- Having a small rent payment has saved us about $900 over what we would have paid for a similar rental condo (thanks to a cousin who gave us a slightly below market deal on renting her condo). Some friends of ours moved here and they pay a similar amount for an OK apartment in an OK area. Originally they had rented a really cheap apartment (about $450 a month) sight unseen from CraigsList. When they did see it, it was horrible so they found another place to live immediately. Moral of the story, you can live in a "nice enough" place for a reasonable amount of money instead of spending big for a really nice place. On the flip side, you don't want to go too cheap and live in a Hell hole.
- Not having cable TV has saved us about $600. Instead we bought a $20 over the air antenna and get about 20 stations which suits us fine and saves a whole bunch of money over the cost of cable.
- Not having internet in our home saved us about $300. I usually use the internet for free at the library or if I really need to get online I can use the (really) unreliable signal from the condo clubhouse.
- Not having a second car has saved us about $6000(!). For most of our lives, we have always had two cars. This was part necessity (we both worked) but mostly an ego stroker (in my case...I do miss my shiny sports car though) and a "nice to have not need to have" (throughout many of our years together we worked together in our various businesses so a second car was not necessary). These days we go everywhere together, ride the bus occasionally, and coordinate the use of our car if one of us has to go someplace and the other another place.
- Not having smart phones has saved us $400 for the phones and $240 for the smart phone pre-paid plan. I had a smart phone for about a month and realized I was paying a lot of money for something that wasn't really necessary. With my old not-so-smart phone I can still text (although it takes longer to hit each key three times per letter) and access the internet (albeit super slowly).
- Not having a home phone has saved us $180. Our cell phones work fine where we live and other than living in an area with bad cell phone reception, I can't understand why people still pay to have a home phone.
- Not shopping has saved us about $1400 (ball park figure). Instead of big grocery shopping hauls we only buy what we will eat for the next couple of days at a discount store (like Dollar General or the 99 cent store). Also we no longer roam the shopping centers for fun and entertainment and we haven't shopped anywhere other than the Goodwill in ages. This saves a ton of money over shopping every weekend and buying a whole bunch of stuff--at retail--that we don't really need.
- Using the library has saved us about $500 (another ball park figure). We don't actually "go" anywhere for entertainment these days. Unless there is a free event we settle for free books and movies from the library to keep us entertained.
The bottom line: it is possible to cut back your living expense to the bare minimum during difficult financial times or even during times when you want to bank a little extra money for something special or to build up your emergency fund. We probably won't always live this austerely but it has been a good learning experience and has saved us a boatload of money!