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The Secret to Living Well on $11,000 a Year


Our last story on frugal living, "The Secret to Living Well on $20,000 a Year," stirred up some heated comments, many of which argued that $20,000 a year represents a king's ransom. "Someone should do an article on how to live on less than $10,000 per year. I am a single mother who is doing just that," wrote Rici of Wyoming.


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Our last story on frugal living, "The Secret to Living Well on $20,000 a Year," stirred up some heated comments, many of which argued that $20,000 a year represents a king's ransom"Someone should do an article on how to live on less than $10,000 per yearI am a single mother who is doing just that," wrote Rici of Wyoming. [In Pictures: 10 Ways to Start Earning Extra Money Now] An anonymous commenter from Texas wrote, "[I'm] not impressedI live on $8,796 a year." "I am retired and living on less than $1,000 a month [from] Social Security," wrote Liz Ortiz of Colorado Glenn Morrissette, 42, wrote in to say that he lives on just $11,000 a year, and he does it by living full-time in an RVAs a result, he pays no rent, needs no car, and can live wherever he wantsUnlike Joseph Fonseca, the writer we profiled in our "Living Well on $20,000 a Year" article, Morrissette has health insuranceA professional musician, he can work by computer from any locationHe might not have a family support, as the teacher living on $40,000 a year does, but we thought Morrissette's story was interesting enough to shareWe spoke with Morrissette, who is currently in New Jersey, about his lifestyle, which he also describes on his blog, To SimplifyExcerpts: Why did you decide to live in an RV? I had an apartment in Burbank and was the typical Los Angeles apartment dwellerI started to feel a strong desire to simplify my lifeI had a garage full of stuff I never used, my closets were full, and I started to see that it was costing me money to have an apartment big enough to hold all the stuff I never use My initial plan was to scale back and move into a smaller apartmentBefore long, I realized I didn't need too much to be happyI could fit into a small spaceThat's when the RV idea occurred to meI was just sitting in traffic and an RV pulled upI said, "I could probably fit in that thing." The more I looked into it, the more I realized how practical it would beFor what I was paying for rent in LA, I could own my "house" free and clear and not pay rent, and own my car as well How do you stay under $11,000 a year? The two key things that make it possible are not having rent or a mortgage paymentI own my RV, so that was an initial expense [of about $14,000], but I have no house or car paymentGas is controllable; I don't drive if I don't want toMost months, I spend less than $300 on gasI estimate that I save about $1,000 a month compared to what I was spending in LA What do you eat? I eat pretty wellI don't skimp on foodI eat a lot of grass-fed meats, fruits, and vegetables ..some people call it the caveman dietI go to farms, farmers markets, and health food storesI probably spend about $250 a month on foodI could spend a lot less if I didn't care about eating well [In Pictures: 10 Ways to Save on Food Costs] Do you have health insurance? YesI'm self-employed so I purchase my own planI have a high-deductible plan and pay $80 per monthIt would be even cheaper if I was 28I don't understand young people who say, "I can't afford health insurance." Last year, my appendix ruptured, and the insurance was a life-saverI learned my lesson What about clothes? I'm a pretty basic jeans and T-shirt kind of guyI don't have to go to the office, so I don't need a wardrobeI have nine to 10 shirts and a couple pairs of jeansI do have a suit so I can get dolled up when I have to, but my normal wardrobe is pretty minimalI do one load of laundry every week, and I don't see the point of owning more clothes than I can do in one load of laundry Do you spend money on entertainment? I don't go out much at allI prefer the food I make to what I get in restaurantsMore often than not, I'm disappointedI'm pretty health-conscious and I want my food to be real food, so I'm content eating what I makeThe idea of spending $30 at a restaurant--that seems like four to five days' worth of food to meYears ago, I ate out every single mealI'm kicking myself now, if only I had invested that money instead I'm not a big drinker, although I drink somewhat sociallyI'm a pretty simple guyMusic is my lifeEven if I'm not working, if I have a free day, I will spend a big chunk doing musicIt's a profession and a hobby Do you splurge on anything? The food I eatI don't feel like I'm skimping at allIt's a form of health insurance to me And I just try to put myself in interesting placesI'm surprised how easy it is to do thatA lot of stuff is free out thereThere's a lot of beautiful scenery in this country and it doesn't cost anything just to parkYou can just drive into a national forest and live there for two weeksI always try to give myself great real estate, whether it's by an ocean, a lake, or in the center of a cool little townSo I always have a great front yard, real estate that people would pay millions of dollars for, and it doesn't cost me anything I'm pretty frugal otherwise, and I don't miss itI used to be part of the whole consumerist cycle, buying stuff I didn't need, and I don't do that anymoreIt's liberatingI can maximize my savingsThat's true freedom, to get to the point where I can say no to work anytime I want because I have a big enough nest eggI'm not there yet, but that's my goal Do you have a retirement account? Yes, I'm an avid investorI guard my nest egg like crowned jewelsBut I don't see myself ever retiringI love what I doI'd much rather do what I love and live small, and enjoy life Twitter: @alphaconsumerhealth insurance

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