Is Living on 800 a Month Possible? It Sure is!


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Back in freshman year in college, my economics professor told us there was a way for us to live on around $700 a month. When he got the attention of the class, he smirked and said: “the only way is to move out of the city.”

Well, since most of us were in college, moving out of the city was out of the question. But the concept kept me thinking, even after I graduated: is it possible to live on 800 dollars a month in the city? (I upped the amount from 700 for a bit of wiggle room) After a couple of years of trial and error, I can say that it is absolutely possible – joke’s on my professor, I guess.

In this post, I’ll be sharing some tips on how to live on $800 a month. Most of these techniques are easy to do, but they do require some changes in our attitudes towards money – and that’s the hardest thing to do. But if you’re looking for ways to maximize your dollar, read on!

A Paradigm Shift

Before we go on, I need you to change your concept of “need.” We need all kinds of things… or at least we think we do. We think we “need” a new pair of sneakers to impress our hypebeast friends. We think we “need” to give our laptop a memory upgrade for a minor performance boost. All of these are nice to have, but chances are we don’t really need them as much as we think we do.

The things we think we badly need are actually quite easy to live without. All we have to do is make some lifestyle changes. Learning to live less isn’t about living like a monk or hermit. All your doing is recognizing that satisfying your need right now doesn’t improve your life in any significant way… in fact, it could do the opposite. How many people are buried in credit card debt for buying stuff they didn’t really need?

When you only buy things you absolutely need at this moment, you’ll be surprised by how much you can make your budget stretch. So to be able to get living on 800 a month, you’ll need a paradigm shift.

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Spend to Save Time

I know, this goes contrary to other bits of advice you might have heard: instead of spending on things and services that save you time (like a dishwasher), you should save the money and take time to do those chores yourself. That isn’t a bad piece of advice, but I prefer the opposite: spend to save time.

I know this post is about saving money, but I happen to think time is more important than cash. When you spend on something that gives you free time, you can use that free time to study or earn money – both of which will give you an even greater payoff later on. So look at it as an investment. As long as you do a cost-benefit analysis, don’t hesitate to spend on services that allow you to earn even more money. That technique is actually a big factor in how to live on 800 dollars a month.

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Rent and Borrow, If Possible

We live in a consumer-driven society that glorifies ownership. Just get on Instagram, and you’re sure to find millions of people flexing and showing off their latest acquisitions. It looks great, sure, but just imagine all the money these people are wasting.

I recommend getting rid of this burning need to own stuff. More often than not, we spend money on stuff we could get by without. Instead of buying a car, you can save money by using ride-sharing instead. Instead of buying your own console, you can borrow or even rent a friend’s unit. Heck, I even remember sharing a Netflix account between three friends! We weren’t cheap… okay, maybe we were. But the money we saved was pretty considerable. And we were able to put all the money we saved to good, more meaningful, use.

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Find Online Earning Methods

We’re all familiar with part-time jobs. I had a couple of roommates who worked as teaching assistants, store clerks, and baristas. Those jobs are great, and I suggest it to both students and working peeps, but you can also try to find earning methods online. Doing online side hustles sense when you think about it: we’re always online. And since the earning methods I’ll be listing down are pretty easy to do, you can do them during break time.

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Answer Surveys and Watch Videos for Free Money

Rewards sites are some of the most popular earning methods on the internet. On these sites, you do stuff like answer surveys and watch videos for money. There are tons of rewards sites out there, but not all of them are equal. I would recommend ignoring all other rewards sites and instead focusing on GrabPoints.

The reason is really simple: GrabPoints is the highest-paying rewards site on the planet. Plus, it only takes two days to process your payment requests. The site is legit, and I can’t recommend them enough.

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Rate Music

If you have an eclectic taste in music, you can try rating music for rewards. Check out HitPredictor. They’re a rewards site that lets you sound off (pun intended) on new music. On HitPredictor, you earn points whenever you rate a song. Rating songs is really easy – all you have to do is pick from five options.

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Sell Stock Photos Online

Okay, disclaimer: this one isn’t 100% online since the bulk of the work is heading out to the real world to shoot photos. But if you’re in art school, or have a photography background, you can try your hand at selling stock photos. I’ll assume you’re still kind of new to this, so I recommend you try selling stock photos on sites like 123RoyaltyFree, Crestock, CanStockPhoto, and BigStockPhoto, which are mostly beginner-friendly.

Taking stock photos takes a bit of organization to pull off. If you don’t have the time and patience to do that (I don’t blame you – work and college can get really busy), you can instead try taking artistic photos and selling prints on sites like Etsy and PicassoMio. And you can even sell your photos as designs for mugs, shirts, and tote bags. You can try sites like RedBubble, and they handle the printing and shipping of your merch. Basically, all you have to do with RedBubble is upload your work and hope they sell.

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Set Goals and Treat Yourself

Nothing demoralizes me like the feeling that I’m running endlessly on a hamster wheel. I can hustle, scrimp, and spend smartly all I want, but sometimes it feels like I’m getting by only to have to repeat the entire process the following month.

That’s a pretty sucky feeling, and to combat that, I set goals for myself. These goals are both short-term (“have $500 in my bank account by end of midterms”) and medium-term (“have $1,000 in savings by year’s end). I can use these goals to remind myself why I’m doing all these things. It gives me the sense that I’m moving forward, instead of just spinning my wheels.

But aiming to have X dollars in your account is just a partial goal. To have a more complete goal, decide what you’ll do with that money. You can save up money to get things like better health insurance, major car repairs (if you still use your own car), or to send financial assistance to your family. Money isn’t abstract; it isn’t just a bunch of numbers you see increasing in your bank account. You need to have a planned use for that money — even if the plan is just to keep saving! – to make it feel more real.

Finally, don’t deprive yourself too much. We’re all trying to be as frugal as possible, but as I mentioned a while ago, living in self-imposed poverty isn’t ideal either. Once you reach some of your financial milestones, go on and treat yourself. I would suggest these treats should be pre-planned, along with your financial plan. Trust me, you don’t want to go to the mall with a full wallet and no plan. Impulse buying is a major threat to your financial well-being. So treat yourself, but map how you plan to do just that. Trust me, your splurge will be sweeter that way!

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The Verdict?

So I gave a lot of tips in this post. But all of these tips basically say the same things: rethink your concept of need, save where possible, and find ways to earn that can be worked around your schedule.

It might be tough getting out of the consumerist mindset. But it’s just a matter of inertia; it’s hard to start, but when you get the ball rolling, things get progressively easier. Before you know it, you’ll be living a frugal, financially-responsible lifestyle! Good luck!
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