1. Cook meals that can make leftovers
Sadly Kraft Mac & Cheese is not one of these items. I’m talking jumbo salads, pots of chili & spaghetti, and grilled chicken for days. Using the little money you have on solid, stocky ingredients that can feed a family of 10 for weeks is how people made it through The Great Depression (which is what I’m calling the state of my bank account).
2. Shop your local consignment stores
They’re a lot cheaper than buying off the rack and a little more style friendly than a Goodwill. If you’re in a desperate need of a new interviewing outfit or some change of season office appropriate clothes, try driving to the trendier neighborhoods in your city and you’ll be shocked at just how much Anne Taylor swag you can get for $25 bucks.
3. Lose your moral superiority to Wal-Mart
I know, I know – they practice sexiest AND racist practices, and barely pay their employees over minimum wage along with a smorgasbord of other horrible things… but sometimes you have to ask yourself: would you like to shower, do your laundry, and maybe even wash a few dishes without spending 75% of you grocery budget? If so, my best advice is just to suck it up and don’t make eye contact with anybody while you’re in the store.
Does anyone remember when Groupon was just like a deal a day? Me neither. One day, it was suddenly possible to find EVERYTHING on Groupon. Oil changes, check. Tickets to Seaworld, check. I would say if you’re trying to pinch some pennies, take an extra few minutes out of your day to see which necessities you can knock out on here first before ever paying full price again.
5. Go AC-less
It’s hard to imagine turning your AC dial anywhere north of 74 when these dog days of summer humidity hit, but one of the best ways to keep your electric bill at an all time low (other than going all 1900’s an using whale blubber oil for candles) is to skip the central air and try a fan. Yes, we know it’s hot and no one likes showing up to work/ a date drenched in sweat because they’re too cheap to use the car AC, but to those people I like to point out that there’s a difference between being cheap and broke.
6. Enjoy free (or low cost) things
This seems like a no brainer, but one way to keep from noticing the lack of money in your pocket is to do things that don’t cost any money. I’m a California kid, so as a kid this always meant beach weekends and spending time at the library. Now that I’m grown up it pretty much means the same thing, but get this – there’s this thing called a “newspaper,” and often times they print local events going on in your town that are pretty cheap and pretty entertaining.
7. Make an appointment at a beauty school
Hair cuts and root touch ups can be expensive (and dangerous if attempted on your own) so one way to survive the weeks (or months, no judgement) when you’re feeling the squeeze is to let a perfectly nice (and harmless) cosmetology student do it for a fraction of the cost. I know for some girls the idea of letting someone outside a salon touch their tresses fills them with great anxiety, but you know what else is anxiety filling? Being broke.
Some of the best corner cutters to saving $$ is learning to do things yourself. Cut your own grass, change your own oil, even — GASP — learn to press your own dry cleaning (it can be done people). Sure it may be a little more time consuming, but it’s something you’ll remember when you finally strike it rich and promptly forget all the above tips ever existed.