How to Live Within Your Means – Part 3 of 3

Eat at home whenever you can

Eating at home doesn’t have to be less exciting than going out to eat. Eating at home will make you be a better cook, be more conscious about what goes into your food, and it can even create an intimate atmosphere for a date night or a social gathering. And, of course, it saves money too. If one of your biggest expenditures comes from going out to eat, try to cut down how many meals you eat out by two a week, and then reduce that number further until you see that you’re happy if you only go out to eat once every week or two.

  • Of course, sometimes you have to go out to eat — for a coworker’s goodbye party, or a friend’s birthday, for example. When you do eat out, though, you can be conscious of what you spend. Don’t show up starving or you’ll be likely to order too much food and spend too much money.

Wait for sales

You should never have to buy something at full retail price. Wait for the items to go on sale, get coupons if you can, and just have the patience to know that anything you really want will eventually cost less money. You don’t have to get the newest version of an iPod or a video game the second it comes out; wait a few months for the price to go down and you could be saving hundreds of dollars.

  • There’s nothing wrong with buying second hand, either. You can find great clothes for great prices at a thrift store.

Entertain at home instead of going out

Throw a party instead of going out to the bars with your friends. Invite people over for a movie night instead of spending $15 a ticket to go see a movie on the day it comes out. Having fun in your own home can be even more enjoyable than going out because you don’t have to deal with strangers and can control what you eat and drink. So, the next time you want to have a social event, invite a few friends over instead of hitting up the pricey and noisy bars.

Cancel the subscriptions you don’t need

You could be spending over $100 a month on subscriptions that you don’t really need. Cut down on your spending by eliminating some of these subscriptions from your monthly bills:

  • Gym membership. If you only hit up the gym once or twice a month, cancel that membership and go running instead.
  • Netflix membership. Save money by only paying to stream from Netflix instead of paying an extra fee for ordering DVDs when you never use this feature.
  • Magazine subscription. If you only read one or two articles in the magazine that comes each month, then you’re better off saving your money and catching the news online.

Borrow whenever you can

Go to the library to borrow a book instead of paying for one at the store. Borrow a DVD from a friend instead of paying to rent it. Borrow a dress that you’ll only need to wear once from a stylish friend instead of spending a lot of money on something you’ll never wear again. Share your stuff with your friends and they will do the same with you. Borrowing is a great — and fun — way to save money.

Have a garden

Gardening is not only a fun and relaxing hobby — and one that has been shown to increase your lifespan — but it’s a definite money saver. Instead of spending money on vegetables and herbs every week, make a one-time investment in a garden and see how much money you save every week.

Don’t ever shop without a list

Whether you’re going to the grocery store or the mall, you are much more likely to spend impulsively and recklessly if you just roam around buying whatever you think you need. Instead, be prepared with a thorough list every time you shop, and do not stray from it unless you see something that you really need but forgot to write down.

  • Even if you’re going to the mall and only buying three items, writing them down on a list will make you more aware of buying something you didn’t intend to take home.

Wait 48 hours before making a big purchase

If you see a brand-new jacket or a nice pair of shoes at the mall or while you’re shopping online, don’t buy the item the second you decide you can’t live without it. Instead, give yourself 48 hours to really think it through. Maybe you’ll find that you really don’t need the item after all, or that you’re able to find a less expensive substitute. If you have thought it through and decide that you really do need it, then you will feel better about your decision.

Source: wikiHow under a Creative Commons license

Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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