A Sample $1000 Monthly Budget

by Andy Hough on January 16, 2008

Someone on a Yahoo group I belong to recently asked if it was possible to live on $1000 a month.  Since millions of people in the U.S. do live on this amount or less it is definitely possible.  Below is a sample budget of how I would live on $1000 a month.  I won’t be working during the months of February, March or April and plan to keep my expenses at $1000 a month or less for that time period.

Rent

$375

Utilities (electric and gas)

$74

Phone

$35

Food

$100

Health Insurance

$66

Car Insurance

$20

Savings for irregular expenses

$100

Entertainment

$100

Gasoline

$100

Miscellaneous

$30

Total

$1000

The rent, health insurance, car insurance, and phone are all actual, fixed monthly totals.  The utilities amount is less than what I’m paying right now but it is well above what I’ll be paying in the summer.  My food expense isn’t fixed but it is usually right around $100.  The savings for irregular expenses covers car registration, maintenance, and any other predictable but irregular expenses. I purchase my health insurance through eHealthInsurance which has lots of relatively low cost plans available. My entertainment budget of $100 could easily be cut but I’ve been spending more than that lately.  The amount budgeted for gasoline is also probably too high since it should come down significantly now that I’m not working.  I threw in $30 for miscellaneous to cover any little expenses not covered by the previous categories.  This is a realistic budget for me and should be achievable for most people that live in an area with similar housing expenses.  You can look at my expenses for last April to compare how my actual expenses match up with this budget.

{ 41 comments }

SingleGuyMoney January 16, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Wow! My mortgage alone is more than $1k a month.

Early Retirement Extreme January 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

A lot depends on where people live. In the midwest my monthly budget was $550 (similar rent to yours), but in CA it’s more like $1100/month, where rent eats $700 already.

Tight Fisted Miser January 18, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Yes, location is important. Someone in an email was wondering how I got my car insurance so cheap. This insurance is for liability only and it is $120 for every six months here in Missouri. I was paying $100 a month for liability when I lived in Nevada in the ’90s so I know I’m really getting a good deal currently. Also I have coverage in excess of the state required minimum, if I cut down to the minimum I could save even more money.

Christine September 20, 2008 at 1:19 am

I get $1116 a month from disability after Medicare and part d. I spend more on food but much less on entertainment. I spend a lot of time going to college plays and concerts, free day at the art museum, library movies, occasional bottle of cheap wine with dinner, second run movies, window shopping, low income gym membership at the YMCA. It can be done, I own my home too. I thank my lucky stars I got a part-time job though. I have a little wiggle room now.

ANGELA December 13, 2008 at 8:45 pm

OMG! $20 A MONTH FOR CAR INSURANCE??? WOW! THAT’S GREAT!! I NEVER GO TO THE MOVIES, RENT MOVIES, OR HAVE MONEY FOR ANY KIND OF ENTERTAINMENT OTHER THAN CABLE TV. I MAKE $1000 a month AND I DON’T HAVE MONEY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE EITHER! MY RENT ALONE FOR AN EFFICIENCY APARTMENT OR STUDIO IS $550 A MONTH! PLUS I HAVE TO PAY UTILITIES (ELECTRICITY, WATER, GAS, AND CABLE)ABOUT $150! I ALSO HAVE A MONTHLY PHONE BILL ($50)! THE ONLY INTERNET ACCESS I HAVE IS AT WORK. I PAY LIFE INSURANCE $70, CAR INSURANCE $130… THAT’S ABOUT $950 RIGHT THERE! AND I HAVEN’T EVEN ALLOCATED FOOD!!! I NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO DO– CAUSE YOUR PLAN WILL NOT WORK FOR ME!!!!

inge horder January 3, 2013 at 7:43 am

angela,
i am with you,this budget is not even close to realistic.sorry.
dont have a car and you better dont get sick either, forget insurance- how about the co-payment? utilities for how much?
75$ ? under the bridge in florida ? if you like, you can get your food in the box, the meat is by 2 month over the date however.
been there, done that. lifeinsurance is good, dont bother your loved one with a final bill, there is maby dignity after death.

Andy Hough January 3, 2013 at 9:05 pm

The budget is realistic as it is based on my actual monthly expenses. Just because most people aren’t able to keep their expenses to this level doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

Andy Hough December 15, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Angela- This budget is just a sample. The idea is to use it as a starting point; not just to copy it. Your utilities seem a little high. That is probably because of the cable. Also, why do you have life insurance? I would buy health insurance before I bought life insurance. As a matter of fact I do have health insurance and I don’t have life insurance because I have no need for life insurance. The phone bill seems high also. You should be able to get a land line or a cell phone for about $30-$35 a month.

Rachella Sinclair January 19, 2009 at 12:48 am

I agree with most of the other posters. It would be very hard to find a place with such low rent.

Fabulously Broke February 4, 2009 at 8:25 am

That’s an interesting exercise. I’m going to do it and link to it for tomorrow..

I “live” on $1500 now but it’d be interesting to see if I could make it on $1000

Fabulously Broke in the City
Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver.

Slinky February 9, 2009 at 1:23 pm

You don’t have to find a place with rent that low. You have to find a place with rent that is twice that and get a roomate. I pay $300.

Myrna Polihronakis June 30, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I live on $849 a month. It took me about a year to work myself down to this point. I did some shopping around for housing through HUD that supplements my rent. I keep a price book on my groceries, and I try to keep all my items under $1.00 a lb. (especially meat, fruit and vegtables) I also found that there are programs that helps me with my heat bill and telephone bill through the US government. I have entered contests and won several little prizes like $100 gas card and several resturant gift cards. I do not have cable, but I have 14 free channels and I get free movies through the library. I found out if you take special driving classes your car insurance is cut down a lot! I make all my birthday and Christmas gifts by going to the internet and getting ideas. I have dial up internet (most identity thefts are targeted from people who have wireless internet) Yes each day is a learning experience, and I am open for more cost cutting ideas

Andy Hough June 30, 2009 at 12:56 pm

It is great to see an example of someone else successfully living on this budget.

Donna Joy July 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Wow! I think your list is very low also and I live in the midwest. Yes, I get a break on rent as its HUD subsidized, but I still pay $196 a mo. I get by on about $25 a week on groceries. Its the non-food items that get you. I use a convertor box with my TV, so I don,t pay cable, but my internet is $25.95 a mo., cell phone is $70!, Elect runs about $65 a mo, we only have the elect. All the rest is furnished. By the time I pay my car insurance, life ins.,figure in gas for my car, laundry, as we have to use the machines in the comm. bldg. and they are pay machines and it cost me about $12 a mo. I also have about $25 in med. copays a mo. and that doesn,t include misc items. Do any of you buy Christmas for family and what about birthdays? Its insane in this country! I would love to move to California to be close to my sister, but there is no way I can afford it. She is married, so there is no possibility of sharing rent or mortgage paymts. Besides her husband is a +++++, so I would stay there anyway. No matter how you slice it. Trying to survive, because its not living, in this country stinks to high heaven!!

Andy Hough July 23, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Donna Joy – Thanks for your comment. Are you supporting others? My $1000 a month budget is just for me. I live quite well on it.

Wondering August 17, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Where in the world is rent less than $400 a month???!!!???

Andy Hough August 18, 2009 at 8:33 am

Many places in the Midwest and South have places with rent less than $400 available. I live in Kansas City now but I’ve also lived in Las Vegas, Dallas, Austin, and rural Virginia was able to find similar deals there.

Cathy September 27, 2009 at 7:54 am

The shocker in this budget was $100 a month for food. You’d be hard pressed to find any meat for $1.00 lb up here in Canada. I try to balance healthy foods with budget menus – my food expense is usually $400-500 per month for 2 people. And car insurance is generally around $100/month. I currently own my home – but rent is closer to $1000 month in our area. Where you live obviously makes all the difference.

Good discussion.

dsss September 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I love Canada, but unfortunately your taxes make your prices very very high. Your prices start out higher than ours in most places in the US and then your tax on top of it is also higher. It caused a real sticker shock travelling through Canada. Evan a Motel 6 hotel room was 100.00 in Canada plus 17% tax! Down here we can find the same hotel for $40. Everything was more expensive, food, clothes, gass. You name it, it cost a lot more than in the US. It was explained to me that that is because you have free health care? I hope this is not what we have to look forward too :(
But you do have a very beautiful country.

Heather November 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm

DUDE! I just stumbled across this site, it rocks! I’d like to know where you get your health insurance if you don’t mind sharing.

Andy Hough November 4, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I get my health insurance through eHealthInsurance. (affiliate link) Even if I weren’t an affiliate I would recommend them. If you do a search on my blog you can find a couple post where I talk about using them to find private health insurance.

Stella March 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I live in London, England and get just over £1000 a month. £35 on the phone, £21 on the internet, £200 on food and give £100 to charity. However, it’s the frequent trips to the cash point and card purchases that take me to the £1000 limit each month. I have just cancelled my old card to get rid of the internet marketing subscriptions I was paying for. I plan on just having one SBI site finish that this year, then make money from it. I will make a note of every penny I spend during the month to see where the cash goes.

Randy May 1, 2013 at 8:26 am

Cheers Stella! I am stateside but I work with folks in London and Bude often. I am astounded at how expensive the cost of living is in Britain and with the average bloak earning 25k pounds a year, I am amazed how folks make ends meet. One associate lives in London and has to pay $8 a day just to drive in the city! Wow!

Nathaniel April 22, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Why didn’t you include internet access? Is that filed under business expenses?

Also, your health budget is unrealistic (at least for me). With HDHP coverage, you are going to end up having to pay out of pocket for office visits, lab work, etc instead of for premiums. Maybe you are just healther than me. Good for you.

This is roughly what I’m looking at…

Slighty under $1100/mo:

Rent, Utilities, Net 425
Healthcare 200
Food 150
Transportation 75
Phone & Skype 25
Entertainment 50
Clothing 15
Books & Misc 150

The phone is prepay with a text-messaging plan and pay-per-minute voice services used as little as possible. Unlimited skype with an incoming number is a very affordable alternative, but I recommend investing the $50 or so in their wireless headset.

Yes, I know I spend a lot on books. If you are less interested in reading, or are healthier than me, or are eligible for government aid then you can further reduce or reallocate some of these figures.

In truth, I also spend several hundred dollars per month on my mother and the family children, but I get a lot of value out of it and I am pretty unlikely to stop. Any funds remaining after this get moved into the business & investment side of my financial planning.

Andy Hough April 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm

The reason I didn’t include internet access in that budget is because I didn’t pay for internet at the time I was making that budget. I took advantage of the free internet available to me at my school. My budget has changed quite a bit since the time I made this sample budget. I actually pay less for health insurance now.

Rainbow Rivers June 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

Great Post, We live off of $1200 to $1300 a month for a family of 5 while it can get tough, it can be done. Like right now our car died so we have to hoof it on foot 3 miles to town for work and food shopping not fun but develops character! It is not that hard to find rentals for $375 a month if you know where to look and also it does really depend on location, but little rural areas outside the cities are usually cheaper than in the city itself. We pay $475 in rent now but have rented several places at the $375 for 2 bedrooms.

Our budget looks something like this: ( food is more due to 5 people to feed)

Rent $475
Food $275
heat (propane) $100 a month
Electric $35
Phone $65
Online $10
Netflix $10
Investing $150
Savings $50

When we had a car it was around $89 a month in gas and months I have birthdays in I reduce (but dont cut out completely our investing catagory)

Looking forward to reading other posts here!
http://frugalfulfillment.blogspot.com/

Jet August 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Wow, rents are significantly more expensive in Sydney. My husband & I pay $1300 per calendar month, & it’s not like we live anywhere swank, just the burbs.

For the two of us, our monthly budget is:
Rent – $1300
Food – $160
Mobile Phones – $110
Petrol & train fares – $400
Utilities – $110
Car insurance – $100
Total – $2180

So per person that’s $1090. I reckon that’s not too bad. Luckily health care is free in Australia, so we don’t need health insurance, and that saves some coin. Plus, we both have Internet on our mobile phones & at work, so we don’t need the extra expense of the webs at home.

I love budgeting, it’s great to hear from other people & get good ideas of them. My motto is, if you can’t always control how much money is coming in, you best control how much money is going out.

Serena August 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Great sample budget. We are a family of soon to be 4 living off $2400 a month with about $500 going towards debt.

Barbara January 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Your budget does not include internet cost. Are you getting it for free?

Andy Hough January 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm

This budget is from 2008 and was for myself only. I didn’t have home internet at that time. You can look at my recent posts to see the current expenses of my family.

faithful in ms April 13, 2012 at 5:29 am

1600 month for me =
160 tithes
250 child support
500 rent
300 gas for car
150 elec./H2O
140 groceries
50 phone (pre-paid unlinited everything, so that is internet too)
50 cable

I am going to to be going from a home where I didn’t work and never had to worry about money to working and buddgeting like this. I am scared to death, but God will provide because I pay the tithes first.

Sarah February 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Faithful – good luck and well wishes to you!

Joleen September 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I have to say I see a lot of complaints. I am a disabled single mother of 2. And I take care of both my children off of $697 A MONTH! I get state insurance, and food stamps. But that is all. The rest is my disability.
$697 income
$389 Rent
$50 internet
$100 electricity, water, sewer,
$45 garbage service
$100 for phone
$97 auto insurance
and anything else i have to barter for. And compared to some I live like a king. So think before you complain about what you live off of, There is always someone else worse off then you!

Stock Donations December 3, 2012 at 7:36 am

I do accede with you Joleen…and i should appreciate you for what you’re doing…. there are many families for whom 1000$ budget is more than enough.

Sarah February 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm

My heart dropped when I read this!

-My mortgage in NJ is great at 660
-BUT my health ins premiums are 1100/month, and yes you read that right PREMIUM only
-PSEG (utilies) 170/month and we’re very careful, but it is an old house
-auto ins 240/month for my husband and I (and we have an excellent ticket free driving record)
-Lets not forget 200/month in gas JUST to get to work
-60 for phone and internet, both of which my husband uses for work

To the woman who gets disability, my husband “makes to much” where I live and my health is bad but apparently not bad enough for permanent disability. We both work very hard but my entire income pays for health ins, and we dip into his to pay meds and copays which are high. So forgive me for complaining about hard we WORK each week and how little we see each other, and how we can’t have kids b/c we cant afford to and b/c we cant afford to loose my income. I ended up at this post b/c I was trying to figure out what a 1k/month budget looked like, b/c clearly there are people doing it, just not where I live.
Congrats to those pulling this off! I’m envious.

Lynne February 10, 2013 at 5:54 am

No Cable, No entertainment, where can you get awesome healthcare coverage without the high deductable? usually it is a 10,000 out of pocket deductable even before ins. kicks in. I said goodbye to a 8 year job where my boss was mean, and puffed up. Thank goodness I have a small pension, where I can get by, until I file for disability. My rent is 560.00, car ins. is 150.00-170.00, cell phone, 70.00, food a month, I get vegetarian, rice, beans, soy 100.00. Very tight indeed, and that is without health ins. at the moment. yikes

Stephiethecat February 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

I’ve found that limiting my trips to the doctor and finding alternative cures for things I used to visit the doctor for have lowered my health insurance costs quite a bit. I’m paying less than $100 a month for premiums and take advantage of free health screenings.

Dave March 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I’d rather pay $80 for health insurance and save $120 in a savings account while I’m young than pay $200 a month for health insurance. It’ll be cheaper in the long run. You almost always pay more for insurance than the amount insurance covers.

Staying healthy by eating well and taking care of your body is important. Cooking is cheaper than eating out and healthier. Then there’s strength training and flexibility exercises that improves your health and reduces illness and injuries throughout your entire life. I take various sports multi-vitamins and supplements. Even though they add an extra $20 for the supplements I take, I’ve not gotten sick for years.

Cars are an incredibly expensive thing. I cut my yearly expenses by $3000 average by walking of cycling everywhere I go. Even if it takes more time, I save more hourly by walking than I earn at my job. Some people go to the gym so they can workout by cycling or jobbing on a treadmill. I say just walk, run, or cycle to work or the grocery store instead if you can.

Randy April 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm

While the spirit of this article is genuine, I just don’t feel this budget is realistic. I’m in the Atlanta metro and I can’t think of anywhere one can find an apartment for $375 a month; not that has doors and windows anyway. $30 on “other expenses” for a whole month? The utilities may be doable at that amount but some of the other numbers are just not congruent with my market.

Andy Hough April 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm

The numbers may not be congruent with your market but they are realistic for where I live. The numbers were based on my actual expenses at the time. My current budget is still under $1000 a month.

Randy April 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Thanks, Andy! In the market here, one would need at least two roommates to get a decent place for $375. Glad to know there are still places where expenses are not outrageous (as they are here).

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