Picture that once upon a time you were working your dream job and life was going great. You were saving money, paying off student loans, and even thinking about going on vacation. Then, out of the blue, your boss announced that you were being laid off. After the initial terror subsided, you decided to be proactive and create a shoestring budget while looking for a new job. Living on less isn’t always easy, but it is possible. Read on to learn the best ways to live on a shoestring budget.
Create a Financial Plan
Whether it’s by choice or out of necessity, living on less starts with a plan. Gather all of your monthly expenses and see where you can cut costs. If you’re paying on high-interest rate credit cards, contact the bank and see what they can offer. If you’re paying on student loans, refinancing can help you save money, too. You usually pay less interest over time and the monthly rate may be less as well. That money you save can then put applied to other expenses you couldn’t cover before.
Learn How to Cook
You’d be surprised how many people don’t really know how to cook. Eating out one of the fastest ways to drain your bank account. Even on a budget, there are tons of recipes you can whip up that are taste great and affordable. Pantry staples, like pasta, rice, and beans, can be prepared a variety of ways, are low-cost and also have a long shelf life. By cooking at home, you can reduce financial stress and potentially pick up a new hobby in the process.
All work and no play are never a good way to go. Everyone needs time to relax and enjoy themselves. Unfortunately, if your recreational activities come with a price tag, you need to find alternatives. Instead of paying for a gym membership, you can start exercising outdoors. Not only is it free, but there are plenty of body weight exercises you can do to avoid boredom.
Shop at High-End Thrift Shops
Having a smaller budget doesn’t mean never buying anything new. There are many online and physical high-thrift shops where you can find designer clothes that were never even worn. They are usually a fraction of the original cost and some even have the original tags on them.
Brew Your Coffee at Home
You may love your morning coffee but the price leaves something to be desired. In some places, a large cup of black coffee can cost upwards of $5.00. Buy your favorite coffee and grind the beans at home. While you might pay more initially for the beans, you’ll end up saving more over the month. There are so many at-home coffee bar ideas you can incorporate into your space to make having coffee at home just as much of a treat as it is going out for it.
Join Meet-Up Groups
Online memberships for dating and meeting other people usually charge a monthly fee. Check out Facebook and look for free groups to join. You can also do an online search to find free meet-up groups in your neighborhood.
Shop at Farmer’s Market
Grocery stores are notoriously priced higher than most farmer’s markets. On the weekend, head over to the closest one and scoop up farm-fresh fruit, veggies and eggs for the week. The taste better and cost considerably less than what you find in the grocery store. You should also buy your plants or flowers there as well.