Living Large on Less

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

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.

6. Avoid Parking Meters
Cars are the single greatest money-suck in most people?s budgets.
But if you must drive to work or to play, look for free parking on
the fringes of parking meter land. You?ll save a bundle every week
and get in a little walk before and after work.

7. Borrow a Video
Next time you?re thinking about a movie night at home, skip
Blockbuster and check out your public library. Many local libraries
have a great stash of movies you can borrow for free.

8. Swap Clothing
Cheaper than the local thrift store and more fun than a potluck,
clothing swaps can be a great way to freshen up your wardrobe
without dropping a load of cash. Just pull all the serviceable
clothing you never wear from your closet, ask a bunch of your best
friends to do the same, and let the trading begin.

9. Start a Workers? Collective
Need some work done around the house? Gather together a group of
friends to help with painting, gardening, or construction projects.
Your job is to have the projects lined up and the food on the
table. If the group spends one Saturday a month at each person?s
place, you?ll get a load of work done and have some fun together.
If the party goes into the evening, break out the board games or
cards for more cheap entertainment.

10. Get Help
Simply put, you can save more money if you take a hard, honest look
at your finances and develop a plan, no matter what your income.
Surf the Net. Read a book. Take a class. Or seek support from a
real live financial planner. With more knowledge and less worry,
you?ll be sure to have more savings, and more energy to devote to
the rest of your life.

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