How to Live with Less
The economic downturn of recent years has left many unemployed. Others have seen a cut in their salaries, while others are convinced that a simpler life is the answer to cut back on stress. Whatever your reason is for choosing to live on less, here is a list of tips that will help you accomplish your mission.
LEARN HOW TO SHOP
Plan a weekly menu – make a list of items that you will need for that week. Don’t buy things that you are not so sure you are going to use that week, especially if they have the potential of spoiling. Making a list of items is very important. It will guide you to the specific items you need to buy instead of buying on impulse.
Shop with a list and never on a empty stomach -- It's better to know ahead of time what you need to buy than to just wing it when you're in the store. If we leave the shopping to our desire at that moment, we will end up buying many things we don't even need. Also, don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry because you'll want to take the whole store.
Keep a list of what you already have – Sometimes we don’t even know what we have at home and end up buying doubles or even triples. Avoid this mistake by keeping a clear list of what you have at home and in your fridge.
Cook from scratch – Buy basic ingredients instead of prepackaged food. This is usually cheaper and healthier.
Make Use of Coupons – They arrive in your mail as junk mail, but some of them contain great coupons with 2-for-1 deals, and
Thrift shops – Instead of buying at the mall, get to know your local thrift stores. You will be surprised at how many quality clothing (and non-clothing) items you can find there.
Plant a garden – Grow your own fruits and vegetables. They will be cheaper, healthier, and lacking pesticides.
Keep records – Write down the money you have available, as well as every purchase you make. This will allow you to know exactly how much you can spend, and stop you when you have bought too much.
Get rid of credit cards – Buy only what you can afford.
THINK BEFORE YOU BUY
Before opening your wallet ask yourself: “Do I really need this? Or do I just want something new?” This, of course, requires much discipline on our part. Be objective and honest with yourself. How often will you use the item? Can I buy a used one rather than a new one? Can I rent it instead of buying it?
SAVE ON UTILITIES
When I was young, my mom used to yell at me for leaving the lights on whenever I left a room. And now that I pay my own bills, it all makes sense. Save up on utilities by only using what's necessary. If you live in a cold place, buy thick curtains that can keep heat inside your home and seal any cracks or openings that are letting heat out.
If you live in a hot place, use dark curtains that can keep the heat out. (Hint: I hate the look of it, but aluminum paper does a wonderful work keeping heat out.)
- Don't leave the fridge door open while you decide what you want
- Don't use the stove's high heater if you only need the small one
- Don't use the dishwasher for only one plate.
KEEP WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
Follow manufacturer’s maintenance instructions - This will keep your appliances working for a longer period of time.
Don’t overuse your good clothes - To make them last longer, change your good clothing as soon as you get home.
Don’t upgrade – Don’t fall into the trap of upgrading, whether it is your cellphone, or anything else. These upgrades are useful in very few occasions. If your current phone is working well, keep it, don’t upgrade it. You will only end up paying more.
DIY -- DO IT YOURSELF
You've heard of this trend, right? There are tons of things you can now do at home which will be cheaper than buying them in a store. Some examples are:
You get the idea. Most of these DIY projects are actually healthier for you than their store-bought counterparts, and since you can make them yourself, they can save you a ton of money.
Living on less may be a difficult task at the beginning. But the benefits of a simpler life are abundant! Keep trying and don’t give up!