Underemployment and Lifestyle Changes

Updated on March 23, 2012
R.H. asks from Fayetteville, AR
11 answers

What did you or have you given up when finances were/are low? I have given up cable, going to hairdresser, renting dvds (I borrow them from the library), picking up the tab with friends, and eating out as frequently. I should be better on my feet by next school year when I get a fulltime contract--but I will not pick any of those five things back up again. They are not worth the money.

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answers from Appleton on

I have always lived a frugal life. I pack my own lunch, have never gotten my nails done, no car payment, buy all of my clothes and shoes on clearance ect. If you make skillet suppers and put the extra into micro-wavable containers and eat those for lunch you will save a lot of money in a years time. I drive my car until it dies, then buy a good used car and pay for it. Also buy a few extras on clearance and if someone gets married or has a baby I can give them a nice gift. I make my coffee at home and take a thermos when I go on road trips and for work, unless they have free coffee.

Even when I worked as a on the road sales person. I took food with me and made my lunches, most hotels have a refrig, micro wave amd coffee pot in the room. I always took my own coffee pot so I could make a large pot of coffee and fill my thermos. I even got a small electric fry pan and made my dinner in my room.

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answers from New York on

Believe me I understand that sometime in life you have to cut back but what happens to me is usually I explode and have to spend. I don't spend on frivilous things or lavous lifestyle choices but I just can't keep cutting back without any rewards. So instead of increasing cutting back when times get tight. I begin to wrap my mind around ways to earn additional money.

I implement those ideas and watch the cash flow in even if it is a seasonal venture. I love thinking of ways to increase my income. Then I don't need to cut back and have already developed a saving mindset while not scrimping on the things in life that are nice but not truly necessary.

Does this make any sense? It is what I do. I think my time limit for scrimping and saving and cutting back is a maximum of three years. Then I just explode and it's not pretty.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I don't eat what I desire. I eat what is on sale. And I pay attention to how much it is per serving. I wouldn't buy ribeyes even if they were on sale. I don't buy boneless skinless chicken breasts. I buy the bone in and skin on chicken breasts and cut the bones out and skin them myself. Then I put the bones and skin in a pot and make chicken soup. I give the skin to the dog and pick the meat off the bones and put it back in the soup.

I buy fresh fruits and vegetables and shop at more than one market.
I don't buy at Costco and Sams as they are much much more expensive on meat, seafood, and vegetables that regular groceries when those items are on sale.

I take sale ads to Walmart and they match the ads so it saves on gas.
I cancelled all my magazine subscriptions.
I buy sale items in advance. Example: corned beef was on sale last week. I bought 4 point cut corned beef briskets and will use them throughout the year when cabbage is on sale.
I have a garden.
I buy gas at the cheapest gas station and don't care about the brand.
I air my tires up to their max rated pressure.
I look for sales when I need to get my oil changed. And then just say no to all the extras they want to sell me there.
We only eat out once per month and then only if I get a coupon in the mail. (We had hamburgers, french fries, and a milkshake for two and spent less than $4 for two of us.)
I don't buy ice cream or sodas. We fill water bottles half full at the kitchen sink, put them in the freezer, then fill them the rest of the way in the morning so we can have ice water in our brown bag lunches at work.

We have only energy saving light bulbs in our house and put them outside where we had 300 watt flood lamps. Now we have 100 watts of light and only burn 23 wats of electricity where we used to burn 300 watts of electricity. We cut our electricty bill by over half by adding more insulation and double pane windows.

We traded our electric cook top and double electric electric oven for gas cook top and a double gas oven and added a high efficiency dishwasher. It added about $10 per month to our gas bill and cut our electricity bill by about $20 per month. We NEVER use the "heated dry" option on our dishwasher.

Hope this helps. Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Washington DC on


There are a lot of things you can do to cut back..

Buying the at home dry cleaning packets at the grocery store instead of spending money to have someone else do it.

Use coupons. use the sales fliers for your local grocery stores and plan your meals off the coupons and the sales.

You already stopped eating out - that's a HUGE cut back for some people. I know for us it was about $500 a month as every Saturday we would go to the same restaurant and had for 10 years.

Planning your errands to cut back on gas usage. make sure that your errands are done in order so that you aren't zig-zagging back and forth across town. IF you can take public transportation - do.

Borrow books from the library, not just DVDs. You can use Redbox - it's $1. a night. Which isn't bad.

Make things from scratch instead of buying processed foods.
Grow a garden to help cut your fruit and veggies costs.

Call your gas, electric and water companies - see if there is a flat rate plan you can get on - yes, this means that there is a possibility of owing money at the end of the year - but it might save you money in the long run.

Call your cell phone and cable company (for internet access - if you have given it up - where do you get your internet access?) and see if you can lower your monthly package by bundling.

Set your thermostat higher (76 or 78) instead of 72 or lower. Run fans to help circulate the air.

Is this the information you are looking for?

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answers from Las Vegas on

I stopped the following ALL coffee out (did that years ago and put what money I would have spent on Coffee towards my house payment)

Stopped expensive haircuts.. ( I now get one for 12 bucks and get more compliments for it than I ever did for the more expensive cut)

I purchase hair dye from the internet at a cheaper price and dye my own hair..
I no longer buy designer clothes ..
I don't get pedicures, I do my own nails..
I buy seasonal produce as oppose to out of season ..

Although we do have emergency bottled water.. all of my family has their own water bottle and we use filtered water from our tap....

I stopped attending individualized yoga/aerobic studios and while we do have a gym membership for the family, the more classes we attend the cheaper it is.. anywhere from 3 to 7 dollars per class.. as oppose to 18 for a yoga class (whew) too much................. even if you had the money..

Sounds like you are doing with well the changes you made.. I wish you all the best..

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answers from Minneapolis on

Clothes buying has been kept to a minimum for me and since I'm working PT, I don't need nearly as many professional clothes. My daughter, so far, is fine with inexpensive clothes.

I used to buy lunch out when I worked, now I make a pot of soup for the week, or make sandwiches or omelets, things like that (healthier anyway). I've gotten pretty good at only buying food that we'll actually eat, no extras, and freezing things in small portions so it doesn't go bad.

No more JFF hair dying or highlighting (so lucky I don't have any grey yet).

No cable, but that's because I HATE TV. We do stream from Netflix/Amazon so my daughter's not deprived.

I've been lucky in cutting back on expenses, I've needed to be frugal but not to an extreme. I make enough working PT, student loans, child support, and my own savings, that it has not been TOO painful to live this way while I complete my degree. I am within a year now of completing and look forward to finding work that pays better and enjoying a higher income again (and building my "retirement" fund).

I agree that once these changes feel normal, some of them will stay, just because they are not needs.

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answers from Chicago on

starbucks and hairdresser. those are always the first to go followed by food out. I dropped the picking up the tab a long time ago for anyone who did not reciprocate when they were able. (that doesn't count people who are just not able) but those who make as much or more than I do who always say thanks but never offer to do it back. we do the redbox video sometimes but very seldom rent movies. the other major thing we dropped was new cars as often as we used to. my car is now almost 8 years old. no plans to trade it in anytime soon. hoping it will last til youngest son is out of school.



answers from Bellingham on

Takeaway coffee, bought lunches, cable, expensive wine, brand name groceries, expensive shampoo and conditioner, eyebrow waxes, vacations, expensive cuts of meat, out of season fruit and vegetables, Christmas decorations, gifts (gave much less expensive ones), school fees (went and spoke to the school about lowering the fees), credit card use, electricity.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think groceries are O. area that can ALWAYS be cut back.
Cook from scratch, avoid the processed, prepared junk and eat low on the food chain.



answers from Los Angeles on

I gave up:
going out to dinner
getting my hair colored (I go once a year to a friend so you can imagine)
buying books (check out from library now)
buying clothes (I buy the cheapest t-shirt I can find when I need a few)
getting nails done
went w/the basic, cheapest cable
going out with friends
buying magazine subscriptions (except when I find them on sale for $5/yr)
buying mochas @ Starbucks


answers from Philadelphia on

eating out, taking my daughter places is the hardest, fun snack foods, more expensive homemade dinners (steak...) , gettting my daughter an outfit every once in a while, driving longer distances to see famiy=( oh how i wish i had enough to not be stressed all of the time...i havent had cable or a tv bill in years

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