Living within your means can be extremely difficult if your means are not adequate for what you want to do with your life.
A lot of people struggle to live independently. In order to match the vision you have for your lifestyle, you may have to start minimizing expenses. Bringing down your cost of living is the best way to get yourself to a better financial state.
These four approaches can help you minimize your personal expenses and lead you to having more control over your life.
Ride The Bus
You have to face the reality that owning a car may be too much for you.
The average annual cost of owning a car is almost $9,000 per year. This is on top of the cost of the actual car itself, which can run anywhere from a few thousand dollars to an average of $33,000 for brand new vehicles.
There is, however, a financially better alternative.
People who live in urban areas or areas with the proper infrastructure can opt for public transportation. If you can take the bus, go for it. If the subway is practical choice, ride it. Aside from being the cheaper alternative, there are other benefits of using for public transportation — you get to see more of where you live.
In addition to public transit, there are a ton of other options to get around. You can use bicycle. You can use rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft. You can use rental services like Zipcar.
A car is a luxury. There are plenty of ways to be mobile without one.
Stick to the Essentials
People are always falling into financial traps like unnecessary subscriptions to magazines, cable TV, and other online services. A lot of these things start out as a good idea and become a financial burden in the long run.
If you want to minimize your cost of living, you may need to stick to the essentials for a while.
The first thing you should do is to list everything you’re currently paying for. You look at your list and decide which costs are necessary and which are just needless extra expenses.
Do It Yourself
When something needs to be fixed, it might be too costly to have others do it.
If you can learn how to do it yourself, you can save big time. You can start off with checking online for DIY tips or looking out tutorials on Youtube to guide you through projects.
For example, when your sink is busted and the pipes need to be fixed, it usually just takes a set of simple tools and some know-how.
However, there is fine line with these type of projects. If it seems like it is too much for you to handle, going to a pro might be the better option.
Even if you already cook all of your own meals, there’s a lot you can do to cut down costs on food.
Try to purchase products with a longer shelf life. People waste so much money on fresh produce that ends up spoiled. If you’re trying to stay healthy, try buying fresh products in bulk and prepping meals for the week all at once.
These products typically last longer once they’re cooked or prepared. They can be brought to work as lunches, or eaten throughout the week if you don’t mind being repetitive with your dinners.
A smart way to prepare meals is to not look at the cost of a trip to the grocery store, but to look at the cost per meal. If you find certain items are bringing you higher value, it might be worth it to narrow your list to including only those low-cost items.
If something you really enjoy doesn’t fit the budget, try working it in less frequently as a reward to yourself for sticking to your saving goals.
Pay With Cash
Excessively using credit cards if you don’t have enough cash to cover them usually ends with the user buried in debt.
Credit cards and loans are becoming easier and more convenient to access, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best option. Paying with cash exclusively can be a better move.
Doing so teaches you to focus on what you have right now rather than using what you might have in the future. It also trains you to avoid making impulsive purchases that can destroy any chance of you being financially fit in the long run.
If This Isn’t Enough
These things may seem difficult, but they are absolutely doable. They also may be better options than making more dramatic changes in your life, like finding new housing or changing jobs.
If you find yourself unable to make ends meet, consider looking into new careers or part-time work to supplement what you already have. If your rent or mortgage get too high, consider picking up a roommate or looking for a less expensive place.
It’s up to you to decide which direction you need to go, but these tips should help you along the way to greater financial security.
Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.