Taken from conversation at:
My father did the same and his highest earning year was just a tad over 38k ( Ive got his old tax returns). I’m disabled, denied any help by the US government, and survive on less than 12k a year, a good year is maybe 15k. The coming year I dont know if Ill even have anything income wise but somehow Ill survive if I dont freeze to death this winter. Luckily I own my house, but all utilities are up for turn off. I hear people constantly crowing that indeed wages are up, that Target is starting people at 15 dollars an hour! I live in an area of metro Atlanta where the living wage for a single person starts at 15 an hour but one county over Its 18 an hour. So when I hear people talk about families with children living on one or a combined income that does not cross 30k a year, and how if they’d just live within their means they should be able to do “fine” or even good, I really don’t know what to say. Sure there are individual types like me who live frugally on the edge of bare survival, but that is not a sustainable norm.
I've done it most of my adult life. Food wise you learn what to buy to make due. You just don't buy new things, go out to eat and spend money on much entertainment. Granted I own my own house small and shabby that it is. If not for that, Id be in a far worse world of hurt probably homeless.