Sunday, October 23, 2011
How to Live Well on $15,000 a Year
For housing, find a decent place near your work that is big enough for what you need. If you are thinking about buying a place and having a mortgage, make sure the payments, assessment, insurance, and taxes are low before deciding to live there. You will need to do all the calculations ahead of time to factor in all expenses and income to make sure it is an affordable option.
What about monthly bills? For electric, make sure you limit your usage. Only turn on lights when and where you need them. Avoid running the air conditioning/heating when you can get by without it. Unplug things you don't use very often. Use the new kind of light bulbs that use less energy. Same goes for water in that it should be used sparingly by avoiding long showers and running the water when it is not needed.
For internet, shop around for promotional rates from all available suppliers. You should be able to get a good deal for a year. If they raise your rates, call them up and haggle with them or switch to another company to get another promotion. If you want to cut out internet expenses completely, see if there are any free WiFi connections near your area.
For TV, use standard antennae to get the basic channels. It is free and there is enough good programing on the main channels to get by. If there is a show you really want to watch that is on cable, you may be able to watch it on your computer using the internet. Also you can get free trials for some of the top streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.
For food, avoid going out to restaurants or even buying fast food. Get most of your food from the grocery stores. Compare all the stores near you to see which ones have the best prices for the items you want. Get familiar with sale prices verses regular prices. Try to buy things when they are on sale. Use coupons if you find them for the things you are going to buy. Check discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target for general grocery items as they tend to have good prices. Here are some of the best foods on a budget as well as easy and healthy meal ideas.
For haircuts, look into getting a pair of electric clippers which are great for doing your own haircuts at home. I have been using Wahl clippers for 10+ years and it is one of the best investments I have made in terms of saving money. The clippers only cost about $20 and will save literally thousands of dollars over the years from not having to go out to salons or haircut shops for hair cuts.
If you need a car, get a used car and make sure you are not overpaying on insurance. If you are a good driver, often you can get by without comprehensive insurance. Shop around to get the best deal by comparing different insurance companies. I personally have had good luck with Geico and State Farm. If possible try to pay off the car early to avoid paying interest in the long run. This tip also goes for the mortgage although this one may take time to pay off.
For health insurance, if it is not provided by your employer, you will be able to get it through the Affordable Care Act at HeathCare.gov. There are plenty of plans to choose from and you will get a credit to lower the cost each month if your income is not that high. You may even qualify for Medicaid if your income is under a certain amount each year.
Avoid entertainment expenses. There are plenty of free activities to do or ones that don't cost a lot of money. Personally, I don't go out a lot, so most of my entertainment is from tv and computer. Other options include going to a park, walking, bike riding, going to a library, a free museum, or a public concert.
Whenever you have to spend money on things, for example clothes or household items, research them to find the best prices. If you know what you want, look online and order it. Often the best prices can be found online at sites like Amazon and eBay and you can often avoid taxes and get free shipping. For local stores, check dollar stores and thrift stores for the best deals.
You can use a credit card to buy things but make sure it is paid off in full every month to avoid paying any interest. Often you can actually get cash back rewards for certain cards just by making normal purchases. I use the Chase Freedom card which offers 1% back or more on all purchases.
Living like this, you won't get to eat at fancy restaurants often, drive expensive cars, or travel the world, but you can have good living conditions without having to earn a lot of money. Always try to spend less than what you take in so you have a profit each month. Over time it will add up and you can start to buy nice things and live even better!
Do you have any tips for frugal living? Feel free to share them in the comments below.