While the vegan lifestyle tends to be less expensive than a traditional one, for some it’s just not cheap enough. Everybody needs a good bargain once in a while. Lucky for you, I am the Queen of Cheap and I am here to spread my wealth of knowledge.
Living on a strict budget can be frustrating, but it is important to not forget your day to day essentials and not concentrate so much on the “stuff” that you think we need. Is it necessary for you to have 27 pairs of “eco-friendly” denim? (Is it even “eco-friendly” to have 27 of anything?) Do you really need a shade of eye shadow to match each pair of shoes you own? How about the hamburger phone? Sure, Juno was cool, but you don’t even have a land line! The box of clementines that are rotting away in your fridge because you couldn’t pass up such a stupendous deal? That was probably a bad idea.
At a certain point, you must be one with the fact that you don’t really need all that much. But a pair of killer faux leather pumps once in a while won’t hurt. I promise.
However, for those times when you must spend your hard earned cash, here are some suggestions:
- Do not buy prepared foods – Yes, there are about 600 choices of vegan prepared goods available at Whole Foods. Yes, they are amazing. No you should not buy them. Why? They are WAY too expensive. Do yourself a favor and find a similar recipe online and make your own at a fraction of the cost. (Whole Foods actually has tons of vegan recipes on their site)
- Learn to cook . –Before I went vegan the only thing I could make for myself to eat was cereal. I’m not exactly Terry Romero now, but I do my best. When you learn to cook you cut out the need to buy prepared foods and frequent restaurants.
- Shop at your local farmers market –Local and organic produce is the best produce. Plus it is usually pretty reasonable, and downright cheap if bought in bulk. (If you live alone like me, split a bushel with a friend.)
- Eat whole foods – Outside of buying my produce locally in bulk, I only go to the grocery store for grains, pasta and household necessities. There is really nothing else needed. If possible, buy your nuts, grains, and even pasta from the bulk section of your grocery store. They are available much cheaper there than the packaged options.
- Start a garden –If you are lucky enough to have a yard, start a mini garden. You can easily grow a wide range of veggies and herbs, just for the cost of seeds and your time. It is also a good excuse to get out of the house and get some sun. If you do not have a garden, grow some herbs in the window sill.
- Brown bag it –You will be amazed how much money you save by bringing your lunch to work everyday. You can also get super creative with your lunch by creating fun bento boxes!! or you can go completely insane and create something like these (caution: some pictured are not vegan, but amazingly cute anyway)
- Clean with white vinegar and baking soda –among other things, those two ingredients combined, create a powerful cleaning agent. Check this list of “DIY Household Cleaners” for all of the concoctions you can make easily and for pennies. These cleaners are good, for the environment, all living creatures, and your wallet.
- Replace light bulbs with CFLs – Sorry, you have probably heard this a million times from a million “go green” websites, but it really is a good money and energy saving tip. Also, be sure to turn off unused lights and unplug unused electronics.
- Buy things as you need them – When I first moved out onto my own, I bought everything I thought I would need ahead of time. Needless to say, I ended up getting rid of half of the things I bought. Do yourself a favor and just buy the things you absolutely need (couch, bed) first. Then purchase everything else as you develop a need for them.
- Make your own humane mouse trap – Like the board game but with real mice! Store bought humane mouse traps are usually insufficient, expensive, and a waste of plastic. Why not use something you already have to make something you need? (if you have mice, that is) Learn How.
Clothing and Shoes
- Shop second-hand – thrift stores and consignment shops often offer hidden gems to add to your wardrobe. If you are lucky enough to have a modern consignment like Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange nearby, then there is no need to ever shop first-hand again!
- Shop end of season – As long as you are not a slave to passing fashion trends, (FYI: if you are on budget, you should not be) this is a great way to save some cash. Scour the clearance rack at the end of each season and buy items for next year. You can even buy items for all year long, if you are a layerer like me.
- Shop generic- Sometimes Target is the best place to find adorable cheap clothes.
- Cheap shoes are usually vegan – Just an interesting factoid for you. Check out Payless, Barefeet Shoes, DSW (cheap, but less vegan options.. look closely),and Spring. -More on Spring to come in the future, I know they sell plenty on non-leather shoes, but I have emailed them for a list.
- Ride a bike- If you are lucky enough to live within a reasonable distance of your work or school.. ride a bike! You will save a load of money on gas and car repairs, save the environment, get in shape, and feel really good.
- Buy in bulk or economy size- I buy all of my essentials in the largest size possible. Usually it is much cheaper and I don’t have to run to the store as often to buy more. However I have learned from experience: do not by perishable food in bulk! Unless you have a large family, it will most certainly go to waste.
- Buy store brand everything- There is not much of a difference between a store brand item and a name brand one, if there is any difference at all. It is just a whole lot cheaper to buy store brand.
- DIY- Most of the time, it is cheaper to make your own. When you start living the crafty lifestyle, you usually end up with extra items that become useful in other projects, and eventually you don’t have to buy as much. The best part is, you can have a sense of accomplishment and relish in your creativity.
These are things that work for me, and I believe not only help out my budget but make my lifestyle healthier, more active, and creative. So everybody wins! Do you have any secrets to living cheaply?
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