Between bills, student loans, personal necessities, and the cost of running my business, it's needless to say that money has been tight. However, sticking to an extremely tight budget hasn't been the worst thing in the world. Not only have I been able to master my budgeting and planning skills, but I've also learned to appreciate the small things in life that many others may take for granted. For example, how to save on grocery shopping by looking for deals, buying in bulk, clipping coupons, even cooking in a way that allows be to optimize by food the best. Meaning using less of the expensive foods (meat, fish, poultry) as far as portion sizing and filling the plate with more sides like veggies, rice and noodles. Also balancing my personal activities whether it be enjoying nightlife or other leisure activities such as going out to the movies. Planning alternate activities allows you to be creative and realize that there are a lot of other ways to have fun without spending money. Kind of like an old school feel when you were a kid and you would play board games or just go sight-seeing. Also being on a budget allowed me to concentrate on how to lower my bills and use things more efficiently. I can't do much about my phone, but saving on electric and gas were two bills that I were able to cut. It's funny how doing something as simple as buying an automatic thermostat, or unplugging devices when you're not using them can save a lot of money in the long run. This way not only am I saving money but I'm also helping the environment in a way (I suppose).
Lastly although I'm self-employed (not unemployed, I hate hearing that) I do volunteer at a local university as their Assistant Track & Field/Cross Country Coach. The university is about six miles away from my home and at the time when I leave for work, it probably takes me about 15 minutes to drive down every day. Over the summer I made the decision that I was going to try and bike to work as much as possible this year. Yes I will have to bring an extra pair a clothes to change into but other than that biking only adds five more minutes to my travel time by cutting off 12 miles of city miles five days a week, I will save on about $40 a month on gas. Not to mention I get some daily exercise in.
I don't plan on being poor, broke or whatever you want to call it for a long time, but I do value the lessons learned during this time in my life. In four years when I'm a millionaire (and I say that because it's been my goal since a kid to be a millionaire by the age of 30) I know I will keep this same frugal mindset. And that is what separates the rich from the wealthy.