19 Tips For Affordable Living On The Fly

I think we all want to live our best lives without going into debt. Personally, I think it is possible to be financially healthy without feeling deprived. Today, I'm breaking down my top tips for affordable living on the fly. These tips are all geared to help you create a lifestyle that supports you in making quick healthy financial choices while on the go.

This post is part of my money saving series sponsored by Lexington Law. Over the last few months, I’ve been sharing money saving tips on everything from buying your first home and decorating it, to grocery shopping and so much more! Catch up on the entire money saving series here! Lexington Law Firm is committed to helping people repair their credit score from inaccurate, unfair, and unsubstantiated negative items on their credit report. In fact, they are offering readers a free credit repair consultation, simply click here

19 Tips For Affordable Living On The Fly

Review spending weekly

If you only practice one tip on this list, make it this one! Part of living affordably on the fly means you know what is going on with your finances. Years ago I read a study about Americans being in financial chaos and that being a major contributor to them being in debt. When you know how much money you have in which accounts, what bills are due when, and what you've been spending your money on all week, you give yourself the gift of financial clarity. That clarity and knowledge about your true financial status, will make it easier to make financial decisions on the fly. 

Similarly, financial chaos is a major factor in poor credit scores. When was the last time you pulled your credit report from the credit bureaus and checked it for inaccurate, unsubstantiated, or unfair items? If it's been awhile  you need to! Especially if you've been a victim of identity theft, have medical bills or student loans, recently divorced, or are in the military. The odds of the inaccurate negative items go up with each of those situations. If any of this sounds like you and your credit score isn't where you want it to be, click here to speak with Lexington Law today.

Focus on Cost Per Meal when dining out

Obviously, if you are trying to cut back on spending, skipping eating out is going to be the best money saver. However, since this is about affordable living on the fly and not depriving yourself of all indulgences, I want to share my dining out hacks to really stretch your dollar. 

So most places today serve WAY to big of portions for a single serving. Especially when you factor in a bread basket and appetizer. A rule of thumb I live by is to always make my meal out, last at least two meals. So for instance, I will spend a little more money, to make it a full two meals, instead of just getting an entree that only has 1/4 left to bring home and isn't a complete meal. Instead, I'll fill up on the bread basket or I'll order an appetizer (or both!) in addition to my entree.

What this looks like: If I had just ordered an entree, maybe it would've cost me $15; but with the appetizer it cost me, $22 and now I have a complete second meal for the next day which takes my cost per meal from $15 to $11. I always focus on that cost per meal number, instead of the total I'm spending in that instant. Plus, I find it overall more satisfying, since I can get a few things and my tastebuds are always satiated! 

Install money saving tools and extensions

One of the easiest ways to live affordably on the fly, is to let technology do the work for you! We live in an awesome time where you no longer need to clip physical coupons to save money. Instead, you can simply download an app or browser extension that will give you cashback at specific retailers or apply coupon codes they found on the internet. Here are 5 of my favorite money saving apps and how to use them! 

Change your default to “no”

Every day we are bombarded with choices. Do you want to sign up for our rewards program? Are you going to click through this flash sale email? Do you want to save 10% by opening a store credit card?

One of the easiest ways to save money and live affordably on the fly is to make your default response “no.” When you sign up for a rewards program, you are most likely inundating yourself with email or text message ads from the store. When you click through a flash sale email, “just to browse” you're only tempting yourself. And when you open a store credit card you can actually be harming your financial standing.

Opening a new credit card acts as a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries will lower your credit score note the professionals at Lexington Law. Do that a few times in a day and you could go from a “good” credit score to a “poor” one in that single day! It takes time to build up excellent credit, and minutes to destroy it. All the more reason to make your default response “no” or “not now.”

[RELATED] What You Need To Know Before Applying For A New Credit Card

Practice gratitude

Research has continually come out over the years on the benefits of gratitude on our emotional, physical, social, and even our financial health. The reality is, when we shift into an attitude of gratitude, we become happier and more patient. It's no longer about what we don't have, but rather what we do have. 

[RELATED] The Confused Millennial’s 30 Day Gratitude Challenge

Plan and budget for big spending events year round

There is a growing movement where people will budget $5 a week year round and then use that money for their holiday shopping. One of the great things about certain big spending events (birthdays, holidays, etc.) are that they happen the same time every year! Making it really easy to plan and budget accordingly and relieve any financial stress. You can set this up as an automatic transfer with most banks so the money is officially earmarked and you aren't tempted by it in your checking account. 

Opt for Semi-Homemade

Semi-homemade is when you take a mix of store bought or pre-done food and add your own spin on it. 

So I actually do this for dining out too. Basically, if I don't have a complete second (or third) meal from my leftovers of the original, I'll use a few items from home to make it a full meal. For instance, when we order Greek food I always ask for a second full pita (not cut up). I then take half my protein and fries from the meal and set it aside for the next day and that night, I eat the pita, some fries, and the salad. The next day for lunch, I take my full pita, leftover protein, and then some spinach and other veggies I have at home and make it a wrap with the leftover fries. Or when we get this loaded brisket nacho dish from a local place, I mix in my own chips and sometimes my own beans to make it stretch even longer. 

You can also go semi-homemade for things you're making from “scratch.” For instance, it's the holidays and you want to make a corn casserole. Instead of buying the flour and cornmeal which can run you around $3 only for it to sit in your pantry, just get corn muffin mix for .97 and then mix it in with the rest of your casserole ingredients. Remember buying those ingredients like flour and cornmeal are only a true savings on your “cost per meal” if you *actually* end up using the ingredients; otherwise it's a waste of money! 

Pay off your credit card every two weeks

Remember what I said about financial chaos? Well since you're already checking in on your spending each week, get in the habit of checking and paying off your credit cards as often as possible. This lowers the amount of money you're paying in interest and keeps your credit utilization ratio down (a pretty big factor in your credit score). 

[RELATED]What Is A Good Credit Score? & The 5 Factors That Make It Up!

Stick to a budget and debt repayment plant

Regardless if you have debt or not, everyone should be working off a budget. Personally, I love the 50/20/30 Guideline since it's a super simple 3 number budget. It's literally designed for affordable living on the fly since you only need to remember three numbers and you can make quick choices based off of those. 

If you have any debt, it's vital to come up with a debt repayment strategy. Check out this post on How To Repay Debt [2 Strategies To Change The Game] to help you come up with a plan! A debt repayment plan will help you decide which balances need more than just the minimum payment, so you can actually make progress on your principle (main debt) rather than just losing payments towards heft interest fees. 

Delay gratification for at least 48 hours

I talked about this when I shared how my 30 day no-spend challenge ended up lasting 3 years and totally changed my relationship with money. The idea here is to basically see if you truly want the item or if it's just an emotional or impulse buy. When shopping, if there's something I like, I'll make a mental note of it. If I still remember the item and am thinking about it after a couple of days, I'll go ahead and get it. This sort of ties back into the original point on making your default “no,” when out. 

Put your blinders on around the promo bins

The promo bins are the $1-10 racks you see when you walk into a store, or the bins/displays surrounding the check out line. These are your impulse buys and often are presented to look like “good deals” when they are simply a round up of items at a low enough price point that you'll impulsively throw them in your basket before checking out. 

I remember when one retailer set it up so when you walked into the store everything was $1… then it was $3… then $5, and now it's a mix of all of those and even some $10 items! But you know what everyone still calls that section of the store? The dollar spot! Because the retailer trained its customers over the years to think it was a discount section when it really isn't. So walk right on past them with your blinders on friends! 

Declutter and shop your house

When you take the time to declutter and organize what you already have, it makes it easier to shop your own home. Shopping your own home, and having an idea of your existing inventory, allows you to make affordable choices on the fly. For instance, I love a good sale (don't we all?). Too often though, I'd buy a cleaning supply on sale because I thought I was getting a good deal and couldn't remember if I had any at home or not. When we moved last year, I found 4 of the same cleaning product that I just kept buying because my house had become cluttered and I had no idea what was actually in the back of my cabinets. 

[RELATED] 21 Ways To Save Money

Enjoy the early bird special

The early bird gets the worm! And that's definitely the case when it comes to dining out and happy hour! One of my favorite ways for affordable living is to dine out early. Most places do food on the happy hour menu or do some sort of early bird special. This way you can still enjoy dining out, lower your “cost per meal” like we talked about, and beat the crowds/chaos. 

Protect your identity

Identity theft is a very real problem today and is quickly becoming the number one crime in the nation! Thieves are becoming smarter than ever at stealing your information. You can read about some of the ways identity theft happens here from the professionals at Lexington Law. 

Protecting your identity should be at the forefront of all of our minds since a stolen identity can seriously cost you. The Lex OnTrack Identity Theft Protection tool monitors and protects your identity from theft with $1 million in identity theft insurance! It works to help catch fraud on your accounts and works with you to rectify the situation.

If you already believe you've been a victim of identity theft, give the professionals at Lexington Law a call today! They specialize in unfair, unsubstantiated, and inaccurate items on credit reports and are here to help repair your credit if that sounds like you. 

[RELATED] How Credit Impacts Your Life & What You Can Do About It

Take advantage of upgrades, promotions, and giveaways

A lot of places offer promotional giveaways that you'll want to take full advantage of. Many gyms will offer at least a week pass to check them out before committing to a membership. Other places have “birthday clubs” where they offer freebies to celebrate your birthday with you. My motto is, “when in doubt, ask!” You'll never know if there's an upgrade, free promo or giveaway if you don't! 

Turn off email notifications

I turned email off my phone over five years ago and it was the BEST choice I ever made! First of all, no annoying red bubbles reminding me of all the things I still have to do. Secondly, I can skip out on all the “flash sale” emails. I learned this a long time ago: certain retailers offer flash sales like every single day. NEW FLASH: if it's a sale that happens every week, then it's not a sale! It's just their prices! But that's how marketing works. So by turning off your email notifications, you can let all those emails pile up and start to see the trends. Lastly, it simply reduces overall temptation to buy-buy-buy. 

[RELATED] 25 Personal Finance Hacks You’ll Wish You’d Learned Sooner

Consider alternatives means of transportation

Owning a car can get expensive. There's insurance, regular maintenance, and then of course: gas. If you are looking to live affordably on the fly, consider walking or riding your bike during nice weather. See if friends want to carpool, especially if it's a long ride. Heck, if you live somewhere with decent walkability, you may want to even consider ditching your car all together and just doing a ride sharing app since many have a “membership” plan these days where you can either pay a monthly fee to get discounts on all your rides for that money, or you can purchase a discount on a set number of rides. 

Utilize a rewards credit card

Now, just because my default is “no” on store credit cards, that does not mean I'm anti-credit card! In fact, I love credit cards when used responsibly! Meaning you should never charge more than you can pay off that debt ideally. My belief is simple: if you're already spending the money (and have the money to do so), then you may as well get something back in return. That's where a rewards credit card comes in. 

There are a slew of rewards credit cards out there. Everything from travel specific cards to cash back. Take some time to choose one that aligns most with where you typically spend your money. For instance, if you don't really travel and just shop for groceries and pay bills then a credit card with higher cashback bonus on groceries will better suit you than one with bonuses for booking airline tickets. 

The best rewards credit cards typically have higher requirements for approval. Meaning, they usually like to see people with a minimum of a “good” credit score. It's vital that you know if you match the requirements for approval before applying, since every application counts as a hard inquiry and that drives your credit score down. 

If you find your credit score isn't high enough to get the rewards credit card you want, and you believe there are unfair, inaccurate, or unsubstantiated negative items on your credit report, click here to give Lexington Law a call today for your free credit repair consultation. 

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Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

It may sound funny, but if you've ever gone to the grocery store hungry, you know just how real this struggle is. One minute you're going in to pick up milk, the next you're leaving with cereal, chicken tenders, ice cream, chips, and who knows what else! If you do need to go to the grocery store hungry, make a list and stick to it. No browsing. No temptations.

Living affordably without depriving yourself is possible. The major key I hope you take away from this is that financial clarity is your friend. It can feel scary and overwhelming to look at all your accounts and spending, but letting go of denial and moving towards understanding will actually alleviate your anxiety. You just have to take that first step. And you don't have to do it alone on the credit score front.

If you think there are unsubstantiated, unfait, or inaccurate negative items on your credit report, the professionals at Lexington Law are here to help. Reach out to them today by clicking here

Catch up on the rest of the Money Savings Series here:

How To Reach Any Savings Goal

How To Save Money For Your First Home Purchase

41 Brilliant [+ Easy] Ways To Save Money On Travel

37 Ways To Save Money When You Have A Baby

How To Stop Overspending Money: 17 Tips To Stop Once & For All

How To Save Money This Halloween: 27 Tricks That’ll Feel Like A Treat

The Ultimate List Of 57 Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding

How To Save Money On Groceries Every Month On A Tight Budget

31 Ways To Save Money On All Things Thanksgiving

39 Money Saving Hacks You Need This Christmas Season



List of 19 Tips For Affordable Living On The Fly Without Depriving Yourself

  1. Review spending weekly

  2. Focus on Cost Per Meal when dining out

  3. Install money saving tools and extensions

  4. Change your default to no

  5. Practice gratitude

  6. Plan and budget for big spending events year round

  7. Opt for Semi-Homemade

  8. Pay off credit card every two weeks

  9. Stick to a budget and debt repayment plant

  10. Delay gratification for at least 48 hours

  11. Put your blinders on around the promo bins

  12. Declutter and shop your house

  13. Enjoy the early bird special

  14. Protect your identity

  15. Take advantage of upgrades, promotions, and giveaways

  16. Turn off email notifications

  17. Consider alternatives means of transportation

  18. Utilize a rewards credit card

  19. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry