Saturday, March 31, 2012

Living cheap as hell

Welcome to Cheap-Ass-Living. This is the very first post of what I hope to be many, many more to come so feel free to stop back often and gage the progress.

Living Cheap

The economy is improving according to the nightly news but everywhere I look I see none at all. Gas prices at $4.00 a gallon, and inflation the worse it’s been since the nineteen seventies, so with no real end in sight to the “great recession” I decided to just say screw it to the whole ball of wax and leave the rat race behind. I created this site to chronicle my adventures in doing just that. The goal here is to learn how to survive on as little as $300 a month! I don’t want to just “scrape-by” either. My hope is to create a standard of living that is comfortable and satisfying, and one that will ensure I am not “ruffing it”, a standard of living that doesn’t force me to live under a bridge or in a homeless shelter. My objective is to fix the problems of my most basic wants and needs so that they stay fixed and then slowly but steadily increase my quality of life to a level that is beyond the bare minimum.

So what am I planning to do? After all everybody has to live somewhere and if i don’t want to live in a homeless shelter or under a bridge then I’ll probably have to pay rent, rent, and more rent just to have some place to hang my hat. I don’t want to do this because having a recurring bill month after month for shelter is something I can’t really afford to do. Not if I’m going to survive on $300 a month!

The first thing I did was buy a small piece of land for $400 and park a “junk” trailer on it; therefore my shelter dilemma is solved. It’s not exactly Buckingham Palace but it’s still a castle to me and will ensure I always have someplace warm and dry to lay my head for the night. At least it will be when I get around to fixing the leaky roof. But I no longer have to worry about eviction if I have trouble paying the rent, so I can’t begin to tell you what a relief that is! It’s a huge step in the right direction so stay tuned for future post on how I did this so cheap.

The next problem I’ll have to overcome is food and water. With all the inflation the last several years food has risen to prices so ridiculously high that even a poor bastard with a full time job has trouble putting grub on the table. There are no easy and automatic answers for this as it is an ongoing issue that must be constantly worked at. At least it is if I want to eat a healthy, nutritious diet at the lowest possible cost and not have to resort to eating Ramon noodle soups three times a day. I plan to eventually grow much of my own food however which will cut cost significantly. In the mean time I plan to use a variety of options and techniques like eating a “mostly” vegetarian diet. Lots of beans-n-rice and potatoes bought in bulk. I will use Freebie food programs for a while if need be and even do a bit of dumpster diving! I won’t starve. Expect plenty of articles and post about eating cheap, and I mean cheap because this ain’t no “coupon clipping” site. This blog is dedicated to hard core frugality.

Transportation is another critical area that can take up a huge amount of a persons income. With gasoline at $4.00 a gallon it’s just not possible to live on the small amount of money that I’m planning in my budget. Certainly not when you factor in auto insurance, maintenance and repair, and car payments for anything decent. You would need a full time job just to be able to get from point A to Point B. Screw that!

The most attractive idea in this area would be to buy a good used diesel powered car or truck (for cash) and convert it to run on (WVO) waste vegetable oil. Used fryer grease can be had for nothing at restaurants and fast food joints and would be the perfect fuel to use for anyone trying to live on very little money. I hope to do this in the future but right now I don’t have the money that a good used diesel vehicle cost, nor do I have the technical know-how just yet to make the conversion.

A much cheaper alternative for transportation would be to purchase a good mountain bike to pedal my ass everywhere I need to go. No fuel to worry about, no insurance needed, and the health benefits alone would almost warrant this rout. My place is too distant from the nearest town however so riding a bicycle that far and back would just take too long.

The solution to the transportation problem that seems most viable right now is to buy a small motorcycle or scooter. I have found a lot of cheap scooters on craigslist that will do 60+ mph and get as much as 80 mpg! One model that I really like sells for just $650 brand new out the door with a two year warranty! With tax, title, and license the end price will still be under $850. I think that I can spend $10 a week or less on gas and get everywhere I need to go. Insurance is around $10 a month so $50 or less per month should cover the total cost of my transportation needs after the initial purchase price. Stay tuned for updates.

Lots of other bills eat up a persons income every month as well like power, water, phone bill, garbage pickup, cable TV. Internet and a host of other services that people feel are essential. There are ways around most of these obstacles as well so expect post and links to other sites about how I deal with these issues. Water for example is something everyone has to have so I plan on just hauling my supply of H20 in the beginning. Eventually I will build my own rainwater catchment system and expand it until it meets all of my water needs. I just don’t want to pay for the stuff when it falls from the sky for free. Let’s go ahead and take a look at my proposed monthly budget so you can see where my three hundred bucks is going to go, shall we.

Cell phone/Internet…$37.00

As you can see my proposed budget comes out to just $200 a month and not the $300 I mentioned at the beginning of the article. I hope to be able to put $100 back every month for savings in case of emergencies and to use towards a small alternative power system in the future. You’ll notice that I am budgeting only $10.00 right now for electricity. That’s because I am going to be completely off-grid from the start. The $10.00 in the budget is for batteries to power my Coleman L.E.D lanterns and a portable radio/boom box for music. I also plan to purchase a solar power charger for my cell phone until I can get a proper solar array set up to power my basic needs.

Remember this is “only” a proposed budget and this blog is a chronicle of an ongoing experiment to see how really cheap I can live and still maintain a comfortable standard of living. I expect my budget will change slightly as I make adjustments but hopefully it doesn’t increase by much. Time will tell.

If you have any good ideas or links to sites related to cheap ass living then by all means send them my way, and again please come back often to check on my progress.