Where to start?
We all know we probably spend more money than we need to and, when we seem to be dong well financially, it’s easy to have a cavalier disregard for where our money’s going.
Now, there are lots of reasons to save:
- You might be feeling the pinch and have too many bills to pay
- You could already have financial problems and an increasing amount of debt
- You’re feeling desperate and think you might be heading towards bankruptcy
- Or, you may simply be saving up for something important – a car, holiday or even a home.
Whatever situation you feel you’re in, it’s always wise to plan how you can avoid spending more money than you might be earning. So, here are some ideas you might want to consider to help you get back on your feet, or perhaps avoid money problems in the first place.
In truth, there are hundreds of ways to spend less and the best way to start is to make a list of the savings you think you could live with easily. Not all savings need to be painful. Quite the reverse, some lifestyle changes can actually be more fun than the expensive alternatives.
These ideas are in no particular order, so cherry pick whichever example sounds good to you:
I sell my car?
Cars can be great and very necessary for some, but not everyone needs to rely on them ALL the time. And, let’s be honest, they can eat up cash fast, with fuel, running expenses, repairs, insurance etc. You don’t have to sell it (if you’d rather not), but perhaps you could use it less.
- Car sharing. If you live in the city, there are many other choices. Car sharing schemes allow you to just borrow a clean, modern car (or van) when you need one, but not share the burden of running costs.
- Public transport. Depending on where you live, you could use public transport (our PM seems to enjoy it!).
- Get fit. Cycle or walk more so there are fitness benefits too.
- Carpool. Do you know someone who lives and works close to you? If you can, it will be very sociable to commute and will save money too.
- Other options. Or, consider some transport alternatives – electric bikes, scooters and motorbikes are all cool nowadays and cost much less to own and run than a car.
Should I eat or drink less?
Yes, we all need them both, but too much of anything isn’t great for your health, or your finances. This is where you can save money without making real a major sacrifice. For example, do you buy your breakfast or lunch at a café most days of the week? Then just count the cost per month – the chances are you’ll be shocked.
- Breakfast. You can start by eating breakfast at home, or taking it to work. Drop those hefty muffins/cakes and think about buying of buying some cheaper, healthier alternatives from the supermarket. Think yoghurts, healthy breads (for toast), porridge, muesli, cereals or fruits, all foods you can eat anywhere, at home or work.
- Coffee. Coffee costs a fortune in good cafes and coffee shops. One option is to buy a good coffee machine. Used regularly, it will save you plenty of money over time. Do you really need those $4.00 espressos several times a day? Just two a day costs about $3000 per year! Your own coffee maker is much cheaper, so it could be a wise investment.
- Lunch. Without even thinking about it, you might be buying the same lunch that you could easily make at home and bring with you. Even if you only do it two times a week, bringing a sandwich, salad, stir-fry or just leftovers from last night can save close to $100 a month.
- Eat out less in general. Food can cost even more, so if you eat out all the time, you’re literally eating up your money at an alarming rate. Whether it’s takeaways, or eating in restaurants, you might be shocked at how much you spend in total.
Sure, a trip to Macca’s or the local pizza joint isn’t too pricey, but they aren’t the healthiest, or most desirable choices on a regular basis.
The reality is it isn’t hard to eat really well AND save money. The most obvious way to go is to cook more at home. Almost anyone can learn to cook simple fare that tastes great and costs less than eating out. Look at all the freezer food choices available and keep some frozen favourites available when you need them. The world has gone cooking mad, so you can find out a zillion easy to cook at home recipes online. With practice, your cooking will improve and you’ll be able to impress your partner or friends whenever.
Treat yourself – occasionally.
With the money you save eating at home more, you can afford to eat out now and then without breaking your monthly budget. And, you’re likely to be more appreciative of the experience when you eat out less often.
Alternatively, rather than going to your favourite fancy restaurant, check out what’s on at the movies, go to a bowling alley, ice-skating, check out the local exhibitions, art galleries or local music scene. Good fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Are you a social drinker? Well, you might be spending a lot more than you think at your local bar. Again, if you’re spending too much on alcohol, you can either drink less, or drink at home. Then invite your friends and invite them to bring a bottle.
If it’s still eating up your cash, you can work towards a dry week now and then, or check out those bargain bins at the major bottle shops. Wine connoisseur? You might have to rely on the generosity of your friends!
Modern living is expensive, but when you put your mind to it, saving can be made quite easily, especially around the home.
- For example, don’t just switch on the air conditioning when you feel too warm. Open some windows and switch on a fan instead. And, if you feel cold, consider wearing warm clothes rather than turning the heater on.
- Don’t leave all those electrical items switched on, they’re causing your power bills to be too high. Go around the house and switch off EVERYTHING unless you need it.
- Cancel all those subscriptions – you can live without them for a time. Pay TV and media subscriptions can be costing you a fortune.
- Cancel the gym membership too. Running, walking and swimming needn’t cost a thing.
- Don’t go shopping unless you have to, so you avoid temptation.
- Wash and iron your clothes whenever possible.
- Spend less time on your mobile phone. Life will go on.
- Sell stuff – you’d be amazed what people will buy on Gumtree and eBay.
Needless to say, there are many ways to live a cheaper life if you put your mind to it.
Still spending too much?
Being budget-wise isn’t necessarily the answer, of course – if you are living frugally and still can’t make ends meet, you might have to make some bold moves. For example, you might need to find a job that pays more, move to a cheaper suburb, or maybe even a cheaper place.
Whatever your situation, you’ll be surprised how good life can be, even when you are spending less.