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I want to go to a cheap ass country to get away from life for a month or two but South America and SEA don't appeal to me. How much USD would it take to stay in the Balkans? Also any other good places for extended cheap trips?
30€/day for food and accomodation should be plenty if you're not going to splurge and don't stay in the more touristy places during the high season (Belgrade, Croatian coast etc.). Rooms in sketchy motels in the middle of nowhere are as cheap as 10€ a night, so even 15€ is feasible if you rely on food from grocery stores.

If you want to be a really cheap fuck you can visit Orthodox monasteries and ask for shelter. You won't be refused. Wandering around in villages in the evening looking like a dumb foreigner is also a good way to receive an invitation from locals to stay the night at their place, usually for free or a small tip.

Based on my experience in Serbia/Romania/Bulgaria.
Go to the black Sea or Caspian or go in the fall. Croatia etc. are full of tourists in the summer and it's too hot anyways
Was there for a month. If you book a hostel it's about 5€, if you stay a week or two it can go as low as 3€. Food in a canteen is about 5€ for Soup, Main dish, drink and desert.
Also people are extremely hospitable (to the point of it becoming annoying sometimes). But at one point a guy stopped for me while I was walking with my backpack down the road, gave me a ride and paid the first two days for my hostel. Just like that. When hitchhiking I also got invited every evening by people to sleep at their places.
Do you speak Russian?
Try Romania, I am cheap poor student and with ~ 200 € I have felt like richest man in the universe while I was there. Though I was hiking through mountains and woods and visited only small villages. Only big cities (because transportation) i were in were Arad and Timisoara. Country people are fantastic. Get cigarettes for trading if you decide for it.

btw i forgot, i was there for 2 weeks
Croatia is like the only country filled with tourists out of the balkan countries. It was actually the only country I skipped out of them all because of that. It's definitely very hot in the summer but still well worth it. Bulgaria, Romania, mainland Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro were amazing in the summer.
You gotta understand since you're American the plane ticket alone is gonna cost a lot to get way the fuck over there, not really worth it imo.

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