It may come as a surprise to you that wealth is not something I am familiar with. Throughout my entire life I have always been supported in whole or in part by the government in one way or another, whether that be through my Mothers pension as a child, youth (student) allowance as a young adult, or through recent assistance with the start up of my design business. Though this has meant getting used to living on very little, I am very fortunate and grateful to live in a country that affords me this continued support. It's only now, at 25 years old, that I am finally starting to forge my way forward to being financially independent. I haven't completely made it yet, but I am getting closer by the day. I predict that by early next year I will be completely independent in my own right (not just because my partner will finally be a doctor - although that is a happy coincidence) and I believe that this is not only due to my ever growing business, but due to the "tips and tricks" that I have utilised in order to survive and to maintain a positive outlook throughout my life.
This probably seems like a really out-there post for me to write (especially since I'm revealing a lot of personal things about myself), but as I was sitting here writing out what feels like my millionth grocery list of a lifetime I suddenly became inspired to share some of my tips and tricks for surviving on a budget (hint: writing grocery lists is one of them). It doesn't matter how well off you are either, these tips and tricks will come in useful to anyone who wants to save some money, or who wants to live a more simple and/or guilt-free life as a consumer.
2. Meal plan. This obviously goes hand in hand with point number one, but it is important for other reasons too. By planning my meals for the week I am able to see what ingredients I need for different meals, what ingredients I will have excess of, and I am then able to plan the rest of my meals around those excess ingredients. Food wastage is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, so whenever I get annoyed with meal planning I just remind myself that I am doing my part and I actually enjoy the challenge.
3. Buy in bulk and freeze food where you can. My partner and I have the smallest fridge/freezer combo on the market yet we still manage to buy in bulk and freeze a lot of our food. This saves us money, time, stress - and it makes meal planning a breeze. I also like to buy things like soap, toilet paper and tampons in bulk as this saves us money and these items don't need to be used up straight away.
4. Wash and re-use old jars. I do this when I want to make a big batch of chutney, store snacks, etc. but you can also re-use jars as drinking glasses or whatever you can think of really.
5. Watch things online. I rarely watch TV shows on television anymore as I've gotten so used to watching everything online. Lately I've been getting really into YouTube (the British youtubers are my favourite to watch) and watching re-runs of my favourite TV shows from when I was younger (Passions is everything right now, ha!). My partner and I are fortunate enough to have a TV set, but if all we had was a computer we'd be absolutely fine.
6. Buy clothing items that are one size too big. Obviously I'm not suggesting you buy skirts/jeans/shorts that are going to fall down around your ankles, but if you can get away with an extra size up in tops/dresses then by all means do so. Doing this has saved me big time over the years when I have gone up and down a size (or two) with the change of seasons, etc.
7. Avoid using a tumble drier. Not only does this save you money, but it also saves your clothes from shrinking overnight.
8. Look after your clothes in general. I rarely ever need to buy new clothes because I'm always taking such good care of the clothes I already have. I wash them in the correct load, hang them out to air dry, hang them up/fold them neatly and only iron them when it's absolutely necessary. I also wear my clothes 2-3 days in a row if I can get away with it to get as much use out of an outfit as possible before going through the washing cycle again.
9. Make sure your partner, friends and family know about your situation. I'm not suggesting you should be constantly complaining about your financial situation, but it's important that your friends and family know that you might not be able to afford to eat at the swishest restaurant in town, or that you may you may have to pass on the Christmas present exchange some years. It's also really important that you and your partner are on the same page in terms of your budget to avoid any confusion, unnecessary spending or resentment.
10. Set yourself goals, particularly saving goals. This is probably my most important tip because unless you have certain goals you can reach by employing the rest of these tips, you will literally feel like you are living to survive and not to grow/achieve success.
There are plenty more tips that I could share with you all but this post is long enough as it is. I'd be more than happy to write a follow up post though if that's something you guys are interested in. :)
Disclaimer: Poverty comes in all shapes and forms, and although I have never considered myself impoverished (I actually consider myself quite privileged), I believe it is important that we all bare this in mind when making assumptions about other people and the ways in which they live their lives. For example, you might think that someone in my situation who lives in a nice suburb, wears nice clothes, owns her own car, can afford a puppy etc. would know very little about financial hardship, but I can assure you that this is not always the case. I'd also like to point out that unlike the common stereotypes created by our society, not everyone who chooses to utilise government assistance is a dole bludging, drug addict, chain smoking no-hoper enjoying a free ride. If it wasn't for government assistance I wouldn't be alive, I wouldn't be educated, and I wouldn't have had the tools I needed in order to become a successful and happy human being.