Here what you might not know about me: I’m very
I’v slept at subways, traveled around the world on practically nothing, paid cheap cash for living expenses, hustled free meals; if there’s a free way, you can bet, I might not be caught paying for it. I should add an important disclaimer, if you can afford it, always treat others and yourself, see why on point #17.
Yup, I’m cheap, and it’s beautiful and I will share that world with you. Truth is, you can live large on very little, you just need to know the game.
This article was heavily inspired by Thor Harris.
Here are practical ways to live that large life:
1. Don’t smoke or do drugs, or be close friends with those that do.
Here’s a simple truth, this is an expensive habit, very expensive, to your health and your pocket.
You’re smart you don’t do this but have close friends who do, well, it’s a matter of time, they will drill a hole in your pocket.
Don’t do it, you need that money for other fun stuff.
2. Drive Old Japanese cars.
I currently drive a 2002 Toyota Celica, they are cheap to fix, and they run foreveeeeer. Mine has 196,000+ miles on it, and still does almost 60+ miles daily, nicely. Bonus point if you get a manual transmission, even cheaper!
3. If you don’t have to drive, don’t!
I think the only justifiable reasons to drive is if you
a. Have a work that’s so far, it’s inevitable.
b. Your state/city/town doesn’t have a good enough public transport.
Anything else, not so strong a reason. Get a bike, join zipcar, buy a public transport pass, walk. Not only will this take you from point A to B, it will also keep you in shape, cheaply.
Who needs the gym (another savings there). I cycle a lot.
4. Always buy your groceries from the produce section
I’ve written about this before. In the US, it’s very easy to confuse all those food-like item they sell in supermarket as food, they are not.
When it comes to your body, treat it with good, real food. But you protest, those items can be pricey! Oh trust me, that’s covered, download this guide on eating healthy on the very cheap – $4/day, even McDonald’s can’t beat that!
5. Don’t have kids
What?! Do you really need them?
There are 7 billion of us all running around, I’m sure the world can use one less of a mini-you. The real reason: kids are damn expensive!
Even worse if they are unplanned for, see point #13 for more on this.
Good luck convincing your significant other — I haven’t had any luck, so no advice there. I still hold it as an option though.
6. Get very few quality clothing new and/or hunt thrift stores
This is a point near and dear to my heart, after all, I own a fashion business, but there it is.
What you might not know is, it’s much expensive buying “junk” clothing (think TJMax, Walmart, Target, etc), they are disposable clothing — they want you to wear it fro a bit, and come back more often, uh no, not good for someone like you.
If you can’t afford to get few quality clothing, you can get the same great finds at thrift store, clothing that will last for years. My average clothing last 4+ years before it gets donated.
I’d stop here, this deserves another post.
7. Learn to fix stuff
I sew clothing, seeing the preceding point, that shouldn’t surprise you.
And not just fixing my own clothing, but also fixing things around the house, my car, and makeshift desk and shelf. It always beats throwing it away and buying another (as is often the culture in US), or hiring a handyman.
You can always pick up these skills on YouTube.
8. Always buy used stuff, rarely new, especially large purchases
Oh, the smell of something new, so lovely — the cost, not so much.
When I need something, my first stop is boston.craisglist.com (you’d want to plug in your city though), then ebay.com, then google.com. In that order.
Here’s even a pro tip on hunting for stuff on craigslist — something I search for things like “wife asked me”, ”out of state”,”moving”,”house sold”, you probably see the trend there — those are folks are open to heavy negotiation.
9. Don’t get sick, and stay proactively healthy and avoid injuries AT ALL COST
In the US, there no faster way to get broke than getting sick.
You know, that super expensive health-care. At this point, if you follow on advice in point #1, #3 and #4, you will be in great shape, so this won’t be an issue.
In addition to that, avoid activities that will put your body at risk, if you’re biking, wear an helmet, going hiking? wear good shoes and bring a weapon, running, good shoes and watch the road, whatever it takes to keep your body in good shape.
But then, the unexpected happens — I don’t have much personal experience with this, I’ve only been admitted to hospital once in my life, and that wasn’t fun.
I had a weird, painful inflammation on my butt, I drove to the ER (Emergency Response). I was admitted, given a bunch of tests; after about 3-4hrs, I was given aspirin and a cream and later charged about $400+.
Yikes! Welcome to USA.
Great thing is I live in Massachusetts where you can have the state pay your health-care costs.
And this brings me to…
10. Actively seek out all the information you can on getting free stuff
Two good starting points are:
- The Free section of craigslist (if you’re based in Boston for example, go to http://boston.craigslist.org/ then under the “For Sale” section, click “Free”, a pro tip: subscribe to the rss feed so you get the alert first as soon as it’s listed, winning!)
- And the frugal section of reddit, http://www.reddit.com/r/Frugal
11. Don’t buy anything on Credit
If you can’t afford it, let it wait. If you really want it, save up!
Being in debt is painful — there are a few exception but generally, just avoid it.
12. Don’t be fancy if you’re not fancy or can’t afford it CASH
An extension of point #11.
Don’t try to keep up with the Jones. If the Jones are in your face, move to another neighborhood.
Personal satisfaction is not absolute, it’s relative to what you see it as — cut your coat to your cloth.
13. Prevent preventable expenses
Some expenses can be avoided, and they should be avoided at all cost
- Speeding ticket: just drive slower! You even save on gas that way, or as in #3, skip driving altogether
- DUI: this is just plain obvious
- Cable: In this day and age does any one really need this? There are so many alternatives. My personal setup at home is:
a. Google Chrome Cast (cost: one-time $35)
b. Google Chrome with Google cast installed (cost: free)
b. http://www.time4tv.com/ (all my favorite UK live channels and sports, cost: free)
c. http://www.giddyupnetwork.info/pages/tgun-mobile-menu (all my favorite US channels and shows, cost: free)
Save that money.
- Unexpected pregnancy, see #5
- STDs, why risk it at all?
- Drinking outside: almost 50% cheaper to do it at home.
With all those money you won’t have to spend, you can do a few exciting things.
14. Buy LOTs of experience NOT material stuff
They are always cheaper and last forever!
Save up and buy experiences you love: skydiving, traveling, hunting, whatever — people are more interested in hearing about your bungy jumping experience in Holland than your new dress, or sneakers.
Even better, don’t do it alone, see #17 and on bungy jumping, and such risky activities, remember #13.
15. Get a job you love, if you can’t, find a job where you love the people”
This will bring you a lot of happiness.
16. Start your own business or side-hustle
Truth is, it’s a lot harder to get wealthy working to make some else rich, as the case is with #15. But, point #15 is very important.
It’s the training ground to knowing what you love and people you love — see how it ties?
What’s even more important than this…
17. Do people favors, UNCONDITIONALLY
Don’t just help people you know, or those who ask, do it for strangers, do it to strangers who you don’t ever expect anything from, give, give, and give a bit more.
Following all these tips, you will have saved yourself a lot of money— the best way to really live large is making everyone’s world around you better — you’re not just grabbing and hoarding everything, but you’re distributing too!
Do it, those random act of kindness.
Here one way you can get started right now: