If you aren’t happy with the way your monthly budget is adding up lately, you have two basic choices – find a way to make more money or find a way to spend less.
By cutting back on your costs, you might be able to make ends meet effectively without making more money than you do currently.
We are going to break this discussion down into two categories of ideas for you to think about while making a plan.
First, we’ll talk about how you might be able to save money by looking into an alternative form of housing. Some of these ideas are radically different than a conventional living arrangement like living in a house or apartment.
Later, we’ll get into some general tips for saving money on living expenses. You might be surprised to find how many places in your budget offer the opportunity for savings if you think critically about your spending.
Keep reading to learn the cheapest ways to live in 2021!
Cheapest Way to Live (Low Cost Housing Alternatives)
Let’s dive into our list of cheap housing alternatives that you may want to consider if you are hoping to cut down your living expenses as far as possible.
It’s important to note that not all of these options will be a fit for everyone, and some might not even be possible in your situation. So, as you read through the list, keep the realities of your life in mind to determine which of these options is a viable possibility.
Live in an RV
Our first idea is one that has gained in popularity in recent years. Rather than owning an RV for the purposes of taking vacations, you could opt to simply live in your RV all year long. The potential savings with this option are obvious – an average RV will cost far less than a typical home. Also, you gain the freedom associated with having a home on wheels, as you’ll be able to pick up and leave at any time. As long as you don’t mind the restricted space and the need to find somewhere to park each night, you can live an adventurous life on the road by living in a motorhome or trailer.
Living in an RV can be one of the cheapest ways to live while also granting you the space you desire. While there might be cheaper alternatives, living in an RV can be a great balance.
Live in a Truck
Along the same lines, it’s possible to simply live in a truck on a full-time basis. This comes with many of the pros and cons of an RV, although it will likely offer even less space (depending on the type of truck you have available).
You should be able to save a significant amount of money in the long run if you use this plan, although some upfront investment may be necessary to modify the truck to suit your needs.
You'll likely need to convert your truck into a home, but this can be done for less than a few thousand dollars.
Related: How to Make Money with a Truck
Live in a Duplex
If you are looking for a more traditional housing arrangement, but would still like to save some money, living in a duplex is a cheap housing option.
With a duplex, you’ll still live in a permanent building, but because the building is split into two units, you should be able to lower your monthly expenses.
For those who have some capital to invest, it’s also possible to buy a duplex with the plan of living in one side and renting out the other for passive income. The only downside of renting is that you'll also become a property manager – which some do not have the time for.
Become a Full-Time Caregiver
Another way to save money on your housing is to work as a live-in caregiver. In this role, you will provide care for another person on a full-time basis, and part of the compensation for that work may be to live in their home. This is a job as well as a housing option, so keep in mind that you will need to be qualified for the work and you will have to be motivated to work in this industry.
The bonus of working as an in home caregiver is that you'll not only receive free housing but you'll also get paid for your work.
Build a Tiny Home
To say that tiny homes have become popular in recent years would be a major understatement. Tiny houses are exactly as they sound – very small homes that can often be moved from one place to another.
You’ll need to invest money upfront to build the house, but they are typically a fraction of the cost of a more traditional home. Also, keep in mind that you will have to have somewhere available for this home to sit, either on property that is designed for tiny homeowners, or on private land owned by yourself, a friend, or a family member.
Not all property is zoned for tiny houses, so check into the legal details before you get started.
Live with Roommates
A traditional way to drive down housing costs is simply to live with other people. If you find a place to live that has rent of $1,000 per month, you could cut that in half by having just one roommate – and you could potentially get it down to $250 if three other people lived with you.
When you rent a room your housing costs will become much cheaper and you might even want to live with your roommate for the long term.
Live as a Nomad
For the truly adventurous person, one option is to simply have no home at all. As a nomad, you could constantly move from place to place, finding new opportunities and meeting new people along the way. This is not for everyone, as most people find that they are comforted by having one specific place they can call home.
Living as a nomad may not be a sustainable approach to your life in the long run, but spending a year or two this way might allow you to save money while having some memorable experiences.
Live Cheaply in a Bus
Another cheap housing alternative is to convert a bus into a living space that you can use similarly to an RV. It might be possible to track down an old bus for rather cheap but be sure it is in working order enough to serve your purposes. From there, converting some of the seating area to a living space might be a DIY project if you have some basic skills and tools but it can be a fun place to live.
Live in a Storage Container
This one sounds a little strange at first, but it actually isn’t too different from the concept of a tiny house. In this case, you would be using the old storage container as a starting point for your home. Unless you are extremely handy and experienced in construction work, you’ll likely need to hire a contractor to help you transform the storage container into a space suitable for living quarters.
Just like with the tiny house concept, it’s important to think about where this storage container will sit once it is ready to live in.
Live with Friends or Family
You may already have housing available to you simply by asking friends or family for a play to stay. If someone in your close circle of family and friends has more room than they need, you might be able to rent a room in their home for cheap.
This arrangement will only work with the right mix of personalities and lifestyles, so talk out the details in advance before you move in. Finding people you want to live with is essential!
As American's, we tend over-consume just about everything including our housing costs. Try to live more minimally, in whatever your living situation is. This means cutting back on typical housing costs like the newest appliances or modern furniture. If you're looking for the cheapest way to live, living minimally is likely the best method.
Cheapest Way to Live on Your Own
Sometimes you might want to (or be forced to) live on your own. But you can still live cheaply even living by yourself.
Live Small to Live Cheaply On Your Own
If living alone, the cheapest way to live is to limit the size of your home or space. By eliminating unneeded space, you can save a nice portion of your housing costs especially if your space is heated and cooled with central air.
By living in a smaller space, you'll also limit the amount of furniture needed to keep your space occupied.
How to Save Money on Living Expenses and Live Cheaply
The list above offered up ten ideas for how you might be able to find a more affordable living situation than the one you have now. But cutting back on what you pay for housing each month is only part of the equation. You could also save money on your living expenses by making some other smart choices. Let’s take a look at eight ideas below.
Be Wary of Subscriptions
Take a look at your current finances and analyze anything that recurs on a monthly basis. Are all of those expenses necessary?
You might find that you have at least one or two monthly charges that you could just as easily go without. Even if they are only minor expenses, cutting back your spending in this way can add up significantly over the course of 12 months.
Turn Down the Temperature
Depending on your current living situation, you might be able to cut back on energy costs by bringing down the temperature setting on your thermostat. Even coming down by a couple of degrees can lead to a lower monthly bill, and you might not notice the change much in terms of comfort. You could always put on a jacket or use an extra blanket to make up the difference.
Related: Do Space Heaters Save Money?
The Cable Monster
Many people burn through a significant portion of their monthly budget simply by paying for cable. A cable subscription can be quite costly, and you might be able to accomplish nearly the same thing by paying for a few streaming subscriptions instead. Explore your options in this area to see what savings might be available to you.
Cook Your Food to Save Money
One of the biggest areas of savings available to most people is in their monthly food budget. It isn’t seen as a big deal to eat meals out once or twice a day, but those costs can quickly add up over a whole month.
If you can get into the habit of cooking almost all of your own meals, you might be surprised to find just how much you’ll save in the long run. And, homemade food is often healthier than what you will get from a restaurant, so you’ll have the added benefit of improving your diet along the way. There are many cheap foods you can consider.
Related: Become Fiscally Responsible
Look at Insurance Bundles
If you do own your home currently, and you own a car, you are probably paying for both homeowners’ insurance and car insurance. Having those two policies through the same company should allow you to save some money each month. Contact one of your agents and ask about any discounts they offer for bundling your coverage together. Not only can this save you money, but it’s also a simplified approach since you will only have to deal with one company for all of your insurance needs.
Cut Back Your Cell Phone Plan
Do you actually use all of the features and benefits that come with your cell phone plan? Many people would be served just fine with a cheaper plan, so look into this possibility for another way to save. If you spend a lot of time at home, you can likely use your phone over a Wi-Fi connection rather than cellular, so you might not need that much data every month.
Make Your Clothes Last to Live Cheaply
Buying clothes frequently is another way to burn through a significant portion of your monthly budget. You can probably get quite a bit more life out of your old clothes than you think, especially if you make it a point to take good care of them and wash them properly.
Take Smart Vacations
Everyone loves to take a vacation but getting away for some fun and relaxation doesn’t have to be hugely expensive. Since transportation is one of the most expensive parts of a trip, think about finding somewhere to go that’s closer to home but still will allow you to make memories with your family and friends.
Start a Side Hustle to Boost Your Income
While this isn't necessarily a method to lower your expenses, boosting your income can enable you to save a larger portion of your earnings each month.
Cheap Living Ideas – How to Live Cheaply
There are many cheap living ideas to start saving money but they key is to have a plan in place.
When it comes to cheap living, you need to strategize where you want to live, how you want to live, and some unique ways you can save money.
There are many cheap places to live I explored above, but that doesn't mean those are your only options. You can still live in a standard home and live cheaply.
Move Locations to Live Cheaply
If you live in a high cost of living area, one of the best ways to live cheaply is simply moving.
This is a big commitment and some might not want to make the move, but by moving to a low cost of living area you could be capable of lowering your living expenses by as much as 50%.
Downsizing your home is another method to lessen your living expenses and save cash.
By selling your current home and purchasing a smaller, less expensive option you can save a significant portion of your income each month.
Just like moving locations – this is somewhat of a larger commitment, but it can be well worth it
Final Thoughts on the Cheapest Ways to Live
Trying to live on the cheap is not for everyone. While the thought of spending less each month is appealing, remember that everything is a give and take. As you move your expenses down, you are going to give up things like comfort, access to entertainment, space, and more.
In the end, how you choose to live is a very personal decision. Before making any changes to your current living arrangement, think carefully about what those changes will mean to your day-to-day reality.
What is your favorite cheap way to live? Comment below!