am often asked how we made it through my husband’s three years of law
school on a part-time income without accumulating any debt. Well, it
wasn’t the easiest thing ever, but with some creativity and the
blessing of the Lord, we survived.
are a few ideas which allowed us to live on $800-$1000/month without
going into debt:
Tithe. Recognize that all the money you have is given to you from God and you are to be a good steward of it.
Read the autobiography of George Mueller and get in a habit of asking God for your provisions.
I can tell you story after story of amazing ways God has answered our
prayers for specific needs–from providing a washer and dryer for
free, to furnishing our home for $100, to anonymous gifts in the mail
just when we needed it most, to a good sale at the grocery store on
something. God has provided above and beyond many things we have asked
Him for. It has been truly amazing to see His provision.
Pay cash for everything. Don’t
even think of buying something if you don’t have the money for it. (For
more encouragement in this regard, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s books, radio show, and Financial Peace University.)
Pare down to the basic essentials. It is amazing what you can live without.
Make a budget and stick to it. Pay for the essentials first. If there is money left over, put the bulk of it in savings.
Regardless of how little you have, put a little money in savings every month. Even if you only have $5 to spare, put it in savings and little bit, by little bit, you’ll start to see your savings grow.
Don’t buy expensive gifts. Make
something or write a letter, it’s much more meaningful when you put
time and effort into a gift anyway. (There are lots of great frugal
gift ideas here.)
Have one vehicle. It wasn’t my first choice, but we lived for quite some time with only one vehicle. Our situation was such that I couldn’t walk anywhere (we were not in the best part of town and it would be a very long way to try and walk anywhere even if it were safe), but we managed just fine.
Stay home more.
It’s amazing how many things you don’t know you are missing out on, if
you’re not out window shopping. Staying home and just spending time
together as a family is much more fulfilling anyway!
Don’t buy anything you don’t need and only buy things if they are on sale.
Don’t eat out. I repeat, don’t eat out. You’ll save yourself a bundle of money.
Find ways to have "free dates" with your husband.
Pack a picnic and go to the park. Or, go to a bookstore and browse
together. Make some homemade mocha and play a game. The possibilities
are almost endless on this one. (More cheap date ideas here.)
Learn to utilize the library. I love our local library–I can go and check out as many books as I want and never pay them a cent (well, okay, so long as I return our books on time!).
Pack a lunch for your husband to take to work everyday. Add up how much you’ll save in a year by doing this and you will be amazed!
Cut back on meat consumption. We only eat meat about 3-4 times per week and really have not missed it much. More ideas here.
Stick to simple meals. Cook and bake from scratch.
Last but not least, make it fun! It’s a game for me to see how well we can live on how little. Learn to enjoy saving money. And, like Get Rich Slowly admonishes, don’t let a frugal lifestyle become dull and boring.
What are some of your best tips and ideas for living on little?
Originally published October 2005.