Part of having money is saving money, and that means living on a budget.
This should apply even if you have a healthy income, because one day you might want to retire, which requires a lot of reserve funds.
That being said, you can be on a budget and truly enjoy your life. Here are six ways to accomplish this.
1. Learn to like simple things
I love riding my bike. Riding a bike costs virtually nothing, except wear and tear on the bike itself, which is probably less than 50 cents a ride.
I use this example because on a good week (when I’m not crazy busy), I ride my bike all the time. Savings to me — significant.
Sure, I could be in a bar buying people drinks, or at movies and buying $20 of concessions, but instead I’m indulging in natural settings and really saving money while I do it.
Find your ‘bike’ and save loads of money.
2. Shop around
I haven’t found it true that one store is superior in terms of price for all products.
However, one store might be far superior for the price of a single type of product.
For example, I eat a ton of olive oil – probably about 16 oz. a week. (I use it in place of a less healthy fat, like butter.)
And I know that my corner grocery stores sells olive oil for about a $1.50 less than the better store down the street. Therefore, I go to corner grocery store for olive oil, while I still get my other groceries at the better store down the street.
The underlying idea is: Understand what products you use often, and buy those products at the stores that sell them at the lowest price. Don’t go to one store to buy your whole shopping list.
3. Don’t be reckless
The best offense is a good defense.
So don’t speed; don’t start a physical fight; don’t engage in contact sports; etc.
If you’re hurt, you can’t make money, which means that your budget just got a lot tighter.
Similarly, if you crash your car, even if no one is hurt, you still probably are left with having to buy a new car, because insurance rarely covers 100% of the cost of getting you back to where you were.
Don’t do anything dangerous, and you’ll save money in the long run.
Plus, you’ll have less of a chance of sustaining injury. This is a reward in and of itself – peace of mind.
Next time you feel like hang gliding, competitive eating, or Okie noodling, try something else like meditation instead. It’s just as rewarding, and your wallet will thank you when you don’t have to be rushed to the hospital.
4. Make plans
Planning ahead allows you to confidently enjoy your money without any surprises later.
When you go want to do something that costs more than $20 per person, understand exactly how frequently per month your budget will allow for such a thing, and make decisions accordingly.
For example, you might make enough money for a $100 meal once a month. Assuming this is your limit, you can only eat this way once a month.
This means that if at the spur of the moment, one of your richer friends asks you to eat at this ‘great new place’ — and you’ve already blown through your extravagant food budget for the month — you should answer with a polite ‘no’ (while understanding that you allot yourself a healthy amount of dough to blow on food anyway).
On the contrary, in the same scenario if you haven’t spent the money for the month, don’t feel bad about spending the $100. Just make sure you don’t spend $150 by accident.
5. Deprive yourself
This is one of those tips that flies in the face of intuitive thought. Is there a way to live better through deprivation?
Think about it. The rich kid doesn’t appreciate his Mercedes. To him, it’s just a car.
But it’s not normal to us regular folk. We think it’s fancy.
Similarly, if you’re on a budget, you might have even less money than most normal people. This is not a totally bad thing, because absence makes the heart grow fonder.
If you can only afford to go out to eat once a year, that food will probably taste pretty damn good when you do eat it that once.
The crux of this argument is simple — it’s not bad to deprive yourself of frivolous things. In fact, it makes you appreciate them that much more when you do get them.
Furthermore, this art of deprivation works so much in your favor when you don’t have money, because it keeps you lean, mean, and out of debt.
6. Be who you are
Few things are as expensive and exasperating as trying to be who you’re not.
Ever heard of ‘keeping up with the Joneses‘? Yes, there was a family to keep up with before the Kardashians took an antiquated saying to market.
Well, if you’re trying to compete with others for the sake of image, it’s a fair guess that you’re also not very happy, even though a lot of money is being thrown around.
If you were content in your own life, there would be no one to compete with. So, when it comes to being happy within a budget, figure out what makes you happy and what doesn’t.
If you like New Balance sneakers (which I like), don’t let someone sell you the new Jordan’s (which I also like) for twice as much. You’ll probably be less content with the Jordan’s and will have also wrecked your budget.
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