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10 Good Changes During My One-Year Experiment Of “Living Below My Means”

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10 Good Changes During My One-Year Experiment Of “Living Below My Means”

Living above your means is something that people do all the time. The enjoyment of getting things when you can’t afford them is what drives the credit card and loan industry. Unfortunately, there is also the absolutely infuriating side effect of being in serious debt all the time and that means you may have to live below your means for a while. I experienced this recently and actually some positive things happened. Here are some good changes I experienced by living below my means.

1. I started eating better

The first thing I gave up when I decided to live below my means is fast food and restaurants. It sucked at first because that food is undeniably delicious but after a while I got used to cooking all of my meals at home. Truth be told, I started eating better. My local grocer has 2.5lb bags of frozen vegetables for $2 each. A few bags of those and now I have veggies with every meal.

You wouldn’t think it but you can actually eat pretty well on a serious budget. Rice, noodles, pasta sauce, veggies, and other assorted items come pretty cheap and when you load up on everything, you can have very cheap meals that are pretty decent. I went from eating $200 worth of Taco Bell, Subway, and Chipotle every month along with groceries to spending $150 on only groceries and eating fresh cooked meat, veggies, and noodles that I make and season myself. That also allows me to control my sodium, fat, and calorie intake better!

2. I have become an eBay expert

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live below your means

    I am a technology buff which gets really expensive after a while. I like having a nice laptop, nice desktop, a nice phone, and a tablet. Unfortunately those things go for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Thus, I have learned the ancient art of bargain shopping. I don’t get the very latest in technology but I built a desktop computer for $900 that can render a 10 minute video in 5 minutes and play pretty much any game on decent settings. There are always anxious sellers out there who are willing to get rid of good stuff for cheaper than it is worth. It’s just a matter of biding your time and being patient. Which brings me to…

    3. I have learned to be patient

    Getting exactly what you want exactly when you want it is expensive. Pre-ordering games is expensive. Buying the very latest technology and fashion is also expensive. I have learned to wait several months after new stuff comes out because then I can buy it used for a huge discount. This has easily saved me thousands of dollars over the course of the last year. If I don’t have a lot of money and I have a hankering for something specific, I can wait until my next payday to go get it. What used to be a “I must have it now” mentality has now evolved into a “I have to get that eventually.” That switch alone is worth thousands in savings.

    4. I have more disposable income

    live below your means

      This came as quite a shock to me. I used to think I was living right up to the very edge of my paycheck and I always considered getting a second job. Living below your means also means that you’re not spending money frivolously and that means your paychecks stretch longer. I went from having nothing at the end of a pay period to having at least a couple hundred dollars. That’s money in my savings account and it feels so good having a safety net which actually grows every month. Of course, it was good for other things too, like…

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      5. I have paid off a significant amount of my debt

      With the extra money, I was able to take control of my finances and a lot of my debt has been paid off. It took some time and some painful payments, but I went from forking out $350/month in debt repayment to a paltry $70/month. By saving money, I was able to pay off debts and now I have even more money. That’s an extra couple hundred dollars every month and all of a sudden I don’t feel like I’m under the squeeze so bad.

      5. I have become an expert in coupons and sales

      When you’re living below your means, you try to stretch every dollar. Things like $0.20 off coupons become a lot more valuable than they used to. Catching coupons online or in the local newspaper becomes a sort of hobby. Also, I started reading the morning newspaper. I was buying them for the coupons anyway so I might as well get my money’s worth right? Not only have I saved some extra money with coupons, but I’ve also become a lot more intimate with my community happenings. Which brings me to…

      6. I’ve become more active in my community

      live below your means

        Living below your means can get boring. You’re not going out to the bar. You’re not seeing as many movies at the theater. And things like concerts and amusement parks are a no go. However, many communities have plenty of events that are either free or really cheap to get into. In my community there was a community potluck organized and a bunch of people showed up to eat food and clean up the local park. It fills an afternoon, you get to meet people who live nearby, and it costs however much it costs to make a dozen servings of your favorite side dish.

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        7. I quit smoking

        Cigarettes are expensive. And bad for you.

        8. My goals have become more clear

        When I was spending money on useless nonsense, my goals were clouded. I knew there were some things I wanted but it always felt like there were other things I had to do first. Yes, I wanted to buy a better car but first I had to take care of this other issue. It was a zigzag labyrinth of self sabotage. Since I’ve begun living below my means, things that aren’t important actually seem unimportant while the important stuff remains important. My focus is trained on what it needs to be trained on.

        9. My apartment has never looked this good

        I’ve been spending a lot more time at home since I started living below my means. What I had before was functional but it wasn’t really enjoyable. I have spent more time keeping my house clean. The furniture all over the house has been reorganized. I have begun having more guests over to hang out rather than going to their place. There’s more pride in what I have instead of feeling the need to constantly augment it with more things that I want.

        10. My friends and family mean more to me

        Living below your means changes how you view things. You stop coveting things so much and you start coveting people more. This may sound bad but friendship is free. Spending time with your friends and family doesn’t cost you anything. You also have the added benefit of strengthening relationships and forging new ones. Some readers may think I’m saying that I didn’t appreciate people before I started living below my means and that’s simply not true. You just become more acutely aware of how much they mean to you.

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        There are a lot of things that suck when you live below your means. You don’t get to do what you want to do all the time and you may not get to be a part of the latest trends in fashion, technology, or anything else. However, it is something many of us have to do when faced with financial challenges. If you have to do it, you might as well make the best of it. Here is a great article to help you get started.

        Featured photo credit: DIY Lol via treasure.diylol.com

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        Joseph Hindy

        A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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        Last Updated on January 27, 2022

        5 Most Affordable Australian Cities For Students

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        5 Most Affordable Australian Cities For Students

        With high standards of education, a multicultural community, and laid-back lifestyle, it’s not hard to see why so many students love Australia. However, one thing Australia is also known for is being the world’s most expensive country to study in as a foreign student.

        For those willing to look beyond popular cities like Sydney or Melbourne, however, study abroad doesn’t have to be unaffordable. Check out these five more economical cities that still make for great student living.

        1. Gold Coast

        If you’re looking for a more affordable place to buckle down and study while still enjoying glorious beaches and a vibrant nightlife, the Gold Coast is an excellent choice. While it has no shortage of restaurants, cafes, bars, and natural attractions, the city is also well-known for its quality of education.

        Gold Coast is home to Bond University, which has Australia’s highest rating for overall graduate satisfaction, but also some of the country’s highest tuition fees. Fortunately, it hosts campuses for Griffith University and South Cross University as well, both of which have affordable options for international students.

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        When it comes to off-campus accommodation, there are plenty of choices, from shared housing to homestays. Real estate sites like Flatmates can be useful for finding options within your budget.

        2. Wollongong

        Wollongong’s close proximity to Sydney (80 km) makes it a popular choice for students who can’t afford the high cost of living in Australia’s largest city, but still want to experience all that it has to offer. Wollongong itself is a lively city as well, and is rated as the country’s most livable small city thanks to its gorgeous beaches and lively city centre.

        The University of Wollongong is one of Australia’s top universities, with a comprehensive academic program, international research reputation, and high graduate employment rates.

        Due to a lack of on-campus parking, most students prefer to walk, cycle, or use the free bus service that operates between the university and city centre. Living costs are quite reasonable in Wollongong, and sites like Gumtree can come in handy if you’re looking to split housing costs or even score some second-hand furniture on arrival.

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        3. Hobart

        Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, the second oldest city in Australia, and also the cheapest city for university students to live in. While it might not be as happening as cities like Gold Coast or Brisbane, its striking natural beauty and slower pace of life make it a great place to block out distractions and focus on studying.

        The Hobart Universities sector is based on a single institution, the University of Tasmania, which is consistently rated among the top ten universities in Australia and has a large population of students from abroad, with more than one in five students being international.

        Although public transport in Hobart isn’t as convenient as could be, there is plenty of student accommodation available to make up for it. Students often live in shared houses near the university so they can simply walk to class. If you’re looking to rent a shared house or room in the area, Easy Roommate can be a good place to start your search.

        4. Adelaide

        Of Australia’s major cities, Adelaide is the cheapest to live in. That, along with its spacious layout, clean and green atmosphere, and beachside attractions make it a great place to live and study. It’s also regarded as the food and wine capital of Australia.

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        Adelaide has three universities, including the University of Adelaide, which is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide; the University of South Australia; and Flinders University. Its integrated bus, train, and tram transportation system connect all parts of the city and make it easy for students to get around.

        Naturally, the cost of accommodation is lower outside the city centre, and depending on which university you’re studying with, the outer suburbs could be more convenient as well. Check Study Adelaide for information on a range of student accommodation options, from independent living to homestays.

        5.  Brisbane

        Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and Australia’s third largest city. Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, it’s known for being one of the most affordable cities in Australia, which makes it a good choice for students. It’s also known for its pleasant subtropical climate and wide range of entertainment options.

        Brisbane has three major universities: the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland, and Griffith University (which accepts the most study abroad undergraduates). The inner city is well-connected by public transportation, although cycling is popular as well, and there are plenty of cycle paths that make it easy for students to get around this way.

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        Students typically live in and around the inner suburbs, where the bulk of Brisbane’s teaching facilities are located. If you’re looking for convenient accommodation off-campus, you can check sites like Urbanest or The Pad.

        Featured photo credit: Bhavesh Patel via unsplash.com

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