How to live richly, cheaply : A young man's guide to living the life

We know that you need money to have fun. It's the truth and no one can deny it.

However, by taking a certain mentality with some steps like some I'm going to point out to you, you can spend alot less but still get alot. In effect, you can live richly, cheaply.

1) Products

For products, buy used if you can. For many products, used is no worse than new (clothes, watches, cell phones, ipods, etc.) Some items are actually better slightly used than brand new because they are properly worn in without being worn out ... like baseball gloves, basketball shoes, things with triggers, and dogs from the pound (they have been given proper 'socialization' to many people and animals)... and you get to reap the savings.

If you are not totally disgusted by wearing pre-owned clothes, try out some 2nd hand clothing stores. The clothes look new and you're going to wash it anyway. How is it any different from borrowing a friend's t-shirt?

Buy used stuff off ebay. It's the cheapest way to get electronic items like a phone or ipod. Who cares if it's scratched? I can understand not wanting a scratched watch, but does a scratched ipod make it less able to play music? No, but it will save you like 50% on price.

2) Media

You need to be delayed on current things for a period of six months. Yes this sounds hard to do, but it's not really if you keep yourself occupied with older stuff. Good movies and good video games don't suck after six months. Instead of you and your three friends spending 40 bucks at the movie theaters, you can go a Red Box and spend one dollar on a DVD. Yes I know some movies you have to see right when it comes out, but most movies I feel aren't worth the full price of admission. There are tons of DVDs out there, you and your friends can watch them on a weekend.

Rarely is a video game worth the full 60 dollars. If you wait a month or two after release, you can buy it off ebay for 30-40 dollars. And if you decide you are bored with the game, you can sell it back on ebay for the exact same price you bought it for. This way, you don't have to save up for new games, you just trade around. Just make sure to sell the games you don't play because they are losing value every month.

For example, Bioshock 2 and Final Fantasy 13 are coming up this month. I want to play them because they're good games, but I have never played Bioshock or Final Fantasy 12. I will play those games first. So instead of me paying 60 dollars for a new game, I can pay 20 dollars for a game that's just as good. And guess what? I can sell it right back for the same price (read: free rental). And when I finish these older games, I will eventually play Final Fantasy 13 in a few months when the price has dropped significantly.

I'm a book worm, if there's two things I never feel guilty of having alot, it's books and tools. I can spend hours in Barnes and Nobles. But do I usually ever buy anything from there? Nope. I have a small notepad and when I see something interesting, I write down the name of the book. Then I go home and go to and pay $5 for a $15 book :-)

3) Food

I believe eating out has it's role in having fun with friends, but cooking with friends is also a fun hands-on (and cheaper) option. Learn to cook. Seriously, it's very enjoyable. You can start with a cookbook for a lot of ideas, or you can just google instructions if you know exactly what you want to make.

You don't even need a cookbook, one of the easiest ways is to go to your favorite restaurant and order something you like. Eat it really slow and deliberately. Take a notepad and write down everything you see and taste on the plate. Then go to a grocery store and buy the ingredients. You can probably duplicate your favorite dish easily. I can make turkey breast sandwiches that taste almost identical to a $10 sandwich from a deli. Or make some baby back ribs similar to Chili's. All for a fraction of the restaurant cost. Sometimes it's not efficient though: I'm still working on duplicating McDonald's McDouble, but my costs go above one dollar and it doesn't taste as good. Mcdouble's FTW!

4) Hobbies

Most hobbies cost money and we can't help it. For me, they include snowboarding, collecting random stuff, and things with triggers. At the least, try to stick to hobbies that include things you can re-sell when you are done with them. Meaning: avoid stupid things like Pokemon cards which have no value a year after the fad has passed. I wished I knew that back in 7th grade ... sigh ... anyone want a Charizard? Ideally, the better hobbies are with things that ATTAIN value after time has passed (like collecting sports memorabilia and things with triggers). It isn't Wall Street investment, but it will definitely keep up with inflation.

Fortunately, the best hobbies cost nothing! I have some hobbies that are free: playing basketball and photography. There's gotta be something that you like that's free. If you can't name one, it's because you haven't found it yet.

5) Live Entertainment

Here's where you can't cut it cheap. If you wanna go to a concert or a Lakers game, there's no way around it. Just make sure to take along alot of friends because having them makes any event twice as good. This also refers to dates. Do NOT go cheap on dates, it will not be good for you. You don't need to go all out, but I suspect a girl knows when you're being cheap on purpose. It ain't healthy to do that.

6) When you have no other choice...

If you know you're going to spend on something, you might as well compensate by preparing in advance to save some money. Costco has AMC and Edwards tickets for like 7-8 dollars. You know you'll use it eventually so it saves you a bit. Or you can look on ebay for gift cards. Me and my friends go to Chili's every once in a while, so I can probably buy a gift card for like 80-90% of the value.

7) More random ways to save money

Ease on the gas pedal when you drive. Don't follow so close. It's better for your stress levels and car's miles per gallon. If you're an aggressive driver, I bet you can improve your MPG by at least 5 miles per gallon with these simple tips:
Let your foot off the gas when you see a light turn red, even if you're half a mile away. Does it matter how fast you get to the intersection? Not if you have to wait the same amount. Just let the car coast. It'll save your brakes too.

Go to Joe's Baskin Robbins for free ice cream.

Go to Thieu Nhi for free food.

Be nice to the Ballers in Arms, we'll feed you and buy random stuff for you.

- Mac


Gen. Fee-Lahm said...

great piece. good guide. i'll follow it by the book.

Willy Bob said...

lol +1 for suggesting not to cheap out on dates