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Learn to cook. Get pans and utensils at a 2nd hand store or beg your relatives. Most people have extras. Cooking is not hard, there are instructional videos and recipes all over the web. Food does not have to be fancy or exotic to taste good and be nutritionally sound. Likewise, you do not have to live on ramen or peanut butter to eat cheap. Often the cheapest food in your cart is going to be vegetables.

 

Make a meal plan, buy what meat is on sale or discounted (two of them if you can) and plan around that.  Something like a pork shoulder or a pot roast is incredibly cheap when it comes to cost per serving.  Package portions and freeze them for later. 

 

There is no shame in buying generic. Store brands are often just brand names repackaged.  Pennies add up into dollars, and in our hobby a few dollars goes a long way. Think of your savings each grocery trip in terms of how many bottles of $3.29 paint or $6.99 figures you can buy at the con. 

 

Eat your leftovers. Uneaten food is money in the trash can. 

 

Most of your savings comes in how you prioritize in other areas of your life. I have a lot of friends who say they would love to go to a convention, but they make NO effort to save, they just HOPE they have the money when it comes time.  You need to make saving for the con (or the kickstarter) a priority.  Do you want every new dvd movie that comes out? Or do you want to go to the con next year? Can you live with a Netflix subscription and put the funds into savings?  Your cell phone plan is another place you are probably spending too much money.  Even if you are in a contract, check and see if you can cut back on that. Sometimes you can drop to a lower tier of service and save serious $$$.   Look at your gasoline costs. Do you make a trip every time you need something? By combining trips and shopping once or twice a week you can save the cost of several gallons -- or that KS Expansion Pack. 

 

Don't pay credit card fees. Don't carry a balance owed.  Credit card interest is calculated to keep you in debt forever. Even on the smallest balance most of what you pay each month, if you are not paying off the total, is interest fees.  Stop using the credit card, because if you have to put it on credit you can't afford to live that high. There is no shame in not having the latest electronics and in living below your means. 

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Store brands: Some things are better than others. Some are just crap. The local grocery, HEB, has their Hill Country Fare brand that sucks. I actually prefer the Walmart Great Value. Whichever you go, generic canned veggies are far cheaper than name brand.

 

Beans and rice are awesome for filling meals. Made beans and cornbread just last night.

 

Buy in bulk in you have the space. If you don't, try and get together with friends, buy bulk dry goods, and split them.

 

On Couponing: I don't do it. Coupons get you to buy things you don't really need. Many have a clause of "Buy more than one, get $1.00 off" when you only need one which would be far cheaper. Or they want you to buy name brands, while generic are cheaper, often moreso than the name brand with the coupon.

 

Learn to knit, never buy socks again. ::D:

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I use thick woolen socks together with thin cotton socks in my M77 Army boots...  

(M77 = Went into use in the Norwegian armed forces in 1977, and they've yet to find something better. Good stuff)

I make certain to buy expensive 'army grade' woolen socks when I can find them as they will last many times longer than the cheap stuff. 

Also, my army boots are my 'go to' boots most of the time. In spring/Summer/fall I use them when hiking in the mountains, from fall to spring they're my default footwear any time I go out. If I use shoe polish(Kiwi brand) they'll last me 4 - 6 years of abuse.

They also match up with the bindings on my 'NATO Planks' (wood skies bought from military surplus.) for that one trip I take most years...  

(I paid 200NOK for skies and aluminium poles, about $25)

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This doesn't always work when you are 'dead broke' but if you are just trying to decrease expenses: know what the normal prices of food you normally by are and when there is a sale, stock up.  Also shop around at various stores.  They almost always have different loss leaders (item they sell really cheap to get you through the door, then they hope they make money on all of the other stuff you buy there).  I'm lucky in that I have access to 4-5 different grocery stores depending on which way I choose to drive home (no need to go out of my way).  Most stuff I buy at the Commissary as they don't have to make a huge profit; and they have some of the best prices on meat and such.  Still, as the Commissary only carries name brand items, it can be cheaper to buy store brands and loss leaders at other stores.  

 

For instance, Stop and Shop here has most pasta for $1/lb.  It goes on dale every couple of weeks for $.88/lb (and less often for $.79/lb).  So I wait for that sale and buy 10-20 lbs at a time.  likewise, I can buy bread for $2/3 loaves.  And I also hit up the day old bread.  I also buy the frozen meat at the Commissary (stuff that is close to it's sell by date gets frozen and discounted) as most of my meat goes into the freezer for later use anyways.  I bring leftovers to work whenever possible (with 3 kids in the house that isn't always possible).  My biggest problem lately has been lack of freezer space; I would have picked up a couple of turkeys this year if I had more space as well as a rib roast when it was on sale for $5.49/lb.  Also, it can be cheaper to buy a roast and have the butcher cut it up into steaks/chops; most will do that at no charge.  I bought a rib roast last year for $5/lb and had them cut them into ribeyes when ribeye steaks were going for $8/lb.

 

Like I said, if you are just barely getting by, you may not be able to stock up like this, but if you have the ability to make some large purchases, you can cut down on your cost per servings, without having to change the scope or quality of your diet.

 

Another thing you can do is to purge and sell stuff that you have that you never use anymore.  Most people have things; books, dvds, movies, collections, toys, clothing and so forth, that they don't use any more or don't need.  Instead of having it clutter up you house/apartment/cave/cardboard box, sell it to someone else who wants it.  Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, yardsales:  they all work.  Most people I know never do this because "I won't get back what I paid for it/what it really worth".  Well it's really only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.  And it's worth nothing if it just keeps sitting in a box in you closet for the next ten years.  I had a friend that did this with clothes.  She kept a bunch of stuff for when she "dropped the weight".  It took longer than she assumed it would (doesn't it always I say looking at my own gut) and when she could finally fit back into those clothes she had been saving, most of them were out of style (or didn't flatter her new body shape) and sehe ended up with a new wardrobe anyways. 

 

There are plenty of ways to save money.  There are also plenty of ways to increase income as well.  From part time jobs (that have other benefits like employee discounts or free meals) to short term contracts with the various online systems (Mechanical turk and some programming ones that I'm not sure the names of) to tutoring or baby sitting or yard work or uber/Lyft.  If you want to spend your time and effort, then you can make more money.  You just have to decide that the payoff is worth it.

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Oh, man. None of this is living cheaply :)

 

Learning where to sleep and eat for nothing is living cheaply! Learning which restaurants you can charm a couple waitresses to give you leftovers, finding a band room where you can sleep with the amps plugged in to keep you warm.

 

Fiancee still is amazed at the long string of 0s on my social security statement. Not like after a number 'I'm rich' zeroes, but years that I had zero income.

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for those in the US, walmart or a membership store can be cheap for groceries.  my cheap staple is chicken thighs for about $0.60 per pound  I generally make these into soup with onions, carrots, and celery in an 8 quart slow cooker.

If you're US and have Winco in your area, hit them for preference over Walmart; they're cheaper and usually have a better selection of food. Most Wincos also have a bulk section, and bulk staples don't get much cheaper.

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