How to Do More With Less: 10 Tips to Live Well on Less Money
Learning how to do more with less is something of an art form to college students. Mom and/or Dad usually paid for the roof over your head and the groceries in your cabinet. They might have given you money to spend. But as you got out on your own, the expenses started to pile up.
Furthermore, the cost of college is accelerating at a ridiculous pace. Wages aren’t keeping up. The minimum wage is pathetic. And no one wants to hire you without experience, but how do you get experience when no one wants to hire you? In the following article, we cover the 10 tips that will have you doing more with less. Follow these, and you’ll be able to live well on less money. Let’s begin!
1. Investing: It’s Not Just for Grownups
Most of the wealth out there is created through investments. That’s how you get from where you are now to a comfortable retirement. The annoying thing about investing is that it’s of the “get rich slow” mindset. You can save up all your money and watch it grow gradually in low-risk, high-yield opportunities.
Here’s the thing, though. That trickle of growth compounds from year-to-year, month-to-month, and day-to-day. Your money, in essence, makes money without you having to put in one extra minute of work. Investing in something safe and high-yield and then forgetting about it and letting it do its thing is essential. You won’t be buying a mansion tomorrow, but you will see a day come where your needs are taken care of with or without work. You’ve got to start young and save whatever you can however often you can.
2. Grab a Side Hustle
Side hustles and businesses aren’t quite the same. You can turn a side hustle into a business, but you can’t make a successful business by devoting side hustle-equivalent bursts of time to it. So, what is a side hustle? It’s some form of service or product that makes you money “on the side.”
You devote your spare time to it, usually in ways where you’re trading time for money as you would with an hourly part-time job. The big difference is that side hustles don’t usually come with the same level of scrutiny. You work at your own pace, you decide what to charge, and you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck constantly.
Earning extra money will help you enjoy yourself more, give you more to invest, or enable you to handle unplanned expenses. Make it a priority.
3. See How Apps Can Help
There is an app for everything these days. See how you can put them to work for you. Use Facebook and, yes, even Twitter and Instagram to look for opportunities in your area. These could be anything from new jobs, ways to get rid of your throwaway items for cash, or finding a cheaper place to live and thus saving more money.
4. Negotiate More
Here’s a little secret most businesses don’t want you to know. They are willing to negotiate. Take a cable company, for instance. Ever get mad when the introductory offer ends and you end up paying an arm and a leg for something you were getting for a fraction of the cost? Yes, we know. You signed a deal. Honor your commitments. But how is it right that newbies get better deals than you when you’re a loyal customer?
Nine times out of 10, taking this complaint to the cable company will result in a better deal, a maintaining of the original offer, or something comparable. You just have to apply pressure. This is a skill that will serve you well in the short-term through increased savings. It will also produce great long-term results as you apply those negotiating tactics successfully in other areas of your life.
5. Look for Discounts Online
There is a wealth of discounts that can shave hundreds or even thousands off of the price of virtually anything. Check websites that advertise deals and coupon codes. Use your social network to find out about deals as well. You can do this by asking anyone if they have a coupon code for the store where you’re ordering. Or, perhaps they know a cheaper place where you can go to score the product you’re after.
The Internet is a tool that can connect you to deals all over the world. Don’t just pay whatever the site is asking without first exploring your options and comparing prices or rates.
6. Shop at Thrift Stores
Seriously, it’s not in a thrift store’s best interest to carry rotten crap. Most have standards on the clothing and items they will take. If those items do not live up to their standards, they’ll either refuse them or sell them at a price that’s so low it’ll be worth it to someone. How does that affect you?
For starters, you’re a college student. You’re not working much, and if you are, you’re not earning more than minimum wage, maybe a few cents more. You need cheap places to shop for clothes and knickknacks. Go to a thrift store to see what you can stock up on before paying full price. You could end up pleasantly surprised by what you find.
7. Buy a Used Car
Some of you might have been blessed with a rich uncle who didn’t mind buying you a new car for graduation. For the rest of us, there are costlier options such as leasing a new or like-new car, Uber-ing everywhere, or paying cash for a car on the older, more well-worn side.
We bet you can guess which one we prefer. If you said the well-worn side, you’re correct. That’s because used cars can go for hundreds of thousands of miles, the equivalent of years. Since all cars depreciate in value rapidly, you won’t see as much depreciation relative to your investment. Maintenance needs might be more involved, but it more than makes up for it in what you’ll save by avoiding a car payment.
8. Buy Nothing You Can’t Pay Off by the End of the Month
Ideally, you’re not using credit cards at all. But if you do, make sure you’re paid up by the end of the billing cycle (month). If you’re not, interest will accrue, and that $80 pair of shoes will end up costing you $96. You can’t make too many of those types of purchases before it will take a hard toll on your bank account (and, possibly, your life).
If you can’t pay something off by the end of the month, then don’t buy it. You can’t afford it. Redirect your desire to have it into something more beneficial instead. It might surprise you to learn that hobbies you did not know you liked are actually fun.
9. Get a Part-Time Job
And quit it if it ever makes your grades start to suffer. Remember why you’re at college. You’re there to find a lucrative career path, not to spend the rest of your life working eight-hour shifts stocking shelves at the grocery store.
The great usefulness of part-time jobs can be worth it, though, if you’re keeping it in check. It gives you an ongoing paycheck. It teaches you to work with diverse groups of people. It gets you out of your shell if you have a hard time interacting with others. And it can give you a built-in excuse not to do something if your friends are peer-pressuring you into doing something you’d rather not.
If your part-time job consists of work-study programs on the campus, even better! That way, you can end up getting paid to do your homework or reading a book.
10. Sell Personal Belongings You No Longer Use
This suggestion isn’t going to make you rich. It will make you more mindful of the way you spend money, though, and it’ll put a little of that money back into your pocket. Plus, without the clutter weighing you down, you’ll probably do better in school and work and make the most of all the opportunities that come your way, both now and in the future.
Learning How to Do More With Less Is the Key to a Happier Life
We hope you will take these tips for how to do more with less to heart. They truly are the keys to happiness. Just remember that it’s not an either-or proposition. You can apply more than one, or even all, to your life and reap the benefits. Now it’s your turn. What are some ways that your frugal living enhances the quality of your life? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]