How to Live a Flexible Lifestyle With a Low Wage Job

A Path to Living a Flexible Life for Low Income Workers

$ 10
per hour

If you make at least $10 an hour

hours a week

Work full time

months a year

Take six months off or a gap year

Living on a low income can be a challenge in America. After paying the bills there’s often little left over for savings. The jobs aren’t flexible either and lack meaningful vacation time. 

Here’s what the earnings after taxes like*: 

  • $8/hr – $16,640
  • $10/hr – $18,368
  • $12/hr – $21,740
* Based on 40 hours a week for a single filer with no dependents.

Low wage jobs earn $15-20k a year. That is typically just enough to survive but what if it was all we needed and some? 

Through frugal living the cost of our basic needs can be reduced to around $5k (25-33%) of income for those making $8-12 an hour. While this works on any income it has the largest impact on the lowest earners. Who can use the extra money to maximize their savings and radically change their lifestyle. 

Work a year and take a year off? Or six months and travel the world? How about taking a chance on a business idea or trying out freelancing? All of these options are more are now possible.

Coliving (communal living) has recently gained popularity from large developers and small independent homeowners. These properties are rented out in major urban metros by the bedroom with shared common areas, coworking spaces, and events. It’s a concept created to be both affordable and flexible (on month-to-month leases). Rooms even come furnished. Big cities across America are suffering from an affordable housing crisis and this is one of the leading solutions. 

For anyone earning a low income an urban (or well located suburban) location is a great choice for a couple of reasons. First, It’s easy to find a similar or better job in a major urban city and wages tend to be higher. Second, large and medium sized corporations are more often found in the bigger metros. Third, public transit can be used to drive less or stop driving all together. Savings can be 75-90% for frequent commuters.   

Full Year Budget


$10 hour FT for 12 months


Freedom Coliving


Public Transit



Misc Expenses


Total Savings

Budget Snapshot



$250 month


$40 month


$175 month


$50 month


$100 month


$200 month


What to Do With $5-10k+ in Savings?

World Travel

Live abroad for 2-6 months a year.

Cost: $400-1,500 a month

Big City Life

Live for 2-3 months in American cities such as New York or Los Angeles

Cost: ~$1,500 a month

Start a Business

Start your own company or try out self-employment. You'll have the savings and time to do it.


Most frequent questions and answers

Savings  are commonly used to invest in the stock market or real estate, pay down debt (especially credit card and student loan), or given away to charity.  

It’s no problem expenses are a personal decision. Just realize spending more means less money to save. For example, $100 a month spent eating out could be used for a gym membership or a transit pass.

Through living in shared housing and reducing or eliminating vehicle trips and instead choosing to use public transit most people should see their spending drop $5,000-10,000 a year. 

It all depends on the itinerary and seasonality.  Developing countries such as India tend to cost around $15-30 a day while developed countries such as Europe are closer to $30-50 a day. If traveling to multiple countries on one trip a budget of $1,000 a month should be a good goal.

There is no easy answer as this is a personal decision. In general it depends on the income and if the job is flexible and can be done from home or while traveling. 

A person who earns $6,000 and has no debt may be comfortable taking six months off from work and resuming when finished traveling.

Frequency will depend but it’s a great idea to take an extended break from work and take advantage of the flexible living options that exist throughout the US and the world. 

Sample Timeframes:

  • 3 months working, 3 months off
  • 12 months working, 12 months off
  • 18 months working, 6 months off