Most of us equate reducing our spending to depriving ourselves of stuff and fun activities we enjoy. But what if I tell you that by making just a few adjustments here and there, we can cover the essentials and still have enough left for things that truly make life worthwhile?
ONE: Cook the bulk of your meals at home.
Stocking up on ingredients for cooking will not just enable you to reduce your expenses, you can also curb your portions and control the amount of oil, fat, sugar, and salt that goes into every dish.
Challenge yourself to master new recipes and allow one special meal a week. Serve homemade pancakes and hot cocoa with skim milk to your family for breakfast. Grill fish, portions of chicken, or lean cuts of beef and enjoy them with fresh salads.
TWO: Build your wardrobe on classic pieces.
Next to food, much of our budget goes to clothes. Here’s a good rule to follow: invest in a few wardrobe essentials by spending more on durable pieces, like jeans, trousers, a pencil skirt if you’re a woman, and a blazer or jacket.
If you think a certain item will just remain a fad or trend, like a bohemian blouse or a graphic T-shirt, just buy from thrift shops or bazaars.
THREE: Learn the art of being a sparkling host.
Going out to a bar or club, the cinema, or dining on fancy meals can rack up huge expenses over time. Why not come up with creative yet frugal activities if you want to bond with your friends?
Have a Netflix marathon at home with microwaveable popcorn. Google recipes for face masks and turn girls’ night out to an at-home spa. You can also liven up an otherwise boring Saturday afternoon by playing some of the latest board games.
FOUR: Take up an inexpensive hobby.
Instead of turning to retail therapy or binge eating to cope with stress, boredom, or negative emotions, look for a hobby that’s not only cheap, but requires active engagement. Journaling can be relaxing and therapeutic. If you like a challenge, a couple of booklets with Sudoku or crossword puzzles don’t cost much. You can try calligraphy by using felt-tip pens, or unleash your inner artist by sketching with a graphite pencil.
FIVE: When it comes to gifts, consider an act of service instead of store-bought items.
This will really make you think about the interests and preferences of your intended recipient. Bring out some colored paper, a pair of scissors, and a felt-tip pen and create a booklet with around 10-12 coupons, each with an act of service your recipient can “redeem.”
Here are several examples:
- This coupon entitles you to a 20-minute foot massage.
- I will treat you to your favorite ice cream sundae.
- I will make you a pot of chicken soup for your afternoon meal.
- I will wash the dishes this weekend to allow you uninterrupted reading time.
SIX: Look for activities within your area that are free, or only charge a minimal admission fee.
Watch out for a free concert at the park, a string quartet’s or pianist’s performance at an auditorium, a poetry reading at your public library, a craft fair, or an art exhibit during a free-admission day at a museum.
SEVEN: Get fit for less.
Get together with some of your friends and join a hiking group, ride your bicycles, or toss a Frisbee around at the park. You can also walk your dog or your neighbor’s dog.
If you’re more introverted and value your time alone, you can take strolls after dinner, do a 30-minute routine while listening to music, or break out a sweat doing some gardening.