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Could you live on $400 a week?

Home Forums SIMPLE SUSTAINABLE LIVING Living within your means Could you live on $400 a week?

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    Interesting thread.

    $400 a week? You could try to make it stretch to suit most peoples current modern lifestyle or modify your lifestyle radically which would be more successful but harder for people to psychologically manage or conceptualise.

    I think I could do it, more a question of if I would like to do it.

    Interestingly I heard a story about a lawyer I think? He was sick of the rat race and decided to take a year off and live as frugally as possible to see how much a single person could survive off for a year in a city in Australia. He constructed a tin shed out of items found by kerb side shopping for a shelter in a friends backyard and built a wood fire place for heating and cooking, used candles for light so no utility bills. Food was sourced by urbane gathering, veggie patch, bulk buying, and eating at the cheap places like Hare Krishna restaurants etc… All clothes and other items were purchased at Op shops.

    Long story short he managed to live off $7,000 AUD for the year.

    The moral of the story is that wealth is a factor of being able to meet what you feel your needs are (not your actual needs). You could earn $100,000 AUD a year and still not feel wealthy if you think you need a bigger house, a newer car, a TV in every room etc, or if you are one of the starving millions in the horn of Africa and some one gave you $7,000 AUD you would think you are very wealthy as you would be able to meet your needs, food, clean water and health care.

    It is easier to modify what you think you need than to earn more money, which you will just spend on stuff you never really needed to begin with.


    Yes as a pensioner I live on less than that and I do have rent to pay. Its tough.


    Sorry for the late answer, but I haven’t checked the forums in a while.

    My wife and I have no mortgage and actually downsized (value wise) from an executive home in a capitol city to three acres of rural bliss.

    We are self-funded retirees (I pulled the pin at 47) living entirely on my service pension, which equates to $360 per week for two people. We also have the normal bills and have two cars with all their associated costs, a great vegie patch and nine chickens. We manage very well on this piddly amount, never want for anything and having the best times of our lives :tup:



    I live on less, pay a mortgage, it feeds me, 2 dogs, 1 cat,and 4 chooks I live in a rural area, but I don’t feel poor, have a roof over my head, and can put food on the table – I don’t need any medications tho – that makes a difference

    vegie garden will be up and running again in spring 🙂


    I think I posted a few pages ago that dh and I do that but only if you don’t take the mortgage into account. We dont have the ve/fruit garden all up and running yet and it will take a few more years before all the trees come into full production. The problem now is all my medications have increased in price (not all are covered by PBS) and and the amount I’m having to take is increasing each time something new is found. If it wasn’t for that it would be easy but it’s now going over that some weeks.


    We have before-for most of this year if you took out mortgage and rent (paying for a property we weren’t living at) we had less than $400 for seven of us. We didn’t have a huge food garden either, as we were a rental. While we can do it, it is literally living week-to-week, when something like the kids needing shoes came up it was tiresome. We couldn’t save. We were living in what is supposedly the cheapest town in Queensland though.

    With just the two of us? Easy peasy, it’d be luxury!


    I think we could, I’m sure we could, it’s these pesky kids that stretch us, just haven’t managed to train them well enough yet. :shrug:



    Yes, I believe we could do it. We have two adults and four children in our household. I work one day (7hours) a week, and my DH works 10hours (2x5hr shifts) a week. We have a combine income of between $600 & $800 a week (yes, I know more than the $400, but we have 4 extra people, so I’m taking liberties).

    We have no mortgage and no debts.

    We have a house cow for milk and dairy products (hard & soft cheese, yogurt, butter, cream), we also buy a $5 poddy calf and put him on her and sell him on when he’s about one year old.

    We have a flock of 20 meat sheep which breed about a dozen or more lambs a year. We keep five for our freezer and sell the rest.

    We have three beef cows who rear a calf each year (or so). We keep one for our freezer and sell the rest. (we own our own bull)

    Once a year we buy 20 meat chickens and raise them for our own freezer.

    We buy two weaner pigs a year and raise them for our own freezer (if we time it right, they are raised mainly on fresh cow’s milk).

    We have a flock of about 20 chooks, for eggs, and sell our surplus eggs to finance their food.

    We usually have a pretty good vegetable garden, but not so this year.

    We have a small citrus orchard for mandarins, oranges and lemons.

    I buy fresh seasonal fruit (40kg worth), and preserve it using FV jars.

    Vege’s that I don’t/can’t produce myself, I buy when on sale in bulk and either vacuum seal and freeze or can in the pressure canner.

    Now, for the incoming bills..these are our biggies…

    We run two cars, so petrol, registration and insurance is a major expense.

    I insist on comprehensive insurance for the vehicles, and public liability on our farm, plus house and contents insurance.

    We have a solar hot water system, which reduces our hot water bill tremendously in warmer months, not so much in winter.

    We have a solar electricity system which reduces our power bill substantially, or completely negates it, (particularly during days of longer daylight hours). We are on a “timed” meter system, so we use off peak power as much as possible (11c/kw/h) and try not to use the peak power (22c/kw/hr). We are fortunate to be selling it back to the grid at 60c/kw.

    We have mains water, but are able to switch off the mains and operate on pump driven tank water for the entire house and farm.

    So, our biggest bills are not food for ourselves, but for our animals, given that the last year has been incredibly wet, we are hand feeding much more than we would normally.

    There is also farm maintenance required, fencing, gates, diesel for the tractor etc.

    So, yes, I think we would manage easily. Mind you we always find use for the money we put aside, and with so many animals to look after, we don’t do holidays, but enjoy family day trips around the locality.

    We are extremely fortunate in our set up, but it has been more than goodluck. We did some fairly hard yards working when we were first married, and made a dint in our mortgage before we started our family. Even after having children, we were both working full time, which was an absolute killer. However, we had the “bigger” picture in mind, to eventually be able to provide for ourselves mainly, and reduce our work hours so we could enjoy our youth and spend time with the children whilst they were younger.



    I live on $440 per fortnight, after paying electricity.

    Out of that $440 comes 2 weeks rent, food, telephone, car expenses and general living.

    I shop carefully, only buying when items I need are on sale and I buy most of my clothing through a charity shop.My housing is of a poor quality and medical expenses can be devastating; a visit to a specialist takes months of trying to save enough for the bill.Medicare and a Healthcare card do not cover many medical costs. Plus, because I live in a remote area, travel expenses are high. I am so far under the poverty line I can’t even see it when I look up! :laugh: :S


    Hi Zygo,

    I’m sorry to hear that its so difficult for you at the moment. I hope you didn’t read my post as implying that everyone should be able to do it. We have just been blessed with good circumstances. I know some will slog their guts out, and for whatever reason, still struggle to make ends meet.

    One thing, are you aware of the IPTAS payments (Isolated Patients Transport Accomodation Subsidy) that is available. Basically from memory, if you need to see a medical care provider that is more than 100km away, then you can get subsidised travel and accomodation if required to spend the night away. Not a lot of subsidy in it, but its better than nothing.

    Not many people know about its existence unfortunately, be we accessed it when we need to travel interstate to see a specialist for our son.

    Best wishes



    Hi Muddyfeet, no I did not read your post that way, I am always cheered by people passing on the things they do to get by.

    Thank you for the tip re: travel, I did not know that.

    We are getting along ok, I have switched to a Vegan diet for health reasons, which has cut the food bill dramatically. I am glad I no longer drink alcohol or smoke – I used to be a pack-a-day smoker!! Nowdays that would mean no food!!!


    My partner and I (and two cats!) do so, INCLUDING our rent. It’s meant sharehousing, frugal shopping and vegetable gardening, but it’s been possible without excessive sacrifice.


    I am very grateful for the money we have (which isn’t much, but more than many of you). We eat a lot of organic food (as I simply don’t wish to put stuff into our bodies that isn’t healthy or doesn’t provide us with the nutrients we need), have solar hot water and electricity. Some fruit from the garden and some veges (soil needs a fair bit of work though, getting there). Our own chooks, so eggs and any cockerels are eaten. Friend has a cow so cheap milk. I use cloth (pads and wipes) so there’s no expense in the bathroom.

    There are 6 of us and next year, my oldest will attend a private high school (the public ones are so big, she’d be just another bum on a seat and her emotional outcomes would be horrific), so we’ve been saving for that. One car (but a v6 unfortunately), but being a suzuki, it never breaks down.

    But to answer the question, no, we couldn’t live on $400 a week. Our mortgage is $300. No way would $100 cover our needs, let alone our wants (which aren’t often indulged)


    After my ex left and before I found a job DD and I were living on $350 pw and doing ok for nearly a year.

    I have 6 chooks, a large veg garden and lots of fruit trees, cook from scratch and preserve, so food is about $60 pw. Largest other costs are rates $35, insurance $35, power $25 (have since put on 3kw solar), school fees/supplies/excursions (VCE)$20, phone $20, internet $10, car – $30 fuel and about $30 running/rego, pet food $15, chook food $5.

    I do raise 8-10 steers and sell them every 2 years (paid for solar), this money would cover restocking, rates and farm insurance if I didn’t get carried away when the big cheque arrives 🙂 .

    Now I clear about $500 pw and am investing the excess in more self sufficiency – bees, planting future income trees , improving soil etc, and putting some aside to replace car in the future.


    I’m with you on that one Bron but as I was reminded some time ago, the original question excluded rent/mortgage. $400 a week doesn’t even cover our mortgage!!

    So good on you JGorton, this thread is a continual source of inspiration and encouragement to me, trying hard to cut costs but the family – hubby and two teens and a 12yo – are not in on it, pretty sure if we had to we could.

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