Monday, April 17, 2006

Living on Very Little

By choice, we've spent the last 6 months living on a part-time income and eBay. With a mortgage. We thought we had the money-game figured out, but we have still learned a lot. Mostly that there is nothing, I repeat: nothing, to be afraid of when it comes to living on one income. We spent the first 5 years of our marriage living on a double-income: frugal, but with a lot more room to spare. We've had to cinch the belt up a bit, but the transition has been a lot easier than expected. I made a list of things that we've learned that may seem obvious, but which have had a profound effect on our day-to-day life.

Tips for living on very little:
  • Don't eat out.
  • Cook from scratch.
  • Buy fresh vegetables, beans, and grains.
  • Bake from scratch.
  • Don't buy yourself juice, coffee, or pop every time you leave the house.
  • Learn to love your local thrift store. We look for almost everything from household items, books, and clothes, to decorations, gifts, and pet supplies at thrift stores. They are a $$ saving treasure-trove; and everything is so much more interesting!
  • Buy used books.
  • Only own 1 car.
  • Buy a used car from someone you trust.
  • If you're close enough, walk (or bike).
  • Use your credit card like a check-book - don't spend it unless you have it in the bank. Period. This works in your favor even more if you have a credit card that builds you points towards free items, for example: frequent flyer miles. We've used our frequent flyer miles for 6 free tickets within the last 2 years.
  • When you travel, choose destinations where you can stay with friends or family.
  • Become a regular at your local library. The amount & variety of books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines available makes my heart glad.
  • Cut out cable - learn to love your PBS station.
  • Patronize your local parks, museums, and cultural centers.
  • Focus on people, not things.
  • Don't do daycare: stay home with your kids (if you have them).
  • If you have a baby, use cloth diapers & flannel wipes. $350 in supplies off the bat, a little bit of time to wash them every other day (not a big deal at all), and you've saved yourself thousands just in the first couple of years. (We line-dry them year round. Inside in the winter; after all, we live in MN!)
  • If you have a baby, breast-feed. Not only is it superior nutritionally, but it is clean, free, convenient, and you don't have to wash any bottles.
  • Use The Keeper or GladRags.
  • Own, don't rent. Start building some equity.
  • Sell on eBay. More than likely, you have hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars sitting around your house that other people are willing to pay $$ for. Make sure you research your market first!
  • If you can help it, use a cell phone or a land line. Not both.
  • Pay off your school loans ASAP. We axed our school loans of over 40,000 dollars in under 5 years, through 1,000-2,000 dollar payments per month. Within those 5 years we bought a house, traveled by plane 3 times per year, ate out with our friends, and never felt the burn of restriction. All this through pretty moderate-paying jobs. We also drove a mini-van we bought from Squeeze's brother for $600 for 2+ years. Not exactly glamorous, but it did the job (& helped a number of our friends & family members move).
  • Most importantly, think outside the box: you don't have to live how your parents, friends, co-workers, or neighbors do. Or how you think people live based off the television.


TulipGirl said...

"Don't buy yourself juice, coffee, or pop every time you leave the house."

This is a hard one for Hubby and I. It's so easy to get into that habit, and hard to get out of, and adds up to $$$ so quickly!

"Become a regular at your local library. "

We, ummmmm. . . went a little library-crazy when we returned to the States from overseas. The end result? I had a payment plan with the library for my fees. *blush* Paid off the balance today.

A. Borealis said...

A payment plan for the library...!? That is so hilarious!

TulipGirl said...

Yeah. . . well. . . *blush*