How to live well on the cheap
In an increasingly money obsessed world it can seem difficult to get by and enjoy life without overspending, but as this guide will show, living well without breaking the bank is possible with just a few lifestyle changes.
Entertainment is an area that needn’t suffer when you’re counting the pennies, and charity shops are a great place to start. There you’ll find cut price DVDs, books and board games as well as useful things for the kitchen like mugs and saucepans. You can also pick up cheap DVDs, books and games on Amazon and Ebay or on your local Gumtree site.
You can replace expensive nights out with cheap nights in, just invite your friends round and ask them to bring a drink or snack, then get the boardgames out. Boardgames can be a great way to break the ice with new people or inspire some friendly competition among friends.
You can also avoid expensive cinema tickets and have your own movie nights at home – supermarket fizzy drinks and homemade popcorn are much cheaper and you can’t press pause to make a cup of tea at the cinema! If you don’t have a huge DVD collection, online services like Netflix and Lovefilm offer subscriptions for as little as £5 a month, and if you look around you can often find special offers that allow you to try it out for free. They have a huge amount of content available and you get a lot more for your money.
If you like to eat out, keep a look out for special offers and vouchers.
If you’re trying to keep fit, joining a gym is the expensive way of doing it. Try joining an active club instead, they’re often cheaper, you’ll make some new friends and have fun, which should make it a little easier to show up every week. Look for community websites to see what’s available in your local area.
One of the first things you need to do is work out where your money goes and change the way you shop.
It’s extremely easy to blow your food budget every week, and it’s an area where cuts can always be made. For starters, put together a collection of recipes you enjoy. Cooking for yourself is a great way of saving money, as ready meals are often expensive and you can’t really tell what’s in them. Look out for recipe cards in supermarkets or online. Consider eating more vegetarian food, as meat is expensive and substituting a veggie meal two or three times a week can save you some cash.
Shop towards the end of the day and look out for last-minute bargains on fresh meat and vegetables in supermarkets and local markets, but be careful to check fruit and vegetables before you buy them. For herbs, spices, pulses and dried foods it’s often worth checking out ethnic supermarkets, as they often have great deals on things like garlic and spice blends.
Volunteering can be a lot of fun, and it can lead to some great experiences, teach you some useful skills and even get you the odd holiday! Whether it’s walking dogs at an animal shelter, helping out with your local Brownies group or spending a few weekends coppicing and pulling up invasive weeds, chances are you’ll meet some wonderful people, increase your own fitness and spend time saving money. You can also find a variety of cheap or free volunteering holidays in the UK and abroad, many of them in beautiful wild areas.
Save money by looking out for Groupon and other vouchers for hair and beauty treatments in your local area. You can also get some new clothes for free by arranging a clothes swap party with some friends.
Living well needn’t be expensive as long as you plan well, research your options and think about where your money goes. Making a few changes can change your life for the better as well as saving you money!
Laurent Kelly is a freelance writer for UK Essays, a service dedicated to assisting students with multiple forms of essay support.