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Making Do With What You Have

By May 26, 2020 Odulting
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Times are tough. From rising prices to new viruses, we have to roll with the punches every day of the week. Ōdults are tough too, though. They are survivors.

Whether you’re an Ōdult coming back to the blog to get some new pointers or you are a first time visitor, don’t worry: We will help you get ready to get through these tough times. If you are struggling to make your money stretch through the whole month, we have a few tips to help you manage.

Getting Around Town

Driving into work, going grocery shopping, or even a post office visit, we instinctively hop in our cars and go. Gas is expensive, and finding a parking spot is the worst. You can save a lot of money each year by finding alternative ways to get around town. 

If you can hop on your bike and pedal down to the post office, you saved on gas and got some exercise! You can also try out public transportation systems like a bus or train to get around.

Text your buddy to see when they plan to go grocery shopping. Carpool there and then flip flop cars for the next trip. If your friend can’t go with you, there are a number of rideshare options out there to help you find a carpool buddy for when you need to get around town. You can carpool to all sorts of places: events, eating out, doctor’s appointments, etc.

Finally, ask around at work to find out where people are coming from. If someone is coming from the same part of town, try to coordinate a carpool. If you can get a few people in on it, you can ultimately lower your monthly gas budget.

As an added bonus, carpooling helps your car live longer. The less you drive your car means fewer oil changes and less tire wear and tear. As you know, that means more cash left in your pocket. It’s a win-win

Check Those Cabinets

Whether it’s a tight budget or an inability to make it to the grocery store for a few days, you can usually make do with what’s already in your cabinets. Just because you have to work with what’s been in the cupboards for a while doesn’t mean you can’t eat a great meal. Canned vegetables paired with pasta and some spices and oil gets you a balanced meal that isn’t half bad. You would be surprised how many kinds of soup you can make with just the dry goods in your cabinets. Sure, we know these meals aren’t nearly as desirable as pizza or tacos, but they can help stretch a dollar and keep you full. 

The wonderful thing is you don’t even have to think about how to make a meal happen. With the golden age of the internet, there are websites that will do the recipe crawling for you. You will simply enter what you have to use, and it will spit out the recipes you can make. Easy peasy!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We have heard it since we were kids, but who knew this rusty old saying would help us make do one day? You can save tons of money and stretch what you have by: 

  • Reduce what you use and buy: For example, could you use less water bottles? Try using a refillable bottle or a filtered pitcher from the fridge instead of buying bottles.
  • Reusing what you have: Have you ever thought about using the blank backside of junk mail for notepaper? How about buying a used phone instead of a brand new one?
  • Recycle the things you are finished with: Ok, this one doesn’t really save any money, but it’s just a good thing to do when you are finally finished with something.

Try to Think Ahead

If pasta is on sale for $.50 a box, it’s a great idea to stock up and save yourself a few bucks down the road. If the shoes you’ve been wanting won’t be on sale until Black Friday, can you wait a little longer? When it comes to making your money last, it’s essential to stay ten steps ahead if you can. This means stocking up on items you know you will use when they are on sale. It also means thinking about something you want or need going on sale in the future or even a holiday coming up where you could ask for that item as a gift. 

Part of making your money last is taking your future into account and not just acting on impulse in the present. One great rule of thumb is the 48-hour rule. If you think you want something, like a new outfit or video game, it’s good to give the decision 48 hours. Think about:

  • Why do you want this thing?
  • How much enjoyment will you get out of it?
  • How long will you enjoy it?
  • If you can wait, when would you be ok waiting until?

Another method of thinking ahead is planning for purchases and saving up. If you know you want and need a new laptop, start saving now. If you are able to, try to save enough for a quality item that will last a long time. You could buy a laptop for a hundred dollar bill, but if you wait a bit longer and spend a little more, you could buy one that will last and perform for years to come.

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Don’t Let It Spoil

Speaking of food, make sure you are using your food wisely. It’s great that you bought fresh fruits and vegetables on your last trip to the grocery store, but if you let those go bad, you wasted your money and time. If you are on a budget or just generally don’t want to waste what you have already bought, plan your meals ahead of time so you can use the items you have in a timely manner. Try to use up the fresh produce, meats and dairy products in your meals before digging into the shelf-stable items, and remember that a potato will last a whole lot longer than a tomato. 

If all else fails and you can’t make it to the stuff in time, like you are going away on vacation, just chop it up and toss it in the freezer. This leaves you fresh ingredients for another day. A frozen chopped onion will do just fine in some fried rice, and some frozen grapes in a smoothie are divine.

Checked your bank statement lately?

There are tons of apps out there that will help you eliminate excess spending, and you can always do it the old fashioned way by checking your bank statement line-by-line to see where your money is going. You can check your paper bank statement, review your spending online, or use one of the many free and safe apps out there made just for this. Go line-by-line to review what your money is going towards. 

This is a great first step in creating a budget, but for this exercise, you are going to want to be on the lookout for subscriptions you forgot you had. A pesky $15.00 a month music streaming subscription or $25.00 gym membership you don’t even use can quickly get past you, and over just six months, you could be losing $100+! 

Don’t forget to check your Paypal and Venmo, too, just in case you set up your payments through these other accounts. By checking for these sneaky subscriptions, you can save some serious dough.

Pop some tags

Hit up your local thrift store! If you just moved into your own place and have no dishes or table, don’t spend a whole month’s rent to furnish the place, there is a better way. People get rid of great stuff — and some not so great stuff — so sometimes you have to search for the diamond in the rough. Ultimately, you can find exactly what you’re looking for at a thrift store, or enough to make due until you have the cash for what you want. From clothing to curtains, you can find just about anything you will need at a thrift store.

Ask for what you need

We live in a hyper-connected world. You can reach out to family and friends on Facebook or talk to people across the globe all from the phone in your hand. When you need something, why not ask for it? Of course, asking straight up for money probably won’t turn out well, but if you post that you need to borrow a lawnmower or are looking for a cast iron pan, you may be surprised how willing people are to help. On the flip side, you can also show others what you have that you don’t need. eBay and Facebook Marketplace are an excellent way to get a few bucks on items you no longer want or need.

Have a backup plan

Why can’t things always go right? Whether you believe in karma or luck, we find time and again that things are bound to go wrong. You can make do with what you’re left with when this happens by having a backup plan. From knowing what to do if your car breaks down to know what to do when your kiddo is seriously sick, we have Ōdulting guides to help. You can check them out below!

Check out our additional Ō-dulting guides below for more great guides and tips.

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