Meet the Wagasky’s, the Las Vegas family of four that lives debt-free on (wait for it) $14,000 a year. That’s just over a thousand bucks a month, folks. A scratch under $270 a week. I hate to say it, but I don’t think that even covers our grocery bill. But dad Jason and mom Danielle have found a way to make it work, and they say it makes them “happier” and “a better family.”
The frugal lifestyle began out of necessity in 2008 when Jason, a former Army sergeant, was stationed in Iraq. Danielle was left managing the home, two kids (Keigan and Libby), and the budget.
"He was gone, and I was sad,’’ Danielle said. “Then I had two children to take care of, and all of a sudden, I had to pay these bills. We'd have overdrafts on our bank because I'd be like, ‘Oh man, I forgot that bill that was supposed to come out.’ But I had already spent money."
The book America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides, which offers tips and advice for saving money and living debt-free, inspired her to get in gear to become financially stable.
Side note: I own this book and have lent it to several friends. It’s awesome and offers great advice and inspiration for climbing out of a financial hole.
When Jason got back from overseas, he decided to go back to school on a G.I. bill, which provided the family with $14,000 a year in living expenses. They decided to dip into their savings to pay off debts and purchase a modest, foreclosed upon, three-bedroom home for $30,000.
With careful budgeting and lots of do-it-yourself projects, they’ve managed to make it work while living $9,000 below the poverty line. Danielle details their lifestyle on her blog Blissful and Domestic, including how they use a clothesline instead of a dryer and even make their own laundry soap.
They also take advantage of community resources like the library, where they frequently check out books for their homeschooled kiddos. They pay cash for everything and keep credit cards only for emergencies.
Jason is currently applying for a job in law enforcement, so it’s likely their financial situation will soon improve, but they say they don’t plan to change the way they live.
“The American mentality is to have and want more, like, bigger is never enough,’’ Jason said. “So I think that's where we're kind of different."
Do you have any tips or tricks for staying within a limited budget?