A $500 a Month Retirement Budget

Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme recently posted an example $500 a month retirement budget.  It is displayed below.

  • Rent $200-250
  • Health insurance $75 (get the cheapest possible and stay healthy!)
  • Food $50-75
  • Transport $0-$75
  • Utilities $25-100

I found this very interesting because I’ve been making over $500 a month in alternative income lately.  If I could get my budget down to $500 a month I could “retire” and live off my alternative income.   Here is one possible budget.

  • Rent $250
  • Health Insurance $70
  • Food $75
  • Transportation $25
  • Utilities $80

It is possible to rent an apartment for $250 in some areas.  I think there are even some place in KC that rent that cheap but I wouldn’t want to live there.  A better alternative is to move to a small town or live with a roommate. The health insurance is what I actually pay now.  The food budget would require a little more self-discipline on my part.  I used to spend about $100 a month on food and if I were to cut out fast food I could get that down to $75 or lower.  The transportation cost is for an occassional bus or giving a friend gas money for a ride.  Ideally I would live somewhere I could walk to most places I needed to go.  The utilities expense of $80 would include a phone.  This amount would vary somewhat but an average of $80 seems easily achievable.

An alternative would be to live in Guatemala (or any low-cost country) for part of the year.  Or to spend several months hiking.  Both would allow me to live on about $300 a month.  A possible budget would be.

  • Rent $100 (if hiking would be for hostels, hotels, showers, etc.)
  • Food $75 (would probably be more while hiking)
  • Health Insurance $70 (this would be the same although I could consider going without in Guatemala since health care is so cheap there.  I wouldn’t want to take the chance of being uninsurable upon a return to the U.S. though.)
  • Miscellaneous $55 (entertainment, postage, gear replacement, transportation, etc.)

The $300 budget would allow me to spend a little extra when visiting the U.S. or not hiking.  Some of the difference would have to go airfare to get to Guatemala or transportation to and from the trailheads but the savings would more than make up for this amount. These budgets might seem a little extreme but based on my experiences living in Guatemala and hiking long distances I’m confident that they are feasible.  I’m planning on doing a $200 a month hike for several months next year.

For now though these budgets are just musings but after I get out of law school they could very well become reality.