How to double your standard of living #thrifty
If you’re on a low income it is actually easier to double your standard of living than if you’re on a higher income. First you need to do a little bookkeeping and identify your sources of income and what you spend it on.
The income you have left after paying taxes and national insurance and other deductions is your disposable income. If you have other forms of income such as benefits, it’s just the same.
Once you know your disposable income, you can start to make a list of what you spend it on. Things like housing, council tax, food, clothing, essential travel, health (include medicines), essential communications, energy and water.
Your discretionary income is the money you have left over after you’ve paid for all the essentials. This is the money you spend on non-essentials and luxuries. This spending makes life bearable or even fun and so it is this spending that you need to be able to double. For many people, there isn’t much money left as discretionary income once all the essentials are paid for, but that actually makes it easier to double it.
First consider if you can increase your income or do something that would have the same effect. This could be claiming benefits that you’re entitled to, doing a part time job or even doing a car boot sale once a week.
Cut essential spending
The other way to increase discretionary income to spend on luxuries is to cut essential spending. Go through your list one by one and look for savings. Housing is one you might not be able to save on, but think about it anyway. If you’re in private housing you might put your name down for social housing, for example. Look at council tax and see if you might be entitled to a reduction or council tax benefit. Look at food, many people are switching to discount supermarkets and shopping around. You might not be able to get all your food at Aldi, but small savings add up. Think about cheaper meals and maybe have certain meals on certain days. Have a frugal Friday when you cook egg, chips and peas for dinner. You might even consider growing vegetables like runner beans in your garden.
We should all be trying to cut the amount of energy we use and there are quite often grants available for more efficient boilers and insulation and so look into those first. I’m not a great fan of energy saving light bulbs, but if you have decorative lighting consider them. I have started using halogen bulbs which aren’t as efficient as fluorescent but give me a lot more light. Heating uses the most energy so consider draught proofing and other forms of insulation. Even closing your curtains in the evening will cut your heating bill by a few pounds.
Do you really need designer tee shirts and ripped jeans? Whatever your taste in fashion, you can probably buy cheaper if you’re not a slave to fashion. Look at stores like Matalan for the basics and try to develop a style that is fashionable and frugal. Have clothes that you save for just going out in and wear basics the rest of the time.
Saving on travel can mean walking more rather than doing short journeys in the car. Driving more economically, using higher gears and driving more smoothly. It might mean a leisurely walk instead of taking the bus. It might even mean planning your route more carefully. Every time you save a little on a journey, you increase you discretionary income.
I’m amazed at how much some people spend on mobile phones. The contracts often include the cost of the phone. The tendency of people to see the latest phones as a status symbol makes them expensive. Consider what is essential and maybe look at GiffGaff as a cheaper alternative to you usual company.
Health and water
I don’t have a suggestion to cut water bills, except for having a water meter which is only a good idea if you live alone and don’t use much water. I save a little money on medicines by buying some from Poundland and supermarkets can be reasonable for some medicines.
After cutting all this essential spending, you should have twice as much money left to enjoy life.
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