After living a life of extravagance, decadence and expensive tastes, it can be quite difficult to transition to a smaller budget and more modest lifestyle. In a world where credit is easily available, consumers are bombarded with sales and sacrificing the future to spend in the now is encouraged, prudence and fiscal responsibility is hard to live by.
Can living on a smaller budget be done? Yes. Is it difficult to do? Perhaps. Does living with less mean daily suffering? No.
Indeed, surviving on a smaller budget may seem like a big deal at first, but with practice, patience and less impetuous behavior, it is achievable. Here are tips on surviving on a small budget.
An Everyday Tracker
Every person should carry a notepad and a pen in order to write down every purchase made each day. This way, the total amount of money spent can be calculated on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. This ensures that spenders who are trying to be frugal are meeting their goals.
Paper or Plastic?
No, this isn’t referring to the type of bag the groceries should be put into. This refers to either carrying around cash or a credit card. Studies have shown that consumers refrain from spending money when they see the actual money in their hand. By using a credit card to make purchases, this could lead to indebtedness for an extended period of time, unnecessary purchases being made and additional interest payments and fees.
Everything should be planned in advance. Going to the grocery store? Make a list and bring it. What is the family eating each night of the week? Create a menu and purchase food items intended for those meals. Having a family day out on the town? Make a list of what is expected to be purchased and add an extra few dollars to the allotted total.
What’s wrong with coupons? A lot of people are ashamed to use coupons and simply avoid going to websites like save.ca and websaver.com to find good deals on everyday household products, such as cereal, bread and dishwasher detergent. Although it may be 50 cents here and there, it adds up in the end.
A lot of people spend chunks of money on lunch and snacks when they go to work. Instead of buying a sandwich each workday, try to bring food from home. Think about it, establishments will charge $3.99 for a small container of potato salad when customers can simply buy a gigantic container at the grocery store for $1.99! People should still avoid heading out to restaurants at anytime because it costs quite a bit of money to do so – going to a restaurant should be a seldom adventure.
Right now, the national savings rate in the United States is roughly four percent. The old adage is to save at least 10 percent of the income. Of course, workers should save as much money as they can from their take-home pay and put aside for a rainy day. This way, when an emergency happens a person doesn’t have to resort to retirement funds, long-term savings accounts or even the credit card.
No one needs an ultimate data plan or a top of the line VIP cable package. When trying to survive on a smaller budget, all of these items should be downsized for a much cheaper package. Why pay for channels that are not watched or gigabyte usage that is not actually used?
Living simple doesn’t mean to just sit at home and stare at the walls. Enjoying life can be done by relishing in the simple things: going for a long walk on the first day of spring, listening to a George Gershwin tune on the radio while lying down on the sofa or sitting on a park bench on a cool autumn day completing a crossword puzzle.