How to Manage on a Low Income

I’ve heard many a person say that money can’t buy happiness.
Or that money is the root of all evil.
Or that if you have more money you have more problems.
And when I hear that, I wish I could invite a person to live in my shoes just for a few weeks.
But in saying that, I talk to a few of my friends that are making significantly more money than myself, and I realize that we all have the same problems: lack of money.
And it sucks.
In an ideal society, wages would rise to meet the price of rising resources. And with the dollar not going as far as it used to, many companies are actually increasing the prices to make ends meet, not just gas. Rent goes up, as do utilities. That tomato that used to cost $.99 per pound has gone up to a whopping $2.49 per pound. Food on a whole has gone up while the quality of it has gone down.
If you are a person that once you get a paycheck it’s gone, there are some simple things to help get over the crunch, and works quite well if you’re single.

1.) Don’t over buy food. When I lived with my brothers, I would buy enough food for us all and cook big meals. When it was just me, I found I had a bad habit of buying enough food to feed 4, but I was the only one eating. That meant food was wasted, therefore wasting money. I’ve learned to buy my foods in small portions, meaning that it’s gone the same night it’s cooked. In doing so, I don’t have to cringe cleaning out my refrigerator and finding large portions of food that have sat in there so long, they talk to me. If you feel you’ve overcooked a meal, maybe you have a friend in a similar situation that may appreciate you giving them something new to eat. I say this because as long as the food is consumed, it’s not actually a waste, is it?

2.) The dollar store is nothing to be ashamed of. When I first started out in my life, I roomed with 4 other men, and we all were in our early 20’s, fresh out the military and trying to find work. But at the same time, there were things that need to be done around the house: cleaning, laundry, things of that nature. When you go to the dollar store, you can usually find the brands you know at a better price than supermarkets or super stores. Many people tell me that they’d never be caught dead in a dollar store, but let’s face it: you need a notebook? $1. Pens or pencils? $1. Maybe you just want to get some napkins. Go to the dollar stores. Hit them up. You’d be surprised at how much you can save if you decide to check out the dollar stores.

3.) If you’re going to treat yourself: do it right. My friend is a fiend for DVDs. When things weren’t as tight, he always brought himself a DVD on payday, as sort of a treat for his work. I have nothing against that, but when we where in the shopping center, he was instantly going for the places that sell movies and music at an ungodly price. While he walked around looking for a movie, I told him I would never shop there because it was ridiculous. You want a CD or a movie, or even a piece of electronics, look around! Yes, we all like quality products. But why pay more than you have to? Movies that places sell for $15 I can get for less if I go to or even Blockbusters. The little bit you save goes a long way.

4.) Don’t buy it if you don’t need it: I can walk around a mall all day and not buy a single thing. Why? I don’t need it. Many people don’t like to window shop because they have the urge to buy something. I walk around at times because I’m making a list of things that may have to be replaced or repaired. Maybe one day I’ll be able to replace the old sofas in my living room, and I would like to see what I’d get. But at the moment, I know where I stand, so I don’t really feel bad knowing that I’m not going to get it. If I need a new pair of shoes, I don’t go looking for the most expensive pair, especially if I know I’m hard on shoes. Something to just do what I need them to do works out well.
I say this because there’s a simple truth that people think is a joke: when you don’t have money, you damn sure watch where every penny goes. And if you have to buy essentials, take some time out and look around. Save yourself a few dollars.