The cost of living is defined as the average cost of the basic necessitiesof life such as food, shelter and clothing. These are your basic needs which are what a person has be concerned about. These necessities are different from the things that a person desires because without food, shelter or proper clothing, you may die, but you will not die if you can not have something merely because it is something you would like to have.
It is always good to economize and practice good spending habits, but due to the current recession, and the millions who have lost their jobs as well as their homes,consumers must now learn to cope with less. This can be very difficult because wages and salaries have not increased and in many cases, they have actually decreased. You can allow yourself to become frustrated, angry, depressed and just plain miserable, or you can look at coping in tough times as a challenge.
So what are some ways that you, the consumer can cut costs? Here are a few suggestions that may help.
First, make a budget that starts with the basic needs. Keep track of expenses so that you can see just where you are spending your money. This will give you an idea of areas that you can cut back on, such as eating out. How many times do you eat out each week? Can you carry your lunch instead? Is there a microwave at work that you can use to heat your lunch? Is there a college nearby that offers discounts for services such as barbering and hair salon services in exchange for having a student do the work?
Then take a close look at your grocery bill and see if there are ways that you can save some money at the grocery store. You can switch to the store brands instead of brand names and use coupons for items that you use. Only use the coupons if they bring the price down to the cost of the store brand. Also buy meats such as whole chickens, ham or beef, that can be used in other dishes as leftovers. Chicken, ham, beef and turkey all make great sandwiches for the lunch which you have started to carry. Consider buying canned goods, flour, sugar and other non-perishables in bulk, as long as they are stored properly and used by the expiration date.
Utilities take a huge slice of your budget so you will need to look at ways of conserving energy. When you use appliances such as the dishwasher and washing machine, make sure you have full loads. Set the thermostat lower for heating your home and higher for cooling, especially if the house is empty all day while you are working.Clothes dryers use a lot of energy, so you may want to think about using an outdoor clothesline to dry your clothes. Umbrella clotheslines are great for those with limited space for drying clothes outdoors. Land line phones, cell phones, Internet and cable take another bite out of the budget. You may have to decide whether these are all necessary or if you need both a land line and a cellphone. Cable television is not really a necessity and if things are really tight, this may need to be cut out of your budget.
Clothing is certainly necessary, especially in cold weather, but there are ways to cut these costs. Shop at thrift stores such as the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations. Thrift stores are also good for picking up toys and furniture. Another good way to make your clothing dollars go further is to shop for summer clothes at the end of summer or winter, when the stores are offering deep discounts so that they have room for the new season’s clothing.
Entertainment does not have to break your budget. Instead of eating out with friends, who are probably also cutting back, take turns cooking or have evenings where everyone brings a covered dish. Card games and board games can provide real social entertainment. Libraries offer not only books but movies which can be rented for free.
These are only a few ideas to help with coping with the increasing cost of living, there are many other ways that people can find to cut costs. Start practicing and see just how good it feels to save money instead of spending money on things you really do not need.