“I’m Semi-Retiring at 43!”

Got another fun email for ya today!

Got me grinning from ear to ear over here, and hopefully it inspires you to get out there and make your dreams happen too. Or at least try and get your expenses down even more – this woman is living off $1,000/mo! For a family of four!!

How does she do it? Clues – and her budget – down below ;)

Enjoy!! Y’all are killin’ it out there!


Hello J. Money,

I love 😍 reading your posts.

I have 43 work days left at my full-time job (minus any of the numerous sick days I have left to burn…shhhh!! 😁)

I’m SUPER PUMPED about it! I’ll be semi-retired at age 43!

I plan to keep my part-time job that I love at the local homeless shelter.

This summer I will also join my husband and two (homeschooled) sons at summer camp. We are gonna be serving up delicious vegetarian food at a peace building camp in our area. It will be his 5th summer going there to work – but my first!

I haven’t saved enough ($210K) to never wanna or need to work ever, but I don’t need a whole heck of a lot to live – under $1,000 per month does us just fine. No debt – house and our shared hybrid car all paid off & we eat a lot of rice and beans!

I have no plans to spend the $200K… just let it keep growing over at Vanguard. I’ll keep $10K out for any emergencies.

I haven’t seen any bloggers speak about earned income tax credit and child tax credit, but it’s worth mentioning that keeping a part-time job and earning only $8,000 a year would give a married couple with two children under 17 years old $4,000 in free tax money. That’s the bare minimum to cover our living expenses ($8k + $4k living off = $1k/mo)…

(Max EITC in 2017: $3,400 (1 child); $5,616 (2 children); $6,318 (3 children) + Plus up to $1,000 for up to 3 children in Additional Child Tax Credit – under 17))

I do think that once I’m in my semi-retirement mode that I will explore other possibilities to generate income doing things I enjoy.


  • More intentional time with family and friends…
  • More time to read/learn new things, relax, cook, exercise and just be FREE to make the choice of how to spend my time on earth!
  • Exploring the possibility of downsizing to a tiny house on wheels… or at least converting a sprinter type van to deluxe travel mobile!
  • I’d like to check out intentional communities across the US and learn about permaculture, herbal medicine, yoga and have a huge organic garden!
  • Maybe starting a blog?

But definitely keeping up with J. Money… You’re my F.I.R.E. hero dude!

Frugal Vegan Mama


What an email to get!! Did you catch all the gems there??

– Paid off house

– Paid off car

– Doing what she loves on the side (homeless shelter)

LIVING OFF ONLY $1,000/mo (!!!!!)

I of course had to respond and try to get her to divulge more, and again she did not disappoint ;)


Thanks for replying!

I’d been itching to share the info with someone… someone who wouldn’t judge or tell me I’m crazy for walking away from a decent paying job! Most people around me don’t get it. But I know in my heart that it’s time to walk away and embrace life differently.

I just really love following your stories/posts because you are so open and freely share where you were and where you are now. It’s always been a taboo topic to talk about money with many people I know–mainly family…but many are skittish to talk about it and when some do….I see that many are in poor shape financially.

Here’s the breakdown of our expenses: (we live in Kentucky and share one car and one cell phone. It’s very rare… like once or twice a year… that we eat out at a restaurant)

Electric $150
Heating Gas $75
Water/Sewer $75
Auto insurance (Full coverage) $37.50
Property Taxes $55
Homeowners Insurance $50
Internet $10
Cell phone $40
Trash service $17
Food $400
Netflix/Hulu $25
Fuel for Car (It’s a hybrid – electric & gas powered) $25
Misc. Household Supplies, Clothing, Etc. $40.50
TOTAL $1,000



And that’s how the sausage is made, ladies and gentlemen :) An amazing thing… And approximately 500% better than our current spending of $6,000/mo – hah!

So yes – you need to start a blog, Frugal Vegan Mama!! We need you up in here sharing your tricks and secrets! Make it happen! (But first, quit that job and enjoy the freedom for a bit :))

PS: For another dumping of raw thoughts like this, check out last week’s email if you missed it –> “You might get a kick out of our recent financial journey”

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  1. candy clouston April 2, 2018 at 5:21 AM

    Apparently nothing in the home or car ever needs maintenance or breaks and their health is perfect. I have some difficulty understanding how anyone can have such low property taxes, too, leading me to wonder about what the home is like. What’s that internet being used on? This budget is incomplete.

    1. Dana April 2, 2018 at 3:57 PM

      I always question some of the expenses too but I think the property taxes sound reasonable. We live in Indiana and our taxes on a 2000 sq foot house with a decent yard in an incorporated town breaks down to only $67 a month.

    2. Mrs. Money April 5, 2018 at 4:39 PM

      I don’t understand the property taxes either- we pay county and city taxes and they are well over $2,000 a year and our house is not extravagant!

  2. My Sons Father April 2, 2018 at 6:00 AM

    This is phenomenal!! $55/month for property taxes, I think that’s called geographic arbitrage? I’m clearly living in the wrong state. Congrats to Frugal Vegan Mama, you are killing it!

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 7:37 AM

      Haha yeah – if only we could get all our friends and loved ones to move to these cheaper locales with us though :) The “experts” are always telling us to move somewhere cheaper to save, as if $$$ was the only factor in this stuff…

    2. zeelemons April 18, 2018 at 11:14 AM

      I thought the same thing! In Upstate NY I’m paying about $550 each month for taxes! $55 is a dream!

  3. caroline April 2, 2018 at 6:38 AM

    Property taxes and insurance are so low! What is the weather like there? I am moving!
    $40.50 for misc. is not much, do the kids not cost a little more than that? Activities? Clothing? School supplies? Camp?
    How about health?
    She is doing the right thing but I would add a little cushion in my expenses, seems way too conservative.

  4. Danny April 2, 2018 at 7:12 AM

    First off, thanks J for sharing this. FVM and family are absolutely killing it, and I love it! I just have one question regarding EITC. For 2018, the taxable earned income threshold for married filing jointly with 2 children is $51,492, which it appears they definitely fall under. Actually, in tax year 2018, their potential max credit could be as high as $5,716 :) However, investment income for the taxable year must be $3,500 or less for the year. For most FIRE bloggers I’ve read that are FIRE or semi-FIRE, I think they are usually over this investment income threshold, and that’s probably why you don’t normally hear the FIRE community discuss this credit. Even with $200K in investment accounts, does FVM and family make less than $3,500 in investment income? I think this is a special case and they definitely are under this limit, but please correct me if I’m wrong FVM :)

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 7:44 AM

      Oh man, I have no idea haha… taxes is the one area I still lag wayyyy behind on and is exactly why I use an accountant :) I bet others can chime in here though and confirm one way or the other? It’s good to know all the caveats for sure!

      1. Stephonee April 2, 2018 at 8:01 AM

        Simplest explanation: if the bulk of the $210k is in retirement accounts (Traditional or Roth, either way) then the income isn’t taxable as long as they leave it there (which she said they are for now), so it wouldn’t affect their ability to take the EITC.

        Even if it’s all in a “taxable” account, if they have it invested in stuff that doesn’t pay dividends and they’re not touching it, then there’s no income from it, so that would also work to not affect the EITC.


        1. Danny April 2, 2018 at 12:43 PM

          Thanks for the explanation Stephonee. If the amounts are in tax deferred accounts or doesn’t pay dividends, I agree with you that it wouldn’t count investment income.

      2. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:29 PM

        the $200K is in retirement accounts which I will move this summer to Vanguard VTSAX along with our ROTH IRAs already there. So no investment income paid directly to me now.

  5. Accidental FIRE April 2, 2018 at 7:23 AM

    While I pay less for my cell phone with unlimited everything, her internet and car insurance are loooow! Where I live, if you want high speed internet we have one choice and one choice only. Comcast has a monopoly. It sucks. And I really need to call Geico or find cheaper car insurance. That just went on my to-do list today. Enough is enough.

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 7:45 AM

      Check out TheZebra.com too – they’re a search engine for car insurance that I just found out about. I saw Geico in the mix there along with dozens of others :)

      1. C @ Working Optional April 2, 2018 at 4:55 PM

        Thank you as well – will check TheZebra.com out as well, my car insurance is up for renewal. I do have Geico for now – and they’re cheapest by far.

    2. J at Their Money Goals April 2, 2018 at 3:28 PM

      The car insurance really stuck out to me, too, especially since I recently read that insurance companies make the most off their oldest customers. I’ve been side-eyeing Allstate ever since but haven’t actually looked into switching yet. Frugal Vegan Mama gave me a swift kick in the pants to get on that.

      Will definitely be checking out that site recommendation, J!

      1. Liz H April 4, 2018 at 12:08 AM

        I use Allstate and pay $60/Mo in NY for 2 vehicles, 2012 & 2006. Shop around because my old insurance was double that!

    3. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:32 PM

      We have full coverage on a 2013 car through Progressive that we pay in full every 6 months.

  6. Sarah April 2, 2018 at 7:38 AM

    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but … this budget seems more like wishful thinking than reality. Do they never need to repair anything? Save for a new car, fridge, etc? No educational activities for homeschooling? No medical costs? No birthday or holiday gifts?
    Additionally, do they not have ethical quandries relying on government assistance when they’re clearly capable of supporting their own family? And what happens when the kids are grown and gone or the policies change?

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 7:57 AM

      They have an emergency fund of $10k – I’m guessing they’ll just tap that whenever needed and then fill back up again? She didn’t mention if her husband is still working or not (I’m guessing yes? or partially?) but it seems there are different streams of income going on here which more than covers the $1k/mo… I took it as that’s just the bare minimum they need to survive but they’ll still be doing stuff they enjoy and making money on the side :)

      1. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:37 PM

        My husband only has paid employment at the camp in the summer. He the domesticated one. He home schools our children, gardens, cooks, cleans and everything in between. We live within walking distance of a grocery store and enjoying bicycling to the nearby bike trails and local parks & library.

  7. Cubert April 2, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    That’s super inspiring. Eat your heart out, Mr. 24K per year! Course he’s already retired early, so he’s got the right to those luxurious avocados…

    Fascinating to think about those intentional communities. They’re pretty popular in Denmark I think. Small families share common spaces including kitchen and dining. Great way to make friends and feel like you’re always at camp! I could see more FIER people coming together to build something similar here… Hmmm….

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 8:02 AM

      I would loooooove to live in a community like this! Or even just *around* all my FIRE friends and family even if we lived in separate houses but on the same block or something. You’d learn so much on top of just being around tons of like-minded people!

      1. Libby April 2, 2018 at 2:18 PM

        The documentary “Happy” on Netflix has a segment on an intentional community in Denmark. It is fascinating!

        1. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 4:47 PM

          Thanks for the tip on the documentary Libby. I’ll definitely check it out.

      2. MIss Mazuma April 3, 2018 at 6:00 AM

        Loved reading this post!! I get slammed for only spending 2k a month and I’m just one person! Way to go, FVM!!

        As for those communities, my friend Stephen Baughier (founder of CampFI) down in Warner Robins GA is currently working on a project just like this. Him and some other FIRE folks are buying up properties on a block, fixing / renting them and as soon as they have enough they plan to create a cohousing sort of community. Separate homes but a community center in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s in the beginning stages but I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!! I’d love to be your neighbor, J!! :)

        1. J. Money April 3, 2018 at 6:40 AM


      3. Cubert April 3, 2018 at 11:29 AM

        I’d love it too, Jay. Until my five year old comes home with a mohawk…

  8. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance April 2, 2018 at 8:01 AM

    Wow this is pretty awesome!! A paid off house and a paid off car can do wonders for your budget.

    We are trying to pay off our house too and just can’t wait until we have no mortgage and no daycare expenses hehe.

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 8:05 AM

      Oh yeah – those daycare costs can be MORE expensive than the house too! At least it was for us for yearrrs…. Def. feels good to be done with that :) (Though fingers crossed our plan for kid #3 goes well or else we’ll be right back to it haha…)

    2. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:42 PM

      It is definitely liberating having no debt. We paid off our house 5 years ago. Having the $600 payment to throw toward F.I.R.E. goals really made our savings rate pick up speed.

  9. PaulM April 2, 2018 at 8:11 AM

    I too am wondering how it’s done. First, how did they manage to pay off a house and car with so little income. Did they mention what state they live? As mentioned by others, only $600 a year in taxes? Even with so little expenses, I think they’re cutting it too close to FIRE with so relatively little in savings.

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:14 PM

      The $1,000/mo is their budget – not how much they earn :) (at least not right now how much they earn). It’s just want it costs them to live… I’m sure they’re making much more right now until they pull the trigger.

      1. PaulM April 2, 2018 at 3:03 PM

        Yikes! Thanks for setting me straight!

        1. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:17 PM

          FVM here. We make $50K per year currently – $40K from full time job & $10K for side jobs.

  10. Jen13 April 2, 2018 at 8:12 AM

    Interesting post. I do admire the the poster for embracing her life and living on her own terms. We all hit an age when we realize our own mortality and that we have only a finite amount of time on earth. For me, that age was 41, my husband much later. I understand wanting to live your dream however, looking at her budget there isn’t much room for health care issues or emergencies, even with the $10,000 set aside. She did mention working part time jobs for extra money and that will help. It’s good to balance the embracing of your life versus the reality of affording it. There is a difference working a part time job to supplement a desired lifestyle versus having to work a job (part-time or not) to pay unforseen medical bills or repairs. Everyone has their own comfort level. For me the budget is cutting it too tight but if she is at peace and willing to assume the risk of having to go back to work out of necessity in the future then who I am to judge. Best wishes.

  11. Mr. Freaky Frugal April 2, 2018 at 8:13 AM

    Wow, I think of myself as frugal but that budget is VERY impressive! Congrats!

    I haven’t seen a budget that low since Early Retirement Extreme (ERE) and he had no children. It’s great to know that it’s still possible.

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:15 PM

      yeah that dude was/is insane! love reading about it but could never pull off myself :)

  12. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies April 2, 2018 at 8:17 AM

    THOSE PROPERTY TAXES THO! Ugh. Moving would be at the top of our list if/when we FIRE. We budget about $700 A MONTH for taxes. Thanks, Illinois! ;)

    This is amazing. Frugal Vegan Mama should totally start a blog. I love that she’s looking at it as an opportunity to really explore her interests and slow down some. So great that you got her to spill the beans! Happy Monday!

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:16 PM

      A month??? Wow!! I don’t pay any property taxes/mo, but I also rent ;)

    2. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:21 PM

      I took today off…giving it a trial run for the day living in the moment…soaking up the vibe of my tribe as I am present with them. It’s been lovely. ❤️

  13. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance April 2, 2018 at 8:17 AM

    It’s always nice to see what bare bones actually looks like. One thing I love about reading personal finance blogs is the perspective they provide. It’s amazing to me that a family of four can get by on 1k per month. Still, I’m blown away often these days. Congrats on your upcoming retirement!!! Good luck.

    1. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:52 PM

      Thanks Jason ❤️ I love PF blogs too…everyone’s stories on how they save on things, invest their money and why they are compelled to step away from mindless spending. We consider ourselves minimalists in the making. We still need to minimize extra stuff, but have set the intention to be mindful about what we purchase and consume in all aspects of our lives. ❤️

  14. Leo T. Ly April 2, 2018 at 8:36 AM

    What a great story. This really shows that you can definitely live within your means if you really tried. I thought that I was doing great with my budget, but Frugal Vegan Mama just showed me that I can always do better. Take a bow.

    1. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:53 PM

      Thanks Leo ❤️ Good luck to you on your financial journey.

  15. Lisa O April 2, 2018 at 8:54 AM

    Wow I don’t know how I feel about this. Kudos to the budget but that is more than being frugal!

    My thought as a Mom, what about the kids. They are home schooled now but what about College? What about birthday parties, sports or extra activities to make them well rounded people.

    My thought as a working person, you are giving up a good paying job at 43 to start being free but reality you are looking at as EITC as money to spend. That would be planning living off the government and that would scare me with the way this country is ever changing. What about health insurance for a family of 4? Is that also provided by the government?

    I just don’t see this as early semi-retirement when you will be planning on help from the government in many avenues to make ends meet for several years.

  16. COD April 2, 2018 at 9:05 AM

    We homeschooled our kids. It’s not a zero cost activity, and it’s also not a stay at home activity. My wife and kids were never at home, and being out around town ends up costing money.

    No health insurance at all? My high deductible plan health insurance premium is $1000 a month for a family of 4, and that comes with a $2400 individual or $7200 family deductible, with a max out-of-pocket of $3500 per person or $12,000 family. And that is company subsidized. If I bought that same plan on the open market the premium would be about $1200 a month and the deductibles would more than double. And we hit my wife’s deductible in January, but that is another story.

    How are they going to replace the car when it dies? There is no budget to save for a new one and no room in the cash flow for car payments. Same thing with a new roof for the house, or whatever. Those are not emergencies as they are foreseeable expenses.

    The math doesn’t add up for me, but maybe it will all work out for them.

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:18 PM

      I’m sure they have health insurance and/or have considered it before making such a move ;) Maybe it’s though the husband’s job if he still has his?

      1. COD April 2, 2018 at 2:57 PM

        But if one spouse still has to work they aren’t retired early. They are a typical SAHM family, which is awesome if they can pull it off. But it’s a very different thing than FIRE.

        1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 3:03 PM

          Haha.. I guess… but i’m still going to consider myself retired even if my wife works for decades more :)

      2. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 3:58 PM

        My husband is a veteran and is provided coverage at no cost.

  17. Hillary S Gras April 2, 2018 at 9:23 AM

    My prop taxes are almost 500 a month.
    Yeah i think she’s living in a dreamland and I wonder about their health too with having such minimal variety in foods, and her kids’. Yes what about health insurance?? None of her kids have phones? Or something to contact home with?

    Also, no charity. And she’s relying on other taxpayers to pay her to support her family. this actually makes me pretty angry.

  18. Paul April 2, 2018 at 9:40 AM

    I look at your $6k a month in spending (I don’t even want to tell you mine…but since you showed me yours…$8k in a good month) and I think back to the days my wife and I could easily live on $2000-$2500 a month… my lord how times have changed… I’m not sure honestly if its kids or lifestyle inflation (read:mortgage & home depot), I mean honestly, the more money I make the poorer I get (I personally buy nothing for myself and my car is a 10 yr old Camry thats been paid off for 7 years)… its probably just because I’m putting it all into retirement that I feel this way, well that and any left over gets drained by this property. Sometimes I think about renting but honestly that would only work in a smaller house scenario. The equivalent house we have now would easily run me my mortgage payment in rent… not worth it IMO.

    In short, f the DC area!!! I’d be retired (or at least have a paid off house) now if I lived in Georgia…

    also parentheses FTW (that kind of day I guess)

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:20 PM

      Haha… def. cheaper before kids!! :) I found a note when I was trying to figure out how much I needed to be self-employed through blogging 8 years ago and it too came out to somewhere around $2,000/mo :) Now we’re at 3x that! lots of variables for sure – and you’re right, saving/investing lots def. doesn’t help, but i also know that one day we’ll get back to that point again… even if it takes a decade or two until all the kids are gone :)

  19. Ms ZiYou April 2, 2018 at 9:43 AM

    I love hearing inspirational stories like this of people living alternative lifestyles. There is no right way to live, and one of the reasons I like the FI community is we embrace all these options. If you have a paid off house, $1k a month seems reasonable to me.

    1. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 4:15 PM

      One of my inspirations came from reading, “Early Retirement Extreme, A philosophical and practical guide to financial independence.” by Jacob Lund Fisker.”

  20. the Budget Epicurean April 2, 2018 at 9:48 AM

    I wondered the same thing as many readers re: lack of health care and insurance in the budget. I feel like there has to be the husband side of the equation, he is likely still working and his insurance covers the family. They are probably quite active, and with a vegetarian diet very healthy overall. I can only assume they have no regular medications or illnesses and keep in shape.

    I can also only assume that they live in an older, smaller home in a very inexpensive place because of such looooooowwwww taxes and insurance! This just goes to show you that if you believe and are willing to make the hard sacrifices and choices necessary, you can totally do this. With her ER, their food budget will likely go down even further, if her gardening plans succeed. Best of luck, and YES PLEASE, start a blog so we can all follow!

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:21 PM

      I’ll have to see if she can pop back on to talk about insurance and husband stuff – def. left out of the equation but i’m sure is all a part of the plan :)

    2. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 4:32 PM

      Hello there Budget Epicurean❤️ we are pretty healthy…been vegan over a decade now….hubby is a military vet & gets healthcare coverage at no cost to us. He really retired as he calls it from his factory job in 2006….he has only done camp jobs since then and been a super awesome dad, parent and husband to boot ❤️❤️❤️ He left his job back then & we switched places work wise. I had been the homemaker for two years after the birth of our first son but was ready to make a change. We didn’t have near as much saved back then, but I knew we could make it. I paid our bills ahead for a year way back then and we spent that summer in ’08 working at another summer job together. I then found part-time work followed by full-time work and we never regretted it. ❤️ P.S. Our two-bedroom house, built in the 1950s, is just under 1,000 square feet. My husband had purchased it before we met in 1998. It sold for just under $60K back then. We had made several updates over the years (roof, fence, kitchen remodel, plumbing, electrical, bathroom remodel) we could likely sell it for $80-$85K at this point. We have homeowners insurance through Allstate.

  21. Fred Butz IV April 2, 2018 at 9:53 AM

    Relying on the EITC to cover expenses is as bad as expecting SS to always be paying at current levels. Though I am of the camp that the EITC should be done away with.

  22. Joe April 2, 2018 at 10:14 AM

    1,000 bucks per month with 2 kids? That’s gotta be a record of some sort. Nice work!
    They probably need to budget a little for car and home maintenance, but overall looks great.
    That’s very lean, but if they can make it work, that’s awesome.
    Also, probably need to budget a little more for kids.

  23. Darlene April 2, 2018 at 10:41 AM

    No health insurance payments or budget item for medical? Are they on Medicaid? As there is no line item for these expenses. And no a vegetarian diet does not equate to being healthy. Kentucky’s property tax may be low but you pay for it in the quality of education that children receive and other public services. I struggle with her use of the EIC as part of her planned budget. That is not what programs like that were developed for and is exactly how they get bad reputations and endanger them for the people they who they were meant to serve.

  24. Lily | The Frugal Gene April 2, 2018 at 10:56 AM

    We spend about $1000/month but we have half a mortgage left after we sell our rental home. I wouldn’t semi retire unless I see some leveling in the market so I know I’m on firm grounds but it does sound tempting and you never know what the market is going to do or what will come up…

  25. Dave April 2, 2018 at 11:07 AM

    No plans or savings for college, either? Man, I hope there are options for those kids after HS.

    1. Frugal Vegan Mama April 2, 2018 at 4:38 PM

      We will help our kids out with college…if they choose to go…and they can take out student loans and pay them off just as we did when we went to college. Our $200K nest egg will have grown by that time.

  26. Chris @ Mindful Explorer April 2, 2018 at 11:21 AM

    Well done Frugal Vegan Mama, I retired (well semi retired so I could give freelance writing and photography a try) myself at 43 as well. I am loving it even though some days I wonder if I made the right choice (paycheques were nice) . It sounds like you have got this figured out and thanks for sharing. There will be lots to figure out financially and emotionally when you do leave work so make sure you email J.Money with an update.

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:23 PM

      Oh yeah – the emotional part can be just as big as the financial one! At least when we make moves ourselves though we can better prepare vs others making them for us, haha…

  27. Grettman April 2, 2018 at 11:42 AM

    I will be the curmudgeon and say that this family is unrealistic about their future. When I say that, I am assuming they aren’t leaving any major details out. There is a lot of “daylight” between now (43 yrs old) and death. Let’s not forget that the ultimate goal in life is happiness and at the age of 50, 60, 70 or 80 are they still going to be happy living the lifestyle they live today? They better be happy because at some point they will forever be “locked in” with few options. Few things are as valuable as time and as time goes on they are giving up major opportunities to save and invest. Oh and let’s hope they stay healthy — forever —- because they won’t have the resources to dig them selves out of a crisis.

  28. Done by Forty April 2, 2018 at 11:42 AM

    That is such a cool story. And $1000 a month is no joke level of frugal! And I hadn’t heard of the EITC hack before.

    I will say that I think we frugal folks sometimes underestimate lumpy future expenses that don’t show up in a normal budget, but are coming nonetheless: a new roof, a new car, etc. etc. These won’t show up for many years, and thus will be left out of monthly & annual budgets, but they do come.


    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 12:25 PM

      yup, for sure… maybe that’s another reason she’ll still be working on the side as well? to be safer than just fully cutting the cord? At least with being so young you can always go back to your normal life of having a job again :) I’m sure they wouldn’t let their kids starve or go through all their money without making any changes… you’d have to be pretty stubborn for that haha…

  29. Lea April 2, 2018 at 3:29 PM

    I think the $1000 budget, paid off car and house is amazing but I am bothered by using the EITC to as an expected stream of income. The EITC is not an income “hack”. Like other readers, I am curious about health insurance- is this provided by the government, too? I wish we had more information.

    I also wonder what they do for enjoyment and homeschool activities for the kid. My son is homeschooled/unschooled but we still pay for things like art classes, music lessons, going to open gym, museums, homeschool curriculum materials, etc. If my house was paid off we could probably have about a $1500-$2000 budget, not including travel but a big part of of me wanting to reach FI is for the travel LOL.

  30. mike April 2, 2018 at 3:59 PM

    Super congratulations. A few blogs I patronize, Early Retirement.org and The Bogleheads, they’d tear you a new ass. But I’m in complete support.

    Plus you’re raising two children. My hat’s off to you. I’d love to meet you, you are inspirational.

  31. Andy April 2, 2018 at 4:00 PM

    Our budget is $1,200 a month + or – a couple hundred outside the budget. Monthly income is $2,800 after maxing out 401(k). We also max her Roth account. We could probably max my Roth account but we’re saving for a trip with friends next year. I don’t work currently because I had to recover from a health issue. At the time I was 38 and now I am 42. I am close to 100% recovered and loving life. My wife works full time but she is cool with me semi-retiring or coming up with a side gig of my own. We have no kids and our house and cars are paid off. Having those two things paid off makes a HUGE difference. Networth is currently $690,000. I am in the process of trying to figure out what to do with my extra freedom. Ideally I would like to generate income with something I enjoy doing.

    1. J. Money April 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM

      Nice!! Glad you’re back to feeling better as well! your wife seems super supportive and I wouldn’t be surprised if your “side” gig turned into something even bigger later… More shot of that happening when you’re doing it for fun and passionate about it :)

  32. C @ Working Optional April 2, 2018 at 4:57 PM

    My property taxes are a $1,000/month!! Now only if I could convince the wife to move… but who am I kidding, I love the weather over here as well. Yeah I know, I’m my own worst enemy :(

  33. Kelley April 2, 2018 at 5:26 PM

    Although I certainly applaud her for her great savings habits, I’m left wondering about possible missing categories of expenses. I would imagine 50k goes a lot farther in Kentucky than in some other areas, but $10 internet? $40 cell phone? Are these on some special promotions or is this the regular pricing? There’s no way we would get those prices where I live.
    But overall, glad to hear that they’re able to live the life they want.

    1. LS April 30, 2018 at 2:40 PM

      I too am dying to know about the $10 internet, but I can give you a recommendation for super cheap cell phone. There’s a lot of companies out there now that do cheap wireless, but after TONS of research I chose MintSim (now Mint Mobile). It’s basically unlimited everything with 10GB highspeed data for $15/mo. You should check them out if $40/mo seems surprising to you. I’ve used them for 7 months now and will never switch (until somehting even cheaper comes aorund, lol). And their price should not be dependent on location–they use T-Mobile’s network.

  34. Erika Berglund April 2, 2018 at 6:52 PM

    How wonderful! Love reading this inspiring stuff!!!!

  35. Kris April 2, 2018 at 7:18 PM

    Wow that’s crazy amazing!! Spending $1000 a month with the house and car paid off. I need to know where she gets internet for $10 a month, that is really low along with property taxes for her home.
    She needs to start a blog about this!! Pretty incredible spending habits.

  36. Lana April 2, 2018 at 7:25 PM

    J. Money says: “So yes – you need to start a blog, Frugal Vegan Mama!! We need you up in here sharing your tricks and secrets! Make it happen! (But first, quit that job and enjoy the freedom for a bit :))”

    J. Money!!! I cannot believe you typed out “quit that job”. Really???

    After I finished reading this post I was thinking that this must be an April Fool’s joke but then I looked at the date at the top of the page…….April 2nd.

    Just re-read the post. I still think this is a belated April Fool’s joke from J. Money.

    However, if I’m wrong then I wish you all the best Frugal Vegan Mama. :)

    I agree with what Chris@MindfulExplorer said above, “There will be lots to figure out financially and emotionally when you do leave work so make sure you email J.Money with an update.”

    Yes, make sure you email J.Money. :)

    1. J. Money April 3, 2018 at 6:46 AM

      No April Fool’s here! Haha… Whether you think she should quit her job or not, you can’t argue with how incredible having a paid off house and car is and only living on $1,000/mo :) I don’t know anyone living so frugally, do you?

  37. Liz C. April 2, 2018 at 9:32 PM

    The $10 internet is for low income folks. I think the EITC credit should be restricted to only one child. Why should the taxpayers pay for a second and third oops? A simple frugal life is admirable nevertheless.

  38. Bryan April 3, 2018 at 7:49 AM

    This may be a Faux pas, but if I may quote Jacob here:

    “Q: I find it hard to believe that you/anyone can live on $5-7k/year.
    A: That’s alright, I find it hard to understand how anyone can spend $30,000/year without flushing money down the drain.”

    Jacob “$a$$y Pants” ERE


    1. J. Money April 3, 2018 at 9:33 AM

      That’s pretty good :)

  39. Sarah April 3, 2018 at 11:42 AM

    This makes me angry. Relying on the government as an income is just relying on us taxpayers. This is not fair. This is not what government help is for. It is designed to help families in need, families in temporary difficult situations. Not for someone to retire at 43.

    And what about the kids? How do they not have a budget for homeschooling? What about museums, books, travel, art or dance classes?

    I love and admire frugal people but this one does not make any sense and I am having an ethical issue with it.

  40. Sarah April 3, 2018 at 12:14 PM

    Sorry to comment twice, I forgot to add something :)

    By ‘unethical’ I mean that if everybody in this country would financially rely on the government and not contribute anything to society (tax wise I mean) it would be the end of us all.

    You can’t just take and never give. This is wrong.

    1. J. Money April 3, 2018 at 3:21 PM

      I agree, but how do you know she’s not giving back or adding to society? We already know she works at a homeless shelter on the side which is more than most people contribute ;) And she’ll still be working and paying taxes, just not full-time. I’ll agree it’s a sticky situation though. And one most early retirees have to think about/figure out how they feel about it too. There’s a ton of FIRE bloggers who are millionaires and hardly pay anything in taxes by design.

      1. Sarah April 3, 2018 at 4:53 PM

        Oh trust me I have issues with millionaires not paying taxes too :)

        I believe that everybody should contribute and pay taxes, no matter how low or high the income. Even if it’s $10 a year I think it’s important symbolically.

        And if it was just “not paying taxes” I could deal with it but my issue is that she “takes” money with the tax credits. It is money that could go to people that don’t make the choice to be on a low income. I’m TOTALLY fine with paying taxes and help people in a difficult situation but I am having issues with my money going to subsidize someone’s early retirement.

        I probably have a strong reaction to this because I am from France and unfortunately, in a socialist country with generous tax credits and income redistribution some people made it a lifestyle even though it was initially designed to TEMPORARY help citizens in a hardship. Extreme right wing feeds from this. And as a result we came close to have the extreme right wing elected in our last presidential election). And look where we are now in the US…

        Anyways… It’s not a political blog :)

        1. Mahrosh April 6, 2018 at 1:10 PM

          You have an issue that seems genuine. You said if everyone would not pay taxes..hell everyone cant survive on $1000 also.. keep that in mind too… if she can .. she should coz she is sacrificing a good deal of things too.. just to be free…moreover how many of americans can survive on such low budget.. max 10 thousand families..do 5-10 billion dollars a year count among trillions of dollars of american economy???peanut.. plus they too are paying indirect taxes on every item they purchase… so let them have their share of joy the way they like it. Peace

  41. Heather April 3, 2018 at 2:12 PM

    My question is where the heck does she live that property tax is $55 a month and Internet is $10?! I need to move there!

    1. Sandy April 3, 2018 at 3:21 PM

      She mentioned the value of her home is $80K – $85K. Property taxes are calculated based on home value and $55 a month sounds about right. I pay around $60 in property taxes and my home value is a bit more than hers. If you live in states that have high property taxes, these numbers look unreal. But if you live in a state with low taxes, this is pretty normal to have property taxes this low, again given what the value of your home is. Just my 2 cents on the property tax number. The $10 internet I do not understand either. I actually was talking to my husband about that for about 20 minutes last night to see if we can figure out that $10 internet thing, but we had no luck. :) :) :)

      1. tokenadult April 18, 2018 at 11:32 PM

        I’m confused as to why everyone is questioning the property taxes as well. It’s a percentage of value and when you live in a low-cost home you pay less taxes. I bought a fixer up in a large city, and in one of the most expensive neighborhoods and my taxes are 1100 a year. I’t just because gentrification has not quite caught up with me yet:-(

        As for the 1,000, my “overhead” here is 900 a month. I spend more that that just because other frugal choices through the years mean I can go out and enjoy the heck out of this city whenever I want. (And I grew up near kentucky. Glad this family likes it, but the reason I worked so hard and bought so smart was to never never never have to go back again:-) I can’t imagine moving to a small community again.

  42. Terri April 4, 2018 at 3:21 AM

    I really would be quite admiring of this lifestyle choice and budget if there was not a reliance on government assistance in this mix. I don’t think she is being forthcoming in discussing the medical insurance situation. Yes, her husband has VA coverage, but what about her and the kids? The kids may have CHIP coverage (again government funded) and she may have a health subsidized plan through the state’s health exchange (?). We don’t know because she avoided answering the insurance question about what she does for insurance for her and her children. Quite frankly, her story doesn’t inspire me. I think a lot of folks are working hard and paying taxes to support her and her family.

  43. Emory Jones April 4, 2018 at 8:28 AM

    Where is the health insurance in that $1000 budget?!?!

  44. Method & Maddness April 4, 2018 at 9:33 PM

    Thank you for sharing FVM, and congrats on your next phase of life.

    To echo what many have said, the $1000 a month budget is IMPRESSIVE. Your family choices ie your husband’s service to our country (THANK YOU Frugal Vegan Daddy for your service) and geographic location make this wonderful budget work for you.

    Wishing you much success. And, worst case scenario, you can just go back to work!

    1. J. Money April 5, 2018 at 9:47 AM

      Yup, exactly… people act like this stuff is the end of the world and you can never change your mind once you decide on something… If the worst case is getting a job again – which you’ve been used to your whole life – that’s a damn good “worst problem” to have!

  45. Matt April 5, 2018 at 12:07 AM

    I have read some of the comments and people are being silly. Everyone accepts tax credits. It just so happens that her tax credits help cover some of her income. If anyone thinks taking tax credits are bad, just feel free to return theirs.

    1. J. Money April 5, 2018 at 9:46 AM

      Where’s the “like” button when you need one?? :)

  46. P the Saver April 6, 2018 at 7:04 AM

    I’m going to be a Debbie Downer here. Isn’t anyone bothered that this able-bodied woman chooses not to earn too much so she can claim Earned Income Credits? I have serious ethical and moral concerns of achieving your financial freedom from the backs of other tax payers. Fine if people save and purchase money-producing rentals or something similar to retire early, but to say “I’ll just let taxpayers fund my lifestyle” is wrong in my set of values.
    What she is doing is not illegal, but legal activity does not make it morally correct. We should not sell our souls to gain economic freedom.

  47. TheFIminator April 6, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    Interesting insight into Frugal Vegan Mama and her budget. It does look rather extreme, without knowing the living costs in her town. I guess it comes down to your own motivation and driver. If you really want to be Financially Independent, then you simply can by trade-offs and prioritization.

    1. J. Money April 6, 2018 at 2:10 PM

      Remember she has a paid off house and car too – freeing up that budget even more :)

  48. Kam April 7, 2018 at 12:30 AM

    Kudos to you Frugal Vegan Mama! Regardless of where you live, the hardest thing is to stay in budget. Thanks for sharing! And thank you J Money for posting!

  49. SMS April 9, 2018 at 11:44 AM

    Prices and taxes have a bad habit of going up and there is no wiggle room for this in the budget, to say nothing of replacing a roof, a car….. Apart from that, my issue is health insurance for FVM and the children.
    I believe that they can live on a low income in a low-tax state like Kentucky. Just maybe not quite soooo low.

  50. Debbie April 9, 2018 at 12:30 PM

    What about inflation? $10 for Internet? Ours just went up from $40-$45. It’s the only game in town. What about dental costs? Do they NEVER see a dentist? What about clothes & shoes for growing kids? ALL car insurance companies just got a 3% rate hike in our state. Home insurance up 5%. Gasoline went up 20 cents a gallon this month as they switch to summer blends. Some food items I buy every week are up 10%. Electric rates increased 5% in Jan. & water rates up 4%. Even planting your own herbs/veggies costs $$ to buy the plants, topsoil, fertilizer & extra $$ to water them. No budget for bday/holiday gifts? What about car repairs/oil changes or a budget to buy a new car? Same for home repairs/roof/furnace/appliances. Nothing lasts forever.
    Her frugality is wonderful but doesn’t seem sustainable when emergencies are just a way of life & no one escapes inflation.

  51. tokenadult April 18, 2018 at 11:45 PM

    I feel like the major subtle difference that might be missed here is what type of budget this really is. she is not promoting this as her a way to live on a salary of 1,000 a month and “damn the torpedos” if something goes wrong. This is her budget created to IDEALLY allow her to save most of her much larger salary. If I read correctly, she makes almost 50,000 so easily has another 30 grand of take-home that is going towards savings and can always be turned toward for an emergency. With that amount of difference between her take-home pay and her spending, she can handle most emergencies from her regular cash flow, not to mention her emergency fund.

    I think confusion sets in about priorities. Everyone should spend money on things they deem important, but sometimes people get lost in the other side of that coin, which is cutting down on things that don’t matter. She prioritizes time, home schooling, and her community. For that , she is giving up living in a high cost area and almost all extraneous spending. It may seem extreme, but if you really want to follow a large goal in life, that’s how you do it. Cut what you don’t care about it, keep what you do.

    My budget drives people crazy, as do my priorities. I’m middle-aged, live in 400 square feet, and drive a beater. But I live in a fantastic, well-known neighborhood, work freelance and can take of whenever I please, go out a great deal, and travel out of country at least once a year. Extreme cutbacks pay for extreme luxuries.

    As for the EIC, families with kids and one SAHM have historically always gotten tax breaks. Just because this a a credit really doesn’t change the equation as far as I’m concerned.I could make more money and pay more taxes too. I don’t:-)

    And her husband is a veteran, and she works at a homeless shelter. Please…I don’t want to hear that they owe the country more than that. It may not be my lifestyle, but we are all here to get support for OUR choices and our right to make them as unique as we are, no?

    1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 6:13 AM

      Yes!! Preach!

      And love this — “Extreme cutbacks pay for extreme luxuries.”