I just survived my lowest income year


It’s amazing what you can live on when you have to. We all take our income for granted; it comes in, then goes out on living and fun costs until the group certificate comes in, and you wonder what the hell it was all really spent on??


I’m used to living frugal by getting the most out of my money and I know exactly where it all went but wow that past year was tough!


With an income of just $25,900 Gross and $23,500 Net for the last financial year, this is almost as low as Newstart Allowance of $15,340 per year!

low income, surviving low income, live on less, hard year,


I’m in shock at how I also paid for the general costs of 3 kids, an overseas holiday and interstate trip to see a friend. The mortgage, 3 kids dance lesson fees and costs, 2 new laptops, 3 lots of pocket money fortnightly, monthly visits to my osteopath for body maintenance, and a deposit and braces payment plan for miss#2. Not to mention all of the other regular painful bills and insurances. I hope I never have to repeat that income year.


There is a reason for my income being so low however and that’s because I went into partnership to start a new small business.


Although it was a tough financial year, it’s been fantastic to start a business with my partner and to finally work for ourselves instead of a huge company (BP), being worked around the clock and under appreciated. Unless it was a special request, I never had a weekend off or a single meal break in the 11 years I was there. It was definitely time to leave and become our own boss’. It was the best thing we’ve done for ourselves. Now we can work as many regular hours we need to, move forward and now, get extra help with the business while taking on more clients.


After thinking about what our small town (pop approx 2000) and community needed, we decided to start a business providing domestic cleaning to people with no time to clean. Homes with double incomes and no time left to enjoy life. Homes where people genuinely need help with cleaning and also newly built homes building companies need cleaned, so Helping Hands Surfcoast was born.


Thankfully I had worked for BP for 11 years and had saved some long service money for when I left, which was able to fund the start up costs of our business for only $2000. Within 4 months, we had a full schedule and had also become the contract cleaners for a building company, ‘True Design Homes’.

living frugal
Live frugal and just 'be'


Because of a lot of equipment, chemical and car costs over the first full year after start up, the income hasn’t been great but we’ve stuck with it, survived on a crappy income and come out the other side to expand and hopefully hit the threshold for GST in this next financial year. It should be a better one this coming year we hope.


Just like I mentioned in a past article 25 WAYS YOU CAN EARN EXTRA INCOME, I think we’re all capable of working for ourselves, to earn our own income and not rely on another company to tell us when to work, rest, eat and sleep. You only need to look around your local area to see how many people operate something from home. You can too.


In the past I’ve been used to an average income of $40,000 Gross ($36,000 Net) which is also very low but it was what I was used to receiving. To get through the last financial year on half of that, I proved to myself that I can continue to live on a low amount and appreciate every thing I’ve got and will get. If the business can pay me more this next year, I can allocate that towards savings now I know I can survive on that low amount. For the first time in my life I might actually be able to have spare money growing in the bank.


I am lucky because I do receive child support from my 3 kids’ dad. This amount of $560 a month only covers their food intake each month but it’s been a saviour through the year and reminded me how lucky I am to actually receive it as a lot of women don’t. Family Tax Benefit has also helped to pay only the bills but again, it’s been needed.


Thankfully, last years Tax refund of $1,500 started our holiday fund that we had already planned to take with extended family. I still don’t quite know how I was able to get that to $4,500 by the next March? But I did it.


There were no clothes bought, the kids school shoes and sneakers were from the previous year and not a lot of activities outside of school took place apart from our family holiday. 


One laptop for school was saved for, and mine was put on the credit card as the sale price was too low to miss, even with a small amount of interest to pay on top.


I think we only went out for dinner twice throughout the year and both were saved up for over the month before. I never went shopping, apart from buying groceries as I had to stay away from the bright lights so not to lure me in. Even a quick visit to Kmart can ruin a budget so I stayed away. Groceries were kept to a minimum, with no extras and ‘no’ was said a lot. Actually a lot of explaining to the kids was easier than just saying no as they now understand money a little more because of it.


I gave up smoking which was a must for my health but also the finances. I honestly don’t know how people can throw that much money away on smokes now, unless they earn over $60,000+ each year.


Money… it makes the world go around but it doesn’t rule the world.


This past year has now made me more motivated and determined as ever to help anyone I can get through life on a low income. I know I can survive on much less than I thought I could and was previously used to. It has always help me appreciate and value everything, but now even more so and I’m extra thankful for what I already have. The important things in my life (family) are still here with me and the kids have learned a little more for it. That makes me smile as I know I’m arming them with survival and wealth growing skills for their future.


What has been your lowest income year?

Did you go into debt and catch up the next year or just keep your head above water?

Add yours to the comments below.

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