16 August 2010

Living on a limited budget

A few years back when I was living over seas in Dublin, Ireland I quickly learned that living on a limited income doesn't leave room for much more than necessities. As a sophomore in college my mother encouraged me to take part in a study abroad program in Europe. I was of course excited to go, but less than thrilled to be leaving. I believe I have been quoted as saying "I wish I could stay home and just have the memories". Despite my hesitation and reluctance to embark on this adventure, within only weeks of arriving I was hooked and wanted to stay. When my semester ended I decided against returning home, however that meant I was on my own. I had to find a job, rent my own apartment and make it solo. Entering into "the real world" would have been a challenge in and of itself, but I was attempting to do it in the unfamiliar territory of Irish laws, euro, and work visas.

I got together with a girlfriend I had made and we rented a double room in an apartment to try and minimize our rent costs. I applied for a student visa, which allowed me to work full time during the summer months. I had to open a bank account, apply for a PPS number (the equivalent of our social security numbers) and I found a job as a full time nanny for a South African family living in Ireland at the time. I was able to eat breakfast and lunch on the job which cut back on costs, but after my rent, electricity and transportation to and from work were paid for I was left with the equivalent of about $5 a week to live on. I stressed a lot, declined many invitations to go out on the weekends and slowly but surely found ways to pinch pennies.

I made it through that summer (barely!), started back to school, moved apartments again and shortly thereafter found a new job waitressing at the Dublin Hard Rock Cafe. My income changed drastically! Between my hourly wages and my tips I was living quite comfortably, but I tried not to change my spending habits. I was determined to keep up with my frugal habits in order to save. I never wanted to spend another day stressing about money like I had that entire last summer!

Since then I have moved back home to America and now I'm back to working in dollars rather than euros but the concept is the same...save, save, save! Shortly after moving out of my parents home I began EXTREME couponing. I learned the ins and outs of coupons, started searching for the best deals, began shopping thrift stores and learned to play the drug store game!

Today trying to enter into the mental health field my income is again limited, but I make it work. Its been over a year since I've paid for shampoo, soap, toothpaste, pasta, pasta sauce, rice, taco seasoning (I ♥ tacos), salad dressing, dish soap and more. Many of my tricks I learned growing up from watching my mom, others I've learned through trial and error. I have found that it is more than possible to not only survive but still have fun and save while living on a limited budget. My hope with this blog to share not only the deals I manage to grab and my money saving journey, but also help others learn to stretch a dollar in order to make any income (no matter how big or small) work for your lifestyle!

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