Living Large on Less

10 ways to stretch your budget that you probably haven?t thought of

| July / August 2003

So you?ve jettisoned the cell phone and car payments, do all your grocery shopping at the local farmers? market, and maybe moved back in with your parents?and still can?t quite make ends meet? Here are some other creative ways to get by on a shoestring without feeling like you?re depriving yourself of the finer things in life.

1. Seek Cheap Entertainment
In Uncommon Sense, her online personal finance column (, M.P. Dunleavey?s first tip on living large on next to nothing is going to art galleries. ?It?s all about gallery openings,? her cousin Alicia once told her. ?You?re there, you?re fed, you?re buzzed.? To get invited to those free wine and cheese openings, visit local galleries and put your name on their mailing lists. Other ideas: Head to free nights at your local museum. Instead of paying $50 for a concert or play, volunteer to usher. Or support local artists by attending open mike nights at a coffeehouse. Better yet, bring your guitar or tambourine and play along! If you can play a few tunes, play outside. Busking is a great way to earn money, and it makes our streets more entertaining!

2. Lounge Around
If you can?t afford dinner and a movie, try the time-honored tradition of staying in bed, ?ideally with someone else,? writes Dunleavey. And for great entertainment until you find company, she suggests reading up on the topic: The Kama Sutra, Fear of Flying, and The Monica Lewinsky Story. You can find these classics at your local library?for free.

3. Brew at Home
Making coffee or tea at home is easy. Really easy. And it will save you oodles. That harmless $3 per day in latte adds up to $1,095 per year. And for tea drinkers: Loose-leaf tea in bulk is often half the cost of prepackaged bags.

4. Start a Travel Honey Pot
Having trouble saving for a trip? Putting away just $5 a day in an actual travel honey pot will add up to $2,700 every 18 months, writes Sabrina Sakata in the new women?s travel magazine Guava. A few of her ideas for finding that $5? Unjoin the fitness club by exercising outside or buying your own weights. Take your shoes to a repair shop rather than shelling out for new ones. Stop buying a new PC every few years; build your own by buying cheap used models and upgrading the memory. Every time the pot reaches $200, put the money in a savings account.

5. Rediscover the Clothesline
The average apartment dweller might spend $250 in quarters each year to use a dryer. If you?re not already convinced that the clothesline is the way to go, Sakata offers more evidence: ?Electric dryers suck the life from clothing (result: dryer lint!)? and the high heat of dryers guarantees that stains are permanently set in your clothes. Plus, the sun actually removes stains from white clothes.

8/13/2008 7:34:54 AM

Great article! I really enjoyed Tip #3 - having coffee (or soda, or tea, or breakfast, etc . . .) outside your house can add up quickly. Check out for other great money saving ideas.

Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!

Facebook Instagram Twitter