Living does not come without costs; however, you can still learn how to live cheaply. Most people spend their money without a second thought. A new phone here, a fancy dress there. If you have a regular salary this lifestyle may be sustainable. But does it bring happiness?
There are also cases when you are forced to drastically reduce your spending. Redundancy, illness, a recession are only some examples of events that may leave you without an income. How can you live a happy and fullfilled life without being able to spend money?
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Table of Contents
How to live cheaply: Change your mindset and plan ahead
First and foremost, learning how to live cheaply requires you to change your mindset. Embrace frugality and you will understand that having money does not make your happy. Equally, not having money does not mean you have to be unhappy. It is a choice that is yours to make!
One of the most important considerations is that time equals money. When learning how to live cheaply, you have to learn to plan ahead. For example, planning to cook your own dinners and office lunches, cleaning your home, etc. This has the side effect that you will feel more in control of your life.
How to live cheaply on next to nothing
If you want to or are forced to drastically reduce your expenses, you have to focus on the basics which are:
- Leisure time
How to save on food
There are a number of ways you can drastically reduce your food expenses.
How to live cheaply with home cooking
Cooking yourself is by far the most effective way when learning how to live cheaply. However, if you have been looking into saving money, the fact that cooking is cheaper than eating out is probably nothing new to you.
The key to living cheaply on next to nothing is choosing the right ingredients. Rice, potatoes, and pasta are super cheap staples that have great versatility and are long lasting. These could be your sources of carbohydrates. Cheap sources of protein include beans and peanut butter. For your daily portion of greens you can buy seasonal vegetables.
All of the above can be combined in various ways to make cheap and decent-tasting meals. You can add homemade sauce (e.g. tomato puree or blended beans) for more taste.
Batch cooking and meal prepping is a great way to keep costs down. These will require planning ahead but the time spent will pay off.
How to live cheaply with cashback
Even though you are trying to reduce your spending, you will still need to buy some money. This is were cashback comes in. With this, you are getting a proportion of the money you spent back. For example, if you buy pasta for £1, you may get £0.20 of that refunded. Thus, cashback is a great way to save money!
The easiest way to start receiving cashback is to sign-up to Shopmium. You will get a free tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with the code q2766a!
How to save on shelter
Everyone needs a place to live. So what do you do if you cannot afford to pay your rent anymore or are looking to reduce your rent costs? The answer will depend on your personal circumstances.
How to live cheaply as a single without dependents
Singles often face higher costs when renting because they cannot easily share a room with another person. However, on the bright side, reducing rent is much easier for singles than couples if you are prepared to move!
For example, I spent time as a homesharer where I lived with an elderly lady and only paid £150 rent per month. Note that this is not the same as a live-in carer and actually quite easy to do. There are often similar arrangements available on spareroom, all you have to do is keeping your eyes open.
When looking for such arrangements, it is important to prioritise safety over rent savings. It is not worth putting your life in danger for a small saving in rent.
How to live cheaply as a couple with or without children
For couples, the easiest solution to reduce accommodation costs is to downsize and share a room. For those with kids, life gets a bit more complicated. Moving is more difficult due to having more stuff and the requirement of a safe environment with nearby schools.
There are a few options if you are forced to reduce your rent. Firstly, you can contact your current landlord and explain your situation. Perhaps they will agree to a temporary reduction in rent!
If this does not work, you could try to sublet one of your rooms. It may mean you have to squeeze together a bit more, but the extra income may help you to get through a tough period.
How to save on transport
When you have to dramatically reduce your expenses, transport is one of the easiest areas to save on. Though this also depends on where you live. Consider selling your car or take it off the road temporarily, if you live in an area accessible by public transport.
Generally, a lot of trips people use their car or a bus can be walked. Even if you have children, they can use a bicycle or scooter. This also has a number of health benefits!
Even if you have to travel further, there is still plenty of potential for saving. Saving money when travelling is easy and can be a great help.
How to save on leisure time
If you have expensive hobbies, now may be a time to put these on hold. This does not mean you have to miss out though! In fact, this may be a great time to try out new things.
Free activities include visiting the museum, reading (join the library), going to a park, watching freely available documentaries, etc. You can even look for a hobby that will make you money.
For example, my hobby is blogging and Monethalia now makes around £200 per month. Starting a blog comes with some upfront cost, but you should be able to recover these costs quickly. Learn how to make money from your blog.
When looking for a hobby that makes money, practice caution. If something sounds to good to be true, it probably is a scam.
How to live cheaply on next to nothing summary
Following this, there are a few practical approaches you can take:
- Reduce your food expenses
- Save money by reducing your rent
- Travel and commute for less
- Make the most of your leisure time
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