(photo by White Rainbow)
Life on the cheap doesn’t have to be a life of misery! You don’t have to live in squalor on a diet of instant noodles and sit around watching T.V all day, bored out of your mind. It can be so much better than that. It's actually fun when you get into it!
Getting excited about being poor might seem like a silly idea when you've lost your job/can't find a job, have a family to feed, are in debt up to your eyeballs or just can't keep up the lifestyle you want. I totally get that. Having no money can make you feel miserable. The life you are used to might have involved spending money multiple times a day on things you needed and a whole load of things you probably didn't need but they bought you some joy anyway. It is hard to have that taken away from you if you've been "hit by the recession" and are suddenly having to cut back so much you don't recognise your life anymore.
Then there's the cloud hanging over you, the feeling of dread when you hear the post come through the door...it's hard to shake off.
But what else are you going to do? Sit around moping, dreaming of the day you'll have money again? Well, yeah...you can do that for a bit. It's only natural!
But eventually you need to accept that you're going to have to change the way you live until things pick up again. You might as well make the most of it and do it well!
Top tips for staying happy:
1) Fulfil your basic human needs.
- Drink loads of water to stay hydrated and keep you're skin glowing
- Eat as much vegetables, fruit and fish as you can afford and snack on nuts and seeds
- Exercise to pump happy endorphins around your body, get a gorgeous figure and give you energy and confidence
- Get outside for plenty of sunlight and fresh air
- Socialise! Humans are social creatures. Spending time interacting with your favourite people makes you feel like a valued person.
I think it's really important to look after yourself during tough times. If you get your body and mind functioning at their best, you'll be able to deal with whatever life throws at you. If you're unhealthy you're more likely to feel stressed, get ill and not have the energy to be productive or creative - which you really need to be in this situation.
If you look your best (clear skin, shiny hair, healthy smile, toned figure, etc.) you'll have confidence in yourself - you're going to be needing that too! Plus you'll spend less on make-up and other cosmetics and you'll look great in pretty much anything you wear, making those thrift store clothes a lot easier to work with.
2) Realise that creativity makes life cost less!
Life on the cheap is a challenge but it won't kill you. Rise to that challenge and enjoy the creativity that it brings out of you. Learn to make, mend and alter clothes, search out a bargain, grow vegetables, come up with cheap-but-yummy recipes and meal ideas, have fun doing free and almost-free things with your favourite people, learn to enjoy your own company, find interesting ways to make money, decorate your house thrifty style.....live a creative life!
3) Shun consumerism.
There is some good coming out of the recession: People are cutting down on crap they don’t need, using resources more wisely and becoming more self-sufficient. I’m seeing it all over the place. And they’re not only doing this out of necessity - they’re realising that we’ve been almost brainwashed into thinking “we need all this stuff and we need it now” for years. Everywhere you turn, on billboards, on T.V, in magazines and newspapers, on bus stops and on the sides of buses, inside buses and on the back of your bus ticket(!)…you are being persuaded to buy things and use services you didn’t even know you needed! But now people are catching on and I love it.
It’s empowering! You can walk past advertising feeling all smug because you know what it’s trying to do but you’re not going to fall for it. You see beautiful things for sale and instead of automatically trying to make them yours, or feeling sad because you know they’ll never be yours, you enjoy looking at them and move on. They’re still in the world, no big deal! (You might even be able to make something similar yourself depending on what it is. You can always take a photo if you love it that much!)
"Stuff" is fun - but in the big scheme of things, it's not important. On you're death bed you're not going to be laying there wishing you'd bought those gorgeous platform ankle boots.
Focus on things that are way more fulfilling, like relationships, experiences, laughter and love!
4) Use downtime to sort your life out.
If you're out of work, use all that extra free time (between job searching) wisely:
- Contact all the companies/creditors you owe money to and be honest about your situation. Work with them to come up with a plan to get you out of this mess!
- Find out (Google!) what help you can get - benefits, grants, interest free loans, etc.
- Make a budget to tightly control what little money you do have.
- Organise your home - make it look pretty, thrifty style, so you have surroundings that make you happy and relaxed - sell stuff you don't need anymore - chuck out all the crap and vow not to let it build up again.
- Visit all the people you've been feeling guilty about not having time for.
- Figure out what you want from life: journal, research, make an inspiration board, write lists of things that make you happy, come up with an action plan to get you to the life you really want!
5) Don't do these things:
- Eat cheap crap all the time.
- Get into day-time T.V.
- Spend hours and hours online.
- Withdraw from society.
- Get into any more debt.
- Sleep in every day.
Hope this helps someone out there! :)