Lifestyles

Tips for Living with very little Money



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Stop the stress and listen to Grandma.

Simple is sane and down-sizing is just plain good common sense. Saving money and spending less to live a full life does not have to be a painful or self-depriving style of living. My grandparents are prime examples of how to live full and abundant lives without spending every cent you make.

My mother's parents were fruit farmers and they taught me many things about living within your means, enjoying an active life and always giving to others who were less fortunate at the moment you encounter them. Grandma taught us every summer how to grow and can food. We spent many fun afternoons with her as we learned the secrets to baking and cooking delicious food (that doesn't come from a frozen food isle). Grand-Dad taught about animals and how to care for them.

My father's father taught me about the natural herbs and their amazing powers for health, tasty cooking, warding off insects, ability to keep lawns pest free without chemicals and secrets only he knew about there use. He also taught little ways to save money that seemed like tricks and treasure hunts.

Here are some obvious (oblivious to many today) ways to spend less money, save more money and reduce your economic stress levels:

1. Get rid of your credit cards and clear all credit card debt now, today! My grandparents owned none and so should you.

2. Learn to grow your own herbs and veggies. There are many ways to have a garden on a very small plot of soil, or grow a pot garden.

3. Learn to buy fresh vegetables and fruit in bulk, then can and freeze it.

4. Always make a shopping list when you go grocery shopping, it will help you save money from binge and impulse buying. Be a coupon cutter and really learn to save on food. (One month using coupons I spent only $158 for groceries for my family of three.)

5. Start car- pooling; what do you think HOV lanes are for?!

6. Take your lunch to work, it is healthier and will save you 100's of dollars a month. My grandmother packed my grandfather a lunch for years when he was working places other than the orchards and couldn't come home to eat. She always included surprise snacks and little notes, an added delight to your afternoon break!

7. Raise your car and home insurance deductibles and pay-less on your premium, but keep a $1,000 - $3,000 cash emergency fund available to use in the event you need to pay that deductible.

8. Always have at least a $1,000 emergency cash fund in a safe place (at home or in a safe deposit box).

9. Saving on energy costs is extremely important with ever rising utility bills. ways to save include: one, keep your summer thermostat set at 76 degrees and use fans to circulate air and two, in the winter keep the thermostat at 68 65 degrees and wear a sweater. We always wore them at Grandmas house and nobody complained.

10. A simple thing that reduces utility bills is to change your furnace and air conditioner filters monthly. Plus clean your outside air conditioner yearly. Replacing your old hot water heater with the new instant hot water systems saves energy and water (systems only cost $500 installed).

11. Get your hair done at beauty schools in your town (very inexpensive and you can save literally $100's of dollars a year). The days of $10 hair cuts(instead of $30) are still to be found if you look around.

12. Shop for clothes at discount bargain stores that have name brand for 50% - 80% less than larger department stores. Hey, I love bargain hunting at the local thrift store. Last week I found 2 brand new Polo shirts for $6 each and bought a huge back of silverware for $7.

13. Recycle your old clothes for cash by having a yard sale or take them to a consignment store. Remember donations to charity can be a tax deduction, also.

14. Make your dinner leftovers into lunch goodies. For example make chicken salads from left over baked chicken. Decide to have a leftover night smorgasbord one night a week and try to eat less meat (it is healthier and economical).

15. Drink water when you eat out (drinks are averaging $1.50 to $3.00 each). You can save $300 to $500 per year per person by drinking water and when you are traveling keep a cooler in your car for drinks.

16. My grandfather used to put all his loose change in little tins and band-aid boxes. When we would visit he would tell us to hunt for the hidden money treasure around the house. It was fun, but it also taught me to save my change and place it in piggy banks around the house. It is our "mad money" or "play money", we use to do something fun we didn't budget for. I have different "banks" for quarters, dimes and pennies. It is a fun way to save. Last year I saved enough money to buy a piano cash for Christmas.

17. Rent movies for $5 per movie versus going to the theater and spending $8 per ticket then $10 for popcorn and a drink, for a total of $18 per person! The whole family can watch the movie and have some popcorn for under $10. I remember watching "The Wonderful World of Disney" at grandma's and we were perfectly happy with big bowls of ice cream and a new Hardy Boys adventure that captured our imagination.

18. Buy a coupon book for $15 -$20 dollars. You will able to eat out 2 for one, get grocery store discounts, car wash savings up to 50%, travel discounts and lots more. We buy one every year and last year added up our savings, it was $896.00.

19. If you smoke stop! Yes, for your health, you should stop the habit, but your pocketbook will love it too. If you buy 1 pack per day at $4.85 per pack times 5 days week times 52 weeks per year, those cigarettes cost you $1,271 per year.

20. Learn to barter for a service, that's what my grandparents did for years. Swap out your expertise gardening for your neighbors help with a plumbing problem. Give your friend who fixes cars 5 jars of homemade pickles for an oil change and lube job. Become neighbors again and learn to help one another, it will keep expenses down.

These are only a very few ways to live on less money and to save money. Remember create a budget and live by it, especially when you are young. Sure you have to be frugal and may appear to others to be Ebenezer Scrooge at times, but it will pay off and reduce your economic stress.

Learn to play, live and love for less now, so you can enjoy the here and now today not just tomorrow.

One of my grandfathers retired from the 9-5 world when he was in his forties and had his own business after that. My other grandparents always had time for each and every grandchild to spend summers and holidays with them, because they never lived burdened by what they couldn't pay, because they owed no one.

Simple people full of life and joy were my grandparents, who may not have been millionaires, but always had time for family and others going through hard times. Can you say the same about your life?

Do you think and worry about money too much? Perhaps it is time for an economic lifestyle adjustment in your life?

More about this author: Pam Uher

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