If you’re looking to make significant cuts to your expenses, one of the most effective places to start is your living costs. They make up the biggest portion of overall expenses for most people, but with some creativity and planning, you can save a lot of money.
Many of these options aren’t for everybody, so it’s essential to consider carefully and honestly what kind of sacrifices you’re willing to make now to serve your future. So before you leap, though, write down your financial goals, rent questions, and expectations so you have a clear picture of what’s ahead, both short- and long-term.
One of the easiest ways to live more economically is to live with other people because sharing space also means shared costs. Just because two-bedroom apartments have double the rooms as a one-bedroom doesn’t mean they’re double the cost. Splitting the rent with a roommate can end up costing less than half of the rent for a one-bedroom.
Cooperatives, or co-ops, are another way to spread the expenses of a home around. In a co-op, you don’t pay rent; you become a property shareholder. While this is usually less expensive than a traditional condo or apartment, it does come with extra responsibilities and restrictions, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before making the final decision.
There are also some ways you can obtain housing through your work. Live-in carers and nannies, for example, are provided with living space as part of their job, and on-site property managers sometimes enjoy free accommodation. You can also become a long-term house sitter — whether one long job or a few shorter gigs lined up. This can be an especially adventurous opportunity if you’re willing to travel to different towns or countries.
If you’re not looking for a wild adventure, the best option is sometimes the closest: moving in with your parents, other family, or friends. If you’re willing to abide by their house rules, this can be a great way to lower your rent (or possibly eliminate it altogether!) while you build up your savings for your next big thing.
The house you call home
After crunching the numbers, you might realize that your current living space is bigger than you need. Downsizing can be a highly effective and relatively straightforward way to make a massive dent in your living expenses — providing the housing market in your area is favorable.
But if you’re ready to be a little more creative, many unexpected arrangements can make for even cheaper living. Living on the road is an exciting way for a true adventurer to eliminate rent/mortgage payments, slash utility costs, and explore the world while you do it. RVs, refurbished vans, and even boats are all easily converted into comfortable — though small — living spaces. The trade-off is that you’ll have to pay for fuel and campsites, but those expenses aren’t likely to add up to anywhere near the cost of rent.
If you don’t mind the smaller space but don’t fancy being constantly on the go, a tiny house may be a perfect fit. Designed to fit all the functions of a home into a much smaller unit, tiny homes are perfect for those looking for more options. You can even convert a shipping container into a livable space. These options may require a significant payment upfront, but the savings, in the long run, are tremendous.
Living a cost-effective lifestyle
So you’re in the best living arrangement. Now what? Regardless of where or with whom you live, you can make many lifestyle choices that cut costs.
The first step is creating a tight budget to cut unnecessary expenditures. Looking at your subscriptions is a great place to start: do you need access to multiple streaming services? Work on separating your “wants” from your “needs” and decide how much you will sacrifice from the first category. Downgrading to a ‘dumb’ phone and accessing the internet from the library will save you tons of money, but it might be too drastic of a lifestyle change or one that causes you more expensive complications.
There are lots of ways to save money on your needs, too. Shop secondhand for clothing, furniture, and appliances — you might even get some for free. To cut down on regular expenses, try shopping for insurance bundles, renegotiating bills, and finding a bank account without fees. Instead of paying for a gym subscription, do bodyweight exercises at home.
Food costs are some of the easiest to trim down, too. You can save a ton of money by not eating out — cook for yourself from scratch. Avoid buying convenience items and buy in bulk instead. You can keep yourself fed healthily and easily through meal planning and batch cooking. Plus, the food you make yourself will likely be way healthier, too.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that seeks to cut down on all but the bare necessities. It’s more than just a money-saving technique — minimalism focuses less on having and more on doing. Embracing this way of life can save you money and space and lead to greater fulfillment and contentment with life as a whole.
Cheap living can seem daunting, but the truth is there are a ton of ways to cut down costs, even without extreme lifestyle changes. With careful planning, creativity, and the right attitude, you can build a plan from these ideas that suits your current needs and sets you up to achieve all your financial goals.