life on a budget part one

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Being officially in my mid-twenties and married, you would think I’d no longer be living on a tiny budget (or maybe you wouldn’t, I don’t know). But an acting career is not a very lucrative career…until it is a lucrative career, know what I mean? I’m fortunate to have the support of my husband, and we are able to enjoy our lives and plan trips together, but that doesn’t mean we don’t watch what we spend. Here are some easy ways we save money, so we can still enjoy the things we want to do:

1. Sign up for a library card. There is a joy in buying a new book and having it rest on your bookshelf, but if I’m being honest with myself, I never reread books. I also don’t have the space to store them, and what if I didn’t like the book? Was that a waste of money? I learned early on out here in LA that I could sign up for a FREE library card and have access to all of the books my heart desires. Sure, there can be a bit of a wait for really popular books, but I’m not going anywhere, and neither are the books. Instead of spending $12-$20 on each new book you want, go revel in the magic that is a public library.

2. Forgo cable. This one seems obvious, but $50 a month adds up to $600 a YEAR. Uhm, two round trip plane tickets anyone? You can hook up an antenna to get the basic channels (CBS, Fox, NBC, etc), and subscribe to a service like Netflix to get the rest of your fix in. Otherwise, most shows are posted online each week. Plus, do we really need to spend any more time watching TV?

3. Get creative with crafts. I love making things, and I love decorating my home. I try to DIY when I can, but even that can be pricey. For things like my gallery wall, I implore a few habits. I only buy frames on sale (Michael’s and Hobby Lobby are constantly running them – plus, look online to find huge discount coupons; Goodwill is supposed to be a good place for this as well), I buy cards or postcards (much cheaper than a full size print) and hang those, and I use personal photos (printed at $.13 cents each) to fill in other spaces. I made my own dream catcher and pennant, and when I’m in a crafty mood, I try to use supplies I already have (examples here, here, here, and here).

4. Cut out that gym membership or take advantage of Groupon. Health and wellness should always be a priority in your life, and if you need a gym membership to sustain that, by all means it is a good investment. But there are other options (that are perhaps more fun too, no?) to get your exercise. Go on long walks or hikes (and invite a friend!). Try home workouts (there are a bunch on YouTube). Groupon, of which I’m a huge proponent of, is always offering deals for boot camps and the like. Plus, you can switch up your routine by buying a new Groupon each month and still save a lot of money.

5. Eat at home. We’ve all heard it before, but eating out is EXPENSIVE (and not as healthy). Going out to dinner is fun and easier than having to prepare a meal, but it’s not a very sustainable way of life. Try to limit when you eat out (for us, we’re trying not to eat out during the week). Or you can choose to only dine out when you are getting together with friends (though depending on how social you are, even that could be too much). Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or take a long time. My best advice : find some easy, staple recipes you can make time and time again that will provide a lot of leftovers (you can double the recipe too). On nights you don’t have the time or energy to be in the kitchen, homemade leftovers are a God send.

This goes for buying coffee too. Starbucks is a nice treat once in a while (even I’ve gone overboard on it), but spending $4 each time you go adds up. If you don’t have a coffee machine at home and don’t want to invest in that, there are great instant coffee mixes (the Mocha Cappuccino one from Trader Joe’s is my favorite) that are still way cheaper. If you have a Keurig, buy a reusable cup and put your own grounds in it, rather than buying the $10 packs of cups. You’ll also be saving on those calories making coffee at home. πŸ˜‰

Money is a pain in the butt, and it would be nice if no one ever had to worry about it. But life is what it is, and that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it with what you have. Tomorrow I’ll share some more ways I pinch pennies (exciting stuff, huh?)!

-wonderland sam

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actress/texan kickin' it in los angeles. always searching for my next pizza. cia agent in another life.

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