How to Survive on a $15-an-Hour Budget

Poverty comes in many forms. While it’s easy to think of poverty as something that happens to someone else, the truth is that it can and does happen to anyone at any time. For many people, a period of financial hardship is a regular part of life – from unexpected medical expenses to longer-term difficulties like job loss or divorce.

These are some of the most common reasons for falling on hard times financially, so it’s important to understand what you can do if you find yourself with a limited budget.

We all know that money isn’t everything. However, when unexpected expenses arise, money can be pretty helpful in allowing us to cope with these changes in our lives. And while we all hope we will never have an urgent need for cash, the reality is that almost half of Americans don’t have enough savings stored away to cover even a modest emergency expense of $1,000.

But even though money may not be everything, having less than $10 in your bank account at any given time is not a great sign. So how do people manage? How do they live on such small budgets? Well…let’s take a look!

Dining Out

If there’s one expense that can get out of control when you’re on a budget, it’s dining out. Eating out every day or even every week is expensive, but it’s often necessary for people who are living on a low income. If you want to save money but still eat out, try these tips:

If you often find yourself eating out, try to make your home as inviting as possible. If you enjoy spending time at home, then there’s no reason why you can’t have a nice meal there as often as you would eat out. If your home is clean, cozy, and stocked with sufficient (and affordable) food and drink items, you can save yourself a ton of money by eating in as often as possible.


Rent is the single largest expense for most people. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be difficult to scrape together enough money to cover both your rent and utilities each month without falling behind. Here are a few tips for reducing your monthly housing costs:

If you’re currently renting, try to negotiate a lower rent with your landlord. If you’re a good tenant, your landlord should be willing to lower your rent or negotiate a payment plan that works for you. If you’re planning to move soon, try to negotiate a lower rent if possible. Even if you plan to move in the next six months, it’s still worth talking to your landlord about a lower rate.

If your current living situation isn’t workable because of financial reasons, you may have to consider moving in with a friend or family member temporarily.


If you drive your own car, you may spend more on gas, maintenance, and insurance as your income goes down. Here are a few ways to save money on your car expenses:

Try public transportation instead of driving to work. If your town has reliable bus or train service, you may be able to save thousands of dollars a year by riding mass transit instead of driving to work. If you can walk or bike to work, do so. It’s one of the healthiest, cheapest ways to get to work, and it’s great for the environment.

If you drive to work every day, look for alternate carpooling options in your area. Many companies offer carpooling services, and you can often find passengers who work near you.

Clothing And Grooming

Some expenses may be non-negotiable, no matter how little money you have. But others, like your grooming and clothing habits, can be adjusted if you need to reduce your spending. Here are a few tips for reducing your clothing and grooming expenses:

If your wardrobe consists entirely of black and gray clothing, you’re missing out on a lot of fun colors and styles. Try to add a few new items to your wardrobe each season. If you’re stuck on a tight budget, buy used clothing and sell your old items as soon as they no longer fit or are out of style.

If you have to reduce your grooming expenses now, try to avoid extreme measures like cutting your hair at home with scissors or going without haircuts. Short hair can attract attention, and it’s important to look professional if you’re looking for a new job.

Entertainment And Activities

Most people need some form of entertainment in their lives, even those who are living on a very low budget. For some however, the cost of going out and pursuing hobbies can quickly add up. If you’re struggling financially, try to reduce your expenses on activities:

If you like to read, consider joining a book club. You can meet interesting people, discuss interesting books, and save money on books that might otherwise be out of your price range. Look for free events in your area.

There are usually tons of free concerts, plays, festivals, and other activities happening in any given city each month. And if you’re short on cash, try to attend these events with friends or family instead of going alone.

Shopping And Supplies

If you have children, a dog, or any other type of pet, you know that you have to spend some money on supplies. However, if you have a limited budget, you’ll want to try to save money on these expenses. Here are a few ways to reduce your shopping costs:

If you can, try to buy clothes and other items used or refurbished. Many stores sell second-hand items at a fraction of the cost of new items. If you have a pet, keep an eye out for free items from your vet’s office. Your veterinarian may offer free or heavily discounted items for your pet.

When money is tight, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by how much you have to change about your life. However, with a little creativity and determination, you can survive on a small budget. If you’re having a hard time making ends meet, try to reduce your expenses in any way possible.

It may be difficult at first, but the more you cut back, the easier it will be to get back on your feet financially.

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