365 Ways to Live Cheap

Take on Leadership Positions (289/365)

When I was in college, I was heavily involved with a community computer group that had some college students as members and often used the college’s facilities for meetings and other events. When I first joined the group, it was mostly related to my professional interests at the time. I knew several people already in …

Join a Book Club (288/365)

On the first or second Tuesday of each month, Sarah gets together with several women for a book club meeting. Each month, they select a book together, read it, then come together the following month to share their thoughts on it. Over time, the book club has really turned into much more than that. It’s …

Join a Volunteer Organization (287/365)

I spend quite a bit of my time volunteering. I serve on the board of a charitable organization. As I mentioned yesterday, I coach youth soccer. I collect aluminum cans and bottles for our local area’s annual civic festival. All of these things have a few factors in common. First, they’re all free. I don’t …

Get Involved In Youth Activities (286/365)

A few years ago, when my oldest child was three years old, we enrolled him in our community’s youth soccer league, which actually has a “four and under” bracket. What I couldn’t help but notice when he was playing is that there weren’t enough playing slots available. On a typical team, there would be four …

Attend Community Events and Actively Participate (285/365)

In our town, there’s a community festival each summer. Each year, we make a special effort to attend. There’s also a “citywide yard sale,” during which we either run our own yard sale or make a point to visit lots of yard sales on our block. As our children grow older, we’re attending more and …

Join a Community Organization (284/365)

After discussing relationships the last few weeks in this series, we’re going to shift gears and look at ways to spend your free time without spending money – often in ways with a secondary benefit as well. Almost every town or city you visit has quite a few social organizations of various kinds. In our …

Make Sure You’re on the Same Page When It Comes to Children (283/365)

During the first couple years of our marriage, Sarah and I talked over and over about the idea of having children. We were both certain that we wanted children, but the question became whether it was a real dream or a nebulous dream for the future. Did we really want children right now? Is having …

Show Your Love Frequently Instead of Something Big Once in a While (282/365)

It’s easy to fall back on the big moments to show your partner that you care. You spring for a big gift on your anniversary. You buy flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day. You help the kids create something special on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. The rest of the time, though, can easily be …

Encourage Your Partner’s Frugality (281/365)

Whenever Sarah makes a financially smart choice, particularly one that involves her doing something outside of her usual comfort zone, I usually make an effort to compliment her on it. She does the same for me. When we’re choosing activities together, we often point out things that are free and use the low cost of …

Have Regular Talks About Your Financial Situation (280/365)

There’s an interesting phenomenon that happens in a marriage. After a while, you become so accustomed to the person you’re with that you often think you completely know what their desires and goals are and where they want to be heading in the future. That kind of complacency can be comforting. You can feel as …

Be Completely Honest with Your Partner About Money Issues (279/365)

Sometimes, I give in to temptation and spend money in a nonsensical fashion. I buy something I really shouldn’t buy. It’s out of the ordinary for me, but it’s still something that I do every once in a while. Several years ago, I probably would not have told Sarah about it. I would have found …

Realize Money Doesn’t Heal a Marital Problem (278/365)

Money is often a major conflict in marital situations. Lots of little unexpected events and some bad spending choices can quickly add up to a pretty poor financial picture and that can poison a marriage. Many people respond to this situation by thinking that they can fix everything by earning some more money. They add …

Give Your Marriage the Care and Feeding It Needs (277/365)

When you’ve been married for a number of years, the “new” feeling begins to wear off. You begin to get incredibly comfortable in the relationship and often begin to see your partner as just a completely natural part of your life. At that level of complacency, it’s easy to forget about the effort that it …

Don’t Get Married If You’re Still Having Doubts (276/365)

Sarah and I dated for more than six years. During that time, we had our ups and downs as any couple does, but we knew, especially near the end, that we were heading for marriage. We were engaged for the last year of that period. One of the things that we did is receive some …

Plan a Romantic Honeymoon, Not an Expensive One (275/365)

Sarah and I went to London for our honeymoon. It was cripplingly expensive, and we were still dealing with the debt four years later. It was a wonderful trip, though. We have wonderful memories and a photo album full of great pictures. The thing is, almost every memory I have from that trip focuses on …

Plan a Wedding Centered Around Loved Ones, Not Stuff (274/365)

I can’t think of a better way to talk about this tactic than to talk about my own wedding. Every single good memory I have of my wedding involves people. The center of it all, of course, is Sarah. There were so many little things with her and about her that I cherish from that …

Get on the Same Page Financially (273/365)

Get on the Same Page Financially (273/365) Yesterday, we discussed how valuable it is to start off with financial equality in your relationship. There should be one pool of money and an understanding that debts affect both partners in the relationship. Without the trust that is required for this, a relationship will have a hard …

Build a Financially Equal Relationship from the Start (272/365)

When people get married or become fully committed enough to combine their finances, they often take the right step by merging their financial situations together. What they miss out on, though, is establishing true financial equality within the relationship. There is still a sense of “mine” and “yours.” You have “your” debts, I have “my” …

Find Areas of Mutual Interest That Don’t Involve Spending Money (271/365)

In the evenings, you’ll often find Sarah and I at the kitchen table playing a board game or a card game. The games we play are usually ones we’ve received as gifts in the past, and they require no additional expense to play – not even a drop of electricity. Sometimes, you’ll find us reading …