Art supplies are expensive, so is gas for your car and fuel for your belly. Everything costs money and many artists are flush with creative ideas but low on cash. Yikes! What can a starving artist do to be not-so-starving? Read my tips below. You’ve heard them before. They involve common sense and they bear repeating, over and over again forever.
I present these 5 money saving tips to you (in no particular order) to help you save cash today. Some are easy to pull off while others require a greater level of commitment, perhaps even a lifestyle change. The tips that take the most work will undoubtedly lead to the highest rewards, however.
1. Clip and Save Coupons
Some well known retail outlets seem to know exactly what I buy and they mail me coupons for those things. That may freak you out, and I admit it is a bit eerie, but I’ll be danged if it doesn’t save me 5 to 15 percent on the things I buy on a regular basis. It helps me keep within my weekly budget.
don’t like the waste that mailers generate, and digital coupons will likely become more prevalent, but until then clip and use coupons in whatever form they come. That said, don’t fall into the trap of buying things you don’t need just because you have a coupon for it. That’s not saving money.
2. Go Meatless
I have written a lot about vegetarian cooking and the benefits of a vegan/veggie diet. In my culinary career I cooked at two different veggie restaurants and have been trying to stick to a vegetarian diet for several decades. I am not a strict vegetarian, however. You could say I’m a failed vegetarian and you would be right. Maybe I’m a failed carnivore. At any rate, I am an omnivore to be sure, but it’s not a dilemma. To put it another way, I won’t turn away a free meal regardless of what’s in it (almost).
Having said that, a plant-based diet is the best diet if you’re smart about it . It’s also a less expensive alternative to meat eating—for the planet, for your body, for your wallet. Veggie meals are less expensive, easy to make and won’t leave your kitchen covered in a thin layer of animal grease. If there’s just no way you can go forever meatless, limit your consumption to just a few meals a day. Do this and I guarantee you will appreciate your next hamburger much more than you would had you never made the sacrifice AND you will save money.
3. Grow Your Own
Grow your own produce! Fruits, vegetables, herbs, it’s fun, it’s a learning experience and it will allow you to eat fresh food on a weekly basis. Talk about local and in-season eating, this is the epitome of those movements. Yes, there are some costs involved: soil, fertilizer, seeds, etc. but your garden will pay for itself in salad fixings pretty early in the growing season. You can read about my own experiences with urban gardening here.
4. Eat at Home
Learn to cook, and if you can’t learn to do that, learn to assemble. Dining out is a money sucker and sometimes it’s a gamble anyway. If you don’t have time to cook every night, cook once a week and freeze, then thaw out individual meals as you go. This works great for casseroles (or hotdish as you Minnesotans say), soups, stews even desserts. Invest in a good cookbook. Don’t worry about trying to be a foodie, just make food. Having those meals on hand will limit any impulsive trips to your neighborhood takeout spot(s).
5. Brown Bag It
If you take my advice and start preparing your meals at home why not take it to the next logical conclusion and make a lunch to take to school, work or the studio? I once had a job delivering free weekly newspapers around the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. The hourly wage was pretty low and I got hungry on the job. I would stop in various restaurants for lunch and would eat the equivalent of an hour and a half of my paycheck every time I worked. That ate into my profit margin and made a crappy job that much crappier. I started bringing PB&Js on the road with me. They did not require refrigeration while I jumped in and out of the delivery van all morning. I basically gave myself a raise by brown bagging it. Use the same game plan as above for home cooking: make a few meals at the beginning of the week then portion them out for the road. If you work in an office that has a microwave, you have many options for packaged and prepared food too. Use dinner leftover dinner entrees for lunch. Limit your food waste and keep cash out of the trash!
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