How to live cheaper in 2014... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't think the jobs situation is going to get any better for at least five more years. Yeah, I know a depressing thought for most, but look at Europe, post 2008, work opportunities have crashed. When I was in Iceland in 2012, they were recovering their economy but citizens were hustling, doing lots of entrepreneurial work for cash.
In my humble opinion, the age of the eight-hour-full-time-job-with-benefits has passed. Folks are going to have to make due with a series of cobbled together part time jobs to generate an income. Creativity is going to be key to developing a marketable niche, as well as designing a lifestyle that is smarter and cost efficient, rather than spartan. The whole "living within your means" is going to become the mantra of the successful participants in this new economy. Let's face it, Americans need to cut down on stuff. We live in a consumer driven economy and until we rein in spending on luxury items, those beyond basic food, shelter, clothing and transportation, we are not going to get ahead. I know everyone's budget is different, but I think we will all be "making do" for a significant amount of time in this coming year, erasing debt not creating it and saving is key.
So now I will segue into a bit of personal history.... I have always been a saver, obsessed with maintaining a financial safety net no matter how small. Most folks fall into one of the two obvious camps, saver or spender. Of course even savers have moments when they spend, with sweaty palms & heart pounding, an example is my impulsive trip to Iceland (which I am still working to pay off). In my experience though, spenders spend with much less anxiety, assuming the expenses will all work out and consider saving sort of boring. So spenders have more work to do in this area than savers, but let's face it we can all be smarter about how we use our money. As a disclaimer, I am not a financial advisor, go to a professional if you need to, but I've got a few hard learned life lessons to share.
Let's start with a reading list. These are a few books I have found helpful & enlightening:
1.) Your Money or Your Life: 9 steps to transforming your relationship with money... by Vicki Robin
2.) Affluenza: The all-consuming epidemic by John De Graff, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor
3.) Simple Prosperity-Finding real wealth in a sustainable lifesyle by David Wann
4.) The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard http://storyofstuff.org/ scroll down through the donate ad to see the video and the original "stuff" videos. (Certainly donate to this worthy organization if you are inspired).
All of these reads are at your local public library and possibly downloadable online. Chose one, even a chapter or two that interests you. Take it slow and think about some of the concepts, you don't need to adopt them all, try just one easy idea. Small changes involving your financial habits are easier to maintain; I stopped driving past TJ Maxx on payday and saved $40 a week! I'm planning to do a few posts on this theme. So hang in there & get reading.