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.
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.