If you are trying to become more self-reliant the most important thing you can do is to become self-reliant financially. This will give you the freedom to do other things. Honestly, it is the most difficult thing to do as well. Honestly, it involves sacrifice. Living on less involves paying down debt, and to quote Dave Ramsey, you need to live like no one else, so you can live like no one else. My first step in becoming more self-reliant has been to eliminate debt from my life. This process took a couple of years. When I started, I had more bills than I had income. I was falling into debt each and every month.
How did I stop this cycle?
1. Eliminated extra expense each month. For me, this was Starbucks, I learned to make some of my favorites at home. I stopped magazine subscriptions, I stopped anything that I had to pay monthly on, this meant gym memberships, monthly heath and beauty products from the Home Shopping Club.
2. Commit to bringing lunch to work more times a week than you go out. For me this was a struggle, I worked in high pressure finance and my office didn’t have a place where I could go eat undisturbed. So I started with bringing my lunch 3 times a week. I also committed to eating breakfast at home. This was a continual leak in my budget, dining out around work.
3. Limit eating out. You know, I love to eat out. This was reeled back into once a week. I prepared food at home. I used Sundays to make things like chilis, stews, and the like so I could eat on them all week-long.
4. Review utilities, I live in Texas, so I can shop my electric rates. I reviewed these carefully, and looked where I could save. I bundled long distance and internet, this helped me to save too. I also purchased some fans so I could cut back on the AC.
5. Pay down debt. From Dave Ramsey, I used his methodology of paying down my smallest debt first, and then worked on larger amounts. This was helpful. I stopped using credit cards because of this. Look at the interest rates, if that doesn’t make you mad, I don’t know what will.
6. Put some emergency money aside. Start with 500, then work up to more. You need to have money put aside for a flat tire, an emergency trip to the doctor and more. If you have this cushion it is what I consider to be trouble insurance. If you have this, trouble can be kept at bay.
Once you get in a cycle of doing this, you will begin to have money at the end of the month, and this will start a new cycle that will become intoxicating. These are just a few tips that I have to help you live on less. The message that we receive from our society, we don’t need to have everything. We can live on less. I drive an older car, and I live in a paid for house. My house and car aren’t as nice as my peers, but I know that I don’t owe anything and that my friend, is a beautiful feeling.