULD put us very close to 50%. If we’re talking gross, then I’m not even in the same ballpark as you people.

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60 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Dude, you’re doing just fine from the sound of it. Maxing out 401k and Roth AND spousal/etc is a ton. And yeah, at least you recognize you could cut more and divert to taxable/etc – just a matter of whether it’s worth it to you right now or not. Either way, at least you *know* where you stand and can decide from there. Most people haven’t a clue. (And I’m not saving nearly as much as I used to these days, so that should make you feel better too :))

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61 Logan December 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm

While I was going through school my wife was a stay at home mom and I worked part time but we had an average savings of around 70% for my last two years. We found that when those around us saw how frugal we were and what our priorities were, they got a kick out of helping us sustain it (we were given a rent/utility free appartment for my last year, twice). I graduated with 50k set aside that made a nice down payment on our house, plus atleast 10k for an emergency fund.

Now that we are out of school and our a home our spending has increased to averaging about 2k per month, half of that going towards the mortgage and 10% of my takehome going to pay tithing. If I add in the 17% I put in my 401(k), our monthly savings hovers right around 50% annually.

Some things are just worth foregoing so that your wife can be at home with your kids (current count: 2 boys).

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62 James December 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I love these inspirational stories, but one thing I’d like to chart someday for the early retirement / frugal community is savings rate vs absolute income. For example, MMM averaged double the average Americans annual take home pay during his wealth accumulation phase. I’d guess that the people with the higher savings rates are likely to have similarly high incomes on average. I think someone making a 25k per year salary reads stories like these (and they ARE amazing accomplishments in their own right) and thinks there is no way someone like me could realistically save 50% of my income and maybe gets turned off from some legitImate good financial advice and inspiration (I can hear j cuing up the side hustle stories :) . Who knows. Maybe I’m wrong, just wish there was more information on absolute incomes in these kinds of examples, more generally.

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63 Ginger December 3, 2014 at 2:18 pm

My husband was making 26,000 as a grad student and we were saving about 15%, yes now with both of us working (me as a grad student) and him as a post-doc we do earn more and save more. But we also have a child and he has a longer commute. If you want to see how we did it, check out my blog. It is harder, yes, but you can also start and over time it does get easier.

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64 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:29 pm

For sure James, more income = more opportunity to save, no doubt about it. And I’d much rather save $50,000 one year than 50% of my salary if my salary was $30k :) So you’re definitely right. Still very much accomplishments all around. (And if you get into habit of 50% while making $30k and continue on track while salaries increase, you’ll be more than fine in life!).

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65 Kim December 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm

This is very timely because I have a similar post coming out on Friday. I just did our numbers for the year, and from our gross income, we are 31% to taxes :(, 33% in investments/savings, 7.5% on rental property expenses, and just over 28% for housing, food, and everything else. We have a good income, but what just about any household with two professional degrees might make. It is much easier to live on half if you make good money, so all the more reasons to earn as much as you can and don’t spend it on stupid stuff!

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66 Steve Kobrin December 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm

This is a great topic. Thanks much for posting. It’s very helpful to see all the success stories. I happen to be going through major changes (business and personal) so things are in flux. When things settle I will set my sights on living on 50% only. Can’t wait!

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67 Ginger December 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

This is my article on joining the 50% club: http://frugalstudents.blogspot.com/2014/02/i-found-new-blogger-group-to-join.html
I am not at 50% yet, but I am working up to it. To those who say it can’t be done, just start trying. Over time you will find more and more ways to save and you’ll do it. Never say never and never give up!

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68 Mortgage Free Mike December 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I’m currently at about 50% savings rate. I was at up to 70% last year. I am single with a full-time job. I recently relocated to a much more expensive city, which is my primary excuse for the drop. I’m putting a lot of money into my 401(k) and Roth IRA. That’s going to be my goal as I start 2015 as well. I’m planning to knock down the mortgage a bit with a bulk payment because I have “too much” money sitting in savings and checking accounts making less than 1% interest. I know… a good problem to have! I also like reading these stories because it shows that it’s possible to improve your financial situation no matter what deck of cards you’re dealt.

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69 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm

I read a great quote today, speaking of cards:

“Success in life comes not from playing a good hand but in playing a poor hand well.” – John Maxwell

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70 Chelsea @ Broke Girl Gets Rich December 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Thanks for posting this, it’s really motivating to read through the stories of people who have been there, done that successfully.

The first time I figured out that 50% of my income would have to go to pre-determined expenses/savings, my jaw dropped to the floor. (15% to taxes, 10% to charity, 25% to retirement)

But since then, I’ve realized that it’s possible and reading these stories have motivated me to find even more ways to save money so I can set myself up for financial stability.

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71 Kassandra December 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

DH and I are currently at 50% of household income saved/invested. I am actually thinking about challenging ourselves in 2015 to see if we can up that percentage a bit. When I was paying off debt, I managed to dedicate 50% of my take-home salary towards debt and I kept that habit once I became debt free.
Being able to live well and below our means means: our non-taxable investments contributions are set to the max allowed, our E-Fund is 100% funded, we have been able to buy a nice car in cash this year. It also allowed for me to pack up my life in Canada and immigrate to the US in 2014 to join DH and afford the expensive filing and legal fees, rent an apartment and furnish it completely…man the list goes on!
It can be done, no question about it!

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72 Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom December 3, 2014 at 7:38 pm

When I was single, I cut back my expenses and was able to quit my 9-5 job and start my own business from home.

Now I’m a stay at home mom. Even as a single income family, we live off about half of the one income. If we keep it up we’ll be mortgage free by our mid thirties and will have more flexibility to explore different work options, FI, or reversing my frugal genes.

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73 Mr. Nickels December 3, 2014 at 7:42 pm

How bad do you want it? We are currently living on 45% of our income. We saw what was possible on paper and did everything we could to reduce our expenses and increase our wages to make it happen. Some things may seem extreme, but living a debt free life with a plan to retire early is worth it all. Freedom awaits!

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74 Mark @ BareBudgetGuy December 3, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Hmmmm, I still say it’s stupid and not possible. I do reserve the right to change my mind though.

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75 Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life December 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

It’s really awesome hearing about other people who really take this challenge to heart and make it their normal. I currently use 1/3 of my take home for debt and 1/3 of it for living expenses. The other third is divided between retirement and savings. I would love to save more at this point, but being able to put that much towards debt really has helped me get ahead.

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76 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:36 pm

So you’re really living off only 1/3 of your income! That’s incredible!

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77 Jen @ Jen Spends December 3, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I was earning a few thousand more than my husband when I quit my job, so in that way I guess we are living on less than half. If I had continued in my career, we would be earning in the six figures by now. Had I not quit my job, though, I can almost guarantee I would never have embraced frugality the way I did when I became a stay at home mom.

Saving 50% of my husbands income alone is not remotely a possibility right now with two kids. We are saving, though, and I’m proud of what we do with what (rather little) we have. I have plans to launch my own business in the coming years, and that money will be icing because we live within our means.

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78 Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way December 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Those stories are great inspiration! I think, I will start to save now and avoid spending too much!

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79 Brittany December 3, 2014 at 11:30 pm

It’s so fun to hear about how people are living on 50% or less of their income AND to hear about how doing that has impacted their lives in the long term–especially because in still in the debt repayment phase. Right now, I’m living on between 40-50 percent of my income, but last year I lived on just 37% of my total income while throwing most of the remainder at my outrageous student loan debt. I talk about how I accomplished it in the link below:

http://funonabudgetblog.com/2014/09/11/my-life-on-a-budget-a-year-in-review/

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80 Leigh December 3, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Let’s see. In my comment on your post from early 2012, I was living off of about 50% of my net income. I’m now living off of 20-30% of my net income, so I think things are going pretty well! I just kept banking my raises and bonuses without increasing my spending. It’s been pretty fun watching my net worth grow with that! :D

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81 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Holy crap, Leigh – you are killing it! And even more impressive? You’re still reading this blog! Haha… two points for you today ;)

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82 Cecilia@thesingledollar December 3, 2014 at 11:46 pm

My gross income is just shy of $4000 a month right now. I have $1000 deducted into a 403(b), and after all other deductions (taxes and health insurance) I have about $2150 in income. Recently, I’ve been putting $450 a month to debt and $450 into a pair of savings accounts. So if you count the debt payment as savings, that would mean a total of $1900 saved from a gross income of $4000, or $1900 saved from a net income of $3150. The latter makes me look much sexier, so let’s go with that: a 60% savings rate.

Once the debt payoff is done (very very soon) I do plan to give myself a little more spending room in the budget. I’ll probably drop it to 50% of my net income — the same $1000 to the 403(b), and then the rest to cash savings.

This is possible because of several factors: I live with a roommate in a very low COL city; I drive an old, yet fuel-efficient and not-a-money-pit (yet) car, and only commute about a few miles each way; and I don’t have kids or pets. Combination of random factors (location, lack of children) and conscious choices (I could be paying twice as much for housing to live on my own, and I could have a car payment for a much newer, nicer car.)

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83 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Lots of factors, but still very easy to blow it all regardless of your situation – so kudos to you for killing it! And speaking of Kudos – are those chocolate bars still around??

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84 Becky December 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

These testimonies are very encouraging, but I don’t make enough money to be able to put away 50% with my current bill situation. I know that I could cancel a few things like cable and eat out less, but even cutting those things out would not give us a total of 50% saved. We do try to save as much as we can afford. We also could work on side hustles, but…well….I’m sort of lazy. I tell myself that I want to enjoy things while I’m young as well as when I’m older. I worry that if I work my tail off while I’m young, what if I or my spouse dies before we get to reap the benefits of all of our savings? I know I need to get out of that mentality, but I want to enjoy my life while I’m young too. Also, when I say ‘enjoy,’ it’s not like we go on extravagant vacations or anything (we haven’t been on a vacation except to visit family since our honeymoon 7 years ago). We just go out to eat when we want to and have a DirecTV subscription. I guess, at this point in life, I’m just not motivated enough to work myself crazy.

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85 Ginger December 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

Even if you don’t make enough, or you don’t think you can cut enough, just try. Start looking at your budget and see what you can cut, and still be happy. Maybe you do want the directTV, but could you cut down your phone bill? Could you buy a discounted gift card for a place you already shop from (check out cardpool) and spend less to get the same thing? You never know until you try.

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86 Colby December 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

No one is saying that you have to sacrifice any happiness to save 50%. Actually, it’s the opposite. You will be happier the less you spend and the more you save, despite not having as many material items.

That DirecTV does not make you happy, nor does spending money to eat at restaurants. The underlying desire for these items is probably social more so than the happiness of actually watching TV or eating fancy food. After all, after you finish the meal or finish a TV show it has no effect on the productivity in your life. Add up the total amount you have spent on DirecTV and restaurants for your entire life. With that number in mind, say $10,000 for example, ask yourself, “What do I have to show today for the $10,000 I spent?”

But then again no one says you have to give up anything. You just have to figure out what you spend money on and adjust based on what you value spending your time on. After all, money is not money. It’s time. You earn money by exchanging time and work for money. Therefore everything you buy is with your time. For some people $30k is a yearly salary. If they had to choose between a new $30k car in exchange for a year of their life, or a $5k used car but only 2 months, which do you think they would choose? The new car doesn’t make you any happier than the used car, but you sure do have something more important, time (aka money).

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87 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Yeah, I’ll never tell anyone to cut cable or stop drinking Starbucks (yum!) but there are tricks to still enjoying a good quality of life by just adjusting a few things… If you really want to, of course :)

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88 Barry @ Moneywehave December 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

I’m currently saving about 60% of my income but that’s because I do not have kids (yet) and I’m married so we have a dual income.

I imagine once little ones come along my savings rate will drop but I’m okay with that.

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89 Fig @ Figuring Money Out December 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

This is so awesome to see examples of people doing it! I can’t at the moment since unemployment kicked my butt, but I’m aiming to reach 50% savings rate by the end of next year. I know it will be a great way to get toward my goals faster and feel safer if I ever do lose my job again!

Thanks for sharing!

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90 Kayla @Everything Finance December 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I haven’t really added it up, but if you took out the “extra” debt payments I make and add in my side hustle income I’m probably living on about 50% of my income too. The other 50% is for debt payments and a bit for savings. I really should add it up and see…

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91 The Roamer December 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm

I want it really bad! FI is the goal I never knew I had. This year we ” saved” 62% of our income. Now I say “saved because a good chuck of that went to destroying our debt and 27% of our income was actually invested. I want to stay this aggressive because our saving rate will drop in the future as I stay home with the kids for a year. If I can I’ll try to replace my income but if everything stays equal it will drop. So its totally possible. No matter what, even where you live. I live in SoCal.

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92 Jon @ Money Smart Guides December 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm

My wife are working getting to 50%. We want to be financially independent in 15 years or so and we are working backwards. This means we look at our ultimate goals and then set up goals for 1, 5, and 10 years out that will keep us on track for the long-term. It’s so easy to go off track and fall in love with the new iPhone or a new car, but by breaking the goals down into smaller ones, we can keep our eyes on the ultimate goal at all times and always feel like we are progressing towards it.

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93 Dividend Mantra December 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm

J$,

I’ve saved over 50% of my net income for the past four years in a row. On pace to hit somewhere around 45% this year. A bit of a disappointment, but I hope to get back on the 50% horse next year.

Saving 50% of your net income means you should be financially independent in about 17 years, assuming 5% real returns and a 4% SWR. If FI in 17 years isn’t enough motivation to save 50%, I don’t know what is. :)

Best wishes.

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94 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I hope everyone who makes it down to these bottom comments sees this note and then promptly clicks over to your blog. I’ve been thinking/talking about money for 7 years now and I still learn so much from reading yours! Especially with the “dividend” route way to FI which I never knew about really…

So thanks for stopping by, and even more thanks for pouring your time into your site for the rest of us :)

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95 Joe Margot December 4, 2014 at 9:56 pm

I would like to recommend a book I just finished titled “Build Wealth and Spend It All” by author Stanley Riggs. This was a very refreshing and interesting read, as it takes you on a different course than the typical financial planning book. This book not only focuses on building wealth, but actually outlines plans for, and encourages, spending it! The author has personal experiences with what can go wrong from a life of frugal saving and very smartly teaches us what we can do about it.
Hope it helps someone else: http://buildwealthandspenditall.com

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96 Free to Pursue December 5, 2014 at 10:20 am

Savings rate now? 30+%. Based on my old salary from 2 years ago? We live on 40% of what I used to make and life is goooooood! ;)

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97 Laurie @thefrugalfarmer December 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

We have a pretty low income compared to most people (i.e., we haven’t paid taxes in over a decade), and I just calculated what our savings rate could be if we didn’t have the debt: 30%. And that’s on a low income with 4 kids.

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98 J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:28 am

You’re like Go Curry Cracker – he’s always working the system to not pay taxes! :)

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99 Brad December 6, 2014 at 10:37 pm

When I first read the heading of this blog post I thought, “Well, that sounds a little extreme…” I kept reading and I was like, “Wait a minute, I wonder what I live off of.” It never occurred to me to think about it in that way. I got so caught up in hitting my goals each month I didn’t even realize how little I was actually “living off of.”

I only started to get smarter (and more serious) about handling my money a little less than a year ago, around February 2014. I was between jobs at the point and thinking about buying an RV to live out of and also tour the country with. As a result, I stumbled across your blog post on the topic. After reading more of your blog I had a better idea of what to do, all I had to do was make a plan.

I started a new consulting job at the end of March and I currently live off around 10% of my income. I had $120K in student loan debt after I graduated college in 2011. This year alone, I’ve paid off $45K. I aim to pay them in full by April 2016. Before this job, I was doing it all wrong — just making the monthly payments and not paying attention to interest rates when I did have extra money to put towards my loans. Now I am employing the avalanche method and it is working wonderfully. It is so rewarding to look at my accounts in Mint and just watch the total amount owed shrink.

In addition to paying off loans, I also have various savings buckets. I didn’t have an emergency fund until this year and I have saved almost $20K, I saved for a wedding on a budget ($7K from us with $5K of help from my fiancee’s parents), I am saving toward a down payment on a house, I contribute 8% each pay period to my 401K and I send $500/month to my Roth IRA. Oh, and about $200/month towards my FSA.

I won’t lie, I am incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to bring home this amount each month. I don’t pay rent because I live in a hotel during the week and my fiancee and I currently live at her parents’ house (just on the weekends, for me). As a result, I have no utilities/internet/cable bills. I don’t own a car and I get my rental car and gas expenses reimbursed. I get my food bills reimbursed during the week.

The only things I pay for out of pocket at the moment are health insurance for me and my fiancee, cell phone bill (I use Ting so it’s super cheap, especially if I don’t use my phone that much), Netflix and any food I would buy on the weekends. I budget about $800/month for these expenses and I probably spend less than that.

Despite all this, I still have a negative net worth but I know that it won’t be long until I can start seeing that turn around. I know it’s not realistic to have this setup for much longer so I am being as aggressive as I can right now to make as much progress as possible. So great to read other people’s stories! Thanks, J Money!

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100 J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

WOWWW You are killing it now!!! You live off 10% of your money – that’s extreme! Haha… Way to work it, you’re gonna have a nice nest egg in no time :) Imagine once all that debt is paid off? Keep on hustlin’ brotha. You’re on fire now.

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101 Joe S. December 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Right now, I am saving around 35-40% of my gross income, but this is about all that I can possibly save currently, luckily I am gainfully employed and investing in some great corporations to help me become financially independent. Great stuff as usual.

Joe

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102 Ronnica, Striving Stewardess December 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm

I’m not to living on 50% yet, but I’m on my way. I recently started over in a new city so I’m making less than I used to, but I’m making do on less than I would have thought possible…and still throwing money at my student loan!

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103 Samantha December 8, 2014 at 5:40 am

Hm, I think I am just over the 50% at the moment – something like 55% when I last looked at it seriously — and it is all thanks to this blog!! This blog has been my “gateway” blog into the world of personal finance, I always wanted to do better in my finances – but was always kind of stuck on the “how”. I’ve only just worked out my networth, and it will be my new years resolution to keep track of it over 2015 to see whether I can actually grow it :] thank you so much for all the inspiration!

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104 J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

“Gateway blog” – hah! Love it. Glad you’re along for the journey :)

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105 Jack @ Enwealthen December 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Historically, we’ve been frugal and managed to save up a significant nest egg.

Good thing, too, since the Mrs. recently left her job to take care of our new baby. Living in Silicon valley with a newborn on one salary is a challenge, so we’re not saving 50%, but we are still saving. On average the cash balances keep going up and net worth moving in the right direction. Will be interesting to see how daycare and/or more children shake things up.

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106 J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

We pay more for daycare than we do our mortgage – hah! But it’s only temporary, so we just suck it up…

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107 Allyssa December 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Very inspiring. As a college students with only 7k in debt (I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you are student teaching for free, full time, and only have time to waitress 2 nights a week) 7k seems like a big debt to pay off.

I think I will try to live off of 50% of my income and see where this leads me. The frugal life, is a life of stress free, pure enjoyment. Everything in this world costs money, its frustrating. The boyfriend and I have been staying home and enjoying eachothers company, usually watching netflix ;)

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108 J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:34 am

Any amount of money in debt is a lot :) if you can figure out the 50% route it’ll be gone in no time and then it’s all about wealth building while you enjoy chillin’ with the bf!

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109 Shannon December 17, 2014 at 1:21 am

We are putting 37.8% of our gross income into retirement, but an equivalent of 52% of our income is going into retirement thanks to our 401a perk. Our employer gifts us each 14+% of our salaries into a 401a (a very nice perk and the only retirement savings many of my coworkers have). It’s not an account we can contribute to personally, but they provide many other pre and post tax account options which we are taking advantage of. Every time we get a raise, we bump up the pre-tax contributions. We basically try to contribute as much as we can so that it leaves us with a take home pay that covers our monthly expenses, plus a little buffer. That buffer has grown over the past 12 months just sitting in checking, and I think we need to do some more bumping. I think if we analyze our spending, we could raise our own savings rate to 50%! We need to do a “Challenge Everything” test for sure!

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110 Shannon December 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

The buffer mentioned above comes to 11% on average per month (take home savings).

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111 J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:35 am

Bad ass!! What an incredible work perk indeed. Very smart of you to keep bumping up and living “normal” like you have been. Your future self will be very happy with you :)

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112 Carla West December 20, 2014 at 11:36 am

I’ve recently bumped back my spending in order to make room for investing in annuities as part of my retirement portfolio. I’d love to see a post from you in the future on the topic. I recently finished a book called ‘The Annuity Stanifesto’ by Stan Haithcock and it has me really excited about the possibilities. Check out his website (www.stantheannuityman.com). He is refreshingly blunt and definitely cuts through the vague promises of annuities. When I finished this read, I immediately reached out to him and hope to enlist his help in the near future.

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113 J. Money December 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Oh man, I don’t know *jack* about annuities so I’d be the last person you want information from :) Let’s hope Stan does the trick for ya!

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114 Miss Tulip January 30, 2015 at 11:47 am

We could do it however we are spending lots of money on building the moment. When we were saving we were saving around half of our income. There are those that are on minimum wage and could no way live of one income when they can hardly get by on both as it is. The living cost is above minimum wage so it just isn’t possible for some.
Miss Tulip x

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115 Jamie May 8, 2015 at 5:38 am

I noticed that most of the comments above start out with “we”, which means most of these people have two incomes coming in. I am not a “we”, I am a single mom with one income. There is not way I could ever do this unless I got married again and married another income.

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116 J. Money May 8, 2015 at 11:46 am

It’s true having a “we” makes it a lot easier to earn/save more, but there’s plenty of single moms out there killing it as well. Just a lot harder to do and depends on motivation/lifestyle/etc/etc. I wouldn’t give up hope entirely, I’d just keep reading $$ blogs and seeing if anything fits for your situation better :) People are saving in all kinds of situations!

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117 Jennifer October 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Jamie, single mom of four here…totally in the same boat as you. But five years ago – still as a single mom – I managed to get out from under a lot of debt and put money aside. Well, I was free-spending…

Fast forward…last year I started getting into credit cards again. I’m buried under $12K debt now, but I know it’s possible to be on the other side…just gotta keep pushing through.

My girls are a little older now, just turned 17, 15, 12, and just turned 9. We talked about only doing stockings this next Christmas…they are on board and want “experience” gifts (tickets to events can be put in ornaments or in their stockings)…and every Christmas we take in one movie in the theater. The girls enjoy that :)

It’s possible to get to the other side. We can swap info and be accountability partners :)

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118 J. Money October 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Awww I love that idea!!! Stockings and the accountability! I hope she takes you up on it :)

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119 Saving Sanely May 23, 2015 at 8:15 am

I have recently made the switch to living on my husband’s (lower) income and using mine to put towards our substantial debt. We had to work through how to budget for everything to fit into his income, but where a few short months ago we were living paycheck to paycheck with both incomes, now we are free falling down the debt mountain and it feels amazing!

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120 J. Money May 25, 2015 at 12:23 pm

ROCK ON!!! Way to change like that – unbelievable… And further proof this stuff is possible if you make it a PRIORITY and care enough.

Congrats on the new path – you’ll be free in no time :)

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121 Expat In Dollars May 29, 2015 at 10:10 am

I wish I could do that. OK, technically, I could if I was ready to live in a studio, or a 1-bedroom dump. My rent is eating up 43% of my take-home salary (after maxing out my 401(k) and HSA, so there’s that).
So my goal every month is to save 35%. Which is not too bad, right ? Right ???
I’m often thinking of downsizing (I rent a 1-bedroom “loft” near LA) but when I look at what’s available, the difference in rent never seem to be worth the difference in comfort. Move-in rents have gone up more than mine has in the 3 years I’ve lived here. I keep looking, maybe it’ll work :)

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122 J. Money May 29, 2015 at 12:26 pm

No shame in saving 35% at all. That’s more than 99% of everyone else is doing :) You def. have to balance $$$ and enjoying your lifestyle for sure. It’s hard to go extremes when you’re unhappy about it.

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123 Brittney June 20, 2015 at 10:54 am

Wow this is so inspiring! Makes me realize I need to step my game up! I’m 25, bought a house at 22, recently paid off all of my debt besides my mortgage, and now I’m debating where to put my saved money.

I invest as much my employer matches in my 401k. And put the rest in just a normal savings account right now. I’ve read that Roth IRA’s are highly suggested, and I’ll probably start one, but I’m not sure how much to put in there. If I invest almost all of the money in my Roth IRA I feel like I will never have extra money until I retire. I want to be able to see the world and experience things while I’m young. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

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124 J. Money June 28, 2015 at 10:58 am

Great problem to have! :)

You def. seem like you’re on the right track however route you go. It’s all about a happy medium for sure though – investing as much as you can here, and then spending some of it there to actually enjoy your life. Unless you want to go hardcore and invest everything and then retire when you hit your 30s ;) But that’s a whole other ball game.

I’d try and figure out what you want – goal wise – in life over the next 2-3 years and then allocate your $$ that way. Things will change SO MUCH between now and then – for the good and the bad (especially with money) – so as long as you’re moving towards those goals and updating them over time you’ll be just fine. And don’t forget you can always change your mind too and push the $$ elsewhere – nothing has to be permanent :)

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125 Karen June 28, 2015 at 7:46 pm

If I had only done this from the beginning of my life and not forced to at the age of 72

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126 J. Money June 29, 2015 at 10:18 am

Ugh, sorry to hear :( Hopefully you had fun w/ all that $$$ for 71 years though! ;)

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127 Mimi July 18, 2015 at 6:45 pm

These are great tips. Even reduced to a smaller scale.. like 75% of income etc.
Will be linking this to my website. Thanks.

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128 J. Money July 19, 2015 at 10:04 am

Glad you like, Mimi :) Thx for sharing – will go and check out your site!

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129 Karrie July 26, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I think that it is possible to save like this. But here’s the real question: how do you do this when you live in one of thermostat expensive places on earth–San Francisco? What does that budget look like to save 50%+, i.e. what do you allocate to entertainment or high medical expenses… What do those numbers look like specifically?

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130 Michael Stewart August 27, 2015 at 12:32 am

I save 33% of my income each month and I have an income of 1300. What I do with the extra money is buy treasury bonds. I look that for each 300 I buy I will get a 1.00 monthly raise. I have over 13000 in a savings account whose interest rate is .99% I have over 17000 in treasuries. I also moved to south America which really cuts my expenses. I can rent a nice two bedroom apartment in iquitos peru for 430 a month and I will make money by renting out the second room to college students and I will hold parties where I will charge a fee for the meals and I will charge for drinks. I also look for other opportunities such as teaching English, repairing computers, and selling stuff for people. I am 37 years old and I am basically financially set. Of course I do not have children, a wife or any major health problems knock on wood. I am saving to buy land in the amazon so I can build my dream house. I noticed once you have saved your first 10000 it gets easier from there. I also learned the value of saying no. My family needs money i say no. beggars ask me for money and I tell them to take a hike. In other words in order for me to part with even a penny of my money i expect to get something of value.

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131 J. Money August 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm

You’re a hustler man, wow! I love the charging for parties/drinks idea haha… I just read an awesome article on how no matter how poor you are, college students will ALWAYS find a way to pay for drinks :) Funny how priorities change over time…

(I do wonder, though – how come you’re in treasuries and not in stocks/funds where the %’s are higher over time?)

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132 Marty October 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

I don’t doubt its possible but I think its depends greatly on cost of living in your area and the money you have to work with. I make only $800 because I am on disability and cost of just rent takes up most of that . With most of my bills I would only have $140 left over. For some saving 50% is not doable

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133 J. Money October 21, 2015 at 12:27 pm

I agree that circumstances can change it for sure. For most people, however, they have it in their own power to earn more or spend less if they really want to get to a nice savings rate :) I doubt any of these people featured here just started saving 50% on day 1. They actively worked towards it and now it’s paying off. Quite literally! :)

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134 Jibraan November 2, 2015 at 5:23 pm

I would love to do this or any savings for that matter. My situation is not as simple though so any info and suggestions would be great.I’m married, have 4 children and have lived in a very cheap apartment since my wife and I graduated. Our student loans are our only debt but its close to an expensive house mortgage. We have zero family or help so my wife stays home. We have no cable, one car paid in cash, just got internet this year for kids’schoolwork. My gas and car maintanence at the moment are close to $800/month as I drive an hour and a half away each way…I’ve had this job only since February so it’s a fairly new expense.
My issue is I’m a contractor and have been laid off 4 times in the last 4 years. The longest being a year and a half. There is no 401and all our savings got wiped out during the big layoff plus a failed business venture.
Credits are destroyed and we are not sure where to begin. We have finally caught up on bills just now since the layoff with the help of my new job but what now. My wife is pretty frugal especially with having 4 kids we don’t have extreme expenses… Around $2200/month including my car’s gas…I am earning about $4400/month at the moment.But my contract ends in December.The question is how do we start saving if I keep getting laid off? This time there won’t be unemployment so we do odd jobs to get by until I land a new contract. Any suggestions?

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135 lr November 23, 2015 at 4:36 pm

This is great an all when you make over 3k a month. Try living off 2k a month take home no retirement and family of 4. Saving is easier when you have a lot to begin with.

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136 Agnethe December 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm

To save 50% of one’s income is difficult when it is low. I have, for example, expenses for $690 a month and are getting paid $720. So to save 50% I would have cut down $330 a month.

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137 Haley December 14, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Another one for the cost-prohibitive-daycare crowd. I had to have both my kids in daycare for about 6 months to earn my license, but now that that’s done, I am a stay at home mom (I can go to work at any time as long as I keep my continuing education going). My entire paycheck was literally daycare and health insurance. Plus I was eating out more, the wear on the car, etc… it just didn’t make sense. Once my youngest turns 2 and I no longer have to pay the full-time rate for part-time daycare, I will look into going back to work.

I really like how you emphasize that not everyone can do this for their whole life. I know the time will come when I can bring in an extra $2000/month and just bank it, but for right now, I need to be home with my littles.

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138 J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:40 pm

And it’s a good way to spend time too :) We recently pulled our two wee ones out of daycare as well (6 months now of saving $2,000/mo ourselves – woo!), and enjoying our time with them until my wife goes back into the workforce again… Def. harder phases to save!

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139 Anne in Canada December 28, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Of course, it’s tempting, as we increase our income, to spend more. The morale of the story here is to live on little so we CAN save 50%. Of course, with very low income, it’s very difficult to save so much. However, I remember being a grad student, on very low income (and high tuition fees). I could not save 50%, but certainly 10%. I had one child (and one husband who was a grad student too); but I breastfed (free), made my own baby food (small quantity of our own food), used cloth diapers, and found zero-cost childcare (another couple of grad students had a baby the same month; we took turn taking care of both babies – this worked for 3 years).
I’m not saying it’s easy. We did not save 50%. But we saved some money, every month. Start with $10 a month. See if you can increase it to $20. Increase your income – odd jobs, cleaning, sewing, tutoring, baking. Then increase your saving to $30. Continue. Baby steps.

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140 J. Money December 29, 2015 at 8:14 am

Yes yes yes! Def. not easy especially if you have lower income, but you do have to start small and work your way up if it’s truly important to you! Great comment – enjoyed reading it :)

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141 Maria January 5, 2016 at 11:43 am

I am currently in the process of paying off debt. Once I do, I will attempt to live on way less than my full income!

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142 J. Money January 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Great! I’m sure you’ll have lots of momentum carrying over from nixing all the debt too!

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143 Gary January 21, 2016 at 7:23 pm

I am 68, and have been out of debt for the last 8 months. I got divorced 19 years ago, and paid off my debts in this order: Child support/ medical/life insurance requirements, my credit card (I have a debit card now), a personal loan from a friend, my land mortgage, my RV Trailer, my truck and then my car. I live on 40% of my after tax retirements (I am fully retired) and save 10% for vacation, and 50% for setting up my residence on my own land.

I help people who need money (I paid forward a gift I got 300% over the last several years)

I give my time with my music talents and have even wrote a book which is free on the internet. (www.yes-god-is-real.org)

I wish our government would do something to educate people how to work themselves out of debt, but it seems to be left up to us private folks to do and tell the best we can.

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144 J. Money January 23, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Way to go, man! That’s a helluva testament right there – I love it.

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145 Christine February 2, 2016 at 3:21 pm

That’s all well and good, but when you work part time because you’re disabled and need to do so means, food in in your gut.

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146 Debbie February 12, 2016 at 11:55 pm

I noticed the original people in the article were all couples. We did this and we did that. What about a single person making around $30k/year? To only spend $15k/year–oh wait I don’t net $30. And stuck in a 28% tax bracket that puts me at about $11k/year to live on. Like you said, it’s not for everyone.

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147 J. Money February 29, 2016 at 4:57 pm

I think the word that a lot of people focus on here is “stuck”. If you don’t believe you’ll ever earn or save more then the odds are you won’t. We’re all in different phases where saving a ton isn’t always possible, of course (I don’t save nearly 50% myself), but it doesn’t mean it’s not possible down the line. Or if we challenge ourselves more.

So yes, many people featured here – and other places – are married or make more than us or have different situations, but at the end of the day it’s up to us to change that or be content with the way things are. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for what’s possible if we care enough to make it happen.

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148 Erin March 30, 2016 at 8:44 am

I hope to live like that one day. My husband is working on his bachelors degree and together we make $25000 a year. Living on half of that wouldn’t make sense because we would be homeless. It’s not the time for us but I believe it will be possible one day. But we have absolutely no debt, and one small car payment for the gas efficient car we share and we eat fairly healthy and have a little extra to give to our church and still have enough to deposit into our growing savings account. I praise God for covering our basic needs. Every time I stress about not making enough money I pray and something happens to alleviate that anxiety.

I’m happy to hear that so many people are working hard to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. Keep it up!

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149 J. Money March 30, 2016 at 3:15 pm

YES! Incredible mindset you have!

“It’s not the time for us but I believe it will be possible one day.”

So positive and shows you know yourself/situation so well over there. Sounds like you’ll have a wonderful life regardless how fast the savings come :)

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150 Fushia March 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm

On my income I save just over 35% (savings & emergency fun), but that is only my regular income. I have a recurring contract position so I budget 10 months pay over a full calendar year. I also work for the same company as a supply in the off months (at a lower rate of pay) but all that extra money is banked for savings. This year I plan to put it all towards aggressively paying down our mortgage. If I could do that for the foreseeable future we would be mortgage free by 41. It makes me swoon to think about.

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151 Fushia March 30, 2016 at 1:52 pm

I would add that I do not make a ton, less than 35,000 gross. So it is possible to save. Although we do not currently have children. That being said I have also made some financial choices that are personal to me and my SO. We HATE debt so for us paying down the mortgage is way more important than having a jacked up savings rate for our retirement plans.

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152 J. Money March 30, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I think that’s a most beautiful plan! Gotta know what’s most important to you and plan backwards from there – even if it differs from everyone else.

Your debt vs savings actually reminds me of our “Would You Rather” question the other week…

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2016/02/would-you-rather-cash-vs-debt/

Would you rather… Have $250,000 in cash but also $250,000 in debt? -OR- Have $0.00 cash and $0.00 debt?

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153 Fushia March 30, 2016 at 9:17 pm

Definitely the $0.00 cash/debt. It’s all gravy from there. Hearing other people’s horror stories just cements my views of what we should be doing but so does hearing the amazing ones of what else we could be doing and where we could be if we just keep going.

I have just found your site on the weekend and have been hooked. It is insanely inspiring.

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154 J. Money March 31, 2016 at 7:17 am

And I’m insanely happy you’re enjoying it! Thanks for letting me know :)

And btw – LOVING your name.

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155 Kb May 8, 2016 at 10:02 am

How I start? Can you email me?

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156 Selena August 24, 2016 at 10:09 pm

I really enjoyed all the stories on those that live off half their income. It’s very inspiring. I just wrote a post about how my family of three lives off less than half our income. It’s totally doable!

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