During my hostel days, I remember coming across a girl who told me that her overhead monthly expenses never turn out to be more than $100. I was shocked at first and thought that she was lying. On being asked to explain how it was possible, she mentioned a few things that made her claim sound realistic to me. She managed to cut down on travelling expenses by walking her way to the college instead of going for her regular morning walks. Besides that, she started eating the mess food more often while only going out to eat twice a month. But I was taken for a surprise when she mentioned that she was making full use of the college library instead of buying a new set of books.
Cheapskate living might sound like having to make a whole lot of compromises on your basic needs, but let me tell you that the reality is far from what you saw in TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates. You can certainly save some good amount of money without having to dry and reuse the paper towels as you saw in the series.
So if you are in for adopting some really good habits of cheapskates without having to compromise on your basic lifestyle, here are a few tips that can help:
1. Put Every Single Penny To Work – People who are total cheapskates believe that every penny counts and they put their money to work in order to make more money. They usually do a thorough research before deciding which bank to open an account with to get the best interest on their deposits. Besides, they invest their money in lucrative investment avenues like real estate or stock market and wait for the ideal time to do so. Isn’t that wise?
2. They Lead A Minimalist Lifestyle – I recently visited a friend’s home which looked like a typical minimalist household with barely anything sitting without a purpose. Her living room had a couple of decor items, a few house plants and some basic furniture. The space had three bedrooms but only one of them had an air conditioner installed. Even though her family is financially well-off, they live on the principle of ‘lower the number of items, lesser the need for maintenance’. Well, I think her lifestyle has rubbed off on me as well.
3. They Re-purpose/Repair Stuff When Possible – For a long time, my family has believed in getting broken items repaired or repurposed rather than buying the new ones. My father still prefers that we use every electronic item for a decade at least and don’t just replace it with a new one if it can be repaired. My brother likes to save the repairing costs by hammering every broken item in the house. Although I used to hate it initially, I gradually realized that making the best use of your household items is good for your finances in the long run. I’ve certainly stopped calling my Dad a miser now.
4. They Recycle and Reuse – Well, I am one of those people who don’t have it in them to throw away those empty shower gel bottles and Nutella jars. I reuse them in some or the other way instead of disposing them. Besides saving us some storage costs, recycling is good for the environment too.
5. They Work Hard To Save Money – I have seen people who, despite being financially well-off, don’t pick up habits just for social acceptance. They take their own food to work, carry coffee and water from home, carpool their way to work, come home to cook their dinner and do the laundry and gardening themselves to save every penny possible. Even the hobbies that they take up are quite budget friendly and fun. Besides that, they comparison shop everything that can help them save some money.
6. They Don’t Mind Borrowing Stuff – Cheapskates don’t shy away from borrowing stuff and are willing to share their things as well. Books, repair tools, DVD’s, video games and other equipment can easily be borrowed from others for free or for a small fee that is anyway cheaper than buying them.
7. They Live By The Principle Of ‘No Wastage’ – A friend of mine once told me that her father gets really furious when even a tiny bit of food gets wasted. This eventually led them to start using leftovers to cook their next meal which in turn helps them save a lot of money on groceries. The principle of ‘No wastage’ applies on utilities as well and is one of the best money habits to follow in order to improve your finances.
8. They Carpool Their Way To Work – Car maintenance, insurance and fuel eat up a good part of your monthly income that can often leave you frustrated and broke. But cheapskates try and make up for it by carpooling their way to work. They either offer a seat in their car to someone who is willing to pay for it or they buy a seat from someone who is willing to carpool.
9. They Don’t Mind Being Called The ‘Cheapskates’ – What really sets apart the ‘cheapskates’ from the rest of the crowd is their tendency to not care about what others think about them. They don’t think that being a ‘cheapskate’ is a status symbol that makes them look inferior to others. All they think about is what’s important to them and their finances and what can help them lead a financially peaceful life.
So before you start thinking that the idea of cheapskate living is just too impractical in the long run, remember that you don’t have to live like that forever. You simply have to do it until you have saved enough to pay off your entire debt and to finance your important goals in life. You can even cut yourself some slack and spend money on things that you want every now and then. The essence of living like a cheapskate lies in living for yourself rather than spending money to impress others. After all, happiness can be found in the most ordinary things!