Whether it is by choice or not, surviving on very little money can help you achieve your long-term financial goals. While it is not impossible, it is definitely not an easy thing to do.
It will involve giving up things you like or were used to and being super frugal, but it certainly would be worth it.
If you are looking to sacrifice now to save money for the things that matter to you in the long run, these 15 ways to live with very little money would be helpful to you.
1. Simplify Housing
Rent and mortgage now stand at an average of 30% of the income for most households.
While many people may not like it, getting a flatmate to cost share would be a great money-saving tip. You could also rent your bedrooms on Bookings.com or Airbnb.
Another way out may be downgrading. If you have “too much” house, you may want to consider moving out or selling it to get a smaller and cheaper place. Remember that the bigger the house, the higher the utility bills. This is especially a good thing to consider for parents whose children have already moved out.
2. Reduce Transportation Costs
Stop driving and start using public transport to cut fuel costs. While at it, you will also forget about parking fees and car maintenance charges.
You may also consider carpooling with your friends and colleagues if public transport is not an option. Other more affordable options would be cycling, using a scooter, or walking if the distance is walkable.
If you commute to work, yet what you do can be done from home, you may want to work towards being allowed to work entirely or partly from home. It will save you so much in transportation costs.
3. Cut Utility Expenses
Be very intentional with how you use electricity, water, and gas. Start switching off lights and appliances when not in use and use water sparingly. If you can skip air conditioning and heating, do it. Consider using your fan more; it will help you lower your thermostat settings comfortably.
Skipping HVAC maintenance may seem like a great way to save money, but it is not. Get the systems timely serviced, and you will lower your energy bill considerably.
4. Cook Inexpensive Meals
You should start by dropping meat and fish from your menu when trying to live on little money. You can substitute them with plant proteins such as beans and lentils.
There are so many lentil recipes you can try to spice things up, all while on a budget.
If you must buy meat, consider going for the cheapest parts, such as pork shoulders.
You may also want to go for canned or frozen options over fresh food. Lastly, only seasonal fruits and vegetables. Buying what is not in season will always cost you so much more.
5. Buy In Bulk
A lot of times, the cost per unit always goes lower if you buy in bulk. This is why you should consider buying items in bulk when you go shopping. This could go from food to other items, such as cleaning products.
A study shows that 88% of families drive to the grocery stores. If you buy in bulk, you reduce the number of times you need to go back to the store and, therefore, save on fuel money. Additionally, it saves you the temptation of impulse buying that comes with just being in the supermarket.
6. Limit Eating Out
According to YNAB, the average American family spends $3500 per year dining out. This is just a few dollars short of 0 per month.
Eating out is a temptation a lot of people fall for. It could be grabbing Starbucks while on the go, eating lunch out, or being tired of cooking at home after work.
The cost of cooking a meal at home is usually around ⅓ of eating out. If you spend $15 on a meal at a restaurant, preparing that same meal at home would cost you $5-$5 dollars. If you are looking to save money, prepare your meals at home.
7. Thrift Shopping
Whether it is furniture, clothes, house decor, books, or toys, thrift shopping will save you money.
Thrift stores will offer you the items you need at a fraction of what it would have cost you if you got it new.
Before you go online looking for anything, look around the thrift stores in your local town. With thrift stores, it may take longer to go through the items, but what you get will definitely be worth it.
8. DIY Household Products
This can go from items such as cleaning products, personal care products, and furniture to even kitchen sauces. If you have no money to buy them, you will need to learn to make them yourself.
If you are making household furniture, you will need power tools. If you already have the tools, well and good. If you don’t, then you don’t have to buy them. Some libraries have such tools that people can borrow. You can also ask for some from your friends and neighbors.
9. Participate in Free Activities
Having fun while on a budget can be challenging, especially now that things people consider interesting are so expensive.
You, however, don’t have to spend so much money to enjoy yourself.
For example, you can watch a movie at home instead of going to nightclubs for fun.
You can also visit a museum, zoo, aquarium, and farmer’s market. Other activities you can do include window shopping, reading, volunteering, playing games with family and friends, and hiking.
10. Cut Cable and Subscriptions
Many people pay for both cable TV and streaming services while they frequently just use one of them. To start saving, choose whether you want cable TV or your preferred streaming services. Pay for one and drop the other.
However, if things are tight for you, it is advisable to drop all of them. The secret to surviving with little money is refusing to pay for non-essentials. Drop all the subscriptions you can do without and save that money for essentials or a rainy day.
11. Bartering and Trading
Bartering your skills and items can be helpful if you are trying to survive with little money.
Find people that would be interested in what you have to offer and see if it works for you.
For instance, you could offer your babysitting services in exchange for plumbing. This is just an example, but the items and skills you can offer can be limitless.
12. Community Support
Saving or surviving on little money can be difficult, especially in this consumerist society. You can quickly become tempted to spoil yourself after seeing people splash money.
The good thing is you are not the only one trying to save money. Join communities that will motivate you to keep going. Whether you want to start hiking, do a no-buy challenge, dumpster dive, freeganism, or cheap eating, there will always be a community to support you. It is easy to find these communities on Facebook and Reddit, join them, and find support and tips from like-minded people.
13. Avoid Debt
With many people sinking into credit card debt, you need to be careful not to be a victim. You should not buy it if you cannot afford it without a credit card. If you do, you will likely fail to pay back in time, which will be the beginning of your chaos.
If you use your credit card, ensure you pay back in time. The high late penalty and interest fees will bite deeper into your finances.
Another thing you want to avoid at all costs is taking payday loans. Their interest rates are absurd and will likely set you up for some struggle in the future.
Always differentiate between needs and wants before you take any loan.
Start by building an emergency fund account to avoid having to take payday loans in case of an emergency.
14. Grow Your Food
Fresh vegetables and fruits can be super expensive. If you decide to grow them on your own, you will essentially lower the cost of your groceries.
Some things you can easily grow in your yard garden include tomatoes, leafy greens like lettuce and kale, carrots, potatoes, watermelon, coriander, cucumber, salad leaves, onions, and garlic.
You do not need to have a yard to grow your food. If you have a balcony, you can 100% pull it off in pots and sacks.
15. Practice Self-sufficiency
A lot of items and services you pay for are things you can actually do yourself.
Start by growing, planning, and cooking your food; repair and mending your clothes; use renewable energy such as solar to dry your clothes and run your appliances.
You also need to learn to be your own electrician, painter, HVAC technician, and plumber. Calling for these services costs a lot of money. If you want to survive with little money, take tutorials to do the services yourself.
Ways To Live With Very Little Money
Having the goal of living off little money is one thing, but actually doing it is another. Surviving with little money when everything is so expensive or while everyone else splashes money around you can be very difficult. It is the sacrifice you choose to make that will keep you going. If you would like to live on little money, these tips would effectively get you going. Select what works for you, and get started. It would be a step closer to your financial goal.
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.