Skip to comments.How to Live Cheaply
Posted on 05/15/2011 11:54:33 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
1. Analyze your expenses. Budget your money. Find out where it's coming from and, more importantly, where it's going. This can be a very surprising and enlightening exercise for many people.
2. Find where you spend the most money on a monthly basis. The top two or three items are where you need to do the most work.
3. Is rent your biggest expense? If so, consider moving to a cheaper place. Consider getting a roommate to split the costs of living. Consider moving back in with your parents or guardians. Offer services (e.g. looking after a relative) in exchange for paid rent and utilities. Motels will exchange maintenance services for free room, particularly during the off season when they usually have empty rooms.
4. Food: are you spending too much? If so, begin by saving your receipts every time you go grocery shopping and looking at them to see where most of your money is going. Buy mostly vegetables and flavour them with a wide variety of inexpensive herbs and spices carried aromatically by oil. Reduce or eliminate meat by focusing on vegetables with a bit of meat "on the side" rather than the other way around. Buy in bulk. Go to stores just before closing time and offer to buy what they are about to throw out. Bakeries and bread stores are very good places to approach. Raise vegetables in your back yard. Or keep your own bees, for honey (and maybe some to sell!) Offer to buy surplus food from hobby gardeners (or, exchange your labour in their garden, for food).
5. Is keeping warm (or cold) burning up your extra dollars? If so, consider ways to decrease them. If your heating bill is burning a big hole in your budget, put window sealer in the cracks to block cold air from entering through your windows. Invest in warm slippers and a comfy knit hat--it's a lot cheaper to keep you warm instead of the whole house. Turn off lights and appliances when you're not using them to save electricity. Live in a cold climate? Plant evergreens on the north side of your house, close to the house. If you live where it is predominantly hot, put up deciduous trees (the ones that lose leaves at the beginning of fall/winter) on the south side. Minimize your air conditioning. At night, open windows and run a heavy-duty fan (or even two fans) all night to pull cool air through house. Then, close up early in the morning and block sunniest windows with inexpensive foam art boards. Alternately, reverse direction of the fans to pull air from the shady side of the building inward.
6. It's easy to cut back on entertainment. Think of cheaper ways to entertain yourself. Instead of going out have some friends over and rent a movie, play games, or just sit and have a good conversation. Limit your alcohol tabs, see if this makes a dent in your entertainment expenses. Buying a cheaper bottle of wine and enjoying it with friends at home can sometimes be as fun as hanging out at the local watering hole. Or, brew your own! Or better yet, quit drinking. It can be unhealthy if not done in moderation. Learn to play an instrument! Pick up your old guitar or violin and go find the local folk, jazz, or blues music jam scene. This is really fun and really cheap. There are people jamming everywhere, although it can take some detective work to find them.
7. Do you own a car? Try living without it:
Sell your car (or don't own one to begin with). This can be difficult to do; especially if cars are a way of life for you. But it's not as terrible as you might think. Calculate how much selling your car would save you annually (including the payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, tickets & fines, parking, DMV fees, car washes, toll, supplies, and after-market parts & upgrades). Would you like to not have to spend that money? Alternatives to driving: walking, taking the bus and/or train, carpooling, riding a bike, or using a shared car service like Flexcar or Zipcar. If cars are a hobby for you, see if you can switch to a hobby that demands less money. You can get just about anywhere around town on your bicycle! If you do not yet already have a bicycle, get a good quality one (possibly a well-cared-for used one). If you settle for a cheapie bike, you will not enjoy riding nearly as much, and the bike will need continual repair
8. Cut your communication costs! Don't own both a cell phone and a landline. If you choose to use only a cell phone, try to find a plan that doesn't charge you for minutes after a certain time of day. Consider ditching monthly contract related phone services altogether and get a prepaid cell phone, such as a goPhone or Tracfone.Don't accrue charges by calling regular 411 but use free, ad-supported services like 1-800-Free411 or 1-800-GOOG411. Keep your phone off as much as possible while traveling in order to avoid roaming charges. Email is free! If you decide to own a pet, here are some ways to save: Consider getting a life long license instead of renewing it each year. Consider making your own dog food. Consider health insurance for your pet. Bathe them yourself instead of going to an expensive groomer.
9. Get rid of your bad habits. YOU know what they are! The bits of instant gratification that ruin any tight budget! Smoking Gambling Drinking (at all)
10. Develop a budget based on your above spending, with clear goals. You can do this by creating a spreadsheet or just by writing on a piece of paper. Define how much you expect to spend in each of your major categories in the next few months with goals where you can limit some activities to save for larger purchases. Don't forget to include a small portion for misc. items just in case. Track your expenses in line with your budget that you created and make sure not to go over budget. If you allow yourself to overspend a couple of times, your budget will be less helpful and you'll lose more money to things you don't need or could have found cheaper.
Generic Brands Consider buying an alternative that may be cheaper or eliminating that item if it is not necessary. The brands that are directly in front of you on a store shelf are the most costly: reach up or stoop down for the cheaper store brands. Bargain, Bargain, Bargain. It pays off. Make a realistic budget, one that you can meet without starving yourself or depriving yourself of necessary things. Learn to separate "needs" from "wants". Ask yourself if you really need this item...and if you're not sure, wait. If you catch yourself thinking, "But I deserve this!" be very wary that's a tactic advertising agencies use. Don't be brainwashed into buying. Cut down on smoking...or, quit altogether! Buying cigarettes really adds up. Why pay someone to ruin your health? But that's easier said than done when you have an addiction. Why not buy tobacco and roll your own much cheaper! *Consider cutting alcohol too. Better yet, quit alcohol and smoking all together. It might be why you're in this mess in the first place. Are you in high cotton right now? Even if you're earning a six-digit income, you still have a good incentive to live cheaply: spending less means saving more, and saving more means that you can easily Retire in Your 30's And, you never know what life is going to bring in the future: you may be flush now, but, life has a way of evening such things out, in the long run. Include savings in your budget. That way, a portion of your earnings is already going to investments or a rainy day fund. Also try the monthly investment or savings plans offered by several employers that deduct money from your paychecks and send it to savings accounts or investments automatically. Avoid lemons: always consult Consumer Reports for unbiased ratings of hundreds of products, especially for big ticket items (new and used cars, appliances, computers...). Available free at your library, or with a subscription. Don't rent high-priced DVDs! Borrow them from your library, as well as CDs & books. Some libraries lend tools, too! The last year's movie might be $1 at the store, and can be a lot better than the (over) hyped and just released $8 one. Use your public library! Many allow you to request materials online; they'll e-mail you when the item arrives, and hold it under your name. However, make sure you return them on time! Often late fees for DVDs are very high. Always write due dates in your planner, and some libraries can give you email reminders if you sign up for them. You might also look at switchplanet.com to trade DVDs you own for ones you want. It's free, so all you pay is postage for the DVDs you mail out. Cancel your cable subscription. You'll never miss the 24th rerun of I Love Lucy. Watch shows online at Hulu. Hang laundry on a clothes line if the weather allows it. You'll save electricity (and/or gas) and your clothes and linens will smell better! You can also hang laundry indoors if you have the space. Use the barter system. Do you have a friend who can repair your car? Offer to do something for them in return (like paint their kitchen). Your time and talents are valuable assets. Free-cycle. Many communities have websites or other systems for offering/receiving household items, clothing, etc. at no cost. This is a win-win for everyone: you receive an item, someone else no longer has to deal with it, and it stays out of the landfill. Use Paperbackswap.com where you can trade books instead of buying them. Shop at thrift stores and resale shops - many of these support charities. To save even more money, look for specials such as "All coats 1/2 price on Tuesdays" or "Everything with a pink tag..." etc. Balance out transportation cost vs. savings. If you're spending too much money on gasoline to get to 'cheap' stores, the savings aren't worth it. The same goes for driving across town to save a few cents on a box of macaroni-and-cheese or day-old baked goods. But, once you 'are' there, stock up! Do it yourself. While many services require a professional in that field or a licensed contractor, there are many tasks that can be performed at no cost by you (or by your family members): lawn care, car washing and maintenance, etc. Yes, it may take a bit longer, but, if anyone can do it, you can! Exercise is the added bonus! Keep a coin can or piggy bank. Toss in loose change and when the bank is full, take it to the bank, and deposit the "free" money. Use a free credit card that gives you a percentage back for all purchases. Most important!!! PAY OFF THE BALANCE every month. You get 30 days grace period to pay off balances as well as the 1-3% back and an itemized list of expenditures each month. Consider cutting up your credit cards! Is is simply too easy to get into debt you can't get out of, with them. Go to the grocery store instead of a restaurant. You will not only save money but you can maintain a healthier diet as well. Better, grow it yourself! Replace expensive drinks and foods with satisfying, cheaper, versions! Drink tap water, flavoured with a hot pepper, a sprig of mint, or your favourite flavouring (instead of sodas...which rot your teeth, which will REALLY put a big hole in your budget!) Popcorn: No, not the over-priced and over-buttered 'microwave' kind! Add a bit of oil and you can pop hot popcorn in just about any good pot that has a lid. Noodles, flavoured with bits of vegetables, spices, and broth. You can make a reasonably tasty and nutritious meal for a small fraction of what a meat-heavy dinner will cost. Tea instead of coffee. Decorate inexpensively. Use 'found' objects. Collect cuttings in the wild. Recycle what others have left for the trashman (a coat of paint, a bit of tile, voila! an art masterpiece!)
Don't let up on your budget. If someone wants you to go out and spend $50 doing it, ask yourself if you will regret spending the money. If you stick to your budget and allow for miscellaneous expenditures, you will have extra cash left over to spend on the random entertainment activities that come up or other things you want to buy. The easiest way to lose money is by nickels & dimes. Be wary of small, repetitive purchases (Starbucks, fast food, cell phone calls, cable bills...). Avoid the seduction of sales. "50% off" is only a bargain if you really needed the item. Remember: if you don't buy it, you get 100% off! Don't get discouraged. Remember that if you stick to your plan and try hard enough, you will be able to save up money, or at least spend significantly less than before. If you have children to care for, try not to deprive them of a childhood with cheap spending; just save a little money here and there if you feel it won't make a major difference. Know that even if your children complain about your money saving ways, they'll appreciate them later when they move out on their own!
1) When it comes to groceries for your family, always buy in bulk. You can get more for less food and will save more when you no longer have to dine out to eat.
2) Instead of paying outright for heat or air conditioner in an apartment, buy a portable heater and air conditioner and keep your room heated or cooled when you’re there instead of paying extra to the landlord for heating/air conditioning. Since a lot of places charge extra for that, you can cut down on expenditures for that with a portable one.
3) Buy from Ebay. I just bought stamps in wholesale sheets (70 stamps for ten dollars) and the same with envelopes. I also found a Donna Karan wallet for less than ten dollars as well.
save for later...
3. I might be interested in another roommate, but my wife wouldn’t like the kind of roommate I’d be interested in.
4. Yes, I’d love to do a garden.
5. Opening windows isn’t an option in Phoenix in the summertime. Already have a big tree on the west side. Already use time-of-day electricity pricing, minimize air conditioning during prime time. Foam art boards are a neat idea, except that they’ll annoy the hell out of the cats.
6. Most of my entertainment comes via the Internet. Hard to cut back there. My wife likes cable TV and the DVR. I wouldn’t mind cutting back there, but she has some say about it, too.
7. Almost impossible to live without a car in Phoenix. Son at UCLA seems perfectly happy without one, however. Big saving there.
8. Ditched the landline back in 2003, but we love our Androids. And our cats. Fortunately, they’re very healthy, and they’re happy to eat Costco cat food in the 25 lb. bag. One just had an abscess from a fight with another cat, but we handled that with children’s antibiotics that we bought for a few dollars in Nogales — no veterinarian needed.
9. I like a daily drink (just to maintain a healthy heart, mind you), but generally make do with three-buck chuck from Trader Joe’s.
10. Goals? My goal is to make more money, not spend less. I like the Chevron executive’s idea of shared prosperity rather than shared sacrifice.
We get our books at the library, and most of our food at Costco, or whatever’s on sale at the other grocery stores.
We’re pretty thrifty — what we need is tips on making money, not so much on cutting expenditures.
Winning post of thread.
BTTT with thanks...
We bought this old farm house because if need be my adult children & grandchildren can come back here to live. I hope not but you never know. We feed the horses by scrapping metal we see on the road. Most people are happy to be rid of it. When shopping for a large item I never buy it the first time I see it. I think about it for a few days to make sure I really need it . Then I bargain the price down. I never buy anything unless its on sale. I save money home schooling too. One week of school lunches pays for the online school. I buy my books at the library discard shelf for less then a dollar. I got a clothes line which is great. We've learned stuff isn't as important as it was.
Sage advice for the times we live in.
Good advice. Always put a little money away.
My question would be why do any of the above? I don’t throw money away but if the economy colapses what good is money anyway? I can’t be without a car because the nearest anything is 10+ miles away and there’s no public transportation. I like my Harley and my truck. The only entertainemnt we do is eat out occassionally, my bad habit is beer, I’ll continue to be bad and do both. I’ve stocked up on many things I may need including guns & ammo to protect what I have but otherwise I’ll be enjoying life until the shxt hits the fan.
Books and reading are great entertainment.
Try this internet site. It is a great source for childrens books. And it isn’t just for old paperbacks, either.
(Note: most folks at this site don’t like ex-library books for some odd reason!)
>> the chickens eat ticks
Well, there goes my plan to raise chickens. :-)
1. Quarterly payroll, property tax, business "licenses" at the state, county, and city levels.
2. Car. This is a required item in my profession, along with the required insurances.
3. Vet and animal care. I have several special needs animals that I committed to taking care of.
I was considering #1 the other day. As a sole proprietor and how much is going out to taxes, fees, and permits or some sort. Really it is quite a chunk of change and even #2 is subject to government required expenditures. From the air quality testing requirement for a new car to the license and proofs of insurances.
To really think about it, it becomes overwhelming and I would think a vast amount of average folks ready your thrifty list would ever consider payments to the government their biggest living expenses. Why? Because the government nickles and dimes us to death from our payroll taxes, to property taxes, to regional taxes(we have that here), to city taxes, to sales taxes, to phone taxes, to utility fees and taxes, to entertainment taxes, to restaurant taxes, to the assorted gas taxes...
Indeed make more money and for me...create a network of other small business professionals willing to barter services.
If you own a house, rent it out and sleep in the backyard in a tent.
After a while, you will fit right into the line at the local mission for free hot meals.
If your state forces consumers to put a recycle deposit on cans, collect those during your free time.
You can afford a second home. Look for a dry box they slip refrigerators in.
Paragraphs are our friends.
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