Mindful Living

Living on a budget can be fun!

Living on a budget Vidya Sury

With all the recent money talk, and the “me” time I am enjoying, I couldn’t help thinking back on those days when my Mom and I were pretty close to “poor”. Poor in terms of money, mind you – not happiness. We didn’t have enough savings. We lived on rather meager salaries. That monthly budget was a challenge to meet. We saved every cent and by the time it was the last week of the month, we had to get creative in our spending. Each month we tried to come up with new ways to save money while being frugal. One thing for sure was this – we never once whined.

Let me share five ways that worked for us.

We hired or bought secondhand/used

Eco-friendly eh? One of the easiest ways to save money is to buy used. We trawled thrift shops and looked for garage sales where we could usually find good quality stuff that people didn’t need, especially books, furnishings and utensils. As mementoes, I still have some of the items we bought and enjoy using them. I often miss the pretty chest of drawers we had hired to house our clothes. These also doubled up as room dividers when we lived in a one-room accommodation.

We had a home entertainment system

Ha ha, not what you are thinking! I mean literally! We couldn’t afford to go to the movies. So we simply pretended our room was a theatre, switched on the TV, popped some corn and made some lemon juice and settled down to watch! On days when we didn’t want to watch TV, we just enjoyed board games. Occasionally, we roped in the children in our neighbourhood for an evening of impromptu music and dance performances. Then there was always the option of playing ball in the park nearby. It only took some creativity to entertain ourselves!

We used coupons

Until a friend of mine told me about collecting coupons and how she saved tons of money without sacrificing fun by simply using various coupons, I had no idea. She claimed savings of up to 70% with the right coupons, saying that while going camping with her family, she needed to get supplies and used coupons to buy everything she needed for her trip on the cheap. The point was to look for the best coupons for the stores we wanted for consistent savings.

We used energy wisely

Did you know that just turning off the light while leaving the room can result in savings? Yes! It is also eco-consciousness, helping conserve energy besides being kind to our pocket. Considering our dependence on electricity for various things, energy bills can seriously cut into the monthly budget. A few simple steps such as unplugging when we didn’t use something, being conscious about switching off the water heater when it was done – all this helped. In fact, in summer, we took our beds out on to the terrace to save having the fan on all night!

We planned our holidays

Having to stay on budget didn’t mean we had to forego our vacation. Since Mom was a school teacher, she had summer vacation in the months of May and June every year. We knew the dates well in advance and so, were able to make plans well in advance and book tickets when necessary, avoiding unexpected price premium. We also had a little jar marked “Our vacation” and saved whenever we could. You know what they say – little drops of water, make the mighty ocean. Every bit counted.

The fun part was doing it together. We also made it a point never to waste food and ate at home as much as we could – we all know how eating out can cut into the budget. We walked when we could, instead of hiring transport.

And?

It paid off! Being budget-conscious has now become a habit.

What about you? Are you budget-conscious? Got tips to share?

Would love to hear it in the comments.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Darla M Sands
    August 22, 2015 at 12:22 am

    I’m so thankful for my father’s example on frugality. Mom, not so much, though we love her dearly. Blessedly, my partner and I share the same views even if we do make some carelessly wasteful mistakes now and then.
    Darla M Sands recently posted…The Darker Side of Chalk PastelsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      August 27, 2015 at 11:27 am

      As long as things work out, it is all good, Darla. My partner doesn’t care so much about counting the pennies. 🙂 Me – well, it is ingrained in me and part of my genetic makeup. Still, the sailing is pretty smooth in the financial boat! Hugs! Hope you’ll join us for the Gratitude Circle Bloghop today!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Healing Mind, Body and Soul with Ayurveda PanchakarmaMy Profile

  • Reply
    simple girl
    August 24, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I suck at budgeting 🙁

  • Reply
    Felicia
    August 26, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    You’re right. Budgeting can be fun. It’s also a stress saver. When you set the financial limits before leaving the house, you never have to suffer with buyer’s remorse. My Mom taught me a lot about budgeting. My Dad…well, not so much. 🙂
    Felicia recently posted…An Entire Year of No Blog PostsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      August 27, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Great to have you here, Felicia! My Mom made living frugally seem like so much fun. I realize it also made us very creative about the way we did things. Yes, setting limits is a very wise way to live!

      Hugs – and I hope to see more of you in my mailbox! You are one of my favorite writers!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…The Power To PlayMy Profile

  • Reply
    Birgit
    August 28, 2015 at 6:44 am

    This is what I do for a living! Hi Vidya!! I have to play catch up again. I always enjoy budgeting and did this even when I was a kid because I didn’t like to spend money. In Canada, we can’t combine coupons but I still use them. I also have points cards for 2 places that I routinely go to and they add up to free things especially around Christmas time. I say first off, make a list of your monthly expenses from the housing to groceries, coffees, haircuts, pet needs etc… Figure out your income per month as well even if it fluctuates one needs to know an average and always your take home pay not gross. The next is to keep track. Most people keep receipts and put it in a bowl or box and then have a huge headache at the end of the month. I say start small-take 3 expenses that you wish to have a better idea how much you may be spending, grab 3 envelopes and label them according to the expense. Now the biggest thing is to remember to grab a receipt! Place the receipt in the right envelope and just keep going. At the end of the month, you don’t have to go through tons of receipts figuring out what one belongs where, all you have to do is take them out of the envelope and add them up. On the envelope, mark down what you spent for that month (September), then chuck the receipts (unless needed for tax reasons. Do this for 3 months so you have a good average what you have been spending since 1 month will not give you a clear picture. This will tell you if you have under-estimated or over-estimated. It will also let you know where you feel you can cut down on. The next is savings-once you have a better idea where you spend and where to cut back, you will have a better idea what is realistic to save. Make the savings account inconvenient to get to. We live in a world of being too convenient so in order to save, make the account hard to get to. You can place money into the account but you can’t transfer it out. You have to stand in line at the bank. If you trust someone, both of you must go in & sign to take the funds out not just one or the other- a further impediment. If you have a credit card (you only need 1), literally place it in a bowl of water and freeze it! You don’t have access to it which stops the impulse buying and you can’t microwave it because the magnetic strip will blow the microwave. If you are going to a store for a certain item you need (diapers etc..) take out the money you need for that item and leave the debit card at home or in the car! By the time you see all the other stuff that you would have bought on impulse, you realize you can’t get it but only the item you need. When you get back to the car or home, 10 to 1 you will not go back for the other stuff. When you review your expenses, you will see that there are expenses that are set (housing), expenses that happen every once in a while (clothing, gifts, repairs) and expenses that happen daily or weekly but you usually use debit/cash. Why not have 3 accounts?? Obviously make sure the bank does not hit you with extra charges but then when you look at the account to see if you have enough for food or gas or fun, you will see the actual amount in there and not have to figure out in your head that the phone bill is coming or the insurance is coming out because it will come out of your “must” account. If a person is paid every 2 weeks then divide all the expenses by how you are paid. Here in my city, the water bill comes once every 4 months. It is hard to come up with $360 all at once. If I break that down monthly, it is $90 and if I break it down every 2 weeks, it is $45. What is easier to handle? So there is my very lengthy comment since you hit smack on something I do and a passion of mine as well:)
    Birgit recently posted…Thursday Movie Picks-Step-FamiliesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      August 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      I think your comment is fantastic and full of excellent advice. May I publish it as a post? Please let me know! I am grateful to you for taking the time to write this, Birgit. Hugs. Waiting to hear from you!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…About Money MattersMy Profile

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