For millions of Americans and millions of other human beings worldwide, it is an unfortunate fact of life that society seems to run on money, and concerns such as how to live cheaply form the chief concerns of our lives. You can hardly eat, remain warm, or have a comfortable place to sleep without using monetary means. Even in the most fiscally robust areas, though, much of the population can still encounter hardship in tough personal or economic times. In these situations, it can be crucial or at least advantageous to learn how to reduce expenses and not go broke.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenditures
If a person genuinely desires to have a little more money in their wallet at the end of every month, they need to stop buying items that they really do not need. Learning how to live cheaply means learning how to live on only what is absolutely necessary. This does not mean that someone cannot go out to eat every once in a while, or choose to splurge on an entertainment item. Instead, it means questioning those purchases that are regular yet probably not needed, such as cigarettes, alcohol, car washes, cable television, etc. For each item being spent in your budget, question its true value. If you do not believe, for example, that you could ever give up buying cigarettes, then are you truly economically challenged? If you need to cut it out, you will; if you will not, then you are not truly hurting in your finances.
Whether it is for groceries, clothing, hygiene items, or other necessities, the marketing departments of various conglomerate corporations have done a very effective job of portraying their brands as being premium-grade or somehow superior to all the competition. In reality, store brands or other cheaper alternative labels use many of the same commonly available ingredients, or at least produce a product that is very similar to the name-brand standard. For instance, if you have a certain breakfast cereal you enjoy, try getting the generic store version instead, and you may just be pleasantly surprised. Another big example is the thrift store: When is the last time you tried shopping for clothes at a secondhand store, and do you realize how much money you can save there? If you believe you do not need to resort to such means, then you must be getting along just fine.
Reduce, Consolidate, Negotiate
Some expenditures, like our monthly bills, seem inevitable or as though they have little flexibility. In reality, much of the spending that consumers take for granted can be flexed in some manner. Many have heard, for one, that it is common sense to set your thermostat a little lower and wear sweaters around the house; but do they also realize that other monthly bills can be outright negotiated, such as for cell phone use? Thousands of people are on so-called “unlimited” plans, which grant them an infinite amount of calls, texts, and data usage per month, but do they truly need this plan, or could they likely figure out their typical monthly use and negotiate from there? Even seemingly intractable elements like property taxes can be changed in the effort to figure out how to live cheaply, if the tax amount is unfair compared to surrounding, comparable properties. Then again, sometimes steps as drastic as moving to a smaller home may be necessary when truly desiring to live cheaply. When examining every single line item on a budget, the vast majority of them can typically be reduced in some manner, albeit potentially creative.
Knowing how to live cheaply means knowing how to think critically, and examining every cent spent until a budget is tightly honed and fine-tuned to the minimum bucks needed to persist. Whether in lean times or prosperous, it pays to pay less for all the commodities of life.