So, for the last year I’ve been in the position where pretty much every dollar I make goes toward one of my necessities: food, gas, rent, utilities and cigarettes. At the end of the month I’m able to just squeak by, but the bite has certainly been felt. This isn’t how I’ve been used to living, either. In order to make sure that I can meet my bills as well as indulge my interests in technology, furnishings and other “luxuries”, I have adopted a few habits which, while far from exhaustive (or even the most effective ways to save money), have allowed me to indulge my desire for new toys and entertainment while also spending as little money as possible.
1. Learn to Sew
This first one isn’t too big a deal, overall, but clothing is expensive. I’m finding myself, at this point, wearing sneakers to work every day due to the fact that I have worn through my most recent pair of boots after the nasty winter. I don’t have much extra cash to spend on updating my wardrobe as it begins to show small rips and tears and, frankly, the material simply wears out after awhile. Even if it isn’t perfect (and practice will always make it better) I have been able to stave off the necessity of pouring a lot of cash into new clothing by simply repairing the smaller, fixable damage to my wardrobe. Pants, in particular, tend to rip after awhile around the pocket seams, so a half-inch’s worth of sewing buys me plenty more time (and I love some of these pieces of clothing, too).
2. Learn Your Way Around Your Technology
I can give you a singular example for this one. I bought a Moto Droid two years ago. I was an early adopter to Android, and, I came to find out, the phone that I used quickly became obsolete when placed against the newer and newer models. My 550Mhz processor was quickly eclipsed by, first, 1.0Ghz and then later the dual-core processors of many of the newest phones. Not be to outdone, and to scratch my itch for new technology, I embarked on a quest to tinker with my phone in order to keep it up to date as best I could. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be dropping cash on a new phone for awhile, I learned how to get my phone to do what I wanted it to. After many small steps, I have finally been able to understand the workings of the machine enough to boost my processor to an overclocked 1.0Ghz as well as getting the most up-to-date version of Android available to me (2.3.3) running like a charm. My phone is now on par with the mid-line releases, now, two years later.
3. DIY is Both Entertainment and Utility
I like projects. Not everyone sees a problem (I don’t have enough shelf space to store all my books!) and immidiately moves to creatively solve it, but everyone finds a way around it. I have learned to relish little projects like updating my phone or installing a proper mirror in my strangely laid-out bathroom. Continually I find small things and make projects out of them. I currently need to, create more shelving in my apartment for cheap; overclock and cool my PC, and make myself a standing desk. Since I can’t go out and spend a lot of money on either entertainment or furnishings, I tend to try to combine the two. You get both the joy of creating something and the utility of a finished product (and pride!) for little out of pocket expense.
I can’t stress this enough. You don’t have cash for media, torrent.
5. Always Set a Small Budget for Small (Unnecessary) Things
One of the most fulfilling times I spent a little bit of cash on myself was when I bought a cheap, open-box HDMI cord to connect my PC to my television. For fifteen dollars I was able to open a whole new way for me to effortlessly experience my programs and media on my television. A nice dinner or a small social purchase can sometimes be the difference between feeling depressingly spartan and fiscally responsible. Whatever it may be, just a little can sometimes go a long way.