How To Live Well on a Tight Budget

Ditch the driving

Cut down on gas bills and auto wear and tear by biking or walking whenever possible.  Get a quality pair of athletic shoes to make sure you’re super comfortable, and pick up a pedometer to track your mileage and chart your progress.

At just $134.99 each, users really like the Mantis Ghost 26 Inch Mens Mountain Bike and the Mantis Beach Hopper 26 Inch Womens Bike.  And the best part about switching out the car for a bike or your leg power?  Killing two resolutions (money saving and fitness) in one! 

Move the movies home

Instead of pricey movie theater tickets or elaborate nights on the town, substitute movie nights at home.  Make them feel special by creating the theater experience—pop some gourmet popcorn, grab some movie theatre candy and let the whole family select some classic DVDs.

The Audiovox Home Theater System produces cinema-quality sound and picture, and doesn’t break the bank at only $99.99.  If a solid DVD player will suffice, check out the Memorex Progressive Scan DVD Player for just $39.99.  One user said, “I purchased this unit today and have already watched a movie on it. It runs flawlessly and the unit looks sharp.”

Love where you live

If you’re staying in more—whether it’s for those movie nights or a staycation, you’ll want to really love your home.  Freshen up the scenery around you with inexpensive decorative accents or wall décor.  Or, turn a rainy day or quiet weekend into a simple renovation project with a stimulating new wall color in rooms where you spend the most time—the kitchen, your living room or the bedroom. 

Replace store bought coffee with homemade

It’s easy to become addicted to coffeehouse drinks—but it’s also hard on your wallet.  Try making the same concoctions at home for less with top-notch coffee makers and accessories.

Love a latte?  Try the BonJour Coffee & Tea Maximus Café Milk Frother.  At only $23.99 you can whip up a hot treat in minutes.  One self-professed Starbucks addicted user wrote,  “It’s so easy to make hot or cold drinks at home with rich foam as good as any coffee shop with this device. Combine it with Starbucks Via Instant Coffee and have instant drinks that taste like you spent a bundle.”

Or, invest in your own espresso maker, like the Krups Steam-Driven Espresso Machine.  It’s just $59.99 and will quickly pay for itself in saved store-bought drinks.

“I tried two other more expensive espresso machines from two other stores and sent both of them back,” one user wrote. “This Krups machine is a little gem and I love how it falls right in with my other stainless steel kitchen accessories.”

Make your own vacation

 Save hundreds—even thousands of your annual budget by replacing your yearly vacation with a staycation at home.  Make summer weekends camping adventures by adding patio furniture and cookout gear like this stainless steel fire bowl for only $49.99.

One satisfied customer wrote, “It’s nice to sit around this during the evenings and we even loaded it up and took it camping with us one weekend.  It proved to be a versatile camping tool serving as our cooking fire, then the kids used it to roast marshmallows and then we all sat by the fire as the night wore on long after the kids had gone to bed.”

Spend quality time with family and friends by hosting a cookout with the Weber One-Touch Kettle Charcoal Grill ($89.98).  “The first experience with this grill was at a friend’s BBQ,” one user wrote. “It was able to cook several different types of food quickly and to perfection. And it was easy to clean to boot. Go out and get one for tailgating, home or wherever!”


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  1. Great ideas!!!! BUT I unfortunately hate my current apartment and seriously need to move asap! I will definitely use this advice for my new place. THANK YOU!

  2. great ideas!

  3. Extremely helpful especially with new ideas that are so simple and you end saying to yourself "Of Course!!!!"

  4. This is a great article and much needed by us all! I live in an industrial area so I do have to drive to every destination...but I am trying to incorporate all of my trips at one time and spend less days on the road.
    We can discover many great things to do at home...especially with our children--such as having company over, a kids' slumber party, video and popcorn and playing board games which are a lot of fun.

  5. Since I work where I live there is no commute involved - the nearest thing to a traffic jam is tripping over cats wanting breakfast while I am stumbling in search of my coffee. However, since I am now rural, and the nearest store of any kind (over-priced!) is 5 miles away, and the nearest reasonably priced shopping involves a 45 minute drive each way, I compromise by limiting shopping to no more than two trips a month and carpool with a couple local friends. It makes the trip an excuse to catch up, and the whole process is more fun ;-)

    Since I now live in vacation territory, with parkland all around vacations are no longer an issue - stepping outside is all it takes ;-)

    I also have turned the area in my immediate vicinity into a garden in the summer - part flowers for beauty, part herbs and veggies for the kitchen, so I get the benefits of attractive surroundings, fresh wholesome food and exercise all in one ;-)

    As for movie nights at home, BTDT - Netflix is my friend!!! ;-)

  6. I already have been working on this list and now it's time to incorporate it as soon as I purchase some of those Reebok toners.

  7. I just bought a 2nd home that will eventually become my full time residence. Public transportation is less than 75 feet from my front door. I would like to say that it was a decision, but it was not just a happy coincidence. I did make a decision to be near to a huge first class park with many on going events and 3 lakes to walk around all year long. So I have my staycation with nature. I am toying with TV on the net and have checked out HulaTV and plan to check Bing. Cable is very expensive! Hula is great, for reruns - many of them recent.

  8. I had already incorporated these things into my life. The only exception is transportation. I live in a very rural area and biking or walking is just not safe on the side of the road or ditch. There are no bike lanes or sidewalks. Or public transportation. :/

    I do love that Fire Bowl!

  9. got some great ideas for my back yard.the stainless steel fire bowl sounds like a winner!

  10. I am definitly going to incorporate a few of these fabulous ideas into my 2011 resolutions..thanks so much for all the thrifty tips


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