***Tips From Somebody Who IS Poor On How To Live Cheaper (Edit: About Christmas)
We are really poor and have been for years. Many people wouldn't have survived under circumstances that we've stood, but we DID. Here's my tips if you really want to economize. (Yes, some of these things are harsh and no fun at all, but if you really want to cut corners you maybe will do them.)
Cut out all things that are not necessities. That means no going out to eat or to bars for after work drinks, no going to movie theatres, no new clothes, no vacations, no sports events, no extras, like cable, internet, no wine or beer for adults (alcohol is a luxury item), stop smoking (very expensive), etc. Of course, no visiting spas, no gym memberships, no health clubs, no manicures, facials, or professional massages. (Later, perhaps, you can have these things, but not now.)
Plan car trips for errands, drive carefully, don't speed, you can't afford speeding tickets.
Go to thrift stores for clothes and especially on 1/2 price days (Goodwill has 1/2 days on the last friday of the month), save your good clothes for special occasions, wear old clothes around the house. Go to indivdual stores for things you need. Don't go to Malls, too much temptation there to buy things you don't need.
Don't use paper towels for everything. Use old worn out clothes for rags and use rags to wipe up spills that aren't really dirty, like spilled milk. Never throw out old cotton t-shirts or towels. Cut them up for rags.
Turn your heat down to bare minimum and wear thermal underwear and layers of clothes.
Buy day old bread, which is usually discounted at least 30%.
Keep in your house these staples of food always- Oatmeal (loaded with goodness, iron, etc. Buy the regular kind, a big cardboard carton of it), pasta, margarine (Imperial is only 75 cent to $1.00 for a pack of 4 sticks), rice, potatoes ($4.99 per 10 pound bag), spaghetti sauce ($1.00 a can -Hunts) , tuna (85 cents per can at the dollar store), one a day type vitamin pills (also bought at the dollar store, insurance against a diet that's not always the best), chicken bouillon (the powder type in the can, for seasoning), eggs, vegetable oil, peanut butter, jelly, pancake mix (the type that you only have a add water).
Plant an apple tree or other fruit trees. We planted a Cortland apple tree 5 years ago and now it's really producing fruit. We don't spray it and it's apples are gorgeous, 3 inches across and no worms. Fruit trees are free fruit. Or, look for fruit on trees growing wild and go and forage it. This goes for berries too.
Go fishing. Yum. Fresh fish!
Popcorn is a cheap snack. But, don't buy those expensive packets of microwave stuff. They have way too much salt anyway. Buy big bags of popcorn kennels. Pop them in your fry pan in a little vegetable oil, add your own margarine, toppings, Parmesan grated cheese is great, or salt, and pepper too. I love my popcorn with sprinkles of Tabasco sauce.
Don't buy pop (soda). Instead make lemonade with lemon juice, bottled is fine, and sugar. And, spring water is only 88 cents per gallon at Walmart. Walmart also has a refill your huge 15 gallon jug station at the back of the store. Spring water is delicious and wonderful for you too!
Buy single thickness toilet paper. It's cheaper and it doesn't fill up your septic tank (if you have one) as fast.
Give up coffee. Especially give up Starbucks daily coffees, lattes, etc. Your morning Starbuck's Frappacinos could cost you $60 per month ( at $3.00 each work day morning) That's more than $600 per year just for your morning coffee! WOW! Switch to tea. Tea is only $1.99 for 100 tagless bags. Make sun tea in a big wide mouthed jar for iced tea. If you just have to have Starbuck's coffee you can buy it in a can or in indivdual packets at the store. Also, Starbucks has wonderful double rich hot chocolate packets, 10 in a box, for $7.00 (I found it on sale for $5.00 at Walmart.)
Grow a garden from seeds. Even a small vegetable garden will produce for you. Grow tomatoes. You can evengrow a tomato plant in a pot. Grow rosemary for seasoning in a pot and bring it in the house in the winter to a sunny window. It will do well with watering once a week.
Make soups. Potato soup from raw potatoes, milk and margarine, garlic salt and onion powder. Make chicken soup from scratch. Boil the bones of a roast turkey or chicken or beef roast for another meal,- soup. Take all the bones and skin from take out chicken and boil them for another meal,- soup. Buy turkeys and hams at bargain prices at Holidays, freeze for later. Buy hamburger in bulk packs and make into patties.
These vegetables and fruit are always cheap- carrots, bananas, turnips are usually cheap too.
Early Spring is the time for dandelion salad. Don't spray for weeds and collect young dandelion leaves. They're loaded with vitamin A & D. We like them wilted with a hot ranch or herbed Italian dressing and hot Italian bread.
Speaking of herbs,- grow perennial herbs in your garden,- oregano, mints... Get a book and read up on them.
Make a change jar and dump all the change in your purse into it regularly. Don't carry much cash. Cash is spent too readily. Open a savings account just for emergencies and don't use it for anything else. Don't have credit cards. Pay them off and don't get them again.
Don't over buy on food. Have enough, if possible, but don't over buy.
Use this formula for detergent, instead of expensive bottle of super liquid detergents, like Tide- shred a bar of fels Naptha in your blender, (cut it up a little first. You don't want to break your blender). Put it in a big wide mouthed jar along with washing soda, (20 Mule Team) - one part Fels Naptha bar to 1/2 part washing soda. Dissolve in hottest water first to make a slush before you use it. Works best in really hot water.
Hang your clothes on a clothes line instead of always using the dryer.
Your husband or SO doesn't need to use an expensive shaving cream. He can shave just fine with an inexpensive conditioning shampoo, and he can use witch hazel as an after shave.
If you want a pet get a small one like a cat or a Chihuahua. Less expensive to feed. Feed your little pet scraps. He'll love it, and it's saves on dog and cat food too. But, no potatoes or chocolate. Very bad for cats and dogs. A chocolate bar can kill a small dog or cat. Potatoes give them huge indigestion!
Ride your bike to places in warm weather.
Get dvds from the library instead of renting or buying them elsewhere. Read the libraries books and magazine rather than buying them. Use the libraries computer. Take your young children to story hour. If you must buy books and dvds buy them on Amazon.
Go to Aldi for your groceries. Plus, other things,- name brand vitamins, etc. I got a six pack of Ever Ready batteries for $2.99. The price of them at Walmart is $6.99.
Shop for bargains on eBay auctions for Christmas presents and other gifts. Some jewelry from China is amazingly inexpensive and has free shipping too! Posters are cheap on ebay, usually, especially vintage ones, often free shipping too.
If you like clipping coupons do so.
Don't take overly long showers if you pay for water. Cut your families hair yourself. Learn to. It's not that hard.
Walk to places if you can. Buy a little red wagon at a flea market and put your young child in there, pull her along.
Sell things on eBay for extra cash. Learn how, also not that hard.
Buy bleach for a cleaner and white vinegar. You really don't need all those special cleaning sprays. Put bleach water in an empty dish liquid bottle and use it for a lot of things, as a toilet cleaner too. Use very hot vinegar water to clean your tile or linoleum floor. You don't need Pine Sol or Windex.
Read for pleasure. You don't really need all those electronic toys! I've never played a video game in my life and I don't ever intend to. You don't need an X Box. You only need one phone. Try to do without a cellphone. You don't need more than one T.V. either, and not a big one either. Your kids don't each need their own cellphone. You don't need a fancy cellphone if you get one. Years ago people didn't have all kinds of electronic toys and they still were happy.
Try not to buy anything on time payments. Resist "keeping up with the Jones". Do you really need to?
Have a garage or yard sale.
Are you creative? Take advantage of that! Make your kid's Halloween costume. It's easy to come up with a pirate outfit. Or, a "princess dress", a fancy little girl's dress bought at a thrift store, then make a cardboard glitter crown. Make stuffed animal toys for your kids for Christmas, stuff them with old nylon pant hose.
Make your kid's birthday cake. Or, buy it at Dairy Queen on Tues, from 4-7 p.m.- 1/2 price.
Don't take your car to expensive car washes. I never wash my car and it looks clean. It sits outside. The universe washes it. (Rain.)
If you live in the country make a compost pile out back. Turn it regularly. Into the compost pile goes everything organic that will break down. This saves on the amount of trash you have and also makes soil for the garden.
If you need to spay or neuter your pet check out local spay and neuter clinics. Many of these have special low cost rates for low income families, and even for middle income families the cost is much less. A vet will charge you as much as $160 to spay or neuter your cat, a spay & neuter clinic will charge less than half that.
Use witch hazel as a facial astringent or 50% rubbing alcohol instead of name brand expensive facial astringents, and you can dilute them with spring water too. Of course, no designer perfumes if you want to economize, but, I've discovered that some of those "look alike" colognes smell pretty good. I got one that smells like Chanel #5. And, if a cologne has been around for a while it's less apt to be expensive. Chantilly cologne last Christmas time was only $5.00 for 4 oz. at Walmart,- time to stock up! Dollar stores have inexpensive make up. I found a line of make up called "Elf",- $1.00 for every item they had!
Color your hair yourself. Revlon Colorsilk is only $2.99 a box at Walmart, and the most expensive boxed haircolor is only about $12. Or, better yet, -go to your beauty supply store for professional beauty products. Usually the clerks there are beauticians, and they may give you tips about hair care. I buy my haircolor at the local beauty supply store,- $2.99 for the color and $4.99 for the peroxide developer, and it's the same great stuff that you'll get when getting a pro coloring at a beauty shop. Always save those tubes of after-coloring conditioner than come in the hair coloring boxes. They're the best! Those tubes of conditioner can be used as a hair dressing too. They make your hair so smooth and it smells great! Oh, Suave shampoo is $2.59 for a big bottle, but, beware it's very drying.
I buy Frontline flea treatment (the type of liquid you put on the dog or cats neck) for about $20 for 8 doses on eBay. The seller sells me a big dose (made up for a St. Bernard sized dog) and the instructions on how to spilt it up and the dosage according to how much the pet weighs. I put it in a small bottle and administer it to my cats with a syringe without the needle. Saves a lot of money, and the Frontline is the same type for dogs and cats, no difference.
Check out free entertainment. In the summer there are free concerts, even concerts by local Rock bands here. Christian churches may have free concerts too. The nearby Harley Davidson store had a free customer appreciation party with Rock music, burgers and roasted corn, which we attended and we had a blast. (We didn't feel bad going to this party because when I was married my ex husband had a Harley and we bought many things at their store.) The local animal shelter also had a flea market and there was entertainment there too. We had a lot of fun there and my son and I helped walk around some of the dogs who were for adoption and we even got a couple of those dogs new owners. Our local library has free fun lectures. The next one is being given about bats, by the local Natural History museum. There will be refreshments too. I'm going!
Buy your Christmas presents NOW on eBay. There are great auctions NOW for early Christmas shopping where you can get wonderful things for much less.
If you need household repairs done see if you can find a handyman to do them. He may be a whole lot less expensive than a plumber or a carpenter. Look in your local ad paper for one. Or check the bulletin board in stores. Don't forget to ask for references before you hire him.
See if you can get a 4 cylinder car. They get better gas milage than a 6 or an 8.
That's about all I can think of...
***BELIEVE IT OR NOT- WITH THESE TIPS WE CAN SAVE OVER $200 PER MONTH.***
***EDIT: For those of you who are wondering, we do not get food stamps. We have Heap to help us with winter heating. That's all the social services we have. We don't have medicade, or very low cost housing either.
I personally think food stamps are more than a little enabling. Many people who get them are not interested in ever bettering themselves or their lives situations. I realize that probably the idea behind fs is not having kids who are starving, but I think fs has made it possible for there to be multitudes of people who are perpetually poor and have no desire to better their circumstances. They have very low cost housing, very low electricity costs. With practically everything handed to them what incentive is there to EVER work harder? Not good at all.
We hate being poor, actually, and are finding ways, hard ways, to get more education for better jobs and I have big plans to to increase our income.
***EDIT: For Christmas- I Know, I know. A lot of people are thinking they can't afford Christmas this year and some might not agree, but Christmas is NOT about lots of presents. It's about love & peace & family & friends - also about the birth of Jesus, who, as you know, was NOT a rich man. But, he was rich in the things that count.
So, with that in mind, so what if you have to down size for Christmas? Ebay still has lots of great deals for Christmas and yes, you can get it delivered in time, especially if you get it "Buy it now".
How about making some Christmas gifts? Those are the best kind and they'll be one of a kind too. My son makes handmade cards for his close friends and they love them.
Get creative for Christmas. You can do this! Buy a real potted Christmas tree- an Australian pine, a houseplant actually. Walmart has them for $7.99. $18.99 for a real tree, 4 feet tall, a good price I think.
Enjoy your holiday.