Your finances have two major components: your income and your expenditures—what you earn, and what you spend. The key to financial security (and eventually financial independence) is maximizing the earnings while minimizing the spending.
In the current job market, doing the latter is way easier. Frugal living can actually be fun, too, not to mention the lower social and environmental impact of a low-consumption lifestyle.
These seven tips should get you started on the road to leaner living, and feel free to chime in below with your own ideas!
Become a Master of Meal Prep
You know that cooking your own meals is WAY cheaper than eating out, and with a bit of planning and a fair amount of practice you can cut your costs and your cooking time down dramatically. Make larger quantities of meals that freeze well, portion them into airtight containers, and one round of cooking can keep you in healthy, affordable meals for a week!
Balance Your Energy Use
Heating and cooling costs are a major portion of most people’s energy bills, but you can cut those expenses down by using blankets and space heaters to fend off the cold, and fans or even single-room air conditioners to keep the heat at bay. These options are way more efficient and cost-effective than heating or cooling an entire house or apartment.
Give from the Art
Why buy presents when making things is so easy and so much more appreciated? This might seem like a cheesy tip you’ve heard since childhood, but it’s stuck around because it’s true—get creative rather than consumer-y with your gifts and see how thrilled the recipients are!
Keep Your Coffee Home-Brewed
Like food, coffee you buy outside the home is more expensive than what you can make at home by a WIDE margin. Make your own coffee—and not in one of those pod machines, either—and save as much as $5 a day….that’s $300 per month!
Make Yourself a Fix-It Guru
Professional contractors and mechanics are expensive, and many fix-it jobs are actually pretty easy. The Internet offers loads of how-to guides and tutorial videos for many DIY repairs and projects, so spend your money on a decent set of tools rather than a bunch of pricey service calls.
Don’t mess with anything electrical or otherwise hazardous, of course, and do your research BEFORE you begin, but you’ll love the confidence you gain when you finish that first project.
Do More Thrift Store Shopping
The amount of perfectly good used clothes floating around the US is staggering—we actually ship our used threads to the third world by the boatload when they don’t sell in our own thrift stores. Set aside some time for thrift store clothes browsing, and you can find some amazing deals on pretty much anything you could ever need or want to wear!
Learn How Lean is Its Own Luxury
If you really want to save money, the best habit you can develop is an appreciation for the freer things in life. Books, boardgames, and plain old conversation are falling out of style as favored forms of entertainment, but they help bring people closer together than more costly video games, TV shows, and other paid entertainment.
We’re not saying to cut these other things out of your life (unless you want to), but learning to appreciate the richness life has to offer without needing to spend a dime will give you inner rewards that are absolutely priceless—while saving you some green, too.