I was just responding to a post in this community where a woman is asking how long it took people to learn to live within there budget and I gave some pointers. That got me to thinking back about 5 years ago and the kind of money I was living on and still being able to live fairly well. I just went over my budget from back then and my break even was $880 a month including rent, gas, food, utilities, high speed internet, cell phone, haircuts and pocket money. (never had a credit card or went to a payday loan shark) Granted I drove a hundred dollar truck that some people considered to be the scariest thing in the world but it was reliable (for some reason people have a problem with the idea of a steel dashboard and no shoulder belts) I remember sitting there at the end of the month having a hundred dollars extra left over and thinking if I kept it up I could really start to get ahead. I don’t look back at those as the good old days I’m just reflecting on how far I’ve come and the importance of budgets. The moral of the story is I was earning less than a thousand dollars a month living independently (no girlfriend, roommate or govt. assistance) and was still able to make it comfortably but only because I really hawked my budget.