Hardcore Budgeting: 8 Ways to Live on the Cheap
Learning to Live Cheaply
Does money seem to burn a hole in your pocket? Do you feel pangs of anxiety about needing to spend it? Are you the type of person who has spent it before it even arrives? If this sounds like you, then your financial situation could be in jeopardy. If you suddenly lose your job or become ill, how long would you be able to survive on your savings?
I have a very close friend who lost her house. The process took a long time and caused her untold stress and anxiety, and in the end she had to leave a house she loved. Could she have done things differently? Yes, in my opinion. She was offered lots of advice from friends and loved ones, but was so caught up in what was happening to her, she felt she couldn't change the snowball effect of problems and debt.
You may be going through a similar situation. This could be for many reasons, perhaps the break down of a relationship, someone passing away, too many bills, unemployment. The list is endless. The shame you may feel will be compounding to your problems.
Let's step back and take a look at it from the outside. Although you may think that the problems aren't that bad yet, it wouldn’t take much for the scale to tip and everything could come crashing down.
Keeping track of your money
When you are trying to lose weight what is the first thing many diet programs have you do? Write down what you eat. This is the same for spending. You may feel like this is an unnecessary step but it isn't. If you don't know where your money is going, how are you going to control it? By doing this for a month you should have a clearer picture of where unnecessary expenditures are occurring . Don't con yourself into thinking, 'I needed that'. The truth is you probably wanted it but didn't need it. If you have never made a budget, now is a good time to start. Why this isn't emphasized in schools more, I have no idea, this is a life skill that needs to be mastered.
Stop the Luxuries
Not so long ago people knew the difference between a necessity and a luxury. The line seems to have become cloudy now. A necessity is something you can't live without such as food, shelter, clothing and depending on where you live heating. We have since decided to add other things to this list and call them a necessity including, a car, the internet, a television, a better neighborhood etc.
It is a funny thing that people seem to think they are 'entitled' to luxuries. If you are in debt, wake up and smell the coffee, you can't afford them! What luxuries am I talking about here? Let's look at your expenditures. Cigarettes, alcohol, eating out, bottled water, entertainment these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you feel like you aren't willing to give these up, then start acquainting yourself with the smell of cardboard because you could be living in a box before too long.
Frugal meal planning
We all have to eat but I'll bet you, that with a little planning you could cut your food bill by half. I am not joking. Go back to your list you made on how much you spend. Add up food including, meals out, that mid morning snack from the bakery, and that mid afternoon trip to the chic coffee boutique. Don't forget that quick trip through the drive through on the way home. Wow, that is a lot of money you just spent. Now ask yourself, how healthy and nutritious was that 'fuel' for your body.
Begin every morning by having breakfast even if you aren't a breakfast person, you will soon derive the benefits from it. This will get you past that need of a snack mid morning. Take a packed lunch. Once you get into the routine of taking a lunch you will enjoy it. If you can't bear the thought of sandwiches every day, take a pasta salad, soup or last night's leftovers . Be creative! Include a note reminding yourself how much you will be saving over the course of a week, a month, a year!
If you can't bear the thought of cooking a meal after being at work all day, opt for a meal in a crock pot or slow cooker. These will often result in a meal lasting several days.
Do you feel you spend within your budget?
Reduce bank charges
When was the last time you checked your bank and credit card statements?
Are you aware of what the charges are for? Go into your bank and ask. I had this happen to me, the bank sent me a credit card I hadn't requested and was charging me for this. When I ask why they had sent it, they said it was for their, 'special customers'. Not only did I return the unused card to them, I demanded all the charges be returned. Take the name of the person you were dealing with and ask when the money will be returned to your account. Do not take their word for it, check your account frequently to monitor activity.
Get a Roommate
Do you have a spare room? If so consider renting it out. This is an option I suggested to my friend. She had a huge 4 bedroom house and lived there alone. Renting three rooms out would have probably enabled her to stay in the home she loved. Unless you have lived in shared housing with strangers this may seem an uncomfortable idea to you. It needn't be a problem with a little forethought. You would meet the potential renter and interview them. There is no reason to make a snap decision, tell them you will telephone them with your answer. Often, but not always, they may be younger people who can't afford a house, or they may be at University and need to rent somewhere safe with a quiet place to study.
You set down the rules beforehand, such as no guests, pets, or smoking.
There are many places to advertise your room or rooms for rent such as newspapers, or various websites like Craigslist etc..
Get Rid of Pets
For some of you, you may be thinking this is akin to putting your child up for adoption. Unfortunately some animals have been elevated to the level of a family member. Animals are only loyal to the home that feeds them.
Check how much your animal costs for their food, vet bills, toys, cleaning products etc. If you have to choose between feeding yourself or your pet, it is time to re-home the animal. If the animal gets ill, how will you afford this?
There are some people who feel that they are the only person who could correctly look after their pet. This is nonsense, there are plenty of very capable and loving people who would love to have a pet.
Avoid Shopping Areas
Don't buy anything that you don't need. There is a big difference between need and want. You don't need that magazine, lipstick or new pair of shoes you merely want them. Don't torture yourself by walking through a shopping area. Don't think that by going into a store where everything is cheap you are saving money. You are still spending, but now you are spending it on junk. Avoid buying anything that isn't absolutely necessary!
Cancel Your Gym Membership
Do you go to the gym? How much does this cost you? Don't renew your membership. Go for a walk, cycle or pick up a jump rope. There were healthy people before the StairMasters was invented, you know.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that good health has a price tag, it doesn't. Good healthy home cooked food and free exercise will not only help you, it will also help your pocket.
© 2013 Mary Wickison