‘How are we supposed to live?’, too many people have been continually asking themselves lately with prices becoming so high, we can no longer afford things.
The numbers speak for themselves. In the US, consumer prices increased 8.6% from May 2021 to May 2022, the highest increase since 1981. Food prices have increased more than 10% over the year. A gallon of gas is over 50% more expensive than a year ago. And nobody knows when it’s going to stop.
Luckily, you’re not the only one living under a tight budget. Some people with lower incomes have been doing that for years, so they now have an invaluable experience to share with others. And this is what they did in this popular thread on Ask Reddit. Read below to find out the best life hacks for people living with a tight belt.
#1If you have access, ethnic grocery stores usually have cheaper produce
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#2Don't have kids.
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#3Go to the library. Not only are there books there, but also you can check out video games, sewing machines, movies, museum passes... so much more. Not to mention the software, education and events that can help you get a raise, promotion, or better job.
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#4Okay, I’ve got this. I’ve been really, really super poor. I’m upper middle class now through busting my a*s but I still live as if I am poor.
1. First of all, food is expensive. You do not have to eat that much. Really you don’t. Mentally, being hungry as a teen screwed me up a bit. I learned that an empty stomach was normal, or even an accomplishment if I only had a couple of bucks and had to make them last.
2. Learn to cook dried beans. Pat boil them first. Then rinse and cook until done. Google it if you need to. Super cheap and nutritious meal. Bonus points for cooking them in a crockpot in a small room. It will help heat your room while they cook.
3. Cheap hotdog buns are a cheaper alternative to loaves of sliced bread if you are on your own. A whole loaf of bread can often go stale before you eat it. A pack of 8 hotdog buns is usually $1.00. So that’s a weeks worth of bread for $1.00.
4. Wear a knit hat and scarf in the house. It makes a huge difference. Keep that thermostat on 60 degrees. You will make it. Also, if you are a single person spend time at the library or other public space. Free heat and often free entertainment.
5. If you can afford it, buy an electric blanket.
6. If you can’t afford it, get one of those plush acrylic throws. Use it as the first layer of bed covering. Top it with some type of heavier cotton quilt. If you don’t have a quilt, top it with a sheet and then some other type of blanket. You will stay warm. It’s amazing.
7. Do not buy bar soap. Buy body wash and use one of those mesh loofahs. You will use much less product.
8. If your house and windows are old, cover them with anything you can find. Sheet plastic or bubble wrap are ideal but are also expensive. Use trash bags, cardboard, anything you can come up with. Tape around all edges with duct tape. It works.
9. Don’t heat space you don’t need. It was not unusual for us to stay mostly in one room during the really cold parts of winter. Just heat that room. If there are no doors, tack up blankets in the doorways to stop the airflow.
10. Cram anything you can under doors to stop drafts.
11. Take care of your possessions. No matter what it is, it’s all you have. Make the most of it. Don’t toss your things about or leave your clothes on the floor.
12. If doing laundry is as issue, have some clothes set aside as strictly “public” clothes. Pull them off ASAP and put on your hous clothes. At least you can look presentable longer between washes.
13. Learn all you can about everything possible. It is so good for your mind and can help stave off depression.
14. Join a church unless you find it offensive. Many churches provide weekly meals. Go eat, enjoy the climate controlled environment, and maybe even enjoy the fellowship.
15. Know your true worth is not related to money.
There are so many other things. I need time to think.
Thank you so much for the kind words, silver, and gold.
I am female.
Some people asked how I made it out. I won’t give my life story but will keep it short and simple. I worked. I worked my a*s off for survival and an education.
There was so much about my young life that I could share but this isn’t the place for pity or such. There was abuse, parental drug addiction, father committed suicide, and I became intensely focused on building my life. I wanted a home and to feel secure.
I hope my comment helped somebody as much as all the replies have helped me. Every time someone commented that “this guy gets it” or similar I started to remember that I do get it. I was reminded of the determination I showed and everything I overcame. This is important and valuable to me right now. Life is messy and I am facing some difficult life choices. I have been haunted by fear surrounding these choices because it will jeopardize my financial stability. But reading through this comment thread has helped me remember what I’ve already faced and overcome. I feel so much stronger.
So where am I today? I spent my morning watching my youngest child play basketball. I drove there in my car that is warm and dependable. Then I went to the grocery store. I treated myself to my favorite cheese. I bought my kids 3 big boxes of Lucky Charms (they were on sale - 3/$10!) And I came home to a warm house with a working washer and dryer. I put my food in a working refrigerator. I truly know I am blessed.
I just want to add that being poor is exhausting. And scary. It’s so hard. But happiness is very, very possible no matter your income level. Money will make some parts of life easier but not all.
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#5If you wind up homeless, get a Planet Fitness gym membership ($10 a month) so you can shower every day. The one near my work also has free WiFi.
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#6Drink only water. It's one of those ripple effect things that improves every other area of your life.
I work in a welfare office. The number of people who are both 1) unable to afford proper nutrition (supposedly), and 2) morbidly obese is counterintuitive until you see the enormous sodas so many people travel with. It's incredibly easy to drink more calories than you think you're drinking, and the fattening nature of these drinks is all in the sugar content. Switch to carrying water instead of soda or other sweetened beverages and I assure you the following will happen:
1) You will save more money than you imagine,
2) You will sleep better,
3) Food will taste better,
4) You will have more consistent energy throughout the day,
5) Your skin/overall appearance will improve, and
6) You will lose weight.
If you do nothing other than stop spending money on soda/sweet tea/etc and just drink filtered tap water, you will thank yourself.
Source: Was poor, now am not poor. Still drink only water (and unsweetened coffee). Am over 40 lbs lighter, sleep well, and feel better.
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#7Rich people throw out amazing stuff. If you know someone with a truck, you can go around the wealthy areas on garbage day and get all sorts of furniture, appliances, and clothing. A little cleaning and maybe a few minor repairs and you have lots of stuff to use or sell.
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#8Supercook.com has a recipe generator that will help you make good meals with whatever you have at home. Best thing ever. Went from boring basic meals to actual tasty meals
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#9If you live close to one, planet fitness membership. $10 per month and the location near me does free pizza once per week, and free bagels once per week. That's 8 meals for $10. Plus you can save on your water if you want by using their showers.
Also when you're broke, it's hard to kill time and not spend money. So go to the gym and use their wifi to watch Shows while you walk on a treadmill. Its honestly a great way to kill time
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#10You can donate plasma and be paid $30. Up to 6 times a month. Extra $180. It is supposed to hurt a little.
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#11At walmart or most grocery stores you can buy a rotisserie chicken for wicked cheap. They're actually cheaper to purchase cooked instead of raw, and you can make several meals out of just the meat you scrape off the bones. I often make sandwiches or wraps and it'll typically last for like 6 meals, all for like 5 bucks! Then you get to use the carcass to make a stock!
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#12If you're female, check out reuseable menstrual products. There are plenty of affordable cloths pads on amazon or you can save even more by making your own. Menstrual cups are great too but they come with a bit of a learning curve.
One you have your system sorted you can stop buying disposables completely. Pads and cups last 10 years.
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#13Eliminate food waste. Things you'd normally throw away like vegetable peelings and bones can be turned into flavorful stock for future meals.
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#14Hot Sauce is a simple investment to turn sad, bland food, into sad, slightly less bland food
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#15Stop. Buying. Weed.
Edit: To elaborate, I'm not anti-weed. I'm trying to help.
I grew up in poverty, and nearly everyone smoked weed. The only people who didn't smoke weed, were able to focus on a way out. Everyone I knew, used weed as a bandage to cover a gaping hole in their ambition.
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#16PLEASE tell your doctor if your medications are too expensive.
My parents worked themselves to the bone and we ate like s**t to help pay for medicine for me and my sister (hemophilia, we needed medicine to help clot during our periods)...they never complained and just worked - my mom didn’t want anyone to know we were poor. There were cheaper alternatives!! They could have saved thousands of dollars.
I’m a family doctor now and I make it a point to talk about medication costs and ask at all of my follow ups if things are affordable. We don’t know what your copay is and it’s not always easy to tell what will be covered on your plan. PLEASE let us know if something is too much, this is what we are here for!
Edited to add hey thanks stranger for the gold and silver! That’s a first for me.
To answer some recurring questions:
I have Hemophilia C, which I like to call the off brand hemophilia because it’s quite different than the more common ones. It’s autosomal recessive, both of my parents are carriers. My two boys are carriers and one is symptomatic. The medication was Amicar oral solution.
And as someone more eloquently describes in the comments below, prescribing the “cheap” medicine isn’t always that simple. It depends on your insurance company, your deductible, which pharmacy you use (yes that matters!! Especially for psych meds), and if Jupiter is in line with Venus and the pharmacy gods smile down on us. For some people $50 a month is reasonable and they would rather pay more for a long acting and other people can only afford $5 a month and are re-using supplies like lancets and catheters.
I work in the US. If your medication is too expensive, and you have something other than Medicare or Medicaid try looking for manufacturers coupons (symbicort has a great one for 1 year no copays right now, and some of the newer long acting stimulants do too). Ask about local compounding pharmacies, mail order, three month supply or off label dosing...pharmacists look away... like you can use eye drops in your ears for an acute bacterial infections and sometimes they are significantly cheaper. I’ve done that once or twice when patients just didn’t have the extra cash to get the one designated for your ears.
If you need a procedure done and have a residency program or medical school local to you, see if they need any volunteers for didactics or demonstrations. We’ve done ingrown toenails, warts, skin lumps and bumps for free during lectures to teach the other residents how to do them.
Two great sites:
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#17Congee with a broth cube and leftover veggies and meat. When things are really tight, just rice, broth cube and water. 1 cup of rice with 6-8 cups of broth or water will stretch into several meals this way. It can be made really nutritious by adding more things, but when money's tight this can satisfy your belly.
Also, make use of all social services available to you. All of them. You're poor, these services exist to help you get by and make things easier. Apply for them even if you're 100% sure you don't qualify, you never know how else they might be able to help you.
If you have pets, find charities on Facebook that help provide food for pets to people with a low income. I can't tell you how much stress this took off my shoulders knowing I had enough kibble for my cats so they wouldn't starve *and I could buy my own food* *instead*.
Don't be ashamed of being poor. I know people look down on you for that, but shame gets in the way of coping with poverty. Everybody can get poor at no fault of their own if circumstances align right. Even if you made less than smart choices, got a drug habit or whatever, you're not less deserving of basic human respect and kindness. Nobody is perfect, and poverty exists because governments don't implement or fund social services well, f**k with minimum wage etc. Everybody deserves to live comfortably and not have to turn over every penny three times before spending it (no matter how much character that builds, poverty f*****g sucks) and still come up short on basic necessities.
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#18Don't bank with Bank of America or Wells Fargo. Those banks might give descent service if you've got six figures in your savings, but not if you've got six dollars in your checking. Credit Unions, USAA (if you're eligible) and literally almost any other bank is a better option than those con-artists.
#19Shop at Goodwill/second hand stores!
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#20If you have to choose between keeping the lights on and paying for heat in the winter, keep the lights on. First thing in the morning when you get up, turn the oven on (if you've got one) for a few minutes and let that warm up your kitchen (unless it's gas- don't take the Sylvia Plath route out of misery).
Get the cheapest old sewing machine you can find and hem and maintain your clothes. While lots of sh*tty clothes are super cheap, they fall apart after a few wears. When you can, buy decent clothes and take care of them. It will cost less in the long term.
Get a library card. Libraries are sanity savers when you're too broke for other entertainment. As well, get a local schedule of events and go out when something is free or very cheap. Keep yourself occupied, even when you are struggling with money.
Get to know your local bakeries and other businesses, in particular they're baking and delivery schedules. Old product that didn't move that needs to be sold or disposed of before a new shipment comes gets big mark downs. You can get decently healthy food for relatively cheap.
If you live in some states, you can make decent extra dough collecting cans and bottles. I went door to door collecting cans and bottles after leaving a super crappy job many years ago, and while it was sometimes fruitless (and some people are less than kind to a person on their doorstep), I made more money that week doing that than I had at the job I had just left. A lot of people were thrilled that I was there to take their cans and bottles off their hands! I did it until I found another real job, and got to know some of the other folks that did that for a living. Real nice people, very supportive of each other for the most part - as long as you stayed out of their 'territory.'
Do what you can to maintain your friendships and relationships. Poverty is, among many other things, boring, and often very isolating. Stay connected to your people. Live with other people. Go out when you can. Suggest cheap things to do.
#21- Live below your means and try to put whatever you have leftover into savings for a rainy day.
- Meal prep every Sunday for the whole week. I only spend $40-$50 on groceries a week but that's without trying to be cost effective. Could get it down to $30 if I needed.
- Use ebates if you shop online for cash back.
- Do online surveys in your free time. I do some on e-rewards and eventually redeem the points for Southwest points to help pay for trips.
- Use the fetch app. You scan your grocery receipts for points and can redeem them for Visa gift cards, gift cards to certain stores, etc.
- Learn how to say no if someone asks you to do something you know will put you in financial stress.
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#22To all my fellow college kids who use chegg as a life line but can't afford it! Use textsheet.com, copy the URL of the blocked chegg page and paste, answer that you're under 13 on the survey so they can't ask u anything else, and Bam! An unlocked text of the problem solution.
Image credits: Brownie_McBrown_Face
#23* Learn where to shop. Going to the grocery store will not save you money. The Latin markets, the Asian markets, the halal and African markets and Indian markets each have their own specialties.
* Stockpiling is a necessity. Always have basics like flour, sugar, and spices you use. Stock canned goods you use frequently.
* Buy in season and avoid things like Starfruit and Avocados when possible.
* The dollar store is in general, not a good place to save a buck, though there are deals there if you look around.
* Community Garden in the summer, or just garden if you have the land for it. Hunt and fish during the fall and winter. A deep freezer, even if shared with friends, is a must.
* The bread outlet store will save you lots of money.
* The thrift store is an amazing place for dishware, clothes, and electronics, especially cables.
#24The debt snowball. Basically, write down the debts you have and their current balances. Everything like credit cards, cars, student loans, and so on should be on the list. Then, look to see what the smallest amount is. Set all of your other payments to minimum, and pour as much money as you can possibly afford into paying off the smallest debt. Once it is paid off, add that payment amount to the next smallest amount and get that paid off. Continue that until your debts are paid.
In the event that you have debts of similar amounts, choose the debt with the highest interest rate to pay first. Also, do not add more debt. Avoid swiping your credit card like the f*****g plague. Also, if you have multiple credit cards, close all but your oldest account the second you pay the balance off. It may take you years to accomplish, but this is the most effective, tried and true way to eliminate debt.
#25I'm going to drop some things that I've learned over the years. DISCLAIMER: don't hate me. Not everything works for everyone and tbh I don't expect most to be able to keep up with this ridiculously strict "diet."
No eating out.
Don't stop at stores "to grab a drink."
Do not shop while hungry.
Always shop at Goodwill, value village, and other stores like that.
Don't go out to watch movies.
Collect your change.
Save any cash that you get. (Depends on how you get paid.)
No alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, etc
Buy in bulk. Always.
Do free things - like going to parks, going on walks, libraries, hiking, etc. Find creative ways to have fun.
Avoid driving as much as possible.
Use supplies sparingly.
Practice self - control.
If it helps, treat yourself to ONE $5 thing a month. When I was a teenager I worked three days a week and made $175 a MONTH. Every payday I bought one Starbucks drink and that was that, managed to save up to $500 in three months by following my own advice ^
Good luck, everyone!
#26Community. Being poor is difficult especially when you do it alone but if you can get together with other poor people and pool resources you will be able to stretch your budgets further. For example pork chops can be upwards of $6 a pound. But a whole pork loin which is where those chops come from is $3.99 a pound. I've seen pork butt go for as little as $2.50 a pound. Go in together spend just a little bit more and butcher it yourself. Plus you get all the trimmings for soups and for rendering grease.
#27Ask to speak to a social worker at the hospital when giving birth. Ask about the visiting county nurses or another home visiting program. Best thing I did with my kids- we had be a waitlist for a year but now they get free daycare on tuesdays and thursdays through the county. Literally 100% free (if you're poor enough). My home visitor comes and shoots the s**t with me every 2 weeks and brings me free diapers and clothing hamdmedowns from her other clients. Really easy to get connected to if you find the elusive social worker
#28I had a broke friend that would go to the coffee shop and ask to buy a tea bag (15 cents) and get an extra large to go cup of hot water on the side. Lol she paid 15 cents for an extra large tea that normally costs $2-$3. Or she would bring her own tea bag and ask for a free cup of hot water lol. Never met anyone so cheap.
#29Get clothes from the thrift shop, or if you're crafty you can buy plain versions of t-shirts and sweatshirts and some fabric paint and make yourself anything you want from that.
As far as heating-- it's far cheaper to dress for the weather than to turn up the heat so you can wear shorts in December.
There are free apps for streaming TV that don't require cable. Crunchyroll and Drama Fever for Asian TV, Tubi and Crackle for American and some British stuff. You don't get first run movies or sports, but it's free, and generally good.
Learn to think of money as time. Chances are you're paid hourly, so at $12 you're looking at $24 as 2 hours. For me personally, anything above 2 hours of pay is an automatic "24 hour hold" item. Don't care what it is, unless it's a dire need (like you need it today or bad things happen) you go look at it, and then make yourself leave and come back later.
#30* EBT aka Food Stamps are available to people in poverty. Even if you have a job you can be eligible for up to $200 a month in food stamps.
* The cleanest public bathrooms are in hotel lobbies and hospitals. Just act like you know where you're going and dress decent, you'll never be stopped.
* Best place to shop for nice clothing is Goodwill and Hospice stores. Also, Ross and Burlington. Dress cheaply but neat it will help lift you out of poverty by building relationships with people.
* Men, look for work as a laborer. This will get you into the trades, where people are paying $100k a year to swing a hammer. I started as a site cleaner, sweeping up dust. 5 years later I have a General Contractor's License and a Realtor's license.
* Save your money. Stay living poor for as long as possible. As Too Short says, Get in where you fit in/Dont buy a $100k car before you buy a house. I lived off $200 a month for years. I was able to save almost $100k in my first year of business. Because I still live like I'm poor.
#31once or twice a year, your bank will forgive an overdraft, call the main information line. when i was living paycheck to paycheck, this could be a lifesaver.
#32Grow your own garden for food, use layering and jackets instead of heaters, and if you are trying to make money, go ahead and sue any third party company that calls your household without consent after 9:00pm, it's apparantly illegal.
#33Buy the store-version (aka imitation brand) version of things. Cheaper and it works the exact same save for a few exceptions.
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#34Manage every dollar you spend. Know **exactly** where your money is going. You can't reduce spending (and save more) if you don't understand where your money is going.
There are a number of apps out there that help you budget and tell you what you're spending money on (Mint, Truebill, etc).
Once you see the breakdown, you might notice that you're spending more on meals than you should. Or you had that subscription you forgot about that suddenly took $25 out of your account.
Remember, being poor and being constantly broke aren't always the same thing. Sometimes you're just bad with money.
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#35Go to Aldi. Most stuff there (eggs, lettuce, salt) are just as good as other stores and much cheaper.
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#36Learn to Cook! Less money and Better food quality than eating out
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#37Probably not what you're asking for, but if you really want to look at the data, Haskins and Sawhill found there were three things that most determined whether people escaped poverty:
- finishing high school
- waiting until you are 21 to get married and not having kids before that
- managing to hold down a full time job
Of course these three things are not entirely down to choice, but if you focus on them and pull them off, there's only a 2% chance you stay poor.
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#38So, in my area, boneless chicken breasts cost at least $10 for two. A whole chicken costs about $10 or less if it's on sale. I learned from youtube how to "dress" (cut up) a chicken. So now I get two boneless breasts, two boneless thighs, two drummies and two wings for the price of two breasts. Also you use the carcass and the bits of meat attached to it to make soup.
#39Not sure it’s a hack, but never, EVER, let anyone or anything convince you that you’re any less of a human being because of your sh*tty financial situation.
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#40On top of learning to cook, try to buy healthy food. Fresh vegetables usually cost less than frozen pizzas. If you can't afford meat all the time, beans and eggs are great tasty ways to incorporate more protein in your diet.
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#41Get a foaming hand soap dispenser and a giant thing of regular liquid hand soap. Use 1 part liquid hand soap to 5 parts water in foaming hand soap dispenser to dilute liquid hand soap. Boom, foaming hand soap is created and your liquid hand soap now lasts you 5 times as long.
Foaming hand soap refill is nothing but diluted liquid hand soap.
#42Use coupons. I started doing this when I was making 8 bucks an hour, and still do it today... take some time to add coupons to your account for grocery stores that do them online, take some time to clip them from junk mail you get. In the average grocery trip, I still save between 30-40%... you don't have to be an extreme couponer or crazy person to save a lot of money.
#43Find out what times the nearest supermarkets reduce products going out of date, especially if they reduce things twice (usually second time just before closing or very late at night if 24H). Shop at that time or just after.
#44Certified Poor Person: Born into extreme poverty, Now I'm just above the loverty line.
-Save the seasoning packet from Ramen for broth.
-Use emergency candles at night
-Unplug everything when you aren't using it, to save energy.
-Combat boots are year around shoe
-Hit up local food banks
-If your phone gets shut off, go to public places to use the wifi.
-If your electricity gets shut off, keep your blinds open during the day, snd use candles at night. Charge your phone(and computer if you have one) at the library, or bus station.
-Art! Even if its origami with printer paper from the library, art in any form will help you clinge to your sanity, in a world that does not seem to want you.
#45“Ends” at the deli counter. Lots of stores package them, too, but, they’re the “unwanted” ends of loafs of meat and cheese and are sold for a fraction of the cost per pound. They are also SO much cheaper than the prepackaged stuff in the dairy aisle.
#46Living in your car? Tuck an aluminium packet of whatever food you want hot, in a safe place around your engine before a drive. Now, I'm not telling you it's safe, but it can melt some cheese. Also, keep 2 things with you all the time : Apple cider vinegar and baking soda. Both are very cheap, they work as shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, laundry cleaners, deodorizers, food additives and preservatives. The list goes on.
#47Salvation army has emergency funds for people who have a one-time emergency with utility bills. Just put a client in touch with them and she got her water bill paid 2 days before shut-off. Use food banks! That's what they are there for. Your local city or state govt often has small financial assistance programs, and mortgage assistance programs. The requirements are pretty stringent but it's worth checking out. If you think you are going to be struggling more in the future, get on the waitlist for section 8 housing NOW. Contact your local social service non-profit; they will know most of the places in your area to get these kind of services and more. Don't forget most cold-weather places have home heating bill assistance depending on income.
You may have 211 in your area. It's run by United Way and it's just like 411 except for social services. If you need assistance with something, they may be able to help direct you.
I've already made 100$ bucks on [respondent.com](https://respondent.com) and 25$ off of prolific, and I've only been doing them a month. If you are out of work, it's a good way to spend spare time and make a few bucks. Check out all the subreddits on those topics for extra money.
#48One is to go to www.missingmoney.com to see if you are owed money. This is full legit. Essentially, if a company can't find you, they give the money to the state (called escheatment) who holds it in escrow for you to claim. Examples are utility deposits, expired gift cards, insurance proceeds, overpayments on bills, bank accounts you forgot about, you name it. I ran it for my parents and they actually got 25k fro an insurance policy that wan't caught in probate.
#49This website will show you where your local free food pantries are: https://www.foodpantries.org
There's lots of websites like this:
#50Figure out the most expensive line item in your budget and get it as low as you can live with. Most likely it's housing. If your housing is more than you can afford, all the small tweaks you do to save money on groceries or packing a lunch every single day are going to be high-effort and low impact. Draw a circumference around your place of work that puts you within a livable commute and choose the cheapest place you can safely live that isn't a food desert. Get roommates if you have to.
#51Hang out with and be friends with people that aren't poor. They may will know of opportunities in their circle of careers. Ones that pay better than what you are getting now.
#52Take your own lunch to uni/ work.
Get a month ticket for the public transport.
Table always public transport and I mean always.
Don't throw away clothes, put them in a corner where you can't see them. Believe me. After a while you'll like some of them again.
Edit: Sure public transport availability depends where you are. Maybe try ride-sharing
#53When buying something that you expect to last, buy the cheapest version of it that makes sense. If it doesn't break and lasts forever - awesome! If it does break though, go out and buy the best quality one you can. If you broke the cheap one once chances are you'll break the cheap one over and over again so spending a bit more now will save future-you from having to spend more money down the road.
This is especially good advice with tools.
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#54Learn to make your own laundry detergent. It's a fraction of the cost and works just fine.
#55Don't be afraid to research every single support system you can locate... snap, HUD, any help of any kind (whatever it takes.) If on snap save out 25% of your funds for end of month emergencies like running out of bread, produce or milk.
Become absolutely frugal in every thing you purchase. Consider the container for not only the things that come in it - can the container be reused? There is a lot to be said for learning to cook with and using dehydrated products... so learn to cook by scratch. learn to dehydrate and then how to safely store foods.
Every thing you make should leave no left overs - and any left overs should be set aside and used immediately for follow up meals. I've gotten used to next day leftovers for breakfast. (IF making bacon those drippings from the bacon should be saved to be used in other dishes, so take great care with bacon grease, it's like liquid gold. )
Learn to regrow kitchen cast offs.... use the long green stems from green onions for chives and replant the bulb (celery hearts can be replanted, as can lettuce, cabbage, ginger and some herbs) so try your hand at gardening even if only in an indoor pot. If you try to regrow carrots it won't work... you have to let them grow tall stalks until they make seeds and then harvest the seeds for growing in a following season. Bad potatoes should be quartered and replanted if they've developed eyes or roots.
My dogs get a boiled egg every morning (I make boiled eggs in my pressure cooker, nad when opened I save the shells, then bake the shells until fragile, then powder them for the calcium and add the calcium to my dogs nightly wet food as a calcium supplement!)
Set up your pantry for survival for when times are tough... stocking up on staple supplies like rice, beans, flour, corn-meal, canned milk, canned veggies, and other products you normally use (long term stored food for short term emergencies) and when you do go to buy food - make an effort to buy one can of veggies to use and one can to store away (in several months you'll quickly have a supply built up. I do the same with pasta, but it has a short shelf life.)
Learn to forage your area for things like dandelion, edible flowers and greens from coldwater streams for salads, etc. ONe of my neighbors has a tea bush and a kaffir lime tree, plus lemon grass which she allows me to use. I exchange pecans from my tree for equal amounts of walnuts from a friend a few miles away and exchange my tomatoes for other veggies with neighbors who garden.
I had to learn how to make and can home made dog food (much like canning chicken soup - I buy chicken in bulk and making home made dog food using rice, pumpkin and veggies and then after grinding and blending I sterilize it thru canning in 4 oz jars (my dogs are so small they only eat two ounces at a time.) I put a two year limit on the dog food and rotate my stock. This dog food is made of quality 'people food' and actually tastes damn good as a soup and is healthier for them than regular store bought wet dog food [made of questionable rendered meat that is unsafe for human consumption.]
I bought a bread baker on sale at goodwill and make bread every day for pennies per loaf. I hand make the bread in the spring, summer and fall but not in the winter as it's too cold....I use the oven for heating the kitchen when I bake. I usually bake in the morning after I've had coffee... I also make homemade yogurt once a week using 42 oz of whole milk to make seven full servings in 6 oz glass cups. WE freeze the yogurt as treats in the summer and fall and add fruit in season for extra flavor.
My family loves basic vegetarian style meals and we're all looking and feeling better since I we gave up beef, pork, slat, sugar and seafood. [I'd had a stroke, unable to work, and we're now living on my social security retirement which pays 1/4th of my normal income.] Sugar is forbidden in my home (I've got about one pound left from my last original bag bought in 2015.) Giving up fast foods and sugar has been one of the single best changes in our lives.
IF you do go out to eat at a fast food place , take as many condiment packets and napkins as you can reasonably take home with you. Why spend money if you don't have to?
I invested in a bidet to save on TP expense. It's nice to freshen up without touching TP. I keep diluted body soap close by, if needed, plus a regular washcloth and keep a bucket of soapy water with bleach in it next to the toilet to soak the used washcloth.
I also dry my clothing on a line instead of running the household dryer (average cost is 75 cent per load to use.) I keep two extra shower rods over my tub and a rolling clothing butler so I can hang wet clothing to dry indoors (I can't hang anything outside due to HOA requirements.) The humidity is nice in the summer.
We also keep AC at no higher than 78° in summer and heat at 68° in winter (wearing double layers of clothing to stay warm, plus my dogos in sweaters most of day. I've learned to wear fewer clothes in the heat of the summer as have both of my adult sons.) Peak hours for electricity prices are 2-7:00 in most communities so we turn everything in house off (except refrigerator) for one hour, then back on for one hour, then off again back and forth until 7:00 pm. In summer we gather in living room under the fan and watch our DVD player (12" portable one on batteries, charged overnight.) IN summer in afternoon we go out to sit in shade under the tree and listen to the radio or visit with neighbors. On really hot days we go down to the local river to cool off and watch our pups play and swim. My sons also try to fish while we are there (usually not catching anything.)
My two adult sons live with me after my stroke as my primary care givers, but I am able to remain alone for brief periods, so they picked up part time jobs mucking stalls or helping as hired hands with local farmers as needed. Often they take me with them to "stuper-vise" their work, often bringing my two small dogs along to go ratting on the farm (they kill rats quickly but we don't let them eat the rats) and I'll go help the farmers wife as able with kitchen chores or meal making (I can still find my way around the kitchen, and am still a fairly good cook. I only lost partial use of my left arm and leg, but am very slow moving around....but my memory is more or less intact for recipes, babysitting and advice.)
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there as help to others with whatever talents you have even when broke; it will come back to you a thousand fold, I promise. Let others know your financial resources are in bad shape, people honestly do want to help out if able. The best hack is to learn to be capable in everything you do, don't let life's hard knocks keep you down - Do what you can and learn what you don't know. Be self sufficient, Plan for the worst and pray for the best!
#56Eggs and rice. Used to eat it all the time for dinner. Another honorable mention is instead of bringing a lunch keep a box of goldfish in your car. Drink a good amount of water between handfuls of goldfish. A $7 big box of goldfish would last me two weeks of lunches at work. Healthy? Probably not. Economical? Most definitely. Did this when I first started working general labor and had no money to eat good, it got me through the tough time though and occasionally I still use it.
#57If you're eating at a mall food court, ask if there's a discount for working at the mall.
There usually is and they'll usually just apply it without asking follow up questions.
#58If you are hungry and have no food, go to sleep.
Image credits: anon
#59pop an egg into your ramen. Simple, cheap, and improves the taste a lot.
Image credits: Austifox
#60**Source: Am Often Aggressively Broke.**
Being broke is often choosing between spending your health, money and time. You HAVE to give one.
Download Ebates, Honey, Wikibuy, and InvisibleHand addons. I've saved a couple hundred bucks over the years especially with online services.
**Learn. To. Cook.**
Start with boiled broccoli. Or better yet, scrambled eggs. They're cheap and will teach you about heat and how to use butter or oil. Then level up to an omelet. Then chopped up chicken breast. Get discouraged? Learn how to make a grilled cheese. The rest is pretty easy from there. Added benefit of impressing that person who's butt you like.
**Meal Prep the same day you do laundry.**
You're already in an errands mentality. Might as well cook meals for the next couple days.
**If you live in a city, downgrade your unlimited plan.**
There's wifi everywhere now and that extra $20 a month can really help (gas, food, bills)
**Wash your underwear by hand and hang dry.**
If your underpants aren't super fancy, why spend the extra money on that load when you can do it at home for free? No one will see it on you anyway.
*"But my girlfri-"*
NO ONE will see it.
**Buy a good thing once instead of a c**p thing twice.**
Trying to save that $20 bucks is good, but if the difference in price is a couple YEARS of use, make the right choice here.
**Dollar Stores are your friend.**
$1 deodorant, bleach, detergents and soaps. I'm told lady hygienics aren't the best (or safe) here but I can't comment. Plates, utensils, tape, mugs...
They even have food here, like pastas for basic Mac and cheese recipes. Keep in mind though, you're usually trading your health for price here so I wouldn't recommend eating this stuff, buuuut...movie theaters be pricey, fam.
You know that $3 bottle of dandruff shampoo next to the $8 Head and shoulders? Works the same. Same thing for those choco-puffs. Not great for your hair tho..
**Don't buy it cause it's on sale. Buy it cause it's cheap.**
You didn't save $2 on that watermelon sale. You spent an entire $5 on watermelons at the supermarket when they're $2 at the Mexican spot down the way. Unless you're a god at coupon-ing **(takes time),** stay away. Having worked in restaurants, I avoid Marked Down meats at the store unless i'm going to cook it all THAT day. I won't risk a stomach bug now or later and miss a day of work because of it.
**You can exercise away most minor and intermediate pains.**
Blood flow increases through stretching or basic workouts like pushups, running, and dancing which release brain feelz (endorphins). Unless you have a clinical condition, you can usually skip tylenol or motrin after a good 10-15 minute stretching session. And the more you do, it, the more effective it'll be each time. I stretch while I watch TV (perfect for animes) at home and while I brush my teeth. It was distracting at first, but now i feel weird if I don't do it at some point.
**Finally: Wealth doesn't generate from saving. Spend your money on things that will make you money.**
Do this responsibly and only when all of your other basic needs are met, including emergency funds. I knew kids in school who used to buy the big bags of candy a few days AFTER halloween and sell the bite sizes to us sugar withdrawn addicts a few days later. Buy a cheap car and do Uber (major city only). Buy clothes bulk and flip it. Sell stickers. Whatever.
Make your money make money. That's what its for.
Good luck broke folks. It'll get better if you're smart about it.
Get the combination, you get the most pizza by weight for the money You are spending. If you get them on sale they are about $1 a pop. you only need to eat 2 a day and then a snack to get the calories you need for the day; That's about $60 a month just for the pizza. You get 24g out of the 30g of protein it recommends for the day and you are well within the daily values for fats, carbs, and sugar. When you add up the Totino's($60.83/mo), the multivitamin($2.65/mo) and your snack(peanut butter w/ banana ~$7.00) you can live well under $80 a month for food.
#62Little late to the party and this comment will probably get buried but your local Sikh temple will feed you hot food any day of the week. No conversion or preaching. In fact, no questions will be asked. Just make sure that you don’t drink or smoke before going in. Also, they will do this indefinitely. Some will also let you take food home if you ask them nicely. Sikhs have been feeding the hungry and homeless for 500 years and it seems that service is needed more than ever today. There is no reason anyone should ever go hungry. That is one of the core beliefs of Sikhism. It’s actually a pretty cool philosophy!
#63Try not to fall for payday loans, auto title loans, or a majority of rent-to-own deals (a few rto agreements are legit usually involving two familiar private parties) . These are just a few businesses that are out there to seriously screw up a poor person's already challenging life. A few more are companies that pose as debt counselors, unsolicited student loan forgiveness programs, for-profit colleges and multi-level marketing schemes. If you're truly interested in making more money, go talk with a local union about a trade apprenticeship, or an advisor at your local public community college or university. I learned this the hard way in my late teens. It took a very long time to dig myself out.
#64Bake your own bread, if you have access to oven. You’ll get bread, you’ll get heating of your apartment extra.
It’s easy, loaf lasts a long time and the cost is nothing compared to same quality bread bought in a store (bet it’s even cheaper or maaaybe similar to the cheapest bread, but the quality you’ll get... that’s a 5$/loaf stuff we are talking about.)
PM me for recipes, as I bake my own bread, and I can do $ math as well for you (for math will need to sit down in front of the Excel and I’m on my phone now plus I’d need to know energy consumption of your oven and such).
#65Apply for free grants or student loans and study a useful major. My life was from ‘I was depressed and couldn’t afford to buy a bottle of water’ to ‘I make 10k dollars worth of salary a month and I am relatively happy’.
#66If you’re poor, DO NOT GO INTO CONSUMER OR STUDENT LOAN DEBT.
$25,000 in debt (say $7000 on a credit card and $18000 in student loans) will literally set you back a decade in your financial life. Avoid debt like it will literally kill you, because it will.
#67Might sound like common sense or not quite a life hack, but a clean house improves mood significantly. Seen alot of less well off friends or coworkers with absolutely trashed houses, and they're always sour and irritable, leading to less productivity at work and less chance to move up to better wages. Just tidy up, organize and your mood will improve dramatically and help in the long run.
If there's a heron foods nearby (there should be) they'll do a freezer with "meats" in, and part of it will have a saver bit. You can get f*cktons of boss stuff for about two quid a pop. I'm convinced it's stuff chippies use or even maccies use. If I'm proper skint I can survive off this for two weeks on a tenner.
#69Buying item on sale =/ money
#70Shop out of your neighborhood if you can, the Poor Tax is a real thing. If you have an Aldi in your neighborhood, disregard this advice for groceries.
#71Take whatever income you make and put 10% into a savings account and forget about it.
I've done this since the summer and as a student currently in exam period, I feel a lot more comfortable taking extra time off work to study knowing I have that extra cushion in my savings account to help with my bills/groceries.
If you're not a student, having that extra money can really help during an unexpected emergency.
#72Quit smoking if you do. If you don’t then keep up the good work!
#73Don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, or play the lottery. Cook at home. Pack lunches. Get Obamacare. Read. Get educated. Work hard. Exercise.
#74Eat vegetables, super cheap make them good with seasonings and real olive oil. Cut milk consumption. Put that window treatment that you shrink wrap with the hair dryer on the windows, it works wonders in saving on heating bills. Keep the heat on a lower temp. Avoid ac and heat at all costs. I don't like to turn my heat on till it's in the forties. Get a sweater. AC on only to sleep, use fans. Get some of that real thin insulation that is blue on one side and reflective on the other. You can cut it to the size of windows (or leave some space on the sides to lessen heat gain in summer and insulate in winter. The light still comes through and they glow this nice blue. Turns lights off. Meal prep. I could probably think of more.
#75Making a budget and sticking to it has helped me a lot. Takes work and dedication but definitely worth it
#76Use a tracker for spending that groups into categories, one category or several need to show you what money you spent that wasn't needed at all or was more costly than needed. It's basically all the advice on here as one thing,
#77Credit if used correctly. If you view it as extra money you've already lost. Instead make all your small purchases ($100 or less) with the credit card and pay it back inmediately. Do that and no interest accrues so all your expenses stay the same plus you build good credit to make it easier to buy a home or a car at an affordable interest rate or rent somewhere or even get a better paying job.
#78If you have a disability, use discounts places have for people with it and buy discounted bus passes. The transportation system here gives out $28 dollar passes to those with disabilities, senior citizens and veterans.
Use food drives whenever they are offered.
Sign up for any food drives that give you free food for the holidays, sign up for backpack buddies.
Limit how much you eat a day and cut your portions.
Sign up for affordable housing
Sign up for any program that helps you save money if you qualify.
If you plan to go back to school, sign up for any "free" grants.
Cut back on smoking alcohol, drugs, etc.
Cancel out luxury foods like pop and juice and desserts and snacks.
Shop at any thrift stores or Goodwill and go to Ross or TJ Maxx for Christmas or any birthday shopping.
Bundle up in your house to save on heating bill. Sleep under layer of blankets too.
Don't go to moves, instead rent at redbox.
Have Kindle Unlimited to read all the Kindle unlimited books you want.
Go check out books in the library.
Go join Google Survey Rewards and earn some cents every time you take a survey and watch all that money add up. Then go buy a book or a game or something on your phone.
Join Gamefly and play all those video games than buying a new game every time it releases.
Go to places to keep cool and also have fans instead of using AC. Also dress lightly or just go around in your boxers or just sports bra and shorts in your home.
Drink tap water than buying it.
Find any free events to go to and have fun
Shop in clearance.
Go buy games used.
Join Bookmooch and give your books away on there and also mooch books you want.
Go to a bookstore and just read and come back every day to finish reading that book instead of buying it.
If you have talent, open a Patreon account, sell your work.
Open a Onlyfans account and do stuff on there you know people want to see.
Make your own porn videos and sell them.
#79Practice safe sex.
#80Keep on keepin on.
No one ever thought Joe Dirt was a philosophic masterpiece, but that is one of the most profound pieces of advice I have heard.
Context: about the time the movie came out I was finishing college. Graduated and moved home. Shortly thereafter my parents split and began a divorce. At the same time my 20 year old brother split and began divorcing, moving in with my dad and I. Thru the suicide attempts, my deployment overseas, medical issues with my body, we kept telling each other keep on keepin on.
After departing from the military, I worked [hard] then forced myself thru grad school during a significant [passing away] in my new wife's family.
I could keep rambling, but I kept on keepin on thru family [passed away people], jail, foreclosures, etc. In the next two to five years I will now have all debt paid other than student loans and will crest $100,000.
Keep on keepin on.