15 Easy Ways to Live on Less

in Personal Finance

Living on less is the best way to make a huge impact on your finances. What could you do with the ‘extra’ money you find in your budget?  You could use it to help you pay off debt, save more, or to reach a financial goal. The possibilities are endless.

1. Use deals and coupons:

The trick? Only look for things you already buy and need. Collecting coupons and deals on things you don’t need just wastes your time and your money.

2. Grocery shop in your pantry:

Instead of buying more food, try living out of your pantry for a week. It may make for some creative meals like rice and oatmeal, but it can save you money temporarily and help you make a list of what you don’t need to buy.

3. Take advantage of free stuff:

Freebies can be a big money saver. Whether it’s free bottles of shampoo from hotel stays, free water ice, or even free movie rentals at your local library taking some time to hunt down free stuff you can use can make a big difference in your bottom line. Freecycle is another great resource for free stuff people no longer need. You may even find free stuff on the curb.

4. Ditch the expenses you don’t need:

For instance, paying for an expensive cell plan when you only need the basics? Consider dropping to a cheaper plan or moving to pay as you go plans instead. Other expenses you might consider dropping or slashing:

  • internet service at home
  • cable TV
  • Netflix
  • home phone service
  • monthly subscriptions
  • magazine subscriptions
  • gym membership

5. Plan your meals:

Planning your meals can save you big bucks if you tend to eat out or pop into the store several times a week. It may take an hour or two to set up, and you may need a few weeks to make it a habit, but it can save you as much as 50% off your current food bill.

6. Check prices before you buy:

Before you make any purchase check prices both online and in store. Look for coupons and promo codes to go along with your purchase with a check Google search, too. If you’re shopping in store and have a smartphone you can look up pricing as you shop with a variety of apps.

7. Use less gas or spend less on commuting:

If you have a car, using less gas takes a little planning. Consider car pooling, grouping errands based on location, and going ‘car-free’ for a day or more a week. If you commute, consider ways you can save on your expenses whether it means walking home from work or biking.

8. Get rid of clutter:

Getting rid of clutter can add a little cash to your pocket (through yard sales, eBay, or other avenues) or a hefty donation come tax time.

9. Look for free entertainment:

Free entertainment can be just as fun, without the need to spend a dime. Concert series in local parks, free movies, festivals, and events at a local colleges or universities are just some of the offers I found.

10. Make your home more efficient:

Save big on energy costs by making small and inexpensive changes like adding a hot water heater jacket, installing low flow shower heads and toilets, and closing vents for rooms that don’t need to be cooled and heated.

11. Cut back on hobbies and activities:

These can be a big money suck, so cut back to one activity so you can focus more effort and time on it, while saving money. This especially applies to kids’ activities, check out “35 Ways to Save on Kids Activities” for more ideas.

12. Try a ‘No Spend Month or Week’:

A no spend month involves not spending for a period of time aside from bills and basics. Not spending money beyond the basics will help you identify weak points in your spending and budget, and allow you be more conscious with your spending. Want to know more? Check out this post from Small Notebook to get you started.

13. Pack a lunch (or breakfast, or dinner):

Packing a lunch or other meal when you’ll be away from home can be a huge money and time saver. Spend an hour or so on the weekend prepping snack packs, portions of food for lunches, and set everything up so that everyone from toddler to adult can pack their own meals. This is also a great way to travel light and cheap.

14. Plan frugal vacations:

Whether it’s camping, staying with family or friends, or even using credit card points or membership rewards to book your stays can save you big money. For more advice on traveling on the cheap, check out the 50 Tips to Budget Travel and Save Money on Vacations.

15. Know your goals:

The most important advice for living on less, is focusing on why you are choosing to live on less. Knowing that it will fund a European vacation, fund your retirement account, or help send the kids to college is a great motivator for sticking to a frugal lifestyle.

These are only 15 ways to get you started or help you think more about living on less, but what other ways do you live on less? What advice would do you have for living on less?

About Kelly

Kelly Whalen is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.

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