Living on 30000 or Less: Raising a Family of 6

Budget Saving Tips on Living on 30000 or Less
Raising a Family of 6 on less than $30,000


6 Tips to living on 30000 or Less

My husband is a disabled Vet, works for minimum wage, and I draw disability due to a heart condition. Until we filed our taxes I thought we were doing pretty well for ourselves. That was until I saw that our total yearly income was only $22,000. This made me think about all of the ways throughout the year we have saved money. I am more than happy to share with all of you some of those ways!

1. Thrift stores and second-hand or barter groups such as “freecycle” on yahoo groups, craigslist, and other local swap, barter, or second-hand groups on Facebook have saved us a LOT! On these sites, we find anything from new shoes and clothes, that simply did not fit, to refurbished electronics and furniture.


2. Coupons, rewards cards, and loyalty cards can sometimes be a lifesaver! My keychain is full of moneysavers! For example, with a Kmart rewards card, you earn store credit for Kmart and Sears for purchases in both stores. There were many times we used those rewards points to score FREE items.

3. Meal costs can be reduced by decreasing the amount of meats and increasing the amount of vegetables or other ingredients in single dish meals. This saves a lot on groceries because one of the highest food items is the meats. EX: instead of 2 lbs hamburger meat with 2 lbs spaghetti noodles and sauce for spaghetti I use 1 lb of hamburger and 2 lbs noodles.

4. Buy in bulk and separated it yourself! This saves on some of the fees associated with the extra packaging. I have found that some items are cheaper by the pound when in bigger packages. We usually use our tax return to get a membership to Sam’s Club.


5. Need to get out and about? SAVE MONEY and HAVE FUN with the family by checking your local city or county’s website for events. Many free events hosted by my city and county have proven to be great ways to spend family time out. Save money on concessions by packing a lunch and drinks if possible. If all else fails, I take the kids to the park! It’s free, they have fun, and we all get out of the house!

Making it with a family of 6 on $22,000 is not easy. It takes work, patience, creativity, and sometimes even a sense of humor, but I wouldn’t want it any other way! I hope our experiences have helped! I am always growing and learning new ways to save! Madame Deals has opened another door of saving to me that I am just beginning to explore. I have just begun to visit other blogs offering coupons and free online codes for stuff. This is all new to me so wish me luck, as I wish you all good luck in your adventures! 🙂

Thanks to Betty P. for this Living on 30000 or Less post!

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Topic: 6 Tips to living on 30000 or Less

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  1. Kevin Martin says

    Great for you! But I can tell that there’s no way you live in an urban area. If you lived in a place like New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, or another relatively large city, you could barely raise a family of 4 on $60K, much less $30K for a family of 6. By the way, just pointing this out, I’m sorry, but you guys are nowhere close to middle class. You are actually living below the poverty line and are lower class. You are also eligible for welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, and various other forms of government assistance. There are too many poor and working class Americans who say they are “middle class” to feel better about themselves. The truth is people tell you the median HOUSEHOLD income to make people accept lower numbers, but look at the median FAMILY income instead. The median dual-income family of four makes about $68K-$72K a year combined income, not this mumbo-jumbo about a $50K HOUSEHOLD income. Households aren’t families, they include married couples, families of three, and even single people. So I’m super-duper glad that you could survive on such a low income, but there’s no way you live in an urban area without government aid.

    • I'm just re-stating what you said says

      As you pointed out Mr. Kevin, the area they live in determines HOW they live.
      And it also determines what the median income will be. Some areas have very high media incomes and some do not. Surely, if you are willing to go as far as saying they live in a SUBURBAN OR RURAL area, outside of a nearby larger urban area, you can agree that you made her point without trying.

    • Amee says

      You are correct living on 30,000 in a city would be difficult but possible. It really depends on what you need and how you live.

    • Mary SAHM to 8 says

      Sorry ,but I have to disagree with you . We are a family of 10 living in Las Vegas ,NV on my husbands one income of $60,000 . It can be done . You just need to set priorities and know the difference between needs and wants .

    • says

      I agree that you must be in a lower cost-of-living area. My property taxes alone are 11K (I live in South NJ), and utilities alone would take up more than half of the remaining income. Yes, you can thrift shop and free cycle and coupon to keep costs down, but my guess is that groceries are equally lower where you are – ie, a gallon of “regular” (non-organic etc) milk is upwards of $5-6 here.

    • Joanna says

      Kevin, I was amused by your comment stating that this family is nowhere near middle class, that they are lower class. Then I realised that maybe the American interpretation of class is based on how much you earn and what size house you own.

      Here it is based on having a certain, style, manner, and ways of doing things.
      I know middle class people and have even heard of upper class people who live on borderline poverty. They do not become ‘lower class’ because of this.
      I have also been to houses of people who regard themselves as middle class because they own a huge house, holiday in Bali, and own a number of expensive cars. Believe me, you can still see the working class roots in the taste of furniture and decorating. Too much money and not enough style.

      There has to be people living in cities who exist on low incomes. I take my hat off to those who, like the family above, are decent hardworking people who refuse to go under because they don’t have a high income.
      As one reader said, take a few of these tips, save your money and do something fun with it or save it for emergencies. Get off the treadmill of keeping up with others, do your own thing, set your own trend.

  2. says

    Love your post! It is not easy to live frugally all the time but I really get a kick out of trying new ways to save money. Rummage sales are my most enjoyable way to get a great deal.

  3. says

    Great post. We know exactly what it’s like because we have a family of 4, but only about a 18,000 income. It’s tight, but it can happen. Thanks for some great ideas 🙂

  4. Kim says

    I agree with all your cost saving ideas, but have to agree with the other comment about this really only being possible depending on where you live. We live near the east coast, but not coastal and our mortgage, taxes, car payment, and utilities surpass the the $22,000 mark alone, and that doesn’t include regular living expenses like food, clothing, etc. We live in a modest 4 bedroom home (only 1,700 sq ft), so it’s not like we live extravagantly in a ridiculously large home. For us to rent a three bedroom apartment in a safe neighbor would only reduce our monthly expenses by a couple hundred dollars.. We don’t even have cable, haven’t had it for years now. I applaud what you have accomplished with what you have, but it just literally cannot be done everywhere.

  5. Angie says

    I love trying to saw money. For those who say you cannot love frugal in big cities or on the coast, that is just what you chose. If it’s too expensive then it’s time to look I to rural areas. We make about $30,000 and have 3 boys. I do get to stay home since both boys are on disability. But even when I work it comes out the same. I can say it’s not always easy, but we manage and yet I’m still able to save a little for the boys savings and our 401k. We look forwards to rummage sales on the weekends. And as much as I cannot afford, I still like to give, I just donated tons of mine, and my kids clothes! Another way to help is to use your tax return to pay off bills. We do that every year. But we also take out a little for fun. I also make money just promoting, using, and talking about pure organic essential oils and products. I cash out about $300-400 every 2 weeks!
    And also healthy coffee, other beverages and products that contain Ganoderma
    There are ways to help bring in a little extra income!

    • angel says

      When you say you make about 30K does that take into account the boys disability benefits..I have a friend whos son gets disablitlity and its enough to pay their rent every month so its a chunk?

  6. says

    Agree with the person above who mentioned urban areas. I live in San Diego and my husband and I have a large income and still fantasize about prices in other areas of the country. There is no way two people here could survive on this here, let alone a family of six. I also wonder about your mortgage? Is it it paid off? With ‘cheap’ rent being $2000 a month in my area, we would sadly be homeless. My father is a veteran and my husband has less than a year left in the military. I’m grateful for their paths and saddened our country doesn’tdo a better of job of looking out for our vets. Does your husband plan to continue his education or go to trade school with his GI bill to better position your family? Good luck to you.

  7. says

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing some excellent ways to help keep living costs down. I’m really not sure why so many people are feeling like they need to say that this can’t be done in all areas of the country. I really don’t think that was your point! You are simply sharing things that have helped YOU live on a low income and they are things that EVERYONE can do. So maybe you do live in SanDiego or DC but if you do the things that the author mentioned you can still cut your costs significantly.

    I’ve also found that a lot about saving has to do with attitude. If you think you can’t save, then you likely won’t because you won’t even be open to new ideas on how to do so. Part of what helps people live comfortably on a low income is the simple fact that they choose to try find ways to save and they are willing to keep learning and finding more things that can help them live less expensively.

    Kudos to you for doing such a great job of living within your means!

    Ps. Our family of 5 also lives on roughly this amount and we live in what many people would consider a higher cost area. Not THE highest, but higher than most parts of the US.

    • says

      I so appreciate this comment and your attitude! I wish more people would try to stay positive when commenting on blogs, and focus on the big picture.

      Of course, every individual or family, even within the same city, have different needs/lifestyles/expenditures and not everything will work for everyone – but we can always learn SOMETHING from other people, if we would just develop a willingness to learn.

  8. Lara Clinton says

    While the cost of living in some areas makes this budget nearly impossible, those areas often tend to have higher paying jobs. Just as a generality. So I think one family’s $30,000 a year is equal to another’s $60,000 a year when the expenses are inflated, and the principles still apply well!

  9. Lisa says

    What are these second-hand groups on Facebook (in the very first point?) Could you please post a link or an idea how to find them? Thank you.

    • Rachelle says

      You can search in the groups tab of Facebook for your area. (Example: Nashville yard sale) and groups should come up 🙂

  10. angel says

    While many of the ideas are good she mentions nothing about the amount of money her hubby gets in disabled vet benefits which for many of us would be substantial amounts/
    \ cash.

  11. Karen says

    Where does your money go?

    From the $22k that you say is made yearly, what amount is paid towards housing, travel, food, clothing, etc, etc.

    • says

      I love these tips for saving money – I think that they can be used no matter WHERE you live, that is so true.
      I would be super curious to know the area this writer is coming from and also details about the cost of living there, to have a comparison for my own budget. For example, I am always stunned to hear people living on $18-25K b/c I am in New England where cost of living is much higher; we’re in a suburban home of 1,800 s.f. and our Mortgage/Prop tax/home ins/car ins/electric/natural gas = $22,430 per year. We still have groceries/gas/clothing/medical and other expenses. We’re pretty frugal and don’t have things like cable, etc. but as a family of 4 I’m doubtful we could live under $30K in our area (and be homeowners)… actually moving to rural areas as one reader suggested generally increases the cost of the home where we are – strange right.

      So every place has their unique set of factors, but again, these tips can be used to help you SAVE money no matter where! 🙂

  12. rachel in ny says

    i don’t understand…what about housing costs? how can you maintain a house and associated upkeep and still pay for everything else? just wondering,as it’s not mentioned here.

  13. Tammy says

    how much do you both get for disability…non-taxable income that you are not including in your annual salary. While the tips are ones everyone can likely use, you didn’t tell the whole story.

  14. Aimee says

    While the the tips are good, this is just a little misleading to the average working family. How do you pay for medical? Housing? Food? Vehicle? Life insurance and just insurance in general? Utilities? At 22000 there would be a lot of government assistance avaialable to you, which is what it is there for…but for families that make enough to not qualify for any of that and need to pay for everything from their working income, living off that much is just not possible.

  15. Rose says

    I think that the writer is BSing here. I live in farmland where it’s cheap, and you can’t find rent for less than $800 per month plus utilities. I have oil heat, which I keep at 62 in the winter. Propane for my hot water, and cooking. I boil water in the microwave to do my dishes, and shower in under 5 min, I move so fast that i’m out of breath when I get out. I boil water in the microwave to put in a pot on my stove so it takes less time to make pasta, and such. Every weekend I sit, and match my coupons to the store ads. I grow all of my own vegies in my 1000ssq ft garden every summer to can or freeze for the coming year, at no cost, I don’t buy seedlings or even seeds, I save all my seeds from the vegies from the year before. the only cost of my garden is my hard work. I don’t have cable tv, I pay $20 per month for internet, so that’s out tv. I don’t own a car, so no , repairs, or car insurance. 80% of our clothes are hand me downs, the rest are from clearance racks. So all of this and I still have a hard time making it on $30.000 per year. So this writer is full of poop.

  16. says

    Just my family of 3 health insurance is a over 900 a month 12000 deductible. My daughters lunch is 100 a month. Taxes 5500 a year +a houset. My utilities are at least 600 a month with out cell and cable. That’s not including food, supplies, car payment,insurance or extras. I could live on 30000 if I had a trailer in the worst part of town had lunch and breakfast paid for my daughter. a car donated to me went to the food pantry got medical card and get utility assistance no cell phone or cable and food stamps. And school fees and sports fees waived. But that’s not living low cost that’s living off everyone else. I already do the other things you stated to keep costs lower. But they could never be that low.

    • Gina says

      My kiddos love shopping at thrift shops. They also know anytime we are in a regular store that we only look at clothes on clearance racks and only buy if the prices are rock bottom. They love the thrill of the hunt to find the best bargains!

  17. Tina says

    There are 6 of us & we have a limited budget, as well. It’s difficult, but not impossible. Thank you for these posts. They are encouraging.

  18. Amy says

    I will say that I do these things that are listed……..but I will also admit that I’m not doing my best at them. And furthermore, I AM spending money here and there like I shouldn’t (2.87 for a couple of drinks (soda and a water)while shopping, pretzels at the mall (what AM I doing at the mall!!!!!) etc.
    We have a family of 3. I am a SAHM mom (again!) We have a 13 year old and feel it is better for all of us if I am home. We do not have family around, nor do we have friends that we would be willing to ask to take on watching my child until I got home from work. We have tried the full time work thing for me 3 times in the past 13 years, and it just works better (except for financially!) if I am home.
    Our biggest expenses are groceries and health insurance. My husband has his own through his job that is around 210.00 just for him!!!!!! per month. Mine and my daughters is bought separately at 441.0 a month. We sat with a broker and trust me, this was the cheapest way to do it. (We are all covered on my husbands dental and vision plans)
    At tis point, we are doing the whole “Should I go back to work?” thing again. We haven’t been on a real vacation in 4 years. We do, however, take advantage of summer savings such as the inexpensive bowling passes that pay for themselves after visits! (we went bowling several times this summer!), but this is just for me and my daughter, my husbands isn’t really interested in bowling. Its very hard for the three of us to find things to do that we ALL like. (don’t get me started on that one!)
    I could go on, and on, and on…….
    I do not want to give into society. Society these days tells you that you have no choice, that you HAVE to have a two income household. Ill admit, we fell for that 3 times since having our daughter. I know its all about finding a balance, but I am having one hell of a time doing that. Thanks for letting me vent……..I fell a little better.

  19. Gina Dunklebarger says

    Thank you for the tips and for sharing your ideas. The point is not that we should or could all live on $30K or less but that everyone can find ways to save money and make better money decisions. If you are wealthy than why not try some frugal tips from this family to save money to donate to those who despite all their hard work are still struggling to get by for reasons we may not understand or know.

  20. Gina Dunklebarger says

    We can all save money and learn to live more frugally no matter where we live. We live in an area with a higher cost of living and cutting expenses such as cable not only saves us money but also forces us to find other things to do instead of watching tv.

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