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Surf's up: tips for living on a budget

A big Tightwad welcome to David, an Australian that blogs about finance when he's not surfing or making delicious dinners. Sounds idyllic! David graciously offered to write a post on Tightwad about living on less.
With the economy in the state it's in, everyone is living on a restricted budget, whether they are working or not. If you are struggling to make the mortgage payment each month, pay the bills on time and still eat, you know what it's like to live on a tight budget. Two income households tend to have just as much trouble making it as a one income household, so all around it's tough. There are some ways to ease the stress, however, so if everyone passes on their tips and hints, we can all help each other. Here are a few.

Grab a notebook and pen: On one page, write your bills and add them up. On another page, write areas where money can be saved. For most people, it's food and entertainment, but money can be saved in power, cable and phone services. On another page write in which areas you can make do with cheaper items such as a less expensive phone, cut down to basic cable and unplug items that still use power even if they're off. On another page subtract from your bills what you saved by cutting costs. You'll find you've saved close to $200.00.
Dollar stores: The proliferation of dollar stores make it easy for people to get decent quality items at bottom dollar prices. If the food isn't a name you recognise, remember they are manufactured by name brand companies but with a different label. In the grocery stores and even department stores, foods and clothing are manufactured with off-brand tags specifically for savings-type stores. You'll get same quality items for a better price.
Carpool: If you commute to work, save money each week by carpooling, taking the bus or riding a bike, if you work close enough to home to ride a bike. This will save you almost $40.00 per week, using $3.00 per gallon for gas as a figure to work with. One of the benefits is the figure you'll have to work with when all that exercise kicks in.
Buy second hand: Use thrift stores and second hand stores for clothing, toys, kitchenware and all sorts of things. Still good quality items can be found for good prices. Many people take brand new items with the tags still on to second hand stores, so you can get new things for one third the price in many cases.
Make things yourself: Online you will find recipes for things like shampoos, soaps and toothpaste, herbal remedies for health issues in which many use items you'll find in the kitchen, sauces, meat rubs, marinades, and other things you buy which can be made at home, saving money on high end items like grooming and food preparations.
Look out for local offers: Listen to the radio and check your local newspaper for events such as concerts, plays and art exhibits that are free of charge. Some small towns have local musical groups to put on free musical evenings in the town square. Events to raise money for charities are sometimes free, but if they're not, their fees are smaller than a night at the movies. You'll be surprised how much fun you can have seeing your own town and its townsfolk at its performing best.
Put your credit card on ice - literally: Put the thing in a bowl of water and freeze it. Pay off the card and then only use it in emergencies. That should free up some money each month not paying interest payments. If you can close the account and get a lower interest card, do so, because most people need a credit card to rent a car or for identification purposes.
Get outdoors: Do you own a grill? Do you have a swimming pool or have access to one? Is there a park nearby you can walk to? Do you have friends or neighbours to share your idea with? Take a day or two off from electricity. Pick a shady tree and read a book, teach each other about plants and trees, birds, the stars or ants, grill something for dinner and enjoy a cool breeze in the starlit evening. Besides breaking up the routine, you'll save money and spend quality time with family.


Lisa @ Granola Catholic said...

Love the get outside idea. So try turn off the tv and go live life outside.

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