Re-Designing Your Life on a Lower Income

When unexpected situations cause your income to dip, it's beneficial to figure out how to live on less money.  If you’re like Dianne and me, you probably don’t have trees in your yard that produce mone

monthly expenses

These strategies will help you learn to conserve, whatever your situation. Simply making two or three of these changes might reduce your expenditures enough to successfully live on the lower amount you're bringing in right now. 

1. Bring your lunch. Taking your lunch on outings five days a week can save you a very decent amount by the end of the month. Depending on how low your income has dropped, taking your lunch to work might actually be the only sacrifice you need to make.

   * Eating out, including tips, may cost nearly $10 a day (unless you're eating fast food). Saving fifty dollars a week, times 4 weeks in a month, means you've cut $200 off of your monthly expenditures.

2. Avoid dry-cleaning costs. Wear clothes to work or at home that can be washed in your washer and save your clothes that must be dry-cleaned for special occasions. At least for now, you can conserve a pretty penny when you avoid wearing clothes every day that require dry-cleaning.

3. Reduce or change your cell phone service. If you're between cell phone contracts, it's a good time to consider switching to a lesser-known carrier that charges less and gives you more minutes, data, and text for the price. Alternatively, change to a less expensive plan with your current carrier.

4. Take a look at your cable television service. Do you really need over 300 channels? After all, if you've got 2 televisions, you can only watch 2 channels at a time. Consider reducing your monthly cable television service for 6 months and see how it goes.

   * Although it might take a few weeks to get adjusted to it, you'll most likely be pleasantly surprised that you can live with fewer channels and feel okay about it. Plus, you'll reduce your monthly expenditures, which will ease off the money crunch for now.

5. Grocery-shop differently. Avoid more expensive cuts of meat unless they're on sale. Look at grocery store ads before you shop. Make your store list for the week using items in the sale ads.

   * Buy fresh produce that's on sale. Better yet, shop at local farmers' markets to get consistently low prices on fresh produce.

   * Use coupons for additional savings on discounted items by trolling the couponing websites. It will be easy to cut $10 weekly from your grocery budget using these techniques and that's over $40 savings by the end of the month.

6. Take advantage of free entertainment. The costs of going to the movies, paying to get into museums, or playing miniature golf can really add up. Consider free or inexpensive activities, like going to the local park, riding bikes together, or watching a movie at home as a family.

   * If you prefer, rather than stop your leisure spending completely, reduce the number of times in a month you do such activities. For example, if you normally spend money for entertainment weekly, try cutting those expenditures to every other week. Doing so could easily trim $100 from your monthly budget for a family of four.

Learning to live on a lower income is a challenge. Explore these strategies to alter your lifestyle by reducing the amount of money you spend in a month. You'll realize that you can re-design your life on a lower income and still enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle.

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