Saturday, August 6, 2011

100 Ways to Live Below Your Means

Right after the debt crisis was averted, the talking heads on the news pointed out that we still weren't out of the woods (they probably continued with this train of thought right after the US lost it's AAA status).  When asked by a reporter what the average American could do to avert financial disaster, one of the talking heads said his main piece of advice was to 'live within your means'.  I believe he intended that comment for average Americans as well as the American government.  This was my grandfather's advice many decades ago too and it is unfortunate that it is taking near financial collapse to reinforce the idea that people cannot live on credit forever. So here are 100 ways to live below your means (and save some money in the process):
  1. Stop acquiring debt.
  2. Pay off debt.
  3. Tithe 10% each month.
  4. Save 10% each month.
  5. Live on 80% of your income.
  6. Reduce your housing costs.
  7. Stop eating out on a regular basis.
  8. Cook most of your meals at home (it's cheaper and healthier).
  9. Cook from scratch.
  10. Simplify your diet.
  11. Eat fresh food, in season.
  12. Hunt and fish for your meat.
  13. Grow a garden.
  14. Preserve your own food.
  15. Cut cable (a digital converter box is a much cheaper option).
  16. Look for the cheapest options when buying a product (CraigsList, garage sales, pawn shops, etc).
  17. Skip going out to the movies and rent a $1 video (or get videos free from the library).
  18. Take public transportation if possible.
  19. Walk or bike to do your errands.
  20. Use the library--it's free!
  21. Volunteer (you can develop job skills this way and give back at the same time).
  22. Buy local.
  23. Look for free activities in the community to keep yourself entertained.
  24. Do it yourself--home repairs, car repairs, yard maintenance, etc.
  25. Make a monthly budget and stick to it.
  26. Get a side job or side business and save the income for large purchases (vacation, car, Christmas, etc).
  27. Reduce.
  28. Reuse.
  29. Recycle.
  30. Don't buy the latest gadgets (let them work out the bugs and drop the price first).
  31. Reduce the number of pets you have.
  32. Make your kids work for what they want (ie: you pay half and let them earn half for items they want).
  33. Reduce temptation (cruising the mall, Costco, or the shopping channel will do nothing but make you want to buy).
  34. Develop useful hobbies (fishing is a good one, for example).
  35. Plan your purchases (use a shopping list).
  36. Sleep on large purchases.
  37. Always carry cash (in case you stumble upon a great deal on something you absolutely need).
  38. Borrow instead of buying.
  39. Develop a neighborhood sharing network (for tools, yard maintenance items, etc).
  40. Go line by line through your monthly budget and figure out how to lower or even get rid of each line.
  41. Have insurance but shop around for the best prices.
  42. Look for/ask for discounts (senior discounts, military discounts, coupons, etc).
  43. Live in an area with a lower cost of living.
  44. Learn how to reload ammo.
  45. Consider being a one-car family.
  46. Develop a social network (everything from dinner potlucks to sharing babysitting chores to an emergency response team can be developed this way).
  47. Barter skills, services, and materials.
  48. Ask for a raise (be sure you can show how you deserve it).
  49. Stay out of trouble (fines and bail are expensive).
  50. Don't overindulge your kids.
  51. Stop addictions immediately (alcohol, smoking, drugs--all are a waste of money and brain cells).
  52. Practice preventive maintenance (on your home, car, and your health).
  53. Live a healthy lifestyle (exercise, eat right, floss your teeth, etc).
  54. Invest in items that hold their value (guns, tools, gold, etc).
  55. Drop the gym and exercise at home (walk, garden, etc).
  56. Skip your daily run to Starbucks or your local bar.
  57. Always have an emergency fund (a credit card doesn't count).
  58. Beware of fees (credit car annual fees, bank fees, etc).
  59. Minimize your possessions (it will cost less to maintain, insure, protect, etc).
  60. Increase your income by selling things at garage sales, CraigsList, eBay, etc.
  61. Look into carpooling if you and your coworkers regularly travel to meetings or to and from the same places.
  62. Never buy a new car (they depreciate like a rock as soon as you drive them off the lot).
  63. Make sure your mortgage/rent payment is no more than 25% of your income.
  64. Conserve (water, gas, electricity, etc).
  65. Don't use your cash to boost your ego (this is an extremely temporary--and expensive--fix).
  66. Vacation on the cheap--stay with relatives and friends, go camping, be a caretaker, etc.
  67. Use the sun--to dry your clothes, preserve your food, and heat your home.
  68. Consider using a wood stove and getting a permit to chop your own wood.
  69. Consider cutting internet if possible (there's lots of free sources such as the library, the mall, coffee shops, and even the random unsecured wifi network).
  70. Drop the land line and get a cheap, pre-paid cell phone (mine is $30 a month for 1500 minutes of talk and text plus 2 gb of internet).
  71. Take safety seriously (smoke detectors, bicycle helmets, seat belts all save money in the long run).
  72. Speak up (ie: challenge a higher than necessary tax bill, if a product doesn't meet your expectations ask for a refund or replacement, ask for discounts for poor service, etc).
  73. Hold a clothes swap with other families before school starts (cuts down on the amount of school clothes you will need to buy).
  74. Make your own treats (recipes for everything from frapuccinos to Girl Scout cookies to Cinnabon cinnamon rolls can be found online).
  75. When in doubt, google (everything from obscure replacement parts to advice on appliance repair to free college classes to alternative medical treatments can be found simply by googling your problem).
  76. Ask for help when needed (stop by the parent's house for a free meal, ask your sister to babysit, ask a neighbor for a hand with a repair, etc).
  77. Make use of public aid if you are in dire straits (welfare, food stamps, medical coupons, food banks, etc).
  78. Don't go into debt for a college education (it can be done!).
  79. See what benefits you are entitled to (as a military vet, as a tribal member, as a AAA member, as a senior, etc).
  80. Entertain yourself at home instead of paying for entertainment in the community.
  81. Pick a good spouse/SO (one with a similar attitude towards money as yours).
  82. Dumpster dive (or "go pickin" as they say) for goods you can use or resell.
  83. Give experiences instead of gifts (take your friend fishing instead of springing for an expensive gift).
  84. Develop useful skills instead of wasting time in front of the TV.
  85. Get a second opinion (on everything from medical issues to car repairs).
  86. Drink water or tea with each meal instead of soda pop.
  87. Reduce the number of teams/organizations/fundraisers/etc you are on.
  88. Take drastic action if necessary (one guy got rid of everything and lived in his truck in order to get out of debt and save money).
  89. Instill good values (including good financial values) in your children and grandchildren.
  90. Don't be a burden to anyone or to the government.
  91. Reduce stress (this causes all types of medical and social problems).
  92. Be proactive--if you see a problem, fix it, if you see an opportunity, take it.
  93. When your income increases, don't increase your lifestyle; bank the increase for your future.
  94. Don't try to time the market, day trade, get in on shady deals, etc.  If it seems too good to be true it usually is.
  95. No matter where you go, always take food and water/coffee with you (saves the cost of restaurants and vending machines).
  96. Make your home safe and secure (increases peace of mind and decreases insurance claims).
  97. Work from home and home school your kids (this saves all kinds of money from transportation and clothing costs to the financial impact of peer pressure and interpersonal issues).
  98. Try new things (if you have never shopped at an ethnic store you may be surprised at the savings, for example).
  99. Ask your oldest living relative or friend about their frugal tricks--some ideas might surprise you (and save you a lot of money!).
  100. Look for peace and fulfillment within yourself instead of of the bottom of a bottle or at the end of a shopping spree.

1 comment:

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