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Living within your means: some tips

Living on a tight budget can be hard and disheartening with the presence of endless spending opportunities in a consumer-based society. Although for many people there is not much that they can do about changing their financial situation, they can take actual steps toward changing their perception of their financial status and be smart in making their limited income bring them better living standards.

This is not a call on placing more value on what’s actually valuable in life because how people perceive material possessions is certainly relative to their entire set of values.

However, what they can do is to make the best out of what they have got. It all starts with a change of mindset, some research and finding joy and pride in less consumer-like, branded items.

Here are a few ideas that can make you live a better life within your means.

Studies show that income and health issues can be correlated, but this doesn’t have to be always the case. Although access to a lot of quality foods may be costly, there are many ways that you actually can live a healthier lifestyle without breaking the bank. For example, compare the costs of a family of three eating one meal at a fast-food restaurant to buying a protein-loaded item (beef or chicken for example) and some vegetables. Obviously, the latter offers a more nutritious option at a much lower cost. This is just one example of how planning ahead and shopping wisely can save you a bundle while you enjoy a better health and life.

Similar to cooking your own meals, try to learn a craft that helps you get some of your needs at a lower costs. Are you stressed about not affording to buy new clothes? Now may be the time to learn how to sew. Take a class and get involved in learning a new skill that pays off on the long term.

Does your house need a makeover? Save on labor and get to work. Many people who have been tuned to shopping for every product and service may be missing on how much they can achieve themselves if they willing to – and at a much lower cost. The savings can make a serious difference in your lifestyle while you take pride in your own work.

Ebay.com or craigslist.com are good examples in the United States for places where you can find deals on used – or even new – items at a fraction of their original prices. Being diligent in following similar sources in your locality can pay off handsomely.

Many people sell their items for no reason other than the fact that they are no longer in vogue or because of space, travel, etc. Grabbing a bargain online can be a double win for you: first you can pat yourself on the back for your hard work in tracking it down. Second, you will be able to enjoy that item that you may never have afforded as new in full price.

Find your budget black holes and fix them. If you’re desperate to improve your living standards, you should be willing to go through a thorough review of your spending and figure out where you can cut corners. What initially may appear and an unproductive process may yield several hundred dollars extra every month. With this additional money and sound planning, you immediately will be able to make an improvement in your life.

Keep your time and mind occupied by a hobby, work or anything else that is enjoyable and fulfilling. The busier you’re, the less likely you’ll be hanging out in malls or browsing online for unneeded purchases. The trick, however, is to find a hobby that ties well to your interest and keeps you motivated and engaged. Combine this hobby with your typical work schedule and you even may find it hard to get the time to make it to the mall or turn on your computer except for the necessities.

Rania Oteify is a former Gulf News Business Features Editor.

Live better on less

– Shop with health and quality in mind

– Make what you can’t buy

– Cut corners where you can

– Shift your focus away from spending activities