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How to Live on a Budget

If you are not used to living within a budget, it’s very easy to spend beyond your means. After creating a budget, you may have had to sacrifice certain luxuries such as designer clothing or expensive dining for your financial goals. Living on a budget helps you have an enriched life later on, but for now, you can still live a fulfilled life. Here are some inexpensive ways to still be entertained day-to-day while living efficiently with your budget.

Buying Good Food in Bulk

Budgeting does not mean you can only eat rice and beans everyday. You can still buy delicious, cost-efficient food by buying in bulk. Even expensive grocery stores like Whole Foods have affordable bulk offerings of produce and pantry items. When a particular vegetable or fruit is in season, that is when prices are the lowest. It is very possibly for you to enjoy the ripest fruits and vegetables when they are at their lowest price.

It might also be worthwhile to open a membership at a warehouse-style market like Costco—their affordable offerings of healthy organic meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy are comparable in quality to most markets. If you have family members, friends, or roommates that also want to shop at Costco, purchase a membership together and shop together. You will cut the membership price in half, and they may even help you avoid an impulsive purchase.

Shopping for Lightly Used Goods

American thrift or second-hand stores carry clothing, electronics, books, and houseware that may be in surprisingly good condition. Depending on the store, you might even find items that are in-style. Even lightly used items can be found at less than 50% of the retail price. For online retail, visit Amazon or eBay to find your wishlist goods at a cheaper price.

Saving Money for Transportation

Having a car is expensive. Not only do you have to make an initial purchase, you will also have to buy gas, insurance, and maybe a parking permit if you live in an urban area. Buses, bicycles, and walking are consistently cheaper than filling a car with gas. You might also be able to effectively get around using a ridesharing service like taxis or Uber. With a little bit of planning, you can also take public forms of transportation such as a train, bus, or a metro system.

If you want to go on a trip, sharing an Airbnb or hotel room with a group of friends is much cheaper than taking on the cost yourself. Look at your budget to understand exactly how much you have to spend. As for flying, plan to purchase your ticket months in advance of the actual flight. The closer you purchase tickets to your departure date, the more expensive your flight will be.

Using Coupons and Student Discounts

If you do not use coupons already, you should. Many of your favorite stores such as Target or Amazon will email you when a promotion is coming up or mail you a free magazine. Many stores even have an app with special discounts just for purchases in the app. Wherever you are shopping online, make a quick search for any coupons or promotions available.

In addition to using coupons, your status as a current student will qualify you for student discounts. Numerous movie theaters, restaurants, bookstores, and museums offer student discounts of up to 25% with the presentation of a student ID. Carry your student ID wherever you go and do not be afraid to ask for the discount even if it’s not displayed.

Free and Low-Cost Entertainment

Wherever you are living, public parks, gardens, and national and state parks were designed for you to enjoy for free or at a very low cost. A $10 Netflix subscription can provide tons of hours of entertainment, but take a break from the screen by visiting the beautiful redwood forest. Signing up for a library card at your local library can give you access to thousands of books. Your university also allows free book rentals.


Being on a budget should not restrict you too much from living the life you want. There are tons of practical ways to save money. Saving additional money will allow you to reach your financial goals even faster. These money saving methods will let you live the lifestyle you want in a cost efficient way.

In the next lesson, learn more about Effective Ways to Save In College.


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