Not every household has someone bringing in a six-figure income. Living well on a modest salary can be a challenge, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
Try out these frugal tips for living well, regardless of the size of your income or bank account:
1. Forget about the neighbors.The social world can be highly competitive, and it’s completely natural to strive to maintain appearances with the neighbors. When a neighbor purchases a new car or remodels her kitchen, the urge to start making comparisons can be strong. Take control of your life and resist the temptation to compete with others. Focus on the real necessities and set aside the extras you’d like to have in a perfect world. It takes practice, but anyone can rise above this type of thinking. This simple exercise will make you happier and more grateful for the things you already have.
2. Think smaller. Everyone seems to be under the impression that bigger is better. However, by making a conscious decision to live in a smaller home, more money will be available to spend on more meaningful purchases. Many families have already made this decision, as evidenced by the trend in new construction. For the first time, the average square footage of new residential properties has decreased. Others are living successfully in apartments or condos. Perhaps you could downsize a little and just focus on being happy.
3. Cook at home. Eating out is one of the surest ways to ruin your budget. Cooking at home can be just as good, but it does take some practice. Consider purchasing a good cookbook and experimenting with some new recipes. Groceries are always going to be cheaper than eating out. Instead of meeting friends out for dinner, invite them over. You can even request they bring a dish or dessert to share. At home dinner parties are a great way to be more social and keep some money in your bank account.
4. Shop in the classifieds and at thrift stores. Stay out of the department stores and malls as much as possible. In many instances, secondhand items are 99% as good as new and they’re a fraction of the cost. Keep an eye out for great deals. If you’re not in a hurry, you’re likely to find exactly what you need and save a ton of money in the process. Websites like Craigslist and Kijiji even have items available for free. Nobody else needs to know where you purchased your furniture, car, or clothing.
5. Check out the local library. Instead of purchasing movies or books that you’re likely to only use once, try borrowing them from the local library for free. Some smaller libraries may have a limited selection, but most libraries are part of an interlibrary loan program with other area libraries. You might find that even your small local branch can find just about anything for you.
6. Go outside. Many outdoor activities are free or inexpensive. Take a trip to the local beach or park. Go hiking. Nearly every area has its own type of natural beauty. Kids love to get outside and explore new places. For the cost of little gasoline and a few sandwiches, your family can have a great day. How can you beat that?
Living frugally doesn’t have to mean being miserable. Although it might require a little thought and planning, it’s really not difficult to live well on a modest income.
Consider how you can incorporate these tips into your current lifestyle. You might just find that you can live an even better life than you are now – on less money!