My Extremely Minimal Budget (Under $1300)

May 6, 2016

Ever wonder how you can actually live on less money than you make? Do you constantly struggle to save money and quit spending. Or are you just going through a hard time and trying to figure out how to make ends meet? Click through to see how I change our budget from normal comfortable budget to an extremely minimal budget of under $1300 a month!

A few months ago I shared our $1700 monthly budget. I broke down each of our bills and categories for spending and what we usually bought for the budgeted amount each month. It is one of my most popular blog posts to date. (That and my $25 a month budget post!)

I talk about minimal budgeting a lot here no the blog and I actually have a course coming out at the beginning of June where I teach how to create your own minimal budget that is personal to you! I believe that there is no one size fits all budgeting plan and reject that everything has to be done by percentages. So I teach how exactly to find your minimal budget. Part of that has to do with your income, but a lot of it has to do with what your values are, what your situation is, and what your goals or dreams are for the future.

Which brings me to today’s post. My budget has changed since that last post because our situation has changed. The thing is, our goals haven’t. So in order to keep what is important to us (our values) and chase after our dreams/goals, while still working with our situation we had to reassess and minimize our budget even more!  So today I’m breaking down my even more extremely minimal budget.

Let’s do it!

My Extremely Minimal Budget (Under $1300)

Rent $625

This hasn’t changed but we have continued to grow more and more thankful for our little home we’ve found in this one bedroom apartment. We are dreaming of houses but if I had to choose one place to live while we dream, it would be here.

Note: A lot of people in my other post have said that they could never find an apartment for $625 and therefore this budget is “unrealistic for most people”. While I 100% agree finding cheap rent is like searching for a specific book in a thrift store, it’s not impossible. It’s going to take time, patience, sacrifice (the cheaper ones aren’t always as nice as the more expensive ones), and a lot of open mindedness to find a home you can afford and that works for your situation. I’d just encourage you to not see that number and think, “Oh, well she can live minimally because her rent is low.” That is just one of the ways I’ve been able to live minimally, not the only way. If you really want this life you can find your own “low” or “minimal” and make your situation work! :)

Cell Phone $100

We didn’t make any changes to our phone plan but our plan decided to give us an extra 1MB of data every month without any extra cost so that was a nice surprise!

Internet $23.94

We actually just called into Century Link to see if they had any promotions going on and were able to get our bill down to less than half! We also were able to up our speed to the maximum they have and the price didn’t change!  It never hurts to ask guys! Always see if there are promotions going on, any sales you don’t know about, or reward programs you can be apart of! It’s always worth just asking!

Car Insurance $74.15

We haven’t had an accident so our bill has actually lowered without us even doing anything. (Well besides not getting in an accident.) It isn’t a huge difference by any means (a couple bucks maybe), but by now you should realize living minimally means every little bit helps!

Electric $100

It’s summer so that means are bill is going down. (Can I get an Amen!?) But we still budget $100 every month for this bill just to always be on the safe side. Plus it makes up for the months that go over $100 come winter.

Groceries/Eating Out $200

One big change we’ve made is to make our groceries and eating out budget one amount and that amount lower! We decided in order to really minimize our spending we’d try and bring our food amount down. It actually has gone better than expected and at the end of April we had $6 left over! We’ve cut out a lot of bulk buying and instead buy only what we need. We still go out to eat but keep it to a minimal. (If you want to read how we go out to eat for under $20 I wrote about it here!)

Household Items $30

I’ve kept the budgeted amount of $30 for household supplies but I’m essentially not buying something if we really don’t need it! I’ve had money left over because of this almost every month.

Gas $100

We still have gas “budgeted” the same, but truth is we are under every month. One of the reasons we are doing this majorly minimal budget is because Greg and I are both pursuing work from home/flexible schedule jobs. This means we really don’t drive nearly as much as we did. We each fill up maybe twice a month on our cars and we get really good gas milage which helps keep this amount low!

Gifts $25

$25 is our base amount but we also talked and knew that gifts wouldn’t be under that amount in the months coming up. We are both in weddings coming up and have a lot of showers, parties, and birthdays that we have had to buy gifts for. So we mostly just focus on finding a great gift for someone at a cheap price we can afford. I do a lot of homemade gifts, or home decor signs for $10 or $5. Things like that are really nice to receive but don’t break the giver’s bank!

Dates, Entertainment, Lydia’s whatever fund, & Greg’s whatever fund $0

We made the decision that while we are pursuing these other things that are important to us, we would cut out what wasn’t when compared. So we cut any extra spending money which for us was the entertainment fund, date fund, and each of our $25 amount budgets. All of that together cut us almost $100 which was worth it to us at this season of life. I’m now using up all those gift cards I save for “a rainy day” if I want to get something for myself!

Giving 10% of whatever income we make

We base our giving at 10% of our income for the month. So at the end of every month we calculate our total income and take 10% out. We also sponsor a child for about $30 but that just comes out of our savings usually and isn’t part of the 10% or our budget itself really. We believe giving back is really an investment in our future and placing faith that God will provide as long as we are 100% trusting in Him with our money. I share this not to toot my own horn but to show you that even if you are living minimally you always have a little something to give back to people with. :)


That total comes to $1,278.09 cost of living.

It’s definitely more minimally than the way we were living but really I don’t feel too much of a difference. The most I notice is that I really want to go thrifting and I don’t have any giftcards to thrift stores. I do however have a little coin jar that is labeled my “Goodwill Fund” so I’ve definitely dug into that a few times over the weeks.

My point is, even though it may seem crazy, undoable, or just not fun, really it’s not bad at all. We spend our days together, hanging out with friends, and working on our dreams and goals. Right now that is what is most important to us, so really we feel like we are living the life!

I hope this encourages you in some way to know it’s not impossible to live minimally and it doesn’t make your life any “less” than others or boring!  I wish you the best of luck in your finances! :)

If you want to learn more about how to be a minimal spender make sure to sign up for my free Minimal Spending course below!


Minimal Spending Free Course

26 thoughts on “My Extremely Minimal Budget (Under $1300)

  1. Anders

    Hello Lydia!

    It’s great to read people’s actual numbers in their budget, partly because I love comparing how other people think and budget.

    We’ve always had a rather minimal budget ourselves that started back when we were in university. Money wasn’t exactly an abundant resource back then. And since then, we’ve tried to keep a strict and minimal budget to avoid to let lifestyle inflation make us spend more.

    I just recently went over the budget again, adjusting for some stuff and tightening the budget in some areas. We have a bills category that was starting to get very close to being broken. I compared some prices online and then I picked up the phone and called our car insurance company. The insurance was about to increase with about 7% this year, but since I had done some research and found cheaper companies which I told our company about, they cut off about 9% on our current price – without this years increase. That research and phonecall saves us an equivalent of about $50 a year, for about 30 minutes work.

    We’ve also cut down on our trips to thirft stores and yard sales to keep within the budget, and I miss it too Lydia. I just love going to these kinds of stores to try to dig up some treasures. Actually, last month I “fell off the wagon” and went in to a store and found a great leather jacket for about $3.

    Have a great day, and thanks again for sharing Lydia! :)

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      I love this! Yes it is crazy how a little effort can save you some hard solid cash! Thrifting is so much fun and even though you “fell off the wagon” congrats on finding a deal at $3! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. MommyMo

    I’m a little late to the party, but I just found your post through Pinterest and saw in the comments about how saving some for categories like medical expenses each month hasn’t worked for you. So I thought it’d share what works for me. I have been using a program called YNAB (You Need a Budget) for about 8 months now and it is the first time in my life that I’ve been able to actually stick to a budget and it helps me keep track of what I have saved in various categories (withiut needing multiple acciunts)and helps me budget only what I’ve actually brought in so I have a full picture of where we’re at. In the months that I’ve been using YNAB we’ve gone through the birth of our third child, two months of hubby not having income (he’s a teacher – not paid over the summer), two trips to the ER when I became severely dehydrated, multiple emergency repairs to things that my beautiful children have messed up in our rented house (hot pink acrylic paint on tan carpet anyone?); and we’ve actually made progress in paying off old debts instead of putting them in credit cards as we might have done previously when we just couldn’t figure out how to get a budget from a spreadsheet to real life.

    I’m glad I found this, I will use out as an encouragement to look for areas where we can streamline our expenditures, thank you!

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      Those are great tips! It’s not that we can’t help to spend the money we try to set aside, it’s that trying to set aside for every category became complicated for us. Instead we put all our savings into one account and take from there when necessary. :) I’m so glad your finding success though despite the carpet. ;) Also, congrats on the new member of your family! :)

  3. Melanie

    Great article. One place I see you can possibly save more would be cell phone. Have you looked into cricket, republic wireless or google fi? Great cheap options. I have a family plan so only pay $36 a month, but have lots of friends that use cricket for $25 (per line) a month. I think republic wireless offers unlimited talk text and data.

  4. Sam

    Rent also depends on your location. Mine is currently 450 for a one floor house. Two bedrooms, full kitchen, laundry room with washer and dryer, full bath and a garage. If I opted out of the garage then it would be 400. I live in rural Ohio ;) I would love to move to a larger town but it would cost way more.

  5. Katie

    This minimal budget isn’t impossible. We moved back to our small town to raise our son near family and we purchase a house under our means and our month payment (includes principle, interest, PMI, taxes and insurance) is $522. We live under $2000 a month right now as well and it takes a gear shift, but it’s not difficult. I honestly love minimizing the cost and number of bills more than having a lot of things!

    1. Lydia Lois Post author


      I couldn’t agree more! That is awesome you found a house under your means and have kept all your bills low as well! I think it is worth so much more to have more time and money than just having more things. It’s just not the same.. :) Thanks for echoing my thoughts and beliefs!

  6. kay

    Just a quick note: my rent is $625/month for a one-bedroom apartment in a middle/upper-class neighborhood. The savings are out there, but only if you’re willing to put in the extra effort of researching a bit longer. :)

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      Kay! That is awesome and I couldn’t agree more! There might be some compromises you have to make or like you said, more work before you find it, but they are out there!

    2. Martine

      I live in New York suburb where one bedroom apt cost $ 1000-1500 . The cheaper house to buy cost $300000. I could try to cut down .in new York you must have a roof over you head

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      Janie! Great question! Right now with our income as low as it is we qualify for free health coverage. Any doctor bills, prescriptions or other similar appointments are taken right out of our savings. The way we plan it is that we are already saving so much money by living minimally that when certain things come up that we deem important enough we take it out of savings and have enough to go around. Some people have success setting aside money every month for each of those categories but that has never worked for us so we continue to do it this way! :)

  7. Leah

    Hi Lydia! Great post. I also commented on your post about your $1700 budget, noting that even though my rent is 3x as much as yours because of where I live, I still was able to relate to it because I really thought the post was more about budgeting and minimal living than exactly how much to spend on each item. I just want to point out here, where you say that others have commented that they can’t save as much as you because their rent is more expensive, that an important factor to remember is that income is often a ratio to rent. So, those living in places with much higher priced rent (like me) also need to remember that the salaries in these places is also usually higher. I would LOVE to pay much less for rent, but need to remind myself that everything is relative and no situations are ever the exact same, and that’s not what budgeting is about. I think you do a great job of writing in a relatable way for people of all incomes, it was just something I wanted to point out :).

    – Leah from

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      Leah, I totally agree and I’m glad you said that as well! Everything is personal and unique to your situation. I definitely do not write these posts to say, “Hey just copy my budget and you’ll save money!” I’m well aware that everyone is different and a one size fits all budget just doesn’t work and I totally get that! It’s all about finding what works for you and what is going to make you the most successful for whatever goals or dreams you have!


    I have been on a 4 month budgeting kick. So I’ve been paying very close attention to my spending. After looking this over, I have just a couple of questions! What about health insurance, prescriptions, utilities and car maintenance (not gas)?

    1. Lydia Lois Post author


      Great question! Since I budget so low and save a lot in the process any of those extra things come out of our savings (Car maintenance, prescriptions.) Utilities is budgeted into that $1300 already unless you are talking about sewer, water & garbage, in that case those are within our rent. Right now we are qualifying for free health insurance since our income is pretty low. However in the past if doctor bills come up we pay again out of our savings for those things.

      Some people budget all year for these specific different things which can work for them, we however just put all of our savings into one big account and take from that when we both see it necessary. Does that answer your question? :)

  9. Becca

    I love your blog. Such great stuff on small budgets and twenty-something living! It’s needed. Most budget blogs are geared toward middle class families. I love the content here!

  10. Katelin

    Wow! It’s interesting to see how a budget actually works out for other families! Our household supplies is comparable to yours, but we also have a pet budget for our fours cats. Between their food, litter, vet bills, and occasional toys and treats, they can be a bit expensive. We sure love them, though, so the extra expense is worth it for us.

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      Oh absolutely! My husband and I are dreaming of owning a house so we can own a dog! Once we do they will be for sure added into the budget! :)

  11. jessica

    I love that you added a tithe to your budget. It’s important and I believe God will bless you for your faithfulness! Thanks for this post–I’m living on a minimal budget as well, and it’s a nice reminder that a tiny budget is doable and can be fun! :)

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      I totally agree! Just because you spend less money doesn’t mean you have less of a life! I 100% think that giving is an investment in your finances giving control of your finances to God knowing He will provide! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  12. Luz

    Due to babysitter cost we would not be able to stay in this budget but this is still helpful and I would love trying to incorporate my own ideas to this.

    1. Lydia Lois Post author

      Luz! Exactly! I do this not to say everyone should copy it but to take ideas from it! I’ve found it helpful to look how other people do things and then incorporate what works for me! Especially with money I feel like everything is very hush hush, so I like to put everything out in the open! :)


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