Though many families are struggling with money after the recession, one family of four has learned to avoid financial issues by enjoying a lifestyle that only costs them $14,000 a year.
Danielle and Jason Wagasky, 28 and 31, have two young children and live in a three-bedroom home in Las Vegas. Danielle is a stay-at-home mother, and Jason is a member of the U.S. Army.
Jason is completing his bachelor’s degree, and only receives $14,000 a year in living allowances under the G.I. Bill. While this amount doesn’t seem like it would support a family of four, the Wagasky’s manage to stretch their dollars enough so that they can survive off of it.
They have barely any credit debt, no car payment, and no mortgage. They paid off their cars when Jason was still working, and used the $30,000 they had saved to pay for a house that cost only $28,000.
Danielle has been sharing her frugal journey with readers on her blog, Blissful and Domestic.
“My husband told me he’d heard about this book, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money,” Danielle said. “We talked about it over the phone and I read it and thought how it could apply to us.”
Ever since reading the book, she and her husband have been living off very little money and doing so quite successfully.
Though she makes it seem easy now, getting to this point was a challenge, as it required her to change how she thought about, and used, money on a daily basis.
“I changed the way I was grocery shopping and started working my way up,” she said.
One of the main ways Danielle keeps the family’s spending to a minimum is by cooking everything at home.
Before she started her money makeover, she barely knew anything about cooking. Now, she collects cookbooks and makes bread from scratch.
“Everything must be budgeted,” she wrote on her blog. “From family outings, to toiletries to clothes purchases. It must be budgeted.”
She not only makes bread from scratch, but has also made her own laundry soap and clothing.
The family does not have cable, and uses Netflix and Hulu to watch television.
But after all is said and done, the key to a successful money makeover is adhering to a strict budget.
Each month, they spend $400 on groceries.
“Once that $400 is gone, it is gone,” she wrote. “There are no extra shopping trips made because there is no more money.”
They do the same with gas and other regular expenses.
Though it might not be a glamorous life, the Wagasky’s have all they need. They even completed a kitchen remodel and put hardwood flooring throughout the house, after they had money leftover from purchasing a foreclosed home.
“We decided the best option would be not to have a mortgage payment at all,” she said. “We found a fixer-upper that didn’t have a kitchen, and we paid cash.”