Find yourself downsized or having to live on less? Perhaps you are shifted to maternity leave and must get by on reduced income. Making adjustments takes discipline but if you approach it correctly it actually frees up stress.

How To Make Adjustments:

First, determine what your basic needs are: food, shelter, basic clothing, utilities, phone and some form of transportation unless you can manage to just walk everywhere.  Perhaps a bus pass can get you by in winter and you use your vehicle only in summer or vice versa.  Or perhaps switching to a bike in summer can serve you a big savings.  As for food, stick to the outer aisles as much as possible for fruit, meats and only  stock up on dried items such as rice and spaghetti to maximize your dollars and cents. Go to local farmers markets if possible to get that fresh produce and if you wait till end of day they will often barter on what’s left rather than haul it back.  Shelter is a fixed cost no matter if you rent or buy. If you cannot really afford your mortgage perhaps downsizing needs to be considered.  Look through your closet, edit what you do not need for a swap, and then start to use your clothes.  Most people just keep buying because they are bored of the old styles so if you need to alter them or change up accessories to jazz them up do so.  But do make it a point to “wear out” your clothes. If that is not your style then develop a group where you can entertain and get together for coffee and each swap an item.

Second,  work out a budget and get rid of expenses that are NOT a necessity.

frugalityThird, start to sell off stuff that is either duplicates, taking up space or has a value for swapping or trading to get things you might need.

Fourth, look for opportunities that might earn you extra side income such as taking up a paper route (you  won’t need a gym membership if you walk everyday), mowing grass/shoveling snow, walking dogs, photography or music lessons, yoga trainer, weekend cleaner, daycare services, tutoring,  backyard mechanic, landscaping help, etc.

Fifth, attack your debt by paying down highest interest rate first, then next highest, next and next etc.  By paying debt down you are freeing up the enslavement to paying out money that just keeps racking up over and over.  Make a concerted effort to pay more than minimum credit but do pay on time. Keeping a good credit score is often how you achieve promo offers for even better interest rates. Take advantage of those promo rates for transferring monies around.

Sixth, do start a baby step saving schedule even if it seems like nothing. If you stick to it that can also be that rainy day fund or a nice way to treat yourself   for being frugal throughout the year. So try to put away $20 every Saturday, and if $20 is not doable then make it $10 or $5 but do it religiously and put a DO NOT TOUCH DATE on it.

Seventh, try your hand at bartering. This was mentioned previously but is worth saying again. If you have stuff or services you can trade it is a good money saver. Maybe you can trade knitting skills for plumbing; trade jam making for haircuts or car detailing for yard-work.  Use some imagination.

Eighth, develop an eco-streak. By this I mean start to think reduce, reuse, recycle.  Open up your creativity and become a crafter. Do you need to buy things new or can you get by with recycled items, hand medowns from friends, making gifts instead of buying etc.  Get the word out and let your friends or neighbours know what you need and what you have to offer others. Networking can help reduce your outflow of cash.

Ninth, get in touch with gardening. Even if you live in an apartment or condo start by doing container gardening. It may not seem like much but use the space you have and start small. Those fresh herbs or fresh beet tops or tomatoes will taste so much better than store bought and seed is extremely inexpensive.

Tenth, do not dismiss insurance. If you have reduced your budget please factor in the “risk factor”.  Living on less does not mean sacrificing your investment.  If you do have a mortgage do not put it at risk by not having insurance…can you really afford a large tragedy?  Same with life insurance, can you really afford to be without especially if there are kids? If you cannot afford the full packages, term life is often a good option. In case of a death the other person or survivors will not be left destitute and with a huge funeral bill.

Written by Jacqueline Deck