February 29th, 2008
Part 4: Items 16 – 20
In this last entry on our 20 ways to live on little-to-nothing, some further ways to take honest stock of your situation and prospects, plan accordingly, and make use of systems already in place to stretch the dollars you’ve got left.
16. Who Are You Supporting?
If your habit is to always buy new, who is that supporting? In a serious recession, it’s probably not supporting some skilled worker in a factory in your area, since the US has already stripped its manufacturing capability to almost zip. Are you supporting the call center bill collectors? Do you really WANT to support them?
The capital class does not need your pity, they’ll be fine. You and your family are your primary concerns, no one else. Stop worrying what “they” want from you, pay strict attention to what YOU need from you. This is a situation where pride can definitely precede a serious fall, so swallow it.
17. Budget and Stick To It
If your income is a bit bigger than your ‘necessary’ expenses, the place to change habits is in discretionary spending. Hang onto your home if your debt isn’t upside down. Some will want to get out from under the big bills anyway during a serious recession that looks to last a decade or more for most citizens, but a positive net balance allows time to do that without filing bankruptcy.
In order to buy that time it will be necessary to limit discretionary spending rather drastically. It is possible to come out the other side not bankrupt. If bankruptcy is unavoidable, make the best of it to start a whole new life!
18. Don’t Buy New If You Can Buy Used
When you’re figuring out how much money you’ve got to have in order to live, don’t include things you can get for little or nothing. And don’t buy anything if you haven’t got the cash on hand. Even very nice clothes – business suits and formal wear and such – can be purchased secondhand for a fraction of cost new, and if you’ve a good sense of style you’ll look great even if you don’t spend much.
Used vehicles cost thousands less than new ones. Used appliances cost less than new ones cost. Used furniture can be every bit as comfortable and stylish (or eclectic) as your decorating sensibilities can imagine. Reupholstering isn’t that hard either if you can work a sewing machine. And if you can work a sewing machine, your decorating options expand accordingly!
19. What’s Your Time Really Worth?
Hardly anyone believes they’re being paid enough by someone else for what they do. And too often, that’s absolutely true. As the price of everything rises, you’ve got a choice – get a second job or step out of the rat-race by putting yourself to work for yourself. If you’ve contemplated a second job, then you’ve time to spend elsewhere, on something else.
This may involve getting involved in an alternative economy of some sort. Barter is the strongest of them, and there are barter networks all over the place if you go looking for them. Trading what you can do for what someone else can provide you skips the whole cash thing entirely. The plus of belonging to a barter network is that often you’ll get paid in cash for what you offer, as the buyer may have nothing you need. Think of it as your second job, and soon you’ll find you’re worth more than the “Little Hitler School of Middle Management” boss thinks you are.
20. Freecycle and Thrifting
You can get free clothes, household goods, major appliances, building supplies, baby stuff, furniture, even vehicles, farm and garden equipment and whole buildings on occasion! So long as what you want isn’t too much, and you’re willing to delay immediate gratification you don’t have to spend a cent other than the cost to pick it (whatever “it” is) up! If it’s not available free, seek great bargains used.
With a minor change of mental focus it’s easy to get excited about “Brand New Used”, and spending little or nothing can be even more rewarding than spending a lot on things you don’t really need and won’t last long anyway.