Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Post - Ways to live on a small income

Well, this is my first post and try at this. We'll see how this goes. I guess I'll start off with what I hope to post about in the future. I know plenty of random things and I love to share them. Now I have a chance to share them with many people instead of just my circle of friends. These things include stuff I learn teaching, random computer items, cooking, dance, ways to live on a small income, and so on and so forth. In fact, I'll make this first post about living on a small income.

I have two jobs and one job is basically non-profit. The other makes me about $32,000 a year. And after rent, bills, and gas...well...I have about $300 a month to use on other items. Of course, part of it goes back into bills. I just want to mention right here. I take about 5 road trips a year. I also eat out on occasion and I have few problems buying my family gifts at those special times of the year. And I still have money left over for emergencies. I'm just going to go over a few of my little quirks that help me do this.

The first one is simple. Food. Notice I didn't put food in my list up above? The reason for this is easy. Some people have no clue how to cook. For those of you who don't know how to cook, please pay attention to this next part. Go out and buy (or get from your mom) a set of pans, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a basic cookbook. I suggest getting a Betty Crocker cookbook. Now then, anyone can cook SIMPLE food. Just follow the instructions step by step. Do not make any variations unless you know what will happen when you do. And if you don't want to go this far, then you can easily survive on sandwiches! I have before I was able to fill out my kitchen. Bread, sandwich meat, and cheese can cost about $5. And it will last you a week. Now then, when you buy food, please understand that 9 times out of 10, the off brand (Like Save) is exactly the same as the brand labeled food. Knowing this can save you plenty of money. And knowing where to go helps as well. Aldi's is a very good place to shop. Just remember to bring your own bags or you can use the boxes they have in the store. And this place only accepts cash or debit cards. No checks and no credit cards. But, it's worth it. Another place I like is Hyvee. They're pretty good on prices most of the time. And lastly, your local farmers market. You can get fresh food at a low price and help out the people in your town!

Now when you cook, try to make more then one meal. Buy yourself a good set of Tupperware (gladware is pretty good to use) and learn to love leftovers. Often times, my dinner from the night before ends up being my lunch. It works out and saves me time and money. One more then for those who have problems cooking. Buy a crock pot. These things are amazing. You just dump all the ingredients in one pot, turn it on, and come back a few hours later to something yummy! They even have prepared packages in the frozen food aisle!

Okay, enough about food. Next thing, give yourself an allowance. Either in cash form or by using an extra balance book, keep yourself from spending over a certain limit each month. Now, you can also add in your eating out and so on in here. But making yourself only spend a certain amount each month builds good habits. It'll take some getting used to but trust me, it'll help you out a lot in the end. Because my last note about this for now is simple. Keep at least $100 in your checking account at all times. Any extra money that isn't for bills or your allowance, put in a savings account. ING is a good company to go with and their rates are very nice. Or you can use your own bank's savings account. The reason for this is you never know what will happen in the future. I've had times when I had a tire blow out and had no way to buy a new tire. I had to borrow money from my parents, sister, and a friend to get my car all fixed. And I hate having to do that. I prefer not having to borrow money or have a need for a credit card. I've been living very nicely on a low income and no credit card. If I can do it, anyone can!

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