My husband and I make 40-50K a year most years, and some years have been under 30K, though one year we made 150K about 6 years ago. But, in my opinion, we actually live pretty well, and even go out to visit the so-called tourist spots or a nice meal out once or twice a month. We go out of town 3-4 times a year, and try to take a long distance trip once every 4-5 years, at least for one of us.
How do we do it?
No debt, especially no credit card debt. The only credit cards we use are the prepaid ones, which you have to put funds on it to use it, meaning you’re spending money you DO have.
NOT owning a home, especially with the crazy real estate prices in Toronto. This makes it easy to move if we ever need to, plus according to a recent article in a magazine, the neighbourhood we are in was one of the top 10 out of 140. Plus most apartment buildings have far more space than condos for the same rental or mortgage payment, plus with condo apartments, the maitenance fees can be almost another mortgage payment. Not only that, but a rental is more likely to be close to malls, libraries, and grocery stores compared to a typical house You also have to buy stuff to fill your home, especially if you own a large home.
Not owning a car, meaning no insurance, parking, gas, among other expenses–public transit and the occasional taxi are much cheaper, we get around by buying one pass and sharing it, and if we both need to travel together or at the same time, get some tokens for the month.
Living in an affordable but safe area for about half the average rent in Toronto.
Having no internet at home or prepaid internet.
Using prepaid phones with no contract. Even if you lost the phone, you wouldn’t be stuck with the monthly bills. And it’s easy to control your costs of calling and texting by knowing how much you have to spend on your phone in advance. And some carriers really overcharge on monthly plans.
Not having cable or satellite TV, especially not with one of the big carriers, known for ripping people off.
Signing up for a couple of large-scale loyalty programs which you don’t need a credit card for which we would use the rewards at least 3-4 times a year, for free groceries for example.
Using the library to borrow books and videos, often to try before you buy, and often we’ve found we were glad we didn’t buy the book or movie!
Not buying the latest technology, and using our computers until either the computer dies, or the games or other programs we use or things we create can’t run on our computers. Sometimes when our hard drive runs out of space. Heck, we don’t own any tablet computers, and don’t plan on buying one, and we didn’t even get a new TV until a few months ago after my husband’s 30 year old TV died! And we didn’t buy a very large or expensive TV, but one that was reasonably priced but well-rated.
Buying high end items at thrift shops. Especially high end clothes and sometimes furniture, almost two years ago my husband and I got a La-z-boy couch that is normally about $1200 for $90 INCLUDING delivery!
Stocking up on important non-perishable grocery items ONLY when they are on a significant discount from the regular price.
Using dollar/discount stores to purchase basic home decor, kitchen, and cleaning stuff. Otherwise, you pay 3-10x more in a department or specialty store, plus often you’ll find the name brand stuff at the dollar stores, especially the large chains. They are also good for stocking up on snacks when you go on a trip.