10 Simple Ways to Start Living on Less Today

By Ashley Marcin on 18 February 2015 0 comments

Is your resolution to lean your budget this year? Has a new baby increased your bills? Or maybe you're saving for a big project or dream vacation.

Whatever your reason to start living on less, I'm glad you're here. At first, cutting back can seem like a daunting task. It requires much attention, modification, and — often — sacrifice. But I'm here to share the basics with you, along with a few tips and tricks that will help you achieve your bottom line.

1. Shop Thrift

If you have yet to set foot in a thrift shop, you need to see what you're missing. Sure, you'll probably come across some less-than-ideal items. More and more, though, I've been discovering like-new items on the shelves and racks. I'd say 75% of my wardrobe is second-hand. Or, skip the thrift store entirely by having a clothing swap with friends.

2. ...Or Don't Shop at All

You might decide you don't need to spend money (especially on clothes) at all. Many of us have closets full of shirts and pants we never wear. Excess clutter collects dust and takes up critical space on shelves. Before you purchase something new, stop and ask yourself: "Do I really need this?" You might be surprised with how often that answer is "No." (See also: 8 Essential Pieces for Your Minimalist Wardrobe)

3. Sell Your Stuff

One of the easiest ways to make fast money is to sell your stuff. Obviously keep what you need and use on a daily basis. When you gather a good number of things you want to sell, check local consignment stores or online shops like ThredUp for selling clothing. Craigslist is great for anything from coffee tables to guitars to cars. I've also seen a lot of local Facebook "yard sale" groups popping up lately. (See also: 11 Unusual Ways to Sell Your Stuff)

4. Pay Attention

There are countless ways you're probably spending money without thinking about it. Take a hard look at your bank statements, too, since you might incur charges for services you've long forgotten about. It sounds overly simple, but you should keep track of where your money is going. All those coffees, lunches out, magazine subscriptions, random online purchases, and ATM fees add up. (See also: 10 Mindless Ways You're Spending Money)

5. Buy in Bulk

Now's the time to investigate what all those bulk buyers are raving about. In addition to cost savings, there are a number of benefits you'll experience through purchasing food and other items in larger quantities. You'll go through less expensive packaging, take fewer costly trips to the store, and even try more healthy whole foods, which are traditionally sold in bulk. (See also: Bulk Buying Basics)

6. Try Discount Stores

Stop into your local dollar store to see what's inside. Granted, there are tons of products, like soda, gum, aluminum foil, cling wrap, bins — that aren't real bargains. However, my family still uses a great set of inexpensive glassware we purchased at a dollar store over five years ago. If you're throwing a party, you can frugally stock up on paper plates, decorations, and favors. Art and office supplies are also good deals. (See also: 10 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store)

7. Cook In

Another variable expense in your budget is your entertainment money. Consider cutting it back by learning to cook and enjoy homemade meals. Don't like cleaning? No problem. Choose simple meals with five ingredients or fewer to get started. You might get so good at it, the restaurant stuff won't taste the same. (See also: This Is How You Make Restaurant Quality Pizza at Home)

8. Quit Your Gym

You don't need to hit the gym to get your sweat on. There are countless at-home workouts that utilize your own body weight and cost you nothing but energy to complete. Try jogging around your neighborhood, starting a push-up challenge, or creating a circuit right in your living room. If you need some extra motivation, check out online workout videos and channels that are free or cost only a few bucks a month.

9. And Your Cable

While you're at it, give your cable company the boot. Or at least see if they'll lower your bill. A few years ago, we discovered that new customers were getting awesome sign-on promotions, so we called our provider and asked if we could benefit, too. Two seconds later, we were paying $35 less per month and getting premium channels for free. These days, we use Hulu and Netflix for the bulk of our entertainment — less than $20 a month total. (See also: 8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained)

10. Visit Your Library

You should also search the stacks at your library for DVDs — along with amazing pieces of classic literature and current bestsellers, of course. While you're there, be sure to stop by the local calendar for news of free events going on in your area. I worked in libraries for years, and if you can't find exactly what you're looking for, ask the staff to check into interlibrary loans. (See also: 14 Awesome Things You Didn't Know You Could Get at Your Library)

What are your tricks for living well on less?

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