It doesn’t take much money to live – if we try.  There are dozens of ways, but here’s ten.

I just want to laugh when someone says they have a “fixed income” and live on a budget!  Whether we work or not, are living on retirement savings, or none at all – we all live on a fixed income.    Making the most of what we have is the key.  

I once spent a whole year living on what was in my purse.   I cashed the paycheck and put it all in a red envelope.   Those funds were all I had and I knew exactly what was left.   The goal was to still have some money before the next paycheck.   Anything left over went in the money jar at home.  At the end of the year, I took a small vacation on my left over money! 

So after some research and life experience, here’s what I learned.

1.  Before you go food shopping, clean out the refrigerator and see what you are throwing away (wasted money) and what you need.   Also check out the dry supplies, canned goods, soaps, etc.   Make a list and buy only what you need.   Do not go to the market when you are hungry.   Eat before you go.   Stop it!  Put back the Oreos!

2.  Buy in bulk.  If you need toilet paper, get the big package at Costco or at a bargain discount food store.   Store bulk food so it does not spoil.    Do not buy a 10 pound bag of carrots – unless you are really into juicing or have a horse.   You will end up throwing them away (wasted money).  Too many carrots makes your skin orange anyway.

3.  Take your lunch with you.   You can make a big sandwich for about $1.50.    Unless you can buy one for $1.50, let me know where, make it yourself.

4.  Starbucks is a no-no.   Make a pot of coffee at home for pennies and take a thermos.   If you took all the money you spend on lattes for 2 years, you could go to Columbia and pick the beans yourself.

5.  Get a VISA card that earns you air miles.  This is not an ad, but I have an Alaska Airlines card and put absolutely everything on the card and pay it off every single month.   If you spend $900, you get 900 air miles.  In no time, you have enough to take a trip to Europe!   Really!   Been there 3 times on my air miles. 

6.  Drive your car into the ground and then buy a used one.   Get an oil change every 3,000-5,000 miles.   Check the oil, fluids and  tire pressure regularly.   Watch the blue book for the value of your car and adjust your insurance accordingly.    If your car is only worth $3000 why carry full coverage?    Do not drop your comprehensive coverage that insures you and other drivers in an accident.  I guarantee you that we will both get to the market at the same time – you in your fancy new car and me in my 8 year old Scion.  It’s just a car.

7.  If you take medication, make sure you have some kind of insurance coverage for drugs.   Even if it has a high deductible – you are getting a ‘negotiated rate’ from the drug store.  This means that your insurance company, who has thousands and thousands of members, has negotiated a favorable rate of payment for you.   So even if you are paying and the insurance company is not – what you have to pay is far less than with no insurance at all.    My $5 prescription would be $31 without insurance.   It also means that if some catastrophic disease comes along, my medication rate will be negotiated for me.

8.  Every day, put just $3 and all your change in a jar.   I recently had well over $1,000 to help pay for that trip I took with my free air miles.  Think of what you could do with $1,000!   No sneaking money out of the jar!   Tape a photo of Paris on the jar if you are saving for vacation, or your new(old) car, or a great sofa.  Have a goal and save for it. 

9.  Try washing your clothes on the quick cycle.   Most of us are not digging in the garden or working on a car every day.   A light wash is plenty.   Water the garden in the evening and don’t water the grass.   It will not die, I promise you.

10.  For one month, make a log of the TV channels you are actually watching.   Then renegotiate a new plan with the cable company.   We saved over $70 a month by getting just what we need and nothing more.   And, forget about the shopping channel!  I have never watched the cartoon network and probably never will.                                Photo by Editor

Hint:   Shopping isn’t about buying.  It’s about getting your moneys worth. 

Tell us how you save your retirement dollars!