When unexpected situations cause your income to dip, like it may be during this period in our lives, it may be wise to figure out some contingencies, such as how to live on less money. Hard as it is to face, it may just help you survive this crisis.
These strategies will help you learn to conserve, whatever your situation. Simply making two or three of these changes might reduce your expenditures enough to successfully live on the lower amount you’re bringing in right now. Even in comfortable times, if you have always been looking to start something on your own, like a business, you can always use the extra cash for training, needed equipment or some other unexpected expense.
1. Make your own lunch. If you are commuting, taking your lunch five days a week can save you a very decent amount by the end of the month. Not only will it help your wallet, you can also help get yourself in good health by choosing the healthy options.
* Eating out, including tip, may cost nearly $10-20 a day (unless you’re eating fast food). Saving fifty dollars a week, times 4 weeks in a month, means you’ve cut $200 off of your monthly expenditures.
2. Avoid dry-cleaning costs. Wear clothes to work that can be washed in your washer and save your clothes that must be dry-cleaned for special occasions. At least for now, you can conserve a pretty penny when you avoid wearing clothes every day that require dry-cleaning. Look for clothes that say “non-iron” or “wrinkle free.”
3. Reduce or change your cell phone service. When is the last time you took a good look at your cell phone service? Are you really using all the services? If you’re between cell phone contracts, it’s a good time to consider if it’s cheaper switching to a different carrier that charges less and gives you more minutes, data and texting for the price.
4. Take a look at your cable television service. Do you really need over 300 channels? After all, if you’ve got 2 televisions, you can only watch 2 channels at a time. Consider reducing your monthly cable television service for 6 months and see if you really miss it. There’s also a lot on the internet for free!
5. Grocery-shop differently. Avoid more expensive cuts of meat unless they’re on sale. Look at grocery store ads before you shop. Make your store list for the week using items in the sale ads.
* Buy fresh produce that’s on sale. Better yet, shop at local farmers’ markets to get consistently low prices on fresh produce that probably has less chemicals that large retail stores.
* Use coupons for additional savings on discounted items by looking the coupon websites. It may even be possible to cut $10 weekly from your grocery budget using these techniques and that’s over $40 savings by the end of the month.
One note: you may find cutting corners on your expenses embarrassing or degrading if you haven’t done anything like this up to this point. Know that all your efforts to save money are meant for a brighter future for you and for your family. Some of the most intelligent minds have created these incentives. Companies would not provide such opportunities if they did not have plans to profit from them.
6. Take advantage of free entertainment. The costs for going to the movies, paying to get in to museums or playing miniature golf can really add up. Consider free or inexpensive activities, like going to the local park, riding bikes together or watching a movie at home as a family.
* If you prefer, rather than stop your leisure spending completely, reduce the number of times in a month you do such activities. For example, if you normally spend money for entertainment weekly, try cutting those expenditures to every other week. Doing so could easily trim $100 from your monthly budget for a family of four.
Learning to live on a lower income is a challenge. Explore these strategies to alter your lifestyle by reducing the amount of money you spend in a month. You’ll realize that you can re-design your life on a lower income and still enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle.
And remember, this does not have to last forever! As you reduce some of the unnecessary things in your life, you may find things that mean a whole lot more to you, like helping out others. That in itself can be a opportunity and a future you can prosper in.