Can you live off $400 a month? So, to answer today’s question about living off $400 a month: It is entirely possible, depending on so many factors.
Life is short, but possibilities, options, and the world we live in is not.
Still, one of the best things about life is that it’s astonishingly customizable. So it wouldn’t be exactly wrong if someone says, “you can live however you want.”
And no, you won’t have to go to the Himalayas and become a monk. But I didn’t say it going to be easy either. You will need to make drastic decisions, go minimal, make good plans, stay determined and be consistent.
If you are ready, here’s all you need to know about fitting your life into a $400 monthly budget.
Is it Realistic to Live off $400 a Month?
Realistic? Not by the sound of it but possible? Yes! It’s all doable, and you can also do that.
All that will take is to make some worthy sacrifices that entail moving out of your comfort zone, foregoing what you don’t necessarily need, and avoiding wasting what you already have.
This may include getting rid of your pizza addiction, choosing to DIY instead of servicing, walking to nearby places instead of driving, getting rid of less necessary electronics, minimizing phone, water, and power bills, shortening restaurant visits, and reducing food wastage, etc.
With some sacrifices and a good plan, you will be surprised by how much of what you are foregoing you didn’t need and how much of what you were wasting you are able to save.
The good news? Every step you take makes living off $400 monthly more realistic.
How to Live On $400 a Month?
Now, how do you live off such a low budget? Well, it requires no magic spell, and here’s how you do it:
1. Avoid Using Credit Card
Did you know that you are likely to spend more when using a credit card than when using cash? There is enough research to suggest that people will tip more, choose the more expensive option, and even buy on impulse as long as they are using a credit card.
This is because you won’t feel the same pinch that comes with parting with real bucks.
With a thin budget of $400 bucks, such luxury will only lead you into more debt. So, whenever you can use cash, avoid using a credit card.
2. Reduce Your Mobile Phone Bill
Your mobile phone spending could skyrocket if you don’t pay attention. When leading a minimal life, you want to plan all your possible costs ahead. Here are a few tips to reduce your cellphone bill:
- Choose the cheapest option available for your mobile phone monthly package.
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions,
- Take advantage of Wi-Fi to download or stream content,
- Limit background data use.
- You can also stick to your phone for longer unless you absolutely need a new one.
3. Hunt Down Cash Back Offers
When buying necessary stuff finding cashback can be a good deal. Trust me; you can get products dirt cheap with cashback offers. Nowadays, many payment handlers provide such offers.
To find every possible way to save money when living on such a short budget, explore ways to earn some free cash.
4. Reduce Your Bills
Negotiating your bills is the cheapest way to reduce your monthly expense. Save everything you can, starting from the electric bill, car expense, water bill, internet cost, etc.
Ensure you turn off all electric devices, for example, lights, fans, tv, etc., before leaving home. If you can, make use of natural light during the day and switch off lights. Even a small daily effort can bring huge changes at the end of the month.
Some people even advise using a cold shower. It reduces power usage and you are likely to shower faster which reduces water usage – I don’t know about you but if you can manage to save $10-$20 per month on utilities, just imagine the amount after a year!
5. List down Things
Before going to shop, make your grocery list. It will give you a clear idea about the costs and keep you focused.
Another advantage of listing down stuff is it helps you to buy only necessary stuff. For example, when visiting a super shop, most people tend to purchase things on impulse. Why does that happen?
Well, super shops are designed in a way that makes everything so appealing- a list can save your day. Check out these 25 unnecessary items that you could be spending your money on.
6. Make a Good Meal Plan
You’ve got to budget your monthly meal plan. Think off how much one meal, one quarter, could cost, and plan the probable monthly expense for the meal. Keep daily updates about the market price since product prices keep changing.
Also, make smart meal choices.
For example, brown rice can be a great option for a meal. It’s healthy, fills up your stomach faster, and also costs lesser than other rice.
You could also take advantage of in-season fruits and vegetables because they cost less. Further, buy ingredients that you can stretch out for several meals and freeze leftovers for later.
7. Shop Smart
It’s better to choose one shop and buy all you can get from there. Why? That’s how you can win cashback offers, discounts, and other special offers so, ensure that you have signed up for discounts and memberships.
While at it, try bulk buying, it is cheaper. Take advantage of offers to stock up on what can be stored for future use.
Also, shop around for the best deals before heading to your favorite outlet- there are many e-commerce websites that often offer products at a much lower price than a shop.
8. Get Rid of Your Car
I know, this might feel like a whack in the face but getting rid of your car would save you a good deal of money per month.
Your car payment could be taking away more money than you can imagine, not to mention fueling, insurance, maintenance, and parking fees. The bottom line? You cannot afford to have a car at $400 per month and well, you can still use public transport or cycling to get from one point to another.
9. Live in a Small Town
The cost of living tends to be higher in modern and big towns, than in small cities.
Explore the small towns that you can fit in, narrowing them to the cheapest options. However, ensure that you don’t beat the purpose by having to travel every day for long distances to reach the city as this would further increase the transportation cost.
10. Change your Housing
Changing your housing can be a drastic measure but one that can help you get by in the long run. The options can be endless depending on your situation.
Do you have some cash upfront? You can ditch your house for an RV, a shipping container, or a bus house.
Otherwise, you can get a roommate, move back in with your parents, or rent out extra space to make rent. You can also trade services you are good at for rent.
For example, if you live with roommates and are good at offering services like cooking, cleaning, or pet sitting you can trade it for rent. If you can manage property some property owners can allow you to stay rent-free.
11. Don’t Fall for the Brand Names
Whether it is clothing, groceries, or services, there are tons of generic brands in the market that offer good quality products at lower price. Don’t hesitate to go for those.
12. Reduce Your Spending on Gas
I already said you are better off if you get rid of your car.
However, if that’s not possible, then try to avoid using the car if it’s not extremely urgent. Some people will even suggest switching off your car when driving down a slope to avoid burning any fuel but will leave this out there…
Other proven ways to reduce gas consumption include gentle acceleration, avoiding idling your car, avoiding unnecessary weight, and driving steadily.
13. Ditch Gym Membership
Gyms are great places to work out, meet up with others and try out the latest equipment, except that membership might be hard to keep with $400 a month.
Still who said that you can’t keep fit without going to the gym? A running or power-walking routine out in the open will only cost you your time and your body will thank you for it.
Get low-cost fitness equipment like a skipping rope, dumbbells, and yoga mats, or otherwise improvise. Then, utilize fitness videos, create a workout routine, and you are good to go.
14. Adopt some DIY Practices
You don’t have to pay for it if you can do it yourself period!
I’m talking about things like making homemade peanut butter, smoothies, pet food, and sauces, and growing your own vegetables in the space behind your house or in small containers.
You also try making your own home and kitchen cleaning solutions using cheap things like lemons, baking soda, and vinegar.
The list is endless but thinks of all the things you can fix in your living space without paying someone to do them and consider the expenses averted.
15. Reduce Wastage by Reusing and Recycling
One of the best tips for frugal living is to make use of what you can get for free. Good examples? Jars, bottles, and other containers that you buy products in can be used to store homemade detergents, dry foods, or planters for your vegetables.
Instead of buying fertilizer for your kitchen garden, you can use kitchen waste to make your own compost. As for cleaning rags, dusters, and rugs, old clothes, towels, and rugs will come in handy.
Benefits of Living off $400 a Month
You may have no choice, but did you know there are people out there who made it a choice to live off such a short budget when they actually can live quite a luxurious life? Are you wondering why?
While it might sound quite a tough job to live on such a small budget, it also has some amazing benefits. And here they are:
1. Make Your Life Easier & Simple
Once I heard someone saying, “Your house is not storage but a living place.” If you think critically, you’ll find so many things in your living space that you don’t actually need.
The more things you have to own, the more time and money you get to spend on those. And also, that’s when living on a super cheap budget becomes a hassle. A small budget forces you to eliminate the less necessary or unnecessary furniture, electronics, clothes, and anything that helps you to save space and money.
At first, it may appear quite odd, but as time passes, you will realize how independent and free it feels to have less. That’s why they say, “less is more.”
2. Say Goodbye to Your Debt
While it’s true that many people out there choose a minimal life just to get mental peace, sometimes people also go for it to save money to pay their debt. That’s certainly a wise choice.
If you want to get rid of debt, making some hard decisions becomes necessary. And that’s when living minimum turns out to be a lifesaver.
And no, this doesn’t need to become your lifetime; you can adopt a $400 monthly budget for a period of time until you have paid all your debt and are back on your feet.
It would be wise to have a good understanding with your partner about how you will pay the debt. For example, imagine your partner earns $1500 a month, which means you got to put on debt of $1500. This way, you can get rid of debt quite fast and get your dream house.
3. To Retire Early
Are you really planning to spend all your life working? What do you want to be the last memories of your life? Well, life is yours, and so is the choice. But if you plan to retire early and fulfill your bucket list, then living off a short budget can be a wise choice.
We all work for a purpose, and in most cases, it’s to provide economic support for our family. But that’s not the only support your family needs. This reminds me of this quote from the famous movie Godfather, “A man who doesn’t spend time with family can never be a real man.”
If you manage to save enough money to live a tension-free time after retiring early, reducing your living expense is one of the great recipes.
4. Getting Ready for Emergencies
I hope not but imagine for once being laid off from your job. Now, you have probably lost the only means to support your family. What if a sudden natural disaster strikes and you lose your home?
Tons of occurrences can turn the tide against you, and a wise man would always be prepared for that. That’s where saving money by living a minimalistic life can be your best defense.
5. Kick-off Your Startup
Would you enjoy working the rest of your life on building someone else dream? Or would you find the courage to start yours?
Yeah, having a job is a safe and secure way of ensuring reliable support at the end of every month. But if you dream of setting off your own business one day, now is the time to start saving money and living minimally.
If you have read this far, you realize by now how beneficial it can be to live on a tight budget. While sacrificing a few options, tons of other options are being opened to you.
$400 Monthly Budget Plan
Here’s a well-planned and efficient monthly budget list for $400 a month of living.
|Expense||Minimum Cost||Actual Cost|
Cost may vary depending on the market condition. However, there’s not much possibility to go sky high. If you can stick to your terms and conditions, you could still have $10-$20 left at the end of a month.
Where Can I Live On $400 a Month?
Living on $400 is surely possible. However, living in developed cities would be quite challenging and, in some cases, almost impossible. But you know, when one door closes, thousands of other doors might open for you. All you have to do is keep looking.
There are many cities where you can live off $400 pretty comfortably with great safety assurance and affordable living costs. In this section, you will have a clear idea about them.
So, without further ado, let’s get started by looking at the best places to live off $400 a month:
1. The Philippines
The Philippines is an island country situated in Southeast Asia. This country has so many things to offer, starting from its serene natural beauty, super friendly and helpful people, and fresh food at an affordable price.
One of the best things about the Philippines is free leisure- you will have tons of islands to explore and relax under the shadow of coconut trees by the beach. In addition, you can easily find local fresh foods at a very affordable price.
Renting a decent one-room apartment won’t cost you more than $100. However, it would be a bit expensive if you want to live in the capital, Manila.
Don’t worry about safety. The Philippines is a very safe country. However, I wouldn’t recommend you to visit any remote islands where there are not many people.
Nepal is one of the most beautiful and cheapest countries to live in Asia. When you hear the word “Nepal,” probably the first word that comes to mind is Mount Everest. Living in such a gorgeously beautiful country for under $400 is a dream come true.
Nepali people are quite friendly and wouldn’t hesitate to help a foreigner in need. However, as it’s a popular tourist destination, be aware of the scammers. When asking for help, make sure if it’s a paid service or if they are just helping out.
I’m not sure if you would find fresh food at a lower price in another country in Asia like Nepal. Accommodation is a no-brainer here. Nepal doesn’t have a large population, so it’s quite easy to find a decent living place at a budget-friendly price.
Transportation cost is dirt cheap here. With all these astounding blessings, who wouldn’t choose Nepal to live in? It’s almost heaven on earth.
If you are digital nomads looking for a peaceful place to live at an affordable price, Bolivia could be a great option. You will find tons of apartments at a cheaper rate in cities like Santa Cruz or La Paz. However, I highly recommend Sucre, as it’s comparatively much safer.
Bolivia is a stunningly beautiful country with lots of mountains around. It has ancient ruins, natural forests, classical architecture, and serene lakes.
Be aware of the high altitude there. Bolivia is situated in one of the top places in the world. Therefore, before deciding to go there, be prepared for that. Accommodation cost depends on the location. If you are just looking for a room to rent, it shouldn’t cost you more than $100 per month.
However, before signing the contract, ensure there are no hidden charges. Also, check the water supply and electricity. In some apartments, it could be faulty. A little challenge you might encounter is that not many people speak English, so you have to get used to their local dialect soon.
Bolivia is the way to go when it’s about living within a $400-a-month budget. It may not be the richest country in South America, but the heart of the people and its natural beauty can’t be compared with material things.
Bolivia will leave you a speechless experience with its dazzling beautiful places, lots of festivals, happy-go-lucky people, and mouth-watering cuisine.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is $400 a Month Good?
This depends on where you live. In the US, absolutely not, but in other parts of the world like the Philippines, Bolivia, and Nepal, you can manage all the basic needs for a single person in a month for $400. It will require you to make some small sacrifices. However, at the end of the month, they are worth it.
2. How Can I Live on $400 a Month after Bills?
You might not get by on $400 a month in America. However, in other parts of the world, you can reduce all your monthly bills, such as electricity, cell phone, and water by only using the utilities when necessary. Some house owners offer free internet so you can take advantage of that as well.
3. How Much a Month Do You Need to Live on Your Own?
It depends on your lifestyle, whether you are supporting a family and the cost of living in your location among other financial obligations. The average living cost of an individual in America is about $3000 monthly. A family of 4 needs upwards of $7000 monthly. But if you are habituated to minimalism, you can lower the cost of living considerably.
Can You Live On $400 a Month? Final Verdict
Yes, of course, you can, but probably not in America.
Living a minimalistic life is not about income but about making intentional steps to spend as little as possible.
Nevertheless, in America, living off $400 a month is somehow wishful thinking. It might work if you have other fixed expenses taken care of and are focusing on the variables but the entire package. Maybe not!
If you are open to the idea of moving, I have listed a few places that you can try out.
Otherwise, if you find yourself with only $400 to live on in America, maybe it’s time to consider so many other options including making extra income, finding a new job, asking for a raise, or even relocating.
Check out these side hustles that can help increase your income.
What are your thoughts on living off $400 a month? We would like to hear all about it in the comments section below.
Hey there, welcome to my blog!
I’m Swati, a mom, a personal finance enthusiast, and the owner of TheBlissfulBudget. My work has been featured in major publications including Fox 10, Credit Cards, Cheapism, How to Fire, Databox & Referral Rock.
I help busy budgeters like you save and make money by utilizing simple yet effective methods that can create wonders.
My Mantra: You are entitled to live the life you desire, and financial bliss should be simple to obtain–check out my blog for helpful tips on acquiring wealth easily.