Practical Ways To Live Below (or Within) Your Means

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor. I am just sharing what works for me in terms of personal finance. 

Lately, there has been a lot of uncertainty in terms of economies and unemployment worldwide. We’re seeing many people – maybe even ourselves, or someone we know – who are feeling the difficulty of making ends meet. Money is the number 1 cause of stress for Americans, and that was even before this whole pandemic situation. It is more important, now more than ever, to try and live below (or within) your means. It doesn’t matter how much (or how little) you earn, if you cannot manage your spending. Below are some practical ways to do this. It may not be for everyone, and you don’t have to do everything on the list. But hopefully, a couple of the tips below can help you if you are in a challenging financial situation.

A store displaying lots of dinnerware

Conserve water and electricity

This goes without saying. Conserving water and electricity can be one of the easiest ways to cut down on your expenses. Turn off unused lights and unplug appliances after use. Air dry your clothes and dishes, if you can. Batch bake when using the oven. The list goes on and on, and there are so many ways to do this, if you take some time to have a quick look around your home.

Think about your mode of transportation

If your family has multiple cars, ask yourself if it is possible to reduce the number of cars that you have. Will the inconvenience that it’ll bring be something that you can handle? How about public transportation? Is that a viable option? Disclaimer: Please put your health first. If you feel that your health may be at risk in public transport at the moment, then you may want to find other options. Possibly using a bike? Also, if you are planning to buy a car, you may want to opt for buying a used car instead of a brand new one.

Buy second hand

Aside from just vehicles, buying second hand is also a good option for other things such as clothing, kitchenware, dinnerware, and furniture. You’ll never know what treasure you can find in thrift stores! You just have to be a bit more particular in terms of the quality and whether you really need or want the item before you buy.

Review your paid memberships and subscriptions

This can come in the form of streaming services, cable television, software subscriptions, gym memberships, magazines, or even food boxes. These are usually automatically paid, so it can be easy to keep paying for something that you don’t use anymore. It’s okay to have these subscriptions, as long as you get your money’s worth from them. You might also have multiple entertainment services (Netflix plus Disney+ plus Sky etc.). Ask yourself whether you can cancel a few and just stick to one subscription.

Cook your own meals

We’ve heard this tip many times, but it’s true. Eating out can really put a dent on your budget without you realising it. If you’re so used to eating out, then just start by replacing a few meals a week with something homecooked. No need to go cold turkey on this, but a little bit of saving adds up.

Take it further and grow your food in your garden 

Even a few veggies and herbs can be a good start. Personally, we don’t have a large garden, but we love our little chilis and capsicums and parsley in their little pots at the back of our home. But yes, having our own garden with potatoes and cabbages and carrots and lemons would be the dream!

Buy supermarket brands

There are a lot of supermarket brand items that can be just as good as the branded ones, if you just give them a chance. Now, if you really love something (say, mayonnaise), and you are super loyal to your brand, then that’s definitely okay. Get your branded mayo and then get the supermarket brand for the rest of your groceries that you are comfortable compromising on.

Increase Your Income

This one is not that easy, but if you can find ways to increase your income, that would provide some relief from your financial stress. Here are some ideas on how to do it.

Good luck!

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