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Freedom! Live life frugally this summer

Visit garage sales to find economical art supplies. (Photo: Lesley Epling / Morguefile)

This summer,  more than most, artists need to economize. They may find themselves with no art fairs, with galleries closed or gone and regular buyers feeling frugal themselves.  Unemployment is high and uncertainty is too.

So it’s the perfect time to learn to live and create on the cheap. Follow the lead of model and television star Tyra Banks, who said: “I’m frugal. I’ve always been this way. When I was young, my mom would give me my allowance, and I’d peel off a little each week and have some to spare.”

Create a more independent approach to living by cutting your spending – and increasing your future possibilities. Here’s some ideas for emerging artists:

Develop a frugal outlook.  Some people grow up with this, following their mom or aunt to yard sales. Others must work to ingrain a make the most with the least mindset in their lives and creative practices.  Start with a living life large on the cheap mantra, or borrow mine: “I live an abundant life on a modest paycheck.”

Get creative. Reuse items in your art. Develop a mixed media series glued and painted on old cookie sheets. Or concoct a project using blueprints as the backdrop. Create a list of possible materials:  Old windows and doors work well as canvases to paint and some artists create on records or books. Sculptors may remake old metal shelves or rakes and shovels.

Find joy in the journey.  Your approach to frugality should make it fun or an adventure.  Create a “cheapskate challenge” with your siblings or friends. Plant peppers or potatoes or find one of the many free food handouts that are all around these days. Plan dinner with four friends at home instead of heading to a bar or restaurant. Log how many days you go without buying anything online, and celebrate when you hit 30.

Find it for free on Craigslist and Nextdoor.  Search in a few areas, starting in the “free” section. Then look for garage sales, gigs and other items for sale.  If you are really looking for something specific, consider placing an ad as a way to land what you need. Be clear that your budget is tiny.

Head to estate sales or flea markets to find unconventional art supplies. (Photo Alexander Shustov / Unsplash)

Shop garage and estate sales.   You will find plentiful options in the summer and fall. Head to estatesales.net or download a garage sale locator app to identify where you’re going.  Look for multi-family sales or church sales for a wider array of items. We recommend showing on on the final day, when prices are discounted by 50 to 75 percent.

Find flea markets and junk yards.  Grab your mask and gloves and go after some real bargains. But don’t buy it just because it’s affordable. Buy it because you need it for your art, your family or your future.

And follow our other tips on smart and affordable paint brushes and materials.

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Start being smarter and more frugal today with our tips

Start developing a frugal mindset and watch your savings grow. (Photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash)

 

There’s never been a better time to become more frugal and save some money. No matter your age or stage, no matter if you have a full ride scholarship to a prestigious university or see community college making sense, many signs point to the power of spending less for a while.

The U.S. economy is already in a “sharp, short recession,” and the unemployment rate could hit 12 percent by June. Michigan’s jobless rate could reach 24 percent by then, its highest level on record, according to University of Michigan economists.   

The coronavirus outbreak will mean far fewer summer jobs this year and far more unpaid bills. Many families will have huge hospital bills to pay,  or loved ones who died or are unable to work for weeks.  So while economists and politicians debate how long the economy will be hurting, individuals need to start saving.

Here’s some advice for young people that works well for all people:

Create an emergency fund. The world is unpredictable and honestly, sometimes frightening. So even if you think you will never need it, build a fund for if things do go off track. That promised summer job or commission could evaporate in the economic downturn. Start saving money to cover your basic expenses  – mobile phone, Netflix and some food – for at least three months.  Bankrate suggests six months and offers many tips on getting there.

Set a clear goal. If you see it, say it, share it and write it down, you may believe it. Know why you’re saving money now – half could be for your emergency savings and half for something brighter and more beautiful. Decide how the extra savings will be valuable to you, whether it’s a new tablet, a huge canvas to paint or a trip to New Orleans or Nigeria, once the world is a safer place.

Do it yourself. With so many Americans sheltering at home, now seems like the perfect time to learn to manicure your  nails, wash and press your shirts or make smoothies or coffee as good as the $4.50 cuppajoe  you used to buy. Or style your hair yourself, as Laila Ali, daughter of the late legendary boxer Muhammed Ali, does. Laila Ali is a fitness and wellness entrepreneur, yet every week she skips the salon and does her hair and her daughter’s at home. “I don’t have time to drive an hour to a salon and then sit there for a couple more hours getting my hair done. It’s really not that serious or important to me,” she told Kiplinger.com in a

Learn to cut, color and style your own hair to save a lot of money. (Photo: Teymi Townsend / Unsplash)

piece on frugal habits of the rich. The piece also has money-saving advice from actress Halle Berry, Hilary Swank and others.

Cultivate frugal habits.   Start developing your thrifty mindset now, while there’s fewer temptations and no where to go. Instead of a subscription to Hulu, see if your public library has free access to movies and shows.  Skip the takeout food in favor of some pasta cooked at home. Take a three hour break before you buy anything that costs more than say $75, to see if it still seems worthwhile – and to shop around for a bargain price.  

Play money games.   Yes, you may learn a lot from Monopoly, The Game of Life or Minecraft.  Check out online games recommended by The Balance, which says and role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons may have valuable lessons in managing money and resources.  Or create your own at home and start teaching your younger siblings some money basics.

Our next money management piece will share podcasts, blogs and other ways to learn and develop your money management skills and frugal self. 

 

 

 

 

© Vickie Elmer, 2020, for Mint Artists Guild