Ways to Save Money – Low – Income Programs in California

This article was created in order to help those living in California that earn less than $1,800 per month, or $21,000 per year. If you fall into this category, you should qualify for several of these available programs. If you have a larger household you may still qualify for these programs especially if they are dependents. Most of the covered programs have charts showing the guidelines for qualifying on each program and a link to the proper website to apply or learn more information.

If you read this entry carefully you should be able to save yourself at least $200 a month! Please take your time to quickly read over the provided details so you can maximize your savings. Be sure to share this article if you’ve found it helpful!

As a contractor it is always in my best interest to eliminate overhead (or costs) each month to maximize profits. I’ve done this by using work exchange, volunteer programs, community events, and much more. There are a ton of programs out there – you just have to look out for them! Many of these can be found on the Lifeline California website, but here you’ll get a better description on what exactly the programs are. Let’s begin!


Free Phone via California Lifeline

If you live in California and are receiving most any type of government assistance all you need to do is provide proof and some personal information and you’ll be on your way to eliminating your cell phone bill each month. These phones include unlimited Talk and Text each month, and usually some form of data along with a brand new Android smartphone. You can learn more information on the Lifeline California website, or visit Safelink Wireless directly.


Average Savings: $60/mo

California National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

California offers a wonderful program for those who need assistance with getting meals for their child in school. This is excellent for those struggling month to month with trying to get their child(ren) fed while attending school. The following information has been pulled from their website to qualify for the program:

lunch*For households with more than eight people, add  $7,696 per additional person. Always check with the appropriate managing agency to ensure the most accurate guidelines.
To apply for free or reduced price meals, please visit:
You can learn more about the California School Nutrition Programs by visiting the CDE School Nutrition website at:http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/index.asp

Average Savings: $42/mo


CalFresh, EBT, SNAP (Formerly Food Stamps)

One of the more popular programs in California is CalFresh. This is an excellent way for you to be able to afford additional food (or food in the first place) for yourself. The application process is very easy and can even be done online if you’re not up for visiting your local office. If you do visit a local office, however, – you will be given a CalFresh card immediately and be able to buy food within an hour of leaving if you apply for emergency aid. Remember – always be truthful and honest when applying for these programs! Fraud can and will be prosecuted.

Application Process visit http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/foodstamps/default.htm.
More information, visit http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/foodstamps/PG847.htm

Average Savings: $100/mo

California Section 8

Section 8 is a program which provides low-rent housing to qualifying individuals. There are many houses available on their list, however there is an extensive waiting period. After applying a family can wait 5-7 years before finally being approved – however once you are approved you’re set! You’ll enjoy low-rent for a period of time allowing you to actively attend other classes, job training, etc in order to better your individual situation. Check it out!
In order to qualify for the California Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher) Program applicants need to meet a set of income eligibility requirements. These income eligibility requirements are based on the family income and size. Generally speaking in order to qualify for this program, applicants must have an income that is considerably lower than the area’s median income. The PHA divides applicants into three income category namely: very low-income, extremely low income and low income. The low income households are those that earn 80% or more than 80% of the area’s median income while the extremely low income household is at 30% of the area’s median income. The very low-income category earns 50% of the area’s median income. It should be noted that close to 75% of the vouchers are issued to individuals who fall in the extremely low-income category.

If you meet the California Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher) basic program eligibility requirements, you should go ahead and apply for participation, all you need to do is:

  • Contact your nearest California Public Housing Authority (PHA). A list of local California PHA,s and their respective contact information available on this link: http://www.hud.gov/offices/pih/pha/contacts/states/ca.cfm (List of California PHA,s Local Agencies)
  • After contacting your nearest PHA, you should obtain, fill and submit an application.
  • After filling the application, you should wait for the PHA to process your application.

Upon successful processing of your application, you will be admitted into the California Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher) program, and will be issued with a housing choice voucher.

You can obtain further information on the California Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher) by using the contact information available on this link:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/pha/contacts

Average Savings: $500/mo


California Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

California offers energy discounts to a multitude of various types of locations – more than just residential!
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Block Grant is funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services provides two basic types of services. Eligible low-income persons, via local governmental and nonprofit organizations, can receive financial assistance to offset the costs of heating and/or cooling dwellings, and/or have their dwellings weatherized to make them more energy efficient.      This is accomplished through these program components:

  • The Weatherization Program provides free weatherization services to improve the energy efficiency of homes, including attic insulation, weather stripping, minor housing repairs, and related energy conservation measures.
  • The Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) provides payments for weather-related or energy-related emergencies

The restrictions are listed below. Take a look – you may be able to get your service started!

To apply, find the energy service provider in your community here:

You may also call the CSD toll-free phone center at 1-866-675-6623.

Average Savings: Varies

Low Income Rate Assistance – Water

     LIRA offers a service-charge discount to qualifying low-income customers. To qualify for LIRA: The Cal Water bill must be in your name. You must live at the address where the discount will be received.
Your household must meet the income guidelines detailed below OR someone in your household must be enrolled in a qualified public assistance program. You must notify Cal Water if your household no longer qualifies for the LIRA discount.
Following enrollment, you may be required to provide proof of eligibility. You are required to recertify your eligibility every two years (four years if you have documentation proving you are handicapped or elderly [62+]).

To be eligible for LIRA based on household income, your household’s gross annual income may not exceed these guidelines:
lunch.JPG     The LIRA is not retroactive. If you qualify, you will receive a discount beginning the month after Cal Water received your application. If you prefer not to mail or e-mail your application, you may bring it to your local Customer Center. If you have questions about LIRA, please e-mail lira@calwater.com or call toll-free (877) 419-1701.

Average Savings: 20



Medicaid / Medi-Cal

     Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid health care program. This program pays for a variety of medical services for children and adults with limited income and resources. Medi-Cal is supported by Federal and state taxes. Medi-Cal is a large program made up of many separate programs designed to assist Californians in various family and medical situations.

     In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a resident of the state of California, a U.S. national, citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien, in need of health care/insurance assistance, whose financial situation would be characterized as low income or very low income. You must also be either pregnant, blind, have a disability or a family member in your household with a disability, be responsible for children under 19 years of age, or be 65 years of age or older.

You must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below the following amounts:

To apply online, please visit the Covered California online application portal.
Call or visit your local county social services office and ask for a Medi-Cal application: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/default.aspx
 Average Savings: Varies


Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

The California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, nutrition education and referrals to health care, at no cost, to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are determined to be at nutritional risk. To be fully eligible for the WIC Program, applicants must be determined by a health professional, at no cost, to be at nutritional risk (i.e., have certain medical-based or diet-based risk conditions).
wic.pngApplication Process For more information on how to apply, please visit: http://cdph.ca.gov/programs/wicworks/Pages/AboutWICandHowtoApply.aspx Program Contact Information For more information on California WIC, please visit the California Department of Public Health at: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/wicworks/Pages/default.aspx

Average Savings: $100/mo


California Weatherization Assistance Program

The Weatherization Assistance Program reduces the heating and cooling costs for low-income families by improving the energy efficiency of their homes and ensuring their health and safety. Among low-income households, the program focuses on those with elderly residents, individuals with disabilities, and families with children.

     If you receive Supplemental Security Income or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, you are automatically eligible to receive weatherization services.
lunch.JPGContact a local provider to determine your eligibility: http://www.csd.ca.gov/Services/FindServicesinYourArea.aspx or call 1-866-675-6623. Program Contact Information For more information, visit: http://www.csd.ca.gov/Services/ResidentialEnergyEfficiencyServices.aspx

Average Savings: Varies


California Unemployment Insurance

In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must have worked in the past 12 to 18 months and have earned at least the minimum amount of wages as determined by our guidelines. You must also be able to work and be available for work each week you are claiming benefits. With UI Benefits, you’ll be required to actively seek employment. You will be required to provide proof of your applications such as location, date, and name of the company you applied for.
This is great for someone who was wrongfully terminated and needs to compensate for lost wages while seeking a replacement position.

For more information on how to apply or to file a new claim or reopen a claim, please visit: http://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Ways_to_File.htm

Average Savings: N/A


AT&T Access Internet

Now this is a pretty good deal that I just discovered was offered in California. If you receive Calfresh/SNAP/EBT benefits you qualify for Internet starting @ $5.00 a month! AT&T offers 2 plans: 10Mb @ $10.00, 5Mb @ $5.00, and 3Mb @ $3.00 – depending on what’s available in you’re area.

I like this program because it’s easy to qualify and apply for. As long as you’re receiving your food stamp benefits in California you most likely have this amazing deal in your area! AT&T Access.

Average Savings: $40/mo


Comcast Internet Essentials

    Comcast has an excellent deal if you live in a home that has a student who is receiving free lunch via the California National School Breakfast and Lunch Program. The program is excellent as it provides High-Speed Internet Access for only $9.95 a month plus tax! Another aspect is they offer laptops loaded with Microsoft Office and Norton Security Suite completely free of charge. These laptops are priced at $149.99.

You can also enjoy free online tutoring and the ability to sit in free classes!

Average Savings: $50/mo



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