I'm ecstatic to be holding down a full-time job, even though I've had to learn to adapt to less pay. When some of my friends and family members received a Christmas bonus, I got a pay cut in my proverbial stocking. I'm not complaining, though. Many of my colleagues are working for less pay. It's just a fact of life in today's economy. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some people who were used to making more than $80,000 a year now accept jobs making $10 an hour. Job growth is occurring mostly in low-wage industries, which hurts the middle-income workers such as me.
I've found a few painless ways to adapt to a lower salary. In my particular case, I have had to learn to get by on $1,600 less a year or $135 a month.
Packing my lunch
I used to eat out after finishing appointments in town for my job. Because I am making less money, I keep a cooler in my car that I fill with dry ice. I remember to pack my cooler every morning with plenty of water bottles that I refill at home. I also pack healthy snacks and a sandwich that I can eat in the parking lot in between work appointments.
In the past, I would buy a new wardrobe every season. This year, I'm swapping clothes with my sister. We get bored wearing the same outfits year after year. When I went on a trip to Canada, I needed a warm winter coat. Instead of spending $100, I borrowed my sister's coat for the long weekend. I also save money on my work wardrobe by choosing black or gray skirts that can be easily matched with different colorful sweaters. I used to spend $50 a month on clothing, but I've cut my budget for clothes down to just $20 a month.
Saving money on gasoline
Before the pay cut, I would make several trips back and forth between different towns without paying much attention to the mileage counter in my car. I now realize I can't afford to waste so much gas on scenic drives that aren't productive. I plan my day in advance so that I can eliminate duplicate trips to the same area, but at different times. I was able to spend about $25 less money on gasoline just by being a better planner. I also feel better about conserving gasoline.
Some people say you can't get ahead by being frugal. Instead, they say they key is to earn more money. While it's nice to have more income coming in, it doesn't happen overnight. When I received a pay cut, I had to immediately scale back my lifestyle so that I could continue to live below my means and make budget. In some ways, I'm glad I am earning less money now than I was a few months ago. It's like someone turned back the clock a few years. I like being reminded that I can't have everything I want the minute I want it. I won't die if I have to do without gourmet coffee drinks for 6 days out of the week. In a few more years, I'm sure I'll get my salary back up.
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