Living alone allows for independence, freedom, and solitude. However, the financial costs can make it difficult to afford. Rent, utilities, groceries, and other bills meant for one can put a significant dent in your wallet.
Luckily, with innovative strategies, discipline, and effort, you can significantly reduce your cost of living when flying solo. This article will provide ten realistic tips to slash expenses and live alone on a budget.
1. Cook at Home
Cooking at home is one of the most effective ways to save money living alone. Eating out or taking out can cost $10-15 per meal. That’s $300-450 a month if you eat out for most meals! Instead, do meal prep and cook simple meals at home. For example, make a big batch of chili, pasta dishes, or casseroles to provide leftovers. Shop sales and buy generic brands to save on groceries. Bring a lunch to work instead of going out. With diligent home cooking, you can easily save hundreds per month.
2. Use Public Transit
Owning a car is expensive when living alone. Payments, insurance, gas, and parking costs add up, especially if it’s your primary mode of transportation. Instead, utilize public transit as much as possible. Walk or bike for shorter trips. Carpool if needed. For example, by taking the bus to work instead of driving, you could save over $100 a month. Ditch the car costs by using transit and other methods.
3. Scrutinize Subscriptions
These days, subscriptions to various services abound—cable TV, music streaming, online storage, gym memberships, boxes of the month, etc. Carefully audit which subscriptions you use frequently and bring value. Be ruthless in cutting the ones you don’t need. For instance, cancel the gym membership you never use or store for files you can delete. Cutting unused subscriptions can save anywhere from $10-100+ a month.
4. Use Energy Efficiently
Heating and powering a home gets very expensive. But you can take steps to slash energy costs. For example, turn down the thermostat and use electric blankets. Unplug devices when not in use. Switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs. Only run the dishwasher when complete. With optimization, you could save 20% or more on utilities.
5. Avoid Convenience Fees
Some services conveniently deliver things quickly for a premium. For instance, you are paying extra for grocery or food delivery. Avoid using these conveniences whenever possible. Instead, take some spare time to go to the store or restaurant yourself. Just skipping a few deliveries per month could mean $30+ in savings.
6. Buy Used Products
Furniture, electronics, clothes, and more – almost anything you need can be purchased used for a fraction of the retail price: shop garage sales, thrift stores, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. For example, furnishing your place with used items could save over 50% versus new furniture.
7. Get a Lucrative Side Gig
Bringing in extra money can give you breathing room in your monthly budget. Explore options like dog walking, ride-share driving, tutoring, freelance writing, etc. Even just 10-15 hours a week at a side gig paying $15-20/hour could mean an extra $600+ in monthly income.
8. Share Housing
Living solo means shouldering all housing costs alone. So, sharing housing is an obvious way to cut costs. Get a roommate and split the rent and utilities. Or, downsize to a studio apartment with lower rent. Halving your rent could save $300+ every month.
9. Pay Debts and Bills on Time
Late fees from paying bills late or interest charges on debts can waste money unnecessarily. Pay all bills and debts on time to avoid penalties. Even better, pay down debts aggressively. Also, set up autopay when possible to avoid forgetting. Staying on top of payments can avoid $50+ in fees each month.
10. Use Coupons and Loyalty Programs
Coupons, sales, loyalty programs, and other deals abound, especially for grocery shopping. But people often don’t take advantage enough. Check newspapers, apps, and websites for coupons. Look at store ads for sales. Use loyalty cards for discounts. Buying store brands versus name brands also saves. Using coupons, deals, and loyalty programs consistently could save $20-30 per grocery trip.
Case Study: How Frugal Living Helped Marie Cut Costs
Marie recently graduated college and got her first job. She was determined to live on her own in the city. However, between student loan payments, car costs, utilities, and rent for a 1-bedroom apartment, making ends meet was a significant struggle. More than half her income went to basic living costs, leaving little extra money.
Marie decided to implement the frugal living strategies described in this article. Here’s how she turned things around:
- She moved into a studio apartment with cheaper rent. Between lower rent and utilities, this saved $200 per month.
- Marie started cooking at home, meal prepping, and bringing lunch to work. She tracked her grocery spending and used coupons and loyalty cards. This saved around $150 a month versus eating out.
- She committed to using public transit to commute to work instead of driving. Between gas, parking, and car maintenance, this saved $130 monthly.
- Marie canceled her little-used gym membership and unused streaming services. She also called her internet provider to get a better rate. These changes amounted to $70/month in savings.
- She picked up a weekend dog walking side gig for an extra $500 monthly income.
Marie decreased her monthly living expenses by around $1,050 through these frugal steps. Additionally, she brought in $500 more a month with the dog walking job. Marie went from struggling to pay bills to having some breathing room and money left over each month in six months. She’s much happier now with her financial situation.
Living alone as a young adult often coincides with financial hardship. Expenses can add up and strain your budget. However, you can reduce costs and live comfortably with sacrifice, discipline, and effort.
Implement strategies like cooking at home, using public transit, minimizing subscriptions, reducing energy use, and finding creative ways to earn extra income. Over time, the savings add up. Follow the frugal living tips in this article to slash your cost of living when flying solo.