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Living On Less

We’ve talked about tracking expenses and how much it costs to work. Based on a $35,000 a year salary, your take home is only $8,750 after expenses. What if you could reduce the amount you need to bring in even lower than that $8750 a year? Would that make staying at home and working even more feasible?

Let’s look at some ways you can live on less. Maybe working part-time from home will bring in more than enough for you. Savings estimates will be very conservative. You can likely save much more.

Coupons and Price Shopping

If you are at home more, you will naturally learn to cut costs in various areas and one of these is by using coupons and shopping for the best price. Use the time you would have spent commuting on just one day a week (you still gain several hours a week) and you can clip enough coupons to save $10.00 or more a week on your grocery bill. A few points to remember:

  • Only clip coupons for items and brands your family normally uses
  • Watch for double-coupon days and weeks at your area stores
  • Always compare store brand, because the price may be cheaper even with coupons
  • Choose the smallest item (lowest priced) the coupon will allow you to use for the most savings as a rule of thumb

Another thing that will help is that you will have more time to search sales ads each week. Shop store loss leaders and watch for special deals at area drug stores. You may spend a little more time going from store to store on shopping day, but it will still be far less time than you would have spent commuting.

Savings $15.00 a week (likely much more) or $780 per year

Buy Secondhand Most of the Time

Whenever possible, start buying items second hand. Thrift stores and secondhand clothing stores offer name brand items for a fraction of the cost. Appliances and cars can either be bought gently used or at the very least on a budget, such as scratch and dent appliances.

Savings varies. At least $300 a year (likely much more)

Cut Energy Costs

In the summer, keep your thermostat at 72 degrees or above and in the winter, keep it at 69 or 70. The typical family can save hundreds of dollars a year. Simply adding an automated thermostat can save around $180.00 per year. Do some weatherproofing and make a concerted effort to turn off lights, televisions, computers and other energy drainers and you can likely save even more.

Savings around $180.00 (likely more) per year

Find Cheaper Entertainment

Take a little of your extra time to plan out entertainment options that cost less. Here are a few ideas:

  • Check out free movies from the library and save $40 or more on a family movie
  • Subscribe to a Netflix subscription for around $9 per month and still save $31. You can also stream movies instantly with this service.
  • Instead of purchasing an entire CD to get your favorite song, download a single release from sites like iTunes. Savings around $12.00.
  • Instead of going out to an expensive dinner with friends, gather a group of friends and take turns hosting a casual dinner party where everyone pitches in and brings a dish. With six couples, you will host twice a year. Potential savings around $300.00 per year ($30 minimum eating out x 10 months – 2 months you’ll likely spend $30 hosting the event).

There are many other ways you can save money on entertainment, but you should be able to save a minimum of $722.

A Few Other Ways to Save

  • Ditch the expensive all frills cell phone plans and go with a pay by the minute system. For $20 every 3 months, plus $20 a month, you can get weekend calling and unlimited texting. Another option is a cheaper service like the all-inclusive Cricket or Wal-Mart’s new cell-phone plans.
  • Cancel the cable. While you may feel that basic cable or satellite is a necessity, can you ditch the extra channels? $6 to $10 a month really adds up. You may also want to ask for any other discounts available while you’re phoning your provider.
  • Shop for cheaper Internet. Most areas have multiple choices. Price compare and see which is the cheapest. If you’re happy with your current provider, but find a cheaper option, ask your current provider to match that price.
  • Cut down on gift giving. If you currently spend $100 on nieces and nephews, cut it down to $30 each (just warn everyone beforehand and explain why to avoid hurt feelings). Spend less on wedding presents or try to offer a service in an area you have a skill, such as creating the flowers, decorating the church or making the cake or food. Christmas costs should be cut in half, if at all possible. Again, just explain ahead of time and make gifts or cut down the cost of what you purchase.

There are many other ways to live frugal and save money and we will explore those even more in future. Using just these tips, you can easily save another $2000 a year. That takes our total down to $6750 that you need to make to be even with what you would have made working outside the home for $35,000 a year. Can you think of a few easy ways to make $6750? I can!

Next, we’ll talk about making money online.


Lori Soard has worked online designing websites, writing, editing and promoting clients since 1997. Through Promo Warriors, she's consulted with over 100 clients to help them figure out what online presence works best for them. In addition to helping people learn how to start their own businesses, she writes feel-good books about the way love and the world should be.