Keeping It Stupidly Simple, is the best way to stretch our ever shrinking buying power. "Living close to the bone", is another phrase that describes living tightly. As is "Living paycheck to paycheck". All of these and others mean basically the same thing, we all are trying to do more with less buying power. You see it doesn't matter where we live, what really matters is how we live. Let me rephrase that ... What really matters at the end of the day is, that we survived long enough somehow, some way to fight another day. Not really a prayer, not really a fortitude wish, not really a blessing, but definitely a statement of determination.
When you are looking at buying anything when money is tight, look at it from the long view as it were. Ask yourself "Do I really need this, or can I do without it?". If however you really do need this, how can you get the most use out of it? Remember that buying something, that will only be used one time, is really a frivolous expense. However it could be a reward to yourself. Let me explain with an analogy taken from dieting ... Diets for the most part fail, because people tend to over indulge. The same holds true in living simply, it will fail for the same reason ~ Basically from over indulgence.
Now in my mind there are really only 3 or 4 categories to render your hard earned coins for. 1st would be for shelter, this should be long term in thinking. 2nd is sustenance or food, run away from anything that is prepackaged like it was the plague. Because it is a plague on your income. 3rd is enjoyment or entertainment. For the most part electronic toys fall in this category. Some would say that heating or cooling, depending on where you live is another expense ~ An expense yes, but really only for the enjoyment of the shelter. For me the 4th category is an income, yes to make money unfortunately we have to spend money. On things like clothing, keeping the body and clothing clean and smelling fresh. A computer might fall under categories 3 & 4. Now a vehicle could fall under all 4 categories, for various reasons.
So you see that living the good life really can be expensive. Trying to live modestly is stressful to say the least. However living simply really is hard work, until you get used to it ~ Then it is more like a second nature, and it seams easy. So yes it can be done, but at first you have to work at it every single day. Remember those who have the most, find that living under their means is a way of life. Rather than spending every last coin that they have to live in the moment.
We all should try to live under our means, to avoid the possible chance of having to beg on the street corner. That way we can maintain a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, oops back to categories 1 & 2. Remember that fashion is a fickle task master, as is "keeping up with the Joneses", or "what others may think". It really all boils down to your own self criticism. Don't let society dictate where or how you live, or for that matter how you make your coins.
No! I don't advocate begging on the street corner. Most towns and cities have laws on their books against that. It is easier to live cheaply while keeping out of the eyes of law enforcement officers. You must be willing to work at Something, Anything. Should you lose your normal income, might I suggest some kind of temporary labor arrangement. Here in the United States most cities have a kind of temp service called "Day Labor", basically menial tasks. Or you could offer a business to sweep their side walks and/or parking lot. Maybe picking up cigarette and cigar butts. Possibly a garage could use a clean-up person after the mechanics left, before closing. If nothing else just clean up the roadways and streets while sorting out the sell able recyclables.
In the country maybe you could get in on the migrant farm worker circuit harvesting fruits and produce. Maybe a farmer would be interested in some help cleaning up the barn or cattle sheds or mucking out the stalls. If sheep ranches are near by, maybe you could learn the open range Shepard's trade. My point is this ... Keep your eyes open for any and all possible chances to make some coins, you might even find something that you might like to look into a little farther. Remember that I never said that surviving or living cheaply was easy, it is very labor intensive hard work.
Here is a suggestion for gathering some food, watch as a harvest is being done. When the machinery or workers have moved on, ask if you could glean the fields after them. Gleaning is an old term, basically you pick up everything that harvesters missed, for whatever reason. Then you take your harvest back to your camp and pick through it, preserve what you can, then eat the rest.
As for shelter any kind of tent will do, or maybe a camp trailer is affordable. In warmer weather a tarp over a hammock is quite adequate when in the shade. As for tents I would recommend "The Whelen" or hunters lean-to, maybe even a tipi. Google all of these, you maybe surprised at what you find. At different times in my life I have lived in each of them. Now don't skimp on a good sleeping bag though. The reason being is that if you are sleeping directly on the ground, your core body temp. could be leached away. Causing anything from mild hypothermia to even death. So I say again DO NOT skimp, on a good sleeping bag.
Now for the big one ~ Food. If you don't know how to cook, learn. It really is quite simple. Learn to preserve your harvest and other excess amounts of food in the old ways ~ Before refrigeration. Learn how to make jerky, no not the over priced, over spiced and greasy kind. Buy foods in bulk as much as possible. Do you enjoy coffee? buy the beans green and roast them and grind them yourself. Get a grinder (hand cranked) that will grind your grains into flour, as well as grinding your coffee, also one that has different settings to grind different grades on your grains. Learn the many ways to cook the various types of beans. Rice is versatile as breakfast, lunch and dinner main stays or as side dishes or deserts.
Don't forget pastas ~ Case in point "Ramen Noodles". Currently I can get a box of 12 packages of noodles for $2.12, no tax on this type of food. What I do for a good meal is 2 packages of Ramen Noodles, 1 can of sweet peas, 1 can of cooked chicken pieces. Don't throw out the waters from the peas or the chicken pieces. Instead add those waters to the volume of water needed for the noodles. When the combined waters are hot, pour them over the noodles, peas, chicken pieces and seasonings. Cover and let set for about 5 min., then stir it all together and enjoy a feast for One. This will also work well when camping, whether for pleasure or out of necessity.
I would recommend that everyone learn how to set snares and traps, to aid in gathering (harvesting) some free wild(ish) game meat. Weather you use it right away or preserve it. Don't turn your nose up at squirrels, or larger rodents, or skunks, or raccoons, or possums, or woodchucks, to name a few that have kept me well fed when there were some really hard times that I went through. Learn how to butcher and clean, preserve and cook your freely gathered and harvested meats. Also don't forget to harvest the rivers, lakes and oceans of their plenty.
Yes, you could use a gun. But remember that guns can be expensive, to get and use, and all of those regulations and they make noise. People for the most part are more fearful or antsy around or of guns. Than say a live trap, a garrote or snares, also these are quiet. Think of how many people like to feed the birds in their yards but curse at the squirrels. You could offer these people your services, of rendering their bird feeders free of squirrels. When away from prying eyes, lay the squirrels down in your larder. Hmmmm ... getting paid to harvest your own meat, I like it.
Relearning the old ways will shelter us, feed us and if necessary clothe us. While allowing and aiding us in surviving our adversities. More comfortably than living on the fringes of society, begging for handouts.
So yes, history can teach us many useful things, we just have to be more open to relearning ...