How to Live on a Tight Budget
Do you go out to eat at least once a week? Do you frequent the movie theater? Are you are Starbucks addict? If so, you are spending thousands of dollars a year on the little things. Just think of the money you would save if you just cut a few corners each day. Now think about what your savings account would look like if you put that money in a high-interest bank account.
How much you save actually has very little to do with the income you receive. In fact, the amount in your savings account actually has much more to do with how you spend your money. Here are just a few “small” ways that will allow you to save a lot of money in the long run.
Entertainment is the first expense that seems to be talked about when it comes to living on a budget. We like to do things in our free time and we like to go out to eat or to concerts on the weekends. But when money is tight, we need to be a bit more creative in how we entertain ourselves.
- Look at your city’s newspaper or entertainment guide regularly to see what free events are in town. You will be surprised at how many free things there are to do when you take the time to look for them.
- Head to your local museum or library. These are free places to relax and spend some time away from your house. And they often offer a number of free programs and events.
- Go for a walk in a park. Many local public parks offer walking trails, tennis courts, and other equipment free of charge. The whole family is sure to love a day at the park.
- Have a movie night at home. Instead of spending money on going to the movies, why not take out some of your favorite movies that you own and watch them at home? You can pop some popcorn and have all night movies marathons.
- No Cable TV. According to research performed by Nielsen Co, the average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. That’s 2 months in front of the television every year! Trade in the TV for quality activities like spending time with family and reading and you will save about $50 per month.
Gas prices have gone through the roof. Here are some simply ways you can save on gas.
- Search for the lowest gas prices online at GasBuddy.
- Save up to $100 a year on gas by keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure.
- Avoid driving as much as possible. When traveling short distances, you can walk or even ride a bike. This will save you hundreds of dollars and probably get you in the best shape of your life.
Gifts and holidays are another source of worry for those living on a tight budget, but they don’t have to be. Though it may seem like you need money in order to show someone you love them at the holidays or on their birthday, this isn’t the case.
- Create freebie coupons. Mark some index cards with free help or favors that you will provide whenever they need it, whether it’s a backrub or mowing their lawn, your time and your help is more valuable than anything that comes with a bow.
- Look at online auction sites or garage sales for gifts. While it can be tricky to find nice gifts that are cheap, these two places are often a lot more helpful than you might think.
Grocery costs are another major expense for many families. Fortunately, there are also a number of ways to save on food and groceries.
- First, you should always pack your lunch for work. Not only will you save a ton of money, but it’s also a lot healthier.
- Skip the Starbucks. Many people don’t realize how their coffee expenses can add up. A single latte can cost up to $4. This means that a Starbucks addict ends up spending about $1,000 just in coffee. Start making your coffee at home and your wallet will thank you for it.
- Buy in bulk. There are a number of stores that allow you to save by buying in bulk. Sam’s Club is one of the most well-known examples.
- Look for coupons. Coupons can save you a ton of money. However, you have to be careful. Even with coupons, you might not be getting the best buy. Comparison shopping is key.
- Look for generic products. Often times, the only difference is the packaging.
Living on a tighter budget simply requires you to add a bit of creativity to your financial planning and daily expenses. There are plenty of ways to live life on the ‘cheap’ without feeling like you’re pinching every penny.
If you know of any other frugal tips, please feel free to add them in the comments.
Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 EssentialGTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need a Braindump, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.