Living Below Your Means: 10 Things to Give Up That You May Never Even Miss

Sometimes you may find yourself in a tighter financial situation than you thought you would. Maybe that paycheck didn’t reach as far as you had hoped. Maybe there are more expenses than you thought. Maybe taxes just went up, or inflation is kicking you in the rear. Or maybe you are just trying to boost your savings account by cutting back. Regardless, if you’ve found yourself in this kind of situation before, you’re not the only one. Plenty of people have found themselves wondering, “How can I live below my means? What can I do?” Here are some easy steps that you can take to get rid of extra expenses and start living below your means. You may even find that you don’t even miss them after awhile!

1. That morning coffee run: I know, I’m bringing out the big guns early here. But if you start brewing your own coffee instead of making that morning run, the savings will actually add up really quickly. If you give up drinking coffee entirely, first of all, God bless your soul. Second of all, you’ll be well on your way to having some more money available to you.

2. Your subscription to Netflix or other streaming services: I’ve had to do this to save money myself. A “standard” subscription to Netflix is $8.99 per month, which, if you keep it for long enough, adds up pretty quickly to just below $108 each year. Downgrading to the “basic” Netflix is an option, but that only saves you a dollar a month. My suggestion would be to find someone to split the cost with, if you aren’t doing that already, or ask anyone that has that password to help you out a bit. Or, frankly, you can live without Netflix. There are several other ways to watch programs, one of which is on-demand television (which is included in many TV provider plans now). It may be hard at first, but you won’t really miss it. Just finish that last season of Breaking Bad and save yourself some cash.

Counterpoint: If you go out to movies a lot at theaters, cut back on that, but keep the Netflix and split it with a friend, that way it’s just under $5 per month for each of you, instead of $12 for each movie ticket.

3. The membership to the gym: First off, as a disclaimer, I am not telling you to stop working out. What I’m saying is that the membership to the gym is just another couple dollars each month that could be in your pocket. If a gym membership is $10 a month, that’s $120 a year. And most gym memberships are even more than that. It’s not a lot, but it can help. And you can figure out the best workout for you at your house or around your neighborhood. Again, don’t NOT work out, but there are other ways than paying for a gym membership.

4. Buying new books: If you’re a bookworm, consider making use of the (free) library instead of buying new books. Or, if you use a Kindle or E-reader, you can rent books on it from the library as well. It’s an easy way to save a bit of money for yourself.

5. Going out to dinner: This one is a given. Try to cut back on going out to dinner. Try to go out one less time a week or month, and you’ll be surprised to see how much you save. You may find that the total cost for a single dinner out could be used to fund two, three, or even four meals at home.

6. In app purchases: Don’t spend money on apps for your mobile device. And even more so, don’t buy anything from within the app. Apps are laced with ads, and will probably try to sell you an ad-free version. They can also try to sell you a deluxe version or more spins of the wheel or whatever the app entails. Just don’t spend the money. Seeing a Game of War ad here and there is better than spending real money to get rid of them. Just as a basic rule: don’t spend real money on not real things.

7. Bottled water: Instead of buying bottles of water from the store, just buy some tumbler cups and a filter. That way, you aren’t paying for bottles. The savings will rack up, and the filtered water is most likely better for you than drinking from the plastic bottles anyway. Plus, it’s green, and Captain Planet would be proud.

8. Soda/other drinks: This goes along with the whole bottled water thing. Switching away from non-water drinks will save you money, and is better for you in the long run anyway.

9. Those premium cable channels you probably don’t even watch: Check with your television provider to see what exactly you are paying for. If you are paying for a bucket full of channels that you don’t even watch, cancel those. If you find a bunch of channels that you never watch except when you’re flipping through, cancel those. A lot of people only watch a couple of channels at all. So make sure you aren’t spending money on something you literally never use. And to step back to tip number two, if you don’t really watch much TV then get rid of cable altogether and just use Netflix. If cable is $75 a month and Netflix is $9 (rounded up) that’s a savings of $66 each month, which adds up to just under $800 a year!

10. Old clothing: Pick a day and do some impromptu spring cleaning. Find any clothes that don’t fit or that you haven’t worn in a year. Then go and donate them to a charitable foundation. It may be simple, and you may have done this already, but not only will you be helping others out, but you can write off the amount your donation was worth on your taxes, which can save you some money in the long run. It’s worth doing, especially to help others out, and it’s a great way to clear up some clutter in a hurry!

Everyone goes through times when keeping a strict budget is essential. Sometimes it’s as easy as stepping back to see what you’re spending on the little things and cutting down a bit. And most of those things, when you really think about it, you won’t even miss.

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