To rock the bootstrapped startup life, I’ve been living on my savings for a year. This takes a lot of planning. Along the way, I’ve found some budget-version alternatives to former luxuries that pleasantly surprised me. Here are a few examples:
- Joining a Buy Nothing Project group on Facebook has saved me hundreds. It’s a neighborhood-based gifting economy. I’ve been given my office desk, haircuts, a yoga mat, clothing, and my most favorite, a brand-new dutch oven. It’s also allowed me to give away a lot of perfectly good items that I just wasn’t using.
- Cooking at home has allowed me to save money and also eat healthier. Using the aforementioned dutch oven, I’ve learned to make delicious and easy bread with no sugar. And when I do eat out, it’s more of a treat than “ho-hum same ol’ same ol’ routine.”
- I learned $3.39 mascara is just as good as $20 mascara. Past Cassie was just dumb.
- Our Seattle Public Library is an amazing resource that I leaned on heavily as a kid. This year I’ve gone back to my roots and rediscovered the library. They now also now provide eBooks, music, audio books, and streaming movies. Having an SPL card means free membership to Lynda.com courses.
- Starbucks provides free refills on coffee and tea to go with your free wifi. Instead of spending $4-5 on a fancy, sugary drink I spend $2-3 on a drip and refill once or twice. Drip at home is even cheaper.
- I quit going to my fancy schmancy gym and found an alternative solution: running outside and doing free weight training group classes at 24 Hour Fitness. This saved me $1400 in a year. (Again, what was past Cassie thinking?)
- And, finally, a one hour massage can be had for $35 via reflexology massage places like this one in Fremont. I’ve only done that once (and it was honestly a gift) but it was awwwwesome.
In addition to spending less, this lifestyle change has lowered my sugar intake, caused me to have fewer items that I don’t really need, and taught me to appreciate the wonderful free activities in life like going on walks, reading a good book, exercising, learning something new, or of course, spending time working on moving your business forward. While I look forward to making a salary again some day, I’m hoping these priceless lessons will stick with me forever.
Side note: remember time is money, especially when working on launching a startup, so be careful not to always over-optimize for the cheapest option. This topic could be a whole additional post.