8 Ways to Feel Rich When You’re Not

In the material world in which we all live, it’s sometimes easy to feel like you’re suffering. Here are some simple tips to keep you focused, and more important, happy.

At one point or another, most of us have been there, trying to stretch a small paycheck around bills that only seem to get bigger. And the often-parroted strategies for making ends meet are largely the same: buy second-hand, clip coupons, wait for sales, etc.

But there’s more to life than just figuring out the best way to get by. If small paychecks are a fact of life for you (at least right now), here’s how to rethink the numbers and maybe even begin to feel rich.

Before we start, check out this video. It’s about how to save 10 percent or more on everything you buy.

Now, here are eight ways to feel big while living on a small income.

1. Allow yourself small indulgences

Feeling wealthy despite a small paycheck is often as simple as allowing yourself small indulgences. Splurge for your favorite coffee drink on Friday afternoons, skip the spa weekend and invest instead in a 10-minute chair massage, have a good glass of wine with dinner, or carve out some time for a Saturday matinee.

Little luxuries reward our hard efforts, keep us motivated, and offer a temporary respite from constant budget-watching.

2. Barter

Get what you need without using cash. Bartering is one of the oldest forms of commerce, and it’s enjoying a revival.

Instead of trying to figure out how you’re going to save enough cash to pay for X, Y or Z, brainstorm ways to use the barter system. What skills, services or unused items could be traded for what you need and would otherwise have to pay for? Could you swap childcare services on a Saturday for an oil change? Could you tutor the neighbor’s kid in algebra in exchange for snow removal services? How about trading that old moped for your friend’s unused table saw?

Bartering is all about leveraging relationships to find innovative solutions that are a win for everybody. 

3. Stay ahead of the interest game

Nothing shrinks an already small paycheck faster than interest. No matter how tempting it may be to alleviate a temporary budget crunch through the use of a credit card or worse, a payday loan, actively avoid both. The interest rate and terms on each can turn a small budget challenge into a chronic debt nightmare and leave you feeling poorer than ever.

If you’re ready to kick the credit card habit, here are some pointers to get you started.

4. Save anything you can

Get over the notion that in order for saving to really matter, you have to stash hundreds of dollars at a time.

Saving is an exercise in patience, persistence and incremental success. You can slowly build wealth and enjoy all the psychological rewards that go along with increasing your financial security by saving $10 here and $20 there. Once you decide to do it, the key to success is simple: Stick with it, don’t waver, and don’t let temporary wants drain what you’ve worked so hard to accumulate.

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  • Mary Harrsch

    Although I am a retired technology specialist, I am still dismayed by vendors of both hardware and software who try to make you feel that you are struggling along with “old” equipment. Recently, I called my computer’s vendor to check on the wattage of the power supply so I could select an add-in graphics card to increase performance when using graphics editing programs and games. When I told the support person my model number, she admonished me that with that “old” of a tower, I wouldn’t have many choices. I had already checked the manufacture date of my workstation and it was produced at the end of 2010 and I purchased it at the beginning of the second quarter of 2011. I admonished her right back that most people can’t afford to buy a new tower every year and that mine was only two years old anyway!

    It’s the same story each time you get an email update about a new version available for the software you have. They try to convince you that you really need the features in the latest version. Often, though, this is not true. I am still using Photoshop Elements 9 (the latest version is 12) even though I’m sure Adobe’s salespeople can’t see how I could possibly be satisfied with that. Actually, it does everything I need along with third party plugins I have purchased for it over the years. Many of the “new” features in the latest versions are incorporating options I have had for years because of the plugins I have already purchased. Each time a new version is announced, I carefully read over the “what’s new” section of the website and if the new features aren’t something I use on a regular basis I ignore it.

    • Dale

      I’m with you – with one small exception. Up until 10 years ago I was still working off of the original b&w Apple all in one. I was able to get third-party software updates to keep going on the word processor. I’m a writer so that was my most important need.

      But then I began travelling more for my writing and I began to rely on Apple’s now-defunct Sherlock program. It was a great piece of software that incorporated not only travel planning but also could generate expense and other reports along with iteneraries, etc. I loved it for organizing my work life. But as hardware and software improved, the sponsors of each individual piece of this program bowed out and Apple slowly gutted the program and made it virtually useless. I was forced to update my hardware just to get the same functionality back!

      These days I update my hardware every three to seven years and my software every two years. The last computer I bought was the MacBook (the original before retina display) and before that the (half snowball) with the adjustable arm and the first thin flat screen. As an Xmas present to myself I’ve just purchased the iPad Air.

      But when I’m feeling nostalgic I turn on that old b&w little box and write up a little something…

  • Tom

    we all buy crap we don’t need, persuaded by the ad guys to get vaginal deodorant or designer shampoo or whatever. don’t be conned by corporations to line their pockets at the expense of yours.

    • Sarah

      What gets me is the schools pushing all these things on our kids to sell. Telling them sell this or bring me 10 names and addresses and you’ll get these super cool prizes. Having them watch videos about prizes during school, it’s ridiculous. If the schools need money they can ask for donations rather than conning the children to go home and beg their parents to buy a bunch of over priced useless crap.

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