How Little Can You Live On In 2022? - Money Under 30 (2023)

By cutting out most (or all) of your wants and sticking to a very tight budget, you could live off of less than $1,000 a month. Here's three examples of how (and where) you have to live to do it.

Whether you call it frugality, minimalism, or just being broke, a lot of people are desperately looking for ways to live on the least amount of money possible. Whether they want to save for the future or pay off current debts, there is really no bad reason to want to reduce spending. And it can be done!

We decided to take a look at just a few radical examples of frugal living to try and figure out just how little a person can live on in 2022.

What’s Ahead:

Example #1: Young, healthy, 20-something individual living in NYC

Apartment

Since it’s practically impossible to live in a city by yourself for really cheap (and still feel relatively safe), I’m going to say this person lives with two other roommates.

In NYC, a three-bedroom apartment costs (based on my extensive searches on Zillow, apartments.com, and Trulia) around $1,600-$1,800 without utilities. Including utilities, I’ll round up to each person paying $800-$900 a month (and that’s still for a pretty small place).

Now, if everyone wanted to spend as little as possible, this means there wouldn’t be internet or cable in the apartment. Each person would have to settle for coffee shop or library Wi-Fi.

Total so far: about $900

Phone service

Luckily, I’m basing this in NYC so there’s access to nearly every kind of pay-as-you-go cell phone service out there. It’s nearlyimpossible to operate without a phone, so a basic phone plan is the cheapest option.

TPO Mobile offers a 1GB, unlimited talk and text plan for just $21 a month (with auto-pay)—that’s a pretty basic plan. The 2GB plan goes up to $25 and 3GBs goes up to $35 a month.

Total so far: $921

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Public transportation

Since this individual lives in NYC, it’s likely they don’t have a car. Which is probably for the best, because driving in the city sucks and parking costs are astronomical.

So they wouldeither take the bus or ride the subway, with a 30-day unlimited pass for $121.

Total so far: $1,042

Food

If you avoid going out frequently (which, yes, I know if highly unlikely for the 20-something individual I’m using as an example), you can eat fairly cheaply.

I know people who live off of $35 worth of food a week ($140 a month). It’s not the most comfortable thing to do, and you wouldn’t beeating much besides pasta, chicken, and some frozen vegetables, but it’ll keep you fed and relatively healthy.

Food costs can vary depending on where you shop—so this individual would have to stick to larger grocery stores. AvoidingWhole Foodswould also be a must.

Total so far: $1,182

Student loan

For this example, let’s assume this individual doesn’t have a student loan. This is highly unlikely if this person went to college, but let’s make this imaginary person’slife a little easier by granting them the luxury of no college debt.

All other factors

So far, the total cost of living in New York City with a bunch of roommates, no car, and a very low food bill is just $1,182. That’s pretty cheap. But, since life isn’t that simple, there are a lot of other factors to consider as well.

They include clothing, health bills not covered by insurance, a couple nights out on the town (because realistically you’re not going to stay holed-up in your apartment all the time), and a handful of other situations it would take too long to mention.

Example #2: Young, healthy, 20-something individual living outside a city in Holyoke, MA

Since not all people enjoy living in the city (or can afford it), let’s take a look at what living outside of a major city would cost the same 20-something, single, healthy person.

I’m using Holyoke, Massachusetts, because it’s right outside of cities like Springfield and Chicopee, and is a short distance from five colleges.

Apartment

Since apartments are cheaper in more rural areas, I’ll do an example of a person who lives with a roommate, versus the cost of a one-bedroom apartment.

According to the online real estate databases I mentioned earlier, a two-bedroom apartment in Holyokeranges between $1,000 and $1,300. So a person would likely not pay more than $650 a month with a roommate.

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Total so far: $650

Phone service

Holyoke is still considered a city, but I went to college in the area and can tell you, that’s pushing it. That being said, there aren’t as many phone service options.

Verizon’s most basic plan, is the best option. For anunlimited plan, it’d cost$75 a month.

Total so far: $725

Public transportation

The great thing about having so many colleges near Holyoke is that this means there’s excellent public transportation, which is unusual for such a rural area.

A PVTA (Pioneer Valley Transit Authority) monthly pass is $45, with unlimited rides during running hours (the last bus is usually around midnight, depending on the time of year).

$45 a month is cheaper than car maintenance, a potential car loan, and gas. These bus rides can be long though since they make so many stops.

Total so far: $770

Internet or no internet

There is a plethora of libraries around that offer internet, as well as many coffee shops with internet access, but on the outskirts of Holyoke, internet wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Verizon internet offers a$40 planfor 100mbps.

Total so far: $810

Food

Using our super frugal food bill from the example above, you could spend as little as $140 a month.

Total so far: $950

Student loans

Since a large portion of people that live in Holyoke or nearby were (or are) college students, I’m going to factor in the cost of a student loan.

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The average student loan debt for 2017 is about $37,000. Using this amount, and 5% interest rate, there’s a couple of different options for monthly payments:

  • Standard (make the same payment) 10-year repayment: $392 a month
  • Graduated (payments increase every two years) 10-year repayment: $222-$666 a month
  • Standard 25-year repayment: $216 a month
  • Graduated 25-year repayment: $154-$352 a month
  • Pay As You Earn 20-year repayment: $99-$393 a month

Since this is about living in the cheapest way possible, let’s use thePay As You Earn 20-year plan, that’s another $99 a month.

Total so far: $1049

Example #3: An average, somewhat frugal, young person living in Chicago

Taking a look at how an actual young person lives, let’s see what the cheapest you can live on including “necessities” like basic internet and a decent phone plan.

Apartment

Chicago is way less expensive than New York City. A person living in an apartment with a roommate (again according to my findings on, Zillow, apartments.com, and Trulia) could pay as little as $700-$800 without utilities. So each person would be paying (averaging in utilities) about $600 a month (and that’s rounding up).

Total so far: $600

Transportation

Like most cities, there’s not much of a reason to have a car, unless you enjoy traffic jams and pedestrians constantly darting out in front of you.

A CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus and train pass is $100 a month.

Total so far: $700

Basic internet

An average twenty-something is going to have internet. Binge-watching Netflix shows isn’t as socially acceptable in coffee shops as it is from your own apartment.

RCN of Chicago offers basic internet (155 mbps, which is a really good deal) for just $44.99 a month (not including equipment). The one thing to note—their customer service rating is pretty bad, but that seems to be a theme with internet providers.

Total so far: $745

Phone

Like NYC, in Chicago, there’s access to nearly every kind of pay-as-you-go cell phone service.

Again, TPO Mobile offers a 1GB, unlimited talk & text plan for just $21 a month (with auto-pay). The 2GB plan goes up to $25 and 3GBs goes up to $35 a month.

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Total so far: $766

Food & dining

Let’s be honest, any 20-something is going to go out at least once a week. Whether that’s to a bar or ordering takeout.

As a 20-something myself, I can probably say a really frugal eating out budget is $100 (it’s probably more like $150-$200), depending on where you live.

If you’re in an expensive city, drinks and food will cost more. If you’re in a rural area, maybe there’s only one or two bars that serve the same $2-$3 Bud Light, but you’ll make up for that cost in Uber fares.

Total so far: $866

Student loan

Using the student loan info from above, you could get away with paying $99 a month, with the lowest possible payment.

Total so far: $965

Wrappingeverything up

Theoretically, a very frugal person, who doesn’t go out a whole lot and can settle for basic everything, could live (in Chicago, at least) for under $1,000. That also assumes you don’t have any health issues, a car, and you don’t buy any new clothes for a while.

Read more:

  • Why Being Frugal Doesn’t Always Help You Save
  • Earn More Money! Why Spending Less Isn’t Always The Answer

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FAQs

How much do you need to live comfortably UK 2022? ›

A single person with no children needs at least £1,400 a month to live on. This is an average yearly salary of £17,000 after tax. A couple with no children needs at least £2,100 a month. This is a joint average yearly salary of £25,000 after tax.

What's the 50 30 20 budget rule? ›

The basic rule of thumb is to divide your monthly after-tax income into three spending categories: 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings or paying off debt. By regularly keeping your expenses balanced across these main spending areas, you can put your money to work more efficiently.

How much money do you need to survive a year? ›

This popular general budgeting rule allocates 50% of annual income to necessities like housing, 30% to discretionary expenses like travel, and the remaining 20% to savings. The median necessary living wage across the entire US is $67,690.

What makes up the 50 20 30 rule give an example of each? ›

Example 50-20-30 budget for one person

Emily makes $1,595 per month after tax. She can spend 50% of her budget ($797.50) on essential items, 20% of her budget ($319) on paying off her student loans and 30% of her budget ($478.50) on entertainment.

What is a low income UK 2022? ›

A single person needs to earn £25,500 a year to reach a minimum acceptable standard of living in April 2022. A couple with two children needs to earn £43,400 between them.

How much is low income UK? ›

Households are in low income if they live on less than 60% of the median income. Median income (before housing costs) was just under £30,000 for a couple with no children in the period from January 2019 to December 2020.

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