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Interesting question, and one that DH brings up from time to time. He points out that his father lived on less than $20k per year, but he was disabled and made use of every available program out there which really helped. When this comes up because DH cannot believe that I've budgeted for us to spend so much in retirement, I always ask if he wants the life his Dad had to live on that amount.

My Dad and his wife also live on a very low amount, though more than FIL, and do quite well. But they also live in senior housing (not assisted living), so I know it is possible to live on a lot less than what we have budgeted, but we choose not to do that.

If you want to know what you can live on as a minimum, then I'd do a straw man budget to see where the money will go.
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