How to Live With the Bare Necessities

How to Live With the Bare Necessities
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Surviving on just the basics takes some planning, tough choices and a commitment to staying within your means. Living with only life's necessities can give you control over your money, help you simplify your life and maintain even the tightest of budgets.

Determine Your Basic Needs

The term “bare necessities” means different things to different people, so decide the true minimum you can realistically live with. The bare bones can be broken down to food, shelter, clothing and transportation, but there are differing degrees of each. For example, in the “shelter” category, some options are clearly more affordable than others. Be honest in making your own personal assessment of what you need to get by.

Separate Wants from Needs

Don’t rationalize when making serious decisions about your wants versus your needs. A need is something you must have to survive, while a want is something you’d like to have, but could be fine going without. Focus on your frugal living objectives, such as living without debt, curbing stress or minimizing your impact on the environment.

Go Small

Choose the most inexpensive living options in key areas. For example, pick an apartment rather than a house and use public transportation or an energy-efficient economy car instead of a luxury sedan or SUV. Shop for clothing at thrift stores instead of department stores, and learn to grow your own food to supplement what you buy at warehouse clubs or discount chains. Don't buy or use nonessential electronics such as cell phones, tablets, cable television and video games to avoid data plans, monthly fees and maintenance. Find free entertainment venues and eat at home rather than dine out.

Make a Budget

Create your budget in conjunction with making a plan to live with just the basics. This allows you to set realistic goals based on your income, debt obligations and nonnegotiable living expenses. Track spending if you don’t know where your money is going and develop a written budget that clearly defines your essential expenditures. Build in savings for emergencies and regularly review the budget to ensure you’re staying within the financial parameters you’ve set for yourself.