Until your first big break happens, or your first paintings sell, or your first novel goes stellar, it can be difficult to make ends meet. But how far are you willing to go in the name of thrift?
Entertainment. First of all, the best entertainment value for your dollar is a book. A good book can be read many times. And when you are ready to let it go, it can be donated. Consider also spending your leisure time honing your craft. Or walking (which is also good exercise). Some other cheap forms of entertainment include the library, window shopping, free festivals and gatherings, playing games at home, or writing letters to long lost friends and relatives or to politicians who have aggravated you.
Cheap eats. Everyone who has ever lived on a brutal budget knows the praises of peanut butter, macaroni & cheese, soup and a sandwich, and omelets. But how about beans and tortillas? Not only are they good for you with all the complex carbs, but they are low cost. Especially if you buy the dried beans and learn how to prepare them from scratch. Dash of Tabasco sauce, a sprinkle of grated cheese, and yum!
Veggies are expensive! But a lot of them are easily home grown such as tomatoes, green beans, and lettuce. I grow mine in pots on the patio. They taste so much better than the waxy artificial-looking store varieties. Let me toss out there a few more cheap meal ideas: pancakes or French toast, potato soup, beans & weenies, or the ever-popular Ramen noodles.
Laundry soap is exorbitant. You can make your own and it works quite well as long as you remember to pour a half cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. I made a simple recipe of 1 cup grated Ivory soap, half a cup of Borax, and half a cup of baking soda. Just use 1 to 2 tablespoons for each load of laundry. I still have to use a dryer sheet or I will get the dreaded static cling, but I cut those in half so a box does twice the number of loads. If you are adventurous enough to try making your own liquid laundry soap, here is a great website with instructions:
Cleaners are expensive. You can make your own surface cleaner by mixing white vinegar with equal parts of water. The smell does dissipate some after it dries. It cleans floors really well if you rinse them with clear water that has about a teaspoon of baby oil per gallon of water. I wouldn’t use this on wood floors, however. Vinegar water and old newspapers clean mirrors and glass pretty well. So you could save a few bucks on household cleaning supplies.
Face cream can be costly. If you don’t need all the fancy additives and supposed youth-restoring secret ingredients, plain old cocoa butter works pretty well. Some people swear by Vaseline.
New car? I don’t think so! I’d rather pay for repairs to my old one than take on another debt. New house? No way! I would rather paint the walls and make the upgrades to my existing home than take on a higher house payment. New clothes? Not often. Not when my city has an abundance of thrift stores with great merchandise and low prices.
There are some things even a tightwad will not scrimp on, including me. But I am willing to cut costs wherever I can until that big wave of fortune rolls over me.