Spend less than you earn. It’s a popular mantra, and for good reason. But I think many of us look at the (seemingly simple) equation and try to figure out how we can ramp up the earning variable.
I have never focused my life and goals on making as much money as I can. I certainly believe in finding a fulfilling career—which becomes more and more true as I get older—but I’ve spent most of my adult life reaching other goals. Now that I have Mr. M. and a child, my priorities are to invest as much as I can into my family. In Mr. M’s case, he’s almost done an education that will allow him to provide for his family while supporting his values.
Yeah, I know. Those things cost. Earning is important, too—I get it. But when I look back at the last decade I am proud of the places it has taken me and the things I’ve accomplished by keeping my spending in check (and searching out flexible work). It doesn’t take a martyr or a math whiz, just some practical habits and carefully choosing priorities as you learn to spend less.
Here are some of the things I do. You might have different priorities, and that’s cool. I just suggest finding a balance that allows for the life you want.
Find housing that is a step down (not up!) from what you can afford
During the times I’ve rented I’ve lived in some less-than-beauty places. Additionally, I have learned that I enjoy living with roommates. Even now that I’m married we still often live with others!
First of all, simply buy less stuff. But for anything beyond the essentials I’ll usually check Kijiji, Facebook bst groups, and thrift stores before buying new.
Cut back on plan extras
While both my husband and I have cell phones, neither of us pays for data. We already pay for internet at home, so the extra cost isn’t warranted for us. We also don’t have cable, which has the added benefit of saving us time.
Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle
Gas expenditure is one of our top three expenses. Any way you can spend less here is savings for something else in your life.
Grow/make your own food
Speaking of top three expenditures, food is still near the top. However, growing our own food makes a serious dent in our food bill. Even if you don’t have space for livestock/gardens, eating seasonally and making food at home are fantastic ways to help. Check out my gardening category for some ideas. Pack a lunch!
Because we purchase less over all, we’re able to make sure our bought food is of better quality.
Do even more at home
Haircuts, movies, beauty treatments… Your own creativity and ability is the limit. Learn new skills. Not only will you spend less, you’ll live more, and develop a whole new skill set.
Keep reading this blog (and other ones)
Want a cheaper lifestyle? There are people out there who are doing pretty cool stuff all the time. Find a mentor or watch people who are already truly living the way you want to instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
Go ahead and buy the good stuff that makes life better
Ah, the tip you’ve been waiting for. Love photography? Get a decent lens. Love chocolate? Find the best place to get the tasty dark fair-trade bars. I’d have a lot more saved if I never travelled, but what fun is that? Finding balance and joy is what it’s all about.