Living Better for Less--Just like Grandma (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a two-part series. For the first five tips, see the English article before this one!


6. Don't spend too much on beauty.
    Really, a 50,000 yen face cream isn't going to magically make you young and beautiful. Whatever moisturizing or protective benefits it may have can also be obtained from the 500 yen drug store brand. Do your homework about toxicity and environmental impact, animal testing, or whatever is important to you, but don't believe the hype put out by the fancy manufacturers. No brand of make up is that good for your skin, anyway. I don't know about you, but I always found baby powder to be sufficient as a setting powder. Same thing with hair care: the price of the product isn't as good of a barometer of quality or effectiveness as the manufacturers would have you believe. Do your homework. Just don't blindly believe advertizing.


7.Speaking of beauty, you can look fabulous in second-hand clothes.
    It's OK to be a second-hand rose. The clothes and shoes of the past were often better-made than the offerings today, so unless they're visibly shabby or don't fit you properly, there is no need to shy away from vintage. I happen to like the vintage look (especially the 1930s and 1940s), but the retro pieces from the 1980s often work just as well. Besides, people were smaller in the past, which is a big help for me, because I'm so tiny that I'm off the size charts. Added bonus there. If you aren't trying to look like you just came to the 21st century as a tourist from the past, however, there are still plenty of used options. If something doesn't quite fit you, looks very dated in a bad way, or has a flaw, you may be able to get away with it through alterations. It shouldn't look like you raided the goodwill bin in front of your local grocery store, or worse, your grandparents' closets. A little ingenuity and a dollop of good taste will see you through.


8. While you're at the grocery store, check the discount bin.
     It helps to get there early, as the pensioners tend to swoop down on the discount bin. You do have to make sure those grapes that look like a bargain aren't totally moldy, but if you use your nose, eyes, and good sense, you should be able to score some bargain produce. Tomatoes and bananas are often better when they're in the bargain bin, because people tend to go for the firm, premature ones. Only use this trick for meat, dairy, or seafood if you plan on same-day consumption, however. A cheap grocery bill is not a bargain if you get food poisoning.


9. Approach your budget as a zero-sum game.
      Your budget is a zero-sum game, because you only have so much money. If you're in the habit of using credit cards for everything, this is easy to forget, but it's true. All you have to do is prioritize. Do you want to splurge on a lavish Saturday afternoon tea, or do you want to stay at a slightly better hotel the next time you go on vacation? There is no right answer, but you do need to make some choices.


10. Finally, most important: run your household as if it's 1933.
I'm serious. People during the Great Depression had to be careful with their money and property. Mindless consumption was just not an option. You don't have stress yourself out, but budgeting books and articles from the era can be full of interesting, doable tricks. Have fun being thrifty--turn it into a game. If all else fails, you can always ask your grandma!


Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping your bills down and your quality of life up? Share them in the comments section!