How to Survive on $12,000 A Year

Could you live on $12,000 a year? At age 48? That’s what student and writer Donna Friedman is going to do, and she details how. From Lifehacker:

Granted, the $12,000 living income is wholly unrealistic for some cities (she’s only paying $525/month in rent), but the idea remains worthwhile: whether you’ve set up some aggressive savings goals or you’re just completely strapped for cash, Freedman’s tips offer a number of ways you can cut back on your living expenses if you’re motivated.

At the very least, Donna’s plan could put things in perspective for spendthrifts out there. Then there are those of us tightwads who’ll read it find ourselves saying, “Yeah, I do that!”

Some Highlights:

It’s not what I have, but how much of it I can keep. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, every dollar I don’t spend is a dollar I have earned. So when I think I need something, I ask, “Can I do without this?” Often I find I can. If I can’t, then my next question is . . .

How can I get it free, or almost free? The obvious answers are sites like and thrift shops, especially ones like Value Village that offer coupons and half-off sales. My 99-cent clock-radio wakes me up every morning just as efficiently as a high-tech alarm from The Sharper Image. Rummage sales are swell, too; my church has an annual sale called “Superfluity” (I love that name) at which I bought my desk for $4 and a small chest of drawers for $1.

Every day is casual Friday!
When my jeans are in tatters I buy a “new” pair at Value Village (one pair cost me just $1.63, and it was new — still had the department-store tags on it). I spend $15 or less on running shoes from clearance tables. I’ve bought a couple of thrift-store tops, but mostly get by with shirts I’ve had for ages. (Hint: The clothes dryer takes years off the life of your duds. Get a drying rack.)

Drying racks and thrift stores are awesome!—MEGHANN MARCO

Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year [MSN Money via Lifehacker]