Sunday, March 30, 2014

Use Grocery Ads and Simple Recipes to Plan Out Your Meals For the Week

Food can be extremely expensive if you have a hard time with cooking. Recipes often call for so many ingredients that would go to waste if you only used them for one meal. With a little bit of planning, however, you can make a variety of tasty meals while only using a handful of ingredients.

Most people throw out the grocery ads stuffed in their mail boxes but if you're living on a budget, you should try to keep these on hand. If you don't get them in the mail, most major grocery chains have websites that show their deals for the week. Use these to plan out your meals for the week. Have a budget in mind for how much you want to spend for the week and use the sale items to get the most out of that constraint.

Once you've found the ingredients that fit within your budget, go to and search by those ingredients. This will give you some ideas what you can make. If some of those recipes require a perishable item you don't have on hand or can't afford, see if you can work around it. In most cases, you'll be able to sub in some cheaper ingredient based on the style of dish. Canned tomatoes, for instance, can work in Italian, Mexican and even Indian dishes. Rice can be used as staple in almost any type of dish. Canned beans can often take the place of some meats as well.

Also keep in mind that most meats are largely interchangeable in dishes, especial if they're ground. If a dish calls for ground beef and it's too expensive (as it often is my area), sub in ground chicken, pork or turkey. You probably won't even notice a difference.

You should also experiment with different spices on your own and find out what you like. If you develop a taste for spicy foods, red pepper can cover up some mistakes if you go a little overboard with spicing. You can also throw in some extra rice or pasta to balance out flavors. You'll probably want to invest in some inexpensive food containers in case you make too much food.

The most important thing to remember is to not let cooking intimidate you. It's not that difficult to throw some ingredients together and make it taste good. You'll save a lot of money and eat healthier if you cook your own food rather than eating out or buying frozen food. You might even have some fun with it.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Free Entertainment From Your Browser

Entertainment is obviously a lower priority for those with little disposable income. This doesn't mean that you can't find ways to keep yourself busy. If you know where to look, you can find free movies, music and games over the internet.

You will definitely want a cheap computer or laptop if you don't already have one.  For a few hundred dollars, you can have access to just about everything I'll be writing about in this article. Not only can you easily entertain yourself, but you'll have access to various career-building sites. I'll keep some updated recommendations in the links section.

You will also want a decently fast internet connection. Most metropolitan areas have different tiers of internet speeds. I would stick with at least 20 Megabits per second if you can, but you can go as low as 5 mbps if you need to. If you can afford more, I wouldn't go any higher than 50 mbps. It's very rare that anyone on a lower income will need more than that.

Once you've chosen your speed level, be sure to download Chrome as you're internet browser for your PC. It moves quite a bit faster than Internet Explorer and has a solid app library with everything from free games to ad blockers that can be added directly to the browser.

Now follow this link and bookmark it: Congratulations! You now have access to tons of free Nintendo and Super Nintendo Games you can play straight from your browser. If you get tired of playing Mario Kart and Mega Man, there are tons of other free browser games to play. I'll post my favorites in the links section as I find them. Also check the Chrome app store for other freebies.

If you want to listen to music at home, you'll have plenty of free options for that as well.  My favorite site for this is From here, you can listen to just about any album from any artist for free. There are some odd problems with certain artists (like R.E.M. and Pink Floyd for example) but it's a great way to try out new artists. There's also Pandora and Last.FM, which allow you to pick an artist and it will create a station of similar artists. I'm not a huge fan of these, but you may find some use with these.

Podcasts can be very entertaining as well. has a huge variety that you can access for free. I'll put some of my favorites from other sites in the link area. These usually last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Movies and Televisions shows can be a little more difficult to find for free. Youtube has a small collection of full movies and TV shows you can view for free. Follow these Reddit links for updated lists: If you look around on Reddit, you may be able to find some less legal options as well but I'll let you find those on your own.

For movies, music and books, don't for get to check your local library. You'd be amazed by the number of good, recent movies and TV Boxed sets you can find in libraries.

In later posts, I'll go over some options for those of you with a little more spending money.

Monday, March 3, 2014

How to Find an Inexpensive Vehicle (If You Know Nothing About Cars)

It can be very difficult to live and work without some sort of quick transportation. If you live near a bus route, you can usually find a way to get where you need to go within an hour or so, but this option isn't open to everyone. This guide will give some basic tips about what to look for if you need a cheap vehicles.

Buy or Lease?

Most places will advise that you purchase a car over entering in to a temporary lease. If you don't have much for income, however, purchasing may be out of the question. If you have decent credit, you can lease a sub-compact car for a few thousand dollar down payment and less than $200 per month. I would advise this option if you know little to nothing about cars. By leasing, you'll only be stuck with the same vehicle for a few years and can learn what you really want out of a vehicle. If you're financial situation changes once the lease is up, perhaps you can look in to buying.

Used cars can be another option if you need a vehicle, but don't want to deal with payments. Ideally, you will want to ask friends, family and coworkers if they know anyone looking to sell. Having someone you know vouch for the seller raises your chances of getting a fair deal. Craigslist has some good finds, but it can be risky. You can also take a walk around the neighborhood and look for cars with "for sale" signs in the window, but that's pretty inefficient. No matter what, always get the car checked out by a shop of your choice before you buy. It can cost around $100, but you'll at least have some idea of what you're getting in to.  You might even be able to negotiate it in to the selling price.  Personally, I would take it to the car brand's dealership. They will know what to look for and can see if it's been serviced at their dealership. They might even give you some idea of what may be needed in the future.

What to Buy?

Once you've decided whether to purchase or lease, you'll want to do some research on what you need the vehicle to do.  Small sub-compacts are usually pretty cheap to purchase and easy to maintain.  If you plan on getting a lease, look at the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio or Soul, Mazda 2, Nissan Versa or Hyundai Accent. Do some research online, narrow your scope to a 4 or 5 and go to the dealer.  Speak with a salesman, and be sure to insist on a test drive. Some cars will have odd quirks that will only find from driving. You should probably avoid buying the first car you drive, unless you get a really good deal and love the car.

If you end up looking for a used car, try to get something relatively simple. If you don't have much money, never, under any circumstances, purchase a European luxury brand. Audi's, BMW's, Mercedes', Land Rovers, and Jaguars are expensive to maintain and can be difficult to find parts for. Oil changes alone for these cars can cost up to $100.

In general, just stick with a small American or Japanese (or possible Volkswaggen) car from the last 20 years with less the 160,000 miles. Look for simple, front wheel drive cars since they're easy to maintain and have fewer parts that can fail on you. Cross reference the asking price with the Kelley Blue Book website ( ) to make sure you're getting a good deal. Be sure to avoid any car that's been lowered or modified in any other way.

In later posts, I'll give some more detailed tips on how to keep the car maintained, and what simple repairs you may be able to do yourself.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Walk Everywhere You Can to Save Money and Live Healthier

Walking certainly has some obvious benefits over driving short distances. You'll save gas and get some free exercise. But there are also some benefits you may not immediately notice if you walk to work or get groceries.

If you have little disposable income and too much time on your hands, sitting at home can intensify your wants for entertainment for food. Walking takes you away from the TV or radio and gives you time to think on your own. The activity will will feed your own ideas and possibly help you come up with some ideas to improve your situation.

Another added benefit when walking to get supplies is that you'll be less likely to pick up unnecessary items.  Is that 2-liter of soda really worth the extra effort required to haul it home? Probably not. Of course there will be some larger items required for day-to-day life, but you'll only need to pick those up every couple of weeks or so. You should be able to get most of the food for the week in one or two trips.

It should also be noted that driving short distances adds a lot more wear-and-tear on your vehicle than you might think. Frequent stopping and starting wears through tires and brakes quickly. Cars need a lot of energy to go from full stop to overdrive, putting added strain on the motor and gear box. Those short drives can end up costing a lot more than you think

So if you live in town with stores or bus stops near by, walking will certainly be the frugal option over driving. There's certainly no shame in taking the more environmentally conscious route.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Welcome to Living Well on a Budget.  This blog is intended to teach people how to live life to their fullest with little disposable income.  I will attempt to provide the best advice possible on how to eat well, be entertained and move up in the world in spite of meager incomes.  For any stories or comments, feel free to message me at