As a life-long, self-employed artist and teacher, there are so many reasons I should be living like a pauper, except that I have been both lucky and maybe clever. My neighbors think I’m a kook no doubt, and I’m sure my friends are mystified, but I have lived large by knowing what I can and cannot live without. And I track every dime I spend! But that’s another post. Here goes:
- Perhaps I’m the only one who’ll tell you – it’s not clipping coupons! The food they issue coupons for is the lowest quality, highest priced processed ‘food’ available. Your time is better spent elsewhere unless you must.
- Cook more when you have time – on weekends, a day off, when you have insomnia. Not only is it healthier and lower priced than fast food or canned soup, it tastes better and develops better eating habits.
- Stay out of the car – decide on an errand day and make do with what you have otherwise. Get out of the habit of the “must have right now” mentality.
- Limit your trips to the grocery store since every visit will require a few impulse shopping items (at least a store-bought coffee) which are usually the budget benders. Leave the kids home if possible. We know they’re budget busters.
- Easy on the washer and dryer – not saying you should smell, but families that need to wash towels after each shower and teens who use the laundry basket instead of hangers are asking for a large energy bill.
- Track your financials every month. If you don’t know how and where you’re spending your money, there’s no way you can swing life on the cheap. This is easier than it sounds, and at the end of the year, particularly if you itemize, your records are in far better shape. See elsewhere in this blog for Financial Fun.
- Avoid cultural trappings by stopping the junk mail, the mail order catalogs, and browsing the Sunday ads. You don’t need this year’s ‘it’ items if you can’t afford them. Get over the ‘don’t have enough’ mentality and appreciate what you do have.
- Limit exposure to mass media marketing. According to the TV, radio, and every other ad you and your family are exposed to, your life is not yet complete until you have _____. Your life probably lacks nothing.
- Shop your services like newspaper, trash pick-up, and public utilities. I reduced the cost of my newspaper, my garbage pick up, and my utilities by calling the companies and their competitors. In the case of the utilities, find out which appliances are the real energy pigs and learn tips to reduce. Don’t feed the pigs.
- Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. For instance – don’t eat poor quality, inexpensive food that ruin your health and increases your health insurance premiums. Your teeth will be a mess too. Buying shoes at Kmart may cost less but when you sprain your ankle because the shoes have no support, the cost in terms of your health, time, and energy isn’t worth it. Buy good ones that cost 3X as much but last 4X longer.
- Sell unnecessary products you thought you needed but didn’t. And the stuff you no long use. And the stuff you never did. And the stuff you never will again. Or give it away – it’s good for your karma and plenty of people have a lot less than you do – trust me.
- Consider buying high quality, second-hand, classic clothing for a fraction of the cost of poor quality items made in 3rd world countries that will only last a few washings. Spend your savings on good quality, long-lasting footwear, socks, and under garments.
- Use the search feature on CraigsList for larger purchases you may be able to barter or buy less expensively. Caution: After 5 years of buying, selling, and advertising rentals on CL with no problems, I am still extremely cautious. And ignore ANYTHING strange. (See penny wise/pound foolish above)
- Limit your entertaining to wine tastings (each couple brings a bottle) and you provide the ‘clearing the palette’ nibbles, or potlucks with a theme (requires coordination but well worth it). But community is important for humans. It’s why I blog, it’s why some people go to church. Like all relationships, you need to nurture them.
- Consider Netflix entertainment at $15 per month rather than a weekly trip to the movie house. The snacks at home are (hopefully) healthier and LOTS cheaper, the seats are (hopefully) cleaner and more comfy, you won’t miss any of the movie and you can chuck the cable. Save the latest and greatest feature films for date night.
- Grow your own- I live on a wooded lot. The only place that gets consistent sun is the deck so I grow vegetables in gro boxes. The possibilities are endless but this year I’m seeing advertised grow systems in square black plastic bags. Lots cheaper, fast growing, and organic. And gardening is better than prozac and cheaper than therapy.
- And lastly, stay fit – the great outdoors is free, you’ll save on a shrink, health insurance rates are based on your stats, and dying probably costs a mint as well tho I haven’t shopped it yet.
Surely there’s more I’m not thinking of that others will help with. One of these days, I’m going viral and will let others know about this blog. Ya think it’s my crazy aunt in the closet thing?