It’s a knee jerk reaction we all have when we first realize that our spending has gotten out of control: “I have to give everything up!” Maybe we even get caught up in the idea a little bit—feeling self righteous about the idea of selling everything we own, sleeping on a blanket nest on the floor, eating ramen with our only entertainment being books from the library under our single lamp with a bare bulb.
Let me tell you: while it might seem like a romantic adventure, living like that gets old after one night on the floor. The truth is that you don’t have to give up all of the niceties and luxuries you’ve grown accustomed to. You might have to scale back, sure, but there are ways to live relatively normally on even a super tight budget.
Your Internet, TV, Phone, Connection to the Outside World
God bless coupon codes. No, seriously. More and more wireless and broadband providers are offering them now. For example, in one fell swoop you can grab a coupon code and be done with savings on your internet connection (and your phone—both land line and mobile, if you’re creative)! Some companies will offer these deals on cable television too.
Quick Tip: You probably don’t actually need the highest download/upload speeds to survive. Even if you’re a streaming media junkie or avid gamer, a mid-range plan is cheaper and will do just fine.
Your grandmother was right: learning to mend your clothing is an important skill. It can help you extend the lifetime of your clothing by years. Even better, you’ll have more choices at the thrift store when you know how to mend and patch those tears and rips that would otherwise cause you to put that super sweater back.
Knowing how to launder your clothing properly is also important. Instead of sending it out for dry cleaning, use one of those at-home kits. Don’t just wash everything on cold and dry it on low. Following the wash instructions extends your clothing’s lifespan. Plus, if you’re at home all Sunday with the wash, you won’t be out spending.
As a young recent grad, you probably aren’t even going to begin to consider growing your own veggies or herbs and that’s okay. The people who suggest that sometimes seem a little bonkers anyway. Why do they assume we all have massive plots of land for that?
You can, however, buy fresh veggies and then take them home, blanch them and then freeze them for later. Blanching is super simple and for a pound or two, it allows you to eat fresh even in winter.
Make your own pasta and tortillas. Seriously. Sure those things are relatively cheap to buy pre-made but think about it: the cost of a box of spaghetti noodles and bag of tortillas runs you roughly the same as the cost of the ingredients to make those things, right (especially if you use a coupon)? But think about it: those ingredients will yield WAY more food than what you bought pre-made. Seriously. Plus, you can wow your date with your cooking skills!
Really—it is mostly a matter of prioritizing. It’s okay to keep the Internet on or have fine clothing. Getting your finances on track isn’t about living like a pauper. It’s about making responsible choices, not impulse ones. When you learn how to do that, you’ll be amazed at how much you can get for very little.