Bartering: With cash so tight these days, bartering for goods and services is making a big-time comeback. Is it possible to swap something you own — or even swap some of your time — to lower some of your fixed expenses? I know from firsthand experience as the landlord of a small rental unit we own, we've more than once agreed to give cash-strapped tenants a break on their rent in exchange for giving us a hand with projects around our house or the rental unit. You need to think creatively about what you need and what you have to offer. Online bartering clubs let you swap just about anything you have for all types of goods and services, and "time banks" are an increasingly popular way of exchanging your time and talents for the services and assistance you need.
Doing without: Last but certainly not least, we all need to ask ourselves: What would happen if tomorrow I had to live without _______? Fill in that blank with anything you think of as a fixed expense: a car, cable TV, your gym membership, a cellphone, the home you currently live in, a newspaper subscription — you name it. Sometimes the probable consequence of simply "doing without" will be a sacrifice or risk you're not willing to take. But oftentimes giving something up can be freeing and opens the door to enjoying life more.
That's exactly the experience a member of the audience shared following a talk on frugal living that I gave at the AARP Life@50+ Expo in Los Angeles. (Watch a video of Jeff's talk.) She told the audience that she realized she was watching a lot more television than she intended and that it was costing her too much time and too much money. With that, she pulled the plug, canceling her television service entirely and turning on the good old-fashioned radio instead. "I can tell you, my life has changed," she said proudly, "and it's a hell of a lot better now."
I guess that says it all.
Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.