Rethinking Your Lifestyle
We used to call it going back to the basics. These days it's called unemployment and making ends meet. Whether you are choosing to lead a simpler, more fulfilling life or you've been forced into this lifestyle through job loss, there are ways to still earn money and, in the end, have a larger income.
How much does it cost you to work? Many people don't realize just how much it costs to work outside. If you've never sat down and looked at your numbers before, now is as good a time as any. Calculate your yearly work expenses by adding up:
- Taxes taken out of your paychecks
- Car payment or transportation costs to and from work
- Cost of gasoline to and from work
- Extra car and travel expenses (tolls, car repairs, maintenance)
- Car insurance, registration, and emissions
- Clothing for work and dry cleaning expenses
- Work related food expenses (all the food you purchase because you work and can't prepare it yourself)
Subtract the above amount from your yearly salary. Write down what you have left in living income.
Now, figure out how much you are spending to live the way you do. Calculate the following living expenses:
- Mortgage or rent
- Property and school taxes
- Telephone (land line and cell phones)
- Heating costs
- Grocery costs
- Dining, travel, and entertainment expenses
- Non-work clothing
- Credit card expenses
- Miscellaneous bills
Subtract the above amount from your living income. Do you have any money left over or are you in the negatives?
Do You Really Need That?
Looking at the cold numbers can be disheartening at first. What you need to focus on now are ways to cut back and improvise. Some things to ask yourself:
Do you really need cell phones and a land line? Land lines are less expensive than cell phone, but cell phones are more convenient if you are going to be on the road.
Do you have to go out for dinner every night? Entertainment and dining out expenses can be cut back immensely by learning to cook at home and throwing little family parties. Dress up for dinner, have an outdoor barbecue, or play some fun music to eat to.
How many pairs of shoes do you actually need? Do you really have to have the latest fashions in clothes?
Can you live without the television on? Does your television have to be so huge? Think of all the electricity you are using when you have the tv on all night. Think of all the other things you could be working on and finishing if you weren't planted in front of your television.
Does your computer really need to have all the latest bells and whistle? What do you use your computer for? If you're just using it to cruise the internet or for keeping track of bills, you don't need to keep buying new computers.
Do It Yourself
How much money do you spend on having someone else do, make, or grow it for you? Living on less, but having more takes effort. If you have a family, have each person learn new skills. By learning new craft and homesteading skills, you may also find different ways to earn an income from home.
- Learn how to sew, knit, or crochet. With any of these skills, you can make your own clothing and, if you're good at it, you can start selling items online and at flea markets and craft fairs.
- Learn the art of bartering. You may already have items in your home that are worth something to someone else. Research bartering online and barter your way to a better lifestyle.
- Learn plumbing, cabinetry, and flooring. With even the basic skills and knowledge in these trades, you can save yourself a lot of money in repairs.
- Learn how to cook and bake. Not only do you cut back on your food bills, you also eat healthier. There are also many people who have started successful bakeries, restaurants, and catering businesses from their homes.
- Grow your own food. Where I live, many people supplement their pantries with homegrown vegetables and fruits. Many people are also willing to trade fruits and vegetables for other items.
- Shop at thrift stores for clothing. You can find excellent buys at the thrift shops and with a little creativity, you can make your own exciting fashions out of yesterday's clothing styles. Thrift shops are also great for Halloween outfits and costume ideas for the kids.
- Crafts of all kinds, from pottery to wood working, are excellent skills to learn. The items you make can be used at home, sold from your front yard or online, and used for bartering.