Unfortunately, like every other person on the planet, my desires are unlimited, but my cash reserves are not.
So, a long time ago, I accepted the truth that I’d have to give up a few luxuries in order to achieve my most important financial goals. You might see these sacrifices as great acts of deprivation. To me, they’re no big deal.
Here are ten frugal living strategies I adopted that don’t bother me at all.
#1 Slow Cooking
There are some things I simply won’t do to save money: becoming a vegetarian—even on a part-time basis—is one of them. Yes, meat is expensive, but a girl’s gotta draw the line somewhere.
At one point during my get-out-of-debt journey, I decided to try cheaper cuts of beef. That’s when I found chuck roast. Not knowing any better, I fried the hunk of beef, on the stovetop, like it was a T-bone steak. The chuck roast turned out so tough a starving pack of hyenas wouldn’t have been able to tear through it.
Fried in a pan, chuck roast is unfit for human (and non-human) consumption. But stewed in a slow cooker, it’s the most succulently delicious meat you’ll ever eat.
#2 Doing My Own Hair
Personally, I think I do a fine job styling my hair. (Thanks, YouTube!)
Getting my hair done professionally is such a hassle. First off, only a few black folks live in my area. So naturally, people who style and treat black hair don’t open up shop in my neighborhood. That means, if I want to see a qualified hairdresser, me and my ethnic hair spend at least half an hour fighting our way through some of the nastiest traffic in the United States.
Once I arrive at the salon, I wait another 30 minutes or so before I’m even seated. The whole experience is unpleasant. I’d rather save my $80 and do my hair while watching Basketball Wives.
#3 Making Coffee at Home
My coffee is of the same quality as the stuff you’ll find in a cash-strapped nonprofit’s break room. In other words, it’s cheap.
Like wine, I drink caffeinated coffee, not because it tastes good, but because it alters my mental state. If a $0.30 cup of Joe yields the same effects as one that costs $3.00, I choose the former. Besides, the total prep time for a cup of coffee is like five minutes. You’ll wait that long at Starbucks.
I haven’t completely sworn off prepared coffee. The least I can do is buy something from the café that provides hours and hours of hassle-free Wi-Fi.
#4 Not Ordering Sodas from Restaurants
I’ll spend money on alcoholic beverages all day (well, not all day), but I refuse to pay two bucks for what amounts to a can of soda.
As an added bonus, limiting my intake of sugary drinks makes it easier for me to maintain some semblance of a girlish figure.
In the interest of full disclosure, I still drink sodas when they’re included with fast food combo meals. Generally, you don’t save much money by ordering the items separately without the drink.
#5 Saying “No” to Gift Giving—Most of the Time
Occasionally, generosity gets the best of me, and I’ll buy a thoughtful gift for one of my loved ones. But most of the time, I couldn’t care less about giving presents for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, or whatever else you wanna celebrate.
If you’re alive, healthy, and surrounded by loving family members and friends, rejoice. Why should I waste my time and money on a useless trinket you don’t want and don’t need?
#6 Eating Ramen Noodles
When I was a kid, I loved ramen noodles. I don’t care for them as much anymore, but they’re still a quick, low-cost dish you can whip up when you’re famished and you don’t have anything else prepared.
Whenever you talk about Ramen, suddenly, everyone is a health nut. Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t eat healthy 100% of the time, and I don’t pretend to try. Ramen noodles aren’t nutritious but neither are many staples in the American diet. If you’re going to destroy your health–and you shouldn’t–you might as well save money to put towards your inevitable medical bills.
#7 Forgoing Cable
Without stealing, I can watch just as much TV as anyone else.
How do I do it?
- Amazon Video on Demand
Believe it or not, I’d rather get my television fix from the internet machine. That way, I don’t have to bolt home at a certain date and time in order to watch my favorite programs. When I’m in relaxation mode, I catch up on the shows I enjoy.
#8 Living in a Small Apartment
My place is located in a relatively safe neighborhood with convenient access to parks, trails, restaurants, libraries, public transportation, and jobs. On top of all that, it’s affordable.
For a similarly priced, larger space, I’d have to move waaaaay out to suburbia, i.e., hell.
Small spaces are awesome because you don’t need a ton of money to decorate them. Right now, my little apartment has all the furniture it will ever need.
So as not to clutter my living space, I rarely bring new items into my place. The other day my mother suggested I buy a vacuum. The horror! I don’t have room for that! I’ll sweep the rugs, thank you. Money = Saved.
#9 Drinking Boxed Wine
A few weeks ago, one of my friends complained about me drinking his $40 a bottle wine when he wasn’t home. *Shrugs* It’s all the same to me.
Sure, some wines are better than others. The best wine I’ve ever tasted was a Kabinett Riesling that set me back twenty smackaroos. But like I said earlier, I don’t drink wine for the taste, so the $3 a bottle stuff suits my palate just fine.
#10 Staying in Hostels
New York City is one of my favorite places to visit–too bad it’s super expensive.
Weekend getaways shouldn’t equal the price of a freaking laptop or six pairs of amazing jeans. While a decent, Manhattan hotel can easily run $200 a night, hostels cost less than half that. You give up almost all of your privacy in a hostel, but the trade off is well worth it.
Of course, there are some things I’ve given up that I wish I didn’t have to, but most of the sacrifices I’ve made really aren’t so bad.
Do you have any frugal living strategies that make you feel like you’re not sacrificing a thing?