When the economic climate begins to reach a crisis stage, a once-reluctant willingness
to make sacrifices emerges. Necessity compels one to make uncomfortable adjustments.
The human survival instinct is a keen one.
We dwell in a society of entitlement. Many of us believe we are entitled to a certain
way of life, a certain level of comfort. We are a mass of individuals living beyond
our means, utilizing plastic cards in order to possess at this very instant what we
truly cannot afford. Delayed gratification is an increasingly foreign concept, and
we are the poorer for it. As we avariciously accumulate goods, we become more and
more desensitized to the idea of gratitude. We complain; we moan. We have so much,
and yet we desire more. The painful reality is, more is never enough.
To some third-world country inhabitants, the fact that we own a pair of shoes represents
great wealth. (A hundred pair would probably be considered utterly obscene.) What
we deem to be a "modest" home would resemble a mansion in their sight.
Whether or not you are fond of the notion of denying yourself certain pleasures, it
is an absolute necessity when it comes to saving money. Those costly, ephemeral items
or services that you feel you cannot do without may require you to spend more than
mere currency. It may signify a great deal of stress when you later discover that
you cannot cover your required expenses. In that light, is it truly worth the price?
Is it wise to purchase an $80 piece of clothing on credit only to pay hundreds of
dollars for it in the long term because of an inability to pay more than the minimum
per month, coupled with a ridiculously high interest rate?
For a long while, I have been functioning on a limited income with astonishing success.
Yet I consistently forego any personal desires for the sake of meeting necessities.
My condition is such that even when disposable income is at hand, I am inclined to
tuck it away for emergencies or spend it on gifts for others. While this may seem
a highly miserable state of affairs for many, it has worked quite well for me.
What does all of this look like in a practical sense? Here are several ideas.
*If you are accustomed to eating out, it would benefit you to significantly cut back.
This is an expense that quickly adds up. The price of one meal at a restaurant or
fast food place can equal the price of 2-4 meals that can be prepared at home.
*On the occasions you do eat out, try to do so during lunch hours. Entrees will be
significantly less expensive.
*If you are shopping for clothing, books, or other miscellaneous items, consider shopping
at outlet stores or second hand shops. Contrary to popular belief, there is no shame
*Craigslist and E-bay may also be viable resources. I have known individuals who have
struck excellent bargains on toys, furniture, bedding, and other household items from
*If you enjoy films, find out if your local library has a DVD section. I was impressed
to discover that at my own local library, there were both independent and foreign
*Another option is to attend theaters that only charge one dollar or, at the most,
two dollars per movie ticket.
*Whether you go to a dollar movie theater or a full-priced cinema, try attending matinees,
as they are cheaper. Going on a full-stomach will likewise help you save money, as
it will keep you from purchasing ridiculously expensive popcorn and candy.
*Expand your horizons by seeking out less expensive, alternative forms of entertainment.
*Always look for sales.
*When buying groceries, decrease the frequency with which you purchase "extra" items.
*Insofar as you are able, buy in bulk. As much as possible, stock up on discounted
packages of meat and other goods and store in your freezer.
*If you are a senior citizen, avail yourself of the myriad senior citizen discounts.
In some places, a senior citizen is anyone who is 55 years of age or older.
*Learn basic car maintenance. If you live in a city with an excellent transportation
system, consider ridding yourself of your vehicle altogether or only using it on weekends.
Walk or ride a bike to your destinations whenever possible.
*Prepare meals that leave you with tasty leftovers: spaghetti, meatloaf, lasagna,
soup, and casseroles fall under this category.
*Conserve energy whenever possible. Turn the lights off whenever you are not inhabiting
a room; keep the coils on the back of your refrigerator clean; maintain your freezer
as full as possible; turn off appliances that are not in use.
*Build your credit history by purchasing items that you can afford and immediately
*Strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle, thereby decreasing medical expenses.
With discipline, creativity, and a better appreciation for your innumerable blessings,
the rewards of being a good financial steward will be evident as you continually reap
the benefits of sound decision making.