Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: How My Family Lives Well on $14,000/year

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How My Family Lives Well on $14,000/year - Blissful and Domestic
 This is a repost. This posts was originally published over a year ago, but it has continued to gain interest from readers. I decided to repost, in case anyone missed out on it the first time.

 I get lost of emails everyday. These e-mails are from readers, friends, and family. I love getting them. I love taking the time to answer them all. It may take me a while, but I do try. Answering those e-mails and reading all your sweet comment helps me to know my readers. I get to have a better feel of what you all love about my blog, so then I can deliver more of those things. Lately I have been asked how I do the things I do. How do I home school, keep a clean house (try to at least), spend time with my hubby, and all those things that is required of me. Most days I have no clue how I do it. I end the day, lay in bed, and become amazed at all I was able to accomplish in those 18 hours or so I was awake. Well I have tried to simply answer those questions with a bit of humor and truth in e-mails, but always kind of felt I should do more.

I honestly do a lot in one day. There are so many things in my life I feel I want to share, but honestly don't have enough hours in the day to share it. Well this past week I received a bit of inspiration from the Hubbs. He gave me the answer I had been searching for. I wanted to share more about being a wife, Mom, and woman, but wasn't sure what to do. Let me tell you a story to explain how the idea for the How Does She series came to life....

Hubby likes to look at my blog stats every once in a while. He goes through my stats and reads my posts. He then tells me his thoughts. Recently he was browsing B and D and told me that I had become a crafting robot.

 insert hubby saying I am a crafting robot
 (in a robot voice I might add),
while doing full on robot movements.

He told me I should include, and this is a direct quote, "some of that Mom crap". I said "really Mom crap?" He replied "Yeah you know that stuff you love to read about. Include that in your blog. Let them know how you do what you do. I bet they would love it". So there you have it. Very eloquently put right? Yeah be jealous of his mad verbal skills. I know I am! Later that night How Does She came to my mind and I knew I had a new series to have on Blissful and Domestic. I have lots of ideas for posts and am very excited to get started. I want these to be very informative post, so get ready for some inspiration. My cup has runeth over here and I am ready to share.

Today I am going to tell you how my family of four lives well on $14,000/year. Oh yes ladies and gents you did not read wrong. I am 100% serious. My family of 4 lives on about $14,000 a year. We are not in debt, and own our home and both our cars. Want to know how we do this all and still save money? Well I am going to share some tips that have helped us along the way. I promise that if you just try some of these tips and tricks I will share today, you will notice a HUGE, GIGANTIC, TREMENDOUS difference in your spending habits and the balance in your checking account will no longer create stressed frown lines. You will be filled with nothing, but smiles knowing you are doing alright in the finance department. - Blissful and Domestic

First off I have to say we were not always savvy with money.
We were pretty smart Hubby was smart with money. His parents had taught him well. My poor hubby had no idea what hit him when he married a woman who was absolutely NOT savvy with money. I had never had to pay a bill before. I had quite a learning curve to catch up on. We got by, on a military salary and were doing ok. We lived pay check to pay check, but still put a little bit away for a rainy day. We had no credit cards.

Rush forward a few years. Hubby was serving a second deployment in Iraq. I had a horrible time taking over the finances. I would cry everyday on the phone to him. I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep track of everything. Bills were constantly late and I would over draft our account like nobody's business. This was seriously the worst ever. Hubby would call from Iraq everyday to find out what was going on with the finances. It was bad. I went shopping to give me something to do with my littles. Target and I were BFF's. Their clearance section and I were even tighter. I would tell myself it was on sale or marked down, so really I was saving money. BIG FAT WRONG! Just cause it is on sale, does not mean you need it.

Finally that sweet hubby of mine had a very serious conversation with me. He asked me if I wanted to buy a house someday, which I did. He reminded me of our goal to pay cash for a house. The way things were going, it wasn't going to happen. He told me he understood I was sad, but shopping was not the way to deal with him being gone. He told me about a book he had heard of. He really wanted me to read it. It was called  America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams . I requested it from the library and when it came I read it cover to cover. I can honestly say that next to the Bible and Book of Mormon, no other book has made such an impact on my life. It taught so many things I had not learned in my 25 years (at the time).

This book gives amazing examples of how the Economides family lived on less and always within their means. Below are the simple changes we have made over the years since that day so many years ago. Today I am going to share how we changed our lives by living within our means. I promise that if you incorporate some of these tips, into your life, your family will be happier and less stressful. Your marriage will be better. Remember the things couple fight most about is finances. Why not do yourself a favor and get it together. Less stress in a marriage means it is a happier one. I know mine surely is! - Blissful and Domestic

Oh my heck this is the.most.important.ever! Set a budget. If you are married, sit down with your spouse and do it together. It should be something you both take part in. If you are single, then make one with just yourself. Literally make a list of every bill you pay in a month. Electric, water, gas, trash, cable, groceries, gas for the cars, insurance,  etc. These are all bills that need to be budgeted.

Do not include "extra" things like dates, movie trips, shopping trips, etc. 
These are not necessities. These I will talk about in another section.

Now once you add up all of your bills for the month, compare it to the amount of money you have coming in each month. This will tell you right away if you have enough money to cover the basics of life. Again trips to Target and Dates are not things you need to live. They are bonuses if you have money. DO NOT include them in this area.

Now if you have money left over, then you have a little play room. Budget in a date night or family night. Everything must be budgeted. From family outings, to toiletries to clothes purchases.It must be budgeted.That is key folks. Remember all those trips to McDonald's add up. If they are not in your budget, than you do not have money for it.

If you do not have money left after comparing your bills to your income, then you need to reevaluate your spending. Do you really have to have cable TV? Can you do a lesser insurance on the car to save money? These are all things you can do to save money. The main thing is to set a budget and stick to it. - Blissful and Domestic
 Just because cable sounds fun, doesn't mean you need it. Do you really watch all those channels you currently are paying for each month? Most people spend over $100 for cable TV and for the Internet. Yes most cable companies do a little package deal and say you are saving money, but remember it is NOT saving money if you do not use it. We do not have cable. We have a small antenna to pick up basic channels for free, like FOX and PBS. For all of our other viewing needs we use Netflix - Blissful and Domestic

They have a good selection of plans, starting as low as $7.99 per month, with no contracts. You can cancel or put your account on hold any time you want. You can even try them out for free! We pay about $14.99 per month and get one movie out at a time and unlimited viewing on our PSP. They have a separate kids section full of current TV shows. Wizards of Waverly Place, ANT Farm, Yo Gabba Gabba....and The Office, Burn Notice, Downton Abbey, Vampire Diaries, Army Wives, etc for the hubbs and me.. Seriously they have everything. We are able to find things from every genre and ratings for movies and TV shows are all listed for us. They are also always adding new titles. We never have a problem finding something to watch and enjoy together as a family or a couple. Saving money on your cable was essential. Remember why pay for something you don't use and only have to channel surf on? Not worth it folks!  
We do have Internet through our cable provider 
and only pay about $55 per month. - Blissful and Domestic - Blissful and Domestic

Paying cash for everything means you will spend less.
Going grocery shopping with a debit or credit card can sometimes make you feel like it is ok if you go over your budget a little bit. No worries you have your card right? - Blissful and Domestic
When you use cash you have to stay within your set budget because that is all you have the dinero to pay for. I do this when I go grocery shopping. We budget $400 per month. This is $300 for normal groceries and we use the extra $100 to stock up on sales and food storage. Once that $400 is gone..... it is gone. There are no extra shopping trips made because there is no more money. I make every single penny count when I go grocery shopping. I also shop once a month, which makes a HUGE difference. The more you go to the store in a month, the more you will spend. Way to many trips for impulse purchases, which can add up real fast. You can see more tips and tricks on how I grocery shop here. - Blissful and Domestic
I was not always a thrifty shopper, but I have learned. We find so many amazing things at thrift stores. Most of my home has been bought at thrift stores. I love to find clothes for my whole family there. I can usually find name brand things for my whole family! We love it!! I actually give my kids money and tell them to pick out their own shirts. My son loves it! His shirts are only $1, so he gets to pick out a bunch for each school year. We have found Hurley, Quicksilver brands, just to name a few at thrift stores. Once you start thrifting, you can't stop. My children grow so fast. Thrifting helps us stay within our budget. Remember that B word is key to the whole enchilada. Set a budget and stay within it. I also make a ton of our clothes. You can check out my sewing tutorials here for more tips and tricks.

We also purchased our rice cooker and bread maker at a thrift store for $7 each. They are both going strong and saving us money. Home baked bread is the best! Here are some recipes. - Blissful and Domestic
For real folks! Going homemade has saved us tons and tons of money. From clothes to food. We go homemade as much as we can. We make our own laundry detergent and green cleaners. They work great and are way cheaper than the store bought stuff. I make our own bread, cook meals at home each night. - Blissful and Domestic

You can find some yummy, simple, quick recipes here. I also have ready made mixes I use as well. I either make or thrift our clothes. We do the same with furniture or "things" for our house. If it isn't made by me or thrifted, we don't have it. - Blissful and Domestic - Blissful and Domestic

Gas is crazy expensive right now! Well really has been for the past few years and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. We watch our miles. We only fill our tanks up no more than twice a month. We shoot for once a month. We combine errands when we go out, so we aren't wasting our gas. We also limit our across town trips. When we visit family in another city, we make the most out of it. We know we don't get to drive and visit family often, so when we do we cherish it. We don't go just for an hour, we stay and visit and even run errands that may be close to where we have family. We try to remember that when the gas is is gone. We really think about places we need to travel in the month and factor that into how much gas we have left. Trips for fun things that may take up a lot of gas, are spaced out. Moderation is the key. Really think about what you are using your gas on. Is it really worth it? Also check your tire pressure. When tires are filled correctly, you can make your tank go further for you. - Blissful and Domestic - Blissful and Domestic

Say no to charging it. 
 This is such a biggie folks! Our Philosophy, when it comes to credit cards, is that they should be for emergencies. They are there when you need them. If you do have to use them, pay them off as soon as you can. Don't let that interest build up, if it doesn't have too. I know some people use credit cards to build credit. I totally understand this.We did that in the beginning of our marriage, but we paid everything off each month. If you don't have the cash to pay for that shirt or dinner date, than you shouldn't be charging it. Make sense?

Do you have credit card debt now? Well you can totally get out of it. Every summer our credit cards are used. Hubby is a full-time student, so in the summer things are tight. We use our 2 credit cards for bills and then pay it off as soon as possible. We add our credit card payments into our budget and keep it there until it is paid off. Budget in a payment for your credit cards each month. If you get a little extra money during the month, pay off those cards. Keep paying them down.Eventually you will pay it off and have a little extra money each month to play with. This is the best!

Once you have paid off your credit card, keep it clear. If you have a hard time controlling yourself around that plastic beauty, then leave it home. Don't allow yourself to carry it. Take some control over your fiances. I personally couldn't handle a credit card when we first got married. When that baby got in my hands, I would suddenly have the need to spend. Eventually I cut it up and told my hubby I couldn't handle it. I had to admit I had a problem and deal with it. Now I still do not hold a credit card. I prefer to let hubby have them. I can control myself, but hate the temptation. I leave my cards at home. I know I have ti if something happened, but I don't allow myself to carry it in my wallet. Know your limits folks. - Blissful and Domestic
Take an interest in your family and their finances. Want to make things better? Research. I research all the time. Knowledge is power! I google, blog, read, etc. The library has an amazing selection of books on everything. Finances, cooking, sewing, decorating on a budget, etc. So much you can learn here. I am always interested in how people save money. I ask my friends, search through blogs, etc. There is so much stuff out there. So many tips and tricks to learn. Don't stop searching for ways that will helps your family this year. It may seem like work at first, but I promise it will become second nature to you. - Blissful and Domestic
Set goals! My hubby and I always set goals together. Our dream was to pay cash for a house and we did it. We bought our house for $30,000 and paid cash. It took us 7 years to save it, but oh boy was it worth it!

When we bought our cars we also had to go into debt, but paid them off as soon as we could.
My hubby came into the marriage with his truck. He still owed $8,000. Once we had the money, we paid it off. Now we own it and that cars is still running great. Four years ago we bought a van. We had saved $10,000 for the down payment. We paid that and then 1 year later we had paid off the $12,000 left on it. We set a goal to pay it off and did it! It felt great! (we did all this before he got out of the military and when my hubby actually had an income. Now that income is gone. We are down to $14,000. We are able to make it on that income work for us because we paid off the cars years ago when we actually had money. Make sense?)
We always talk about our future. We make plans and dream together. This is such a fun part of our relationship now. We love fixing up our house together and thinking of the next project we want top start and save up for. It may take longer, but I have the patience for it. Set a Goal with your hubby and decided where you want to be financially this year, next year, 5 years from now. Write the goals down and talk of them often. This is a great way to see if you are own the right track to achieving that goal. - Blissful and Domestic
Enough said right? It is though! Decide today how you want to live. Make the choice now and commit. We committed to a thrifty lifestyle and we stuck with it and have been so blessed for it. Don't try to do every tip I shared with you here right away. Baby steps. Think of a baby...Would you feed a baby steak? No, of course not. You start with milk, then oatmeal, then soft food. You move up to steak. This is the same way. Pick something simple. Decide you will not charge anything this month, or you will stick to a grocery budget. I promise that those small changes will make a HUGE impact on your budget and finances. Decide now how you want to live and do it! I promise you will be a happier person when you are free from the strains money can cause.

I hope these tips and tricks help you all see how my family survives and lives happily on $14,000 a year. Ready to start saving too? Check out my step by step post HERE. - Blissful and Domestic 

XO Danielle

Find more money saving tips and tricks in my new book

Living a Beautiful Life on Less

Find it on Amazon today!



  1. I think you were relinked again on the main page of Yahoo about a week ago. I still think it's impressive you manage to do this!


  2. Great tips!! Look forward to your series.

  3. I have read and re-read this post and love the truthfulness in it. Do you happen to have a budget example you can share? I think the idea of budgeting is simple, but it's the numbers and keeping those grocery amounts down!

  4. This is amazing! We are on this journey!
    We live in Juneau, Alaska. Cost of living is double here what it is in the lower 48. We have struggled, but are bugeting and trying our best.
    You are an inspiration!
    We Three Crabs

  5. great tips. We too like erica have copletely differnt costs becasue of where we live. We live in New Zealand. The prices of everything is so high that living with a family of 4 on $14,000 a year wouldn't even cover rent on the house in the poorest part of the country. In Auckland at the moment just rentin the cheap areaswould be $20,000 a year. Even if we budget really tightly the cheapest we could live would be $35,000 (average income here) a year. (rent, petrol, groceries, phone and power: nothing else!........I mean nothing at all) You guys are so lucky to be able to live this cheaply. A lot of couples both have to work to just survive. You have given great tips which we use all the time. well done on a great article.

    1. I just wanted to clarify- Have just read our average income (in NZ) has raised up to $46,000 but I had forgot some essential basics of water metering, legal car requirements (ie warrent of fitnesses on vehicles) compulory school costs (in all schools). SORRY!

    2. Sorry Dannielle :) the average is $38,000 I read it wrong. Sigh it has been a stressfull day.

  6. Great tips! My husband and I moved to Korea to pay off our combined $50,000 student loans... and we're almost there three years later. No car, no rent, and cheap food is the way to go!

    I also recommend the budgeting app GoodBudget. It's helped both me and my hubs to be on the same page with spending whether we use cash or debit card. It tracks how far you are in the month of your budget and if you're ahead or behind. This has worked better than cash for us because it was hard for us to remember which envelope the cash came from. On the phone app or website though, it's all organized for you. For free! :D

  7. What great tips! It is a struggle to cut back, but oh so worth it when you are able to meet goals! Trying to get my husband on the same page is hard, but we are going in the right direction!


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