“You get what you pay for” or so common wisdom tells us. Yet numerous examples prove that sometimes paying more actually decreases the richness of our lives. The following examples are 10 of the simplest ways to live a richer life by paying less!

1. Stop the Pop! – One of the most destructive health (and money) habits in the US is our addiction to sweets, soda being chief among them. As refreshing as carbonated sweetness poured over ice may seem on a hot summer day, water is the real deal. While soda is linked to diabetes, cancer and all kinds of health nastiness, water is free, healthful and equally refreshing.

2. DIY Snacks – The chip/cracker/cookie aisle in your local grocery is a mind boggling assortment of costly treats. While no single package is likely to break the bank, a fully stocked cupboard is an unnecessary expenditure. Make popcorn instead. Spread peanut butter on saltines, or better yet a celery stalk. Munch on a vegetable. Cheaper and more healthful alternatives abound!

3. The Inconvenient Truth of Convenience Foods – From prepackaged dinners to mini-marts to the ever-present fast food restaurant, for some convenience food is an 'every meal' experience. For others it’s the work lunch. But it’s nearly always more expensive and less healthful than home prepared meals. And cooking can be a wonderful experience! Even the simplest recipes can provide a sense of accomplishment. (My favorite feel-good recipe is banana bread. Try it!)

4. Keep Special Nights Special – I like to go out for a nice dinner and movie as much as the next person. But entertainment can be a huge monetary drain. Schedule some in-home alternatives (a first run dvd and popcorn with NO cell phones or laptops can be a refreshing experience) or perhaps an evening stroll. Check your local paper for free entertainment. It doesn’t always have to cost a bundle. And by simplifying your regular entertainment the occasional splurge will feel that much more special!

5. Put One Foot After the Other – If you are fortunate to live within a half-mile of a grocery store or other services, leave the car and go by foot. As our nation continues to struggle with the byproducts of sedentary lifestyles (obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc), walking, running or biking can go a long way toward improved health. Not only will you save gas money and the wear and tear of short trips on your car, the long term effects on your health may yield even greater benefits!

6. Explore Your Own Backyard – The term “staycation” may be cliche, but it’s still a valid concept that can mean thousands in saved cash. Why travel hundreds of miles to discover something new and exciting when something equally interesting is hiding in the next town over? Become an expert in your regional offerings and you might find yourself getting out even more!

7. The REAL Rewards Card (Library Card) – Your local library is a wealth of opportunity! Whether you want to study philosophy, learn a language, watch a movie or figure out e-books, your library can probably help. Libraries are like a school, an entertainment center, a technology resource and more all rolled into one. And better yet... they’re FREE! ...if you get your materials back on time. :-)

8. Well Loved Goods – Buying something shiny and new is a wonderful experience. But don’t think that everything needs to come that way. Buying something used can be equally rewarding, especially as you grow to cherish the unbelievable deals available to the bargain hunter.

9. Don’t Buy That Yet! – Impulse buying leads to many a financial crisis. Very often simply delaying your purchase for an established period of time will lead to a clearer head and fewer bouts of buyer’s remorse. Whether you create a waiting period of a one week or 30 days, determine what works for you and stick with it!

10. Garden! – Though some may argue the premise that gardening reduces expenses, if you are careful, grow foods you like to eat, and make use of everyday items when possible it can be an extremely efficient undertaking. Additionally, the spiritual benefit of working in the soil and taking quiet time for yourself is priceless!

A rich life does not need to be expensive. And if it contributes to financial hardship, what’s the point? Get closer to core, spend time with those you cherish, make and grow food, improve yourself: these are aspects of a life richly lived. Don’t let the ads (or even common wisdom) convince you otherwise!

Author's Bio: 

Robert Killen boasts a broad array of professional experience. From music and art to banking and non-profit management. In all cases, Robert has passionately pursued being a human of service.

As a Coach with Financial Empowerment Services, Killen inspires people to take ownership of their finances and provides specific direction to make the most of it. As a professional speaker and seminar leader Killen also encourages people to challenge their own predispositions and to acknowledge and celebrate their defining stories.

Killen was a finalist in the 2007 World Championship of Public Speaking. He is passionately curious and and insatiable student. He is a loving husband and father of three boys. He enjoys painting, composing, writing and fly fishing in the Central Oregon Cascades.