When deciding on topics to write about, I have a large mental Venn diagram; within one circle are all the things I’m thinking about, within another are all the things I think you might be interested in, and in the third circle, my estimation of how much I know about the subject. Sometimes the crossover is substantive, sometimes non-existent.
But saving money is a subject I have been thinking about a lot, and it’s occurred to me that you might be too. I’d like to think I’m a good saver. Accounting for yearly fluctuations (I spend more in the summer and at Christmas, and less the rest of the year) I save about 30% of my take home pay, on top of paying the mortgage and all the bills, and a little bit of money left for the fun stuff.
I feel very lucky, and I acknowledge that life has placed me in situations that have made it easier for me to save; my mum has always been great with money, so from a young age she taught me about not needing to supplement my happiness with material things (thanks mum). I also went to university, where I was forced to live on a fairly small but guaranteed income, which really forced me to get creative with my money.
I was lucky because my parents financially supported me and gave me a roof over my head even at times in my mid twenties. I lived in Australia for a while, where I was able to find skilled employment easily – when I had been turned down for the same work again and again in the UK. And when I returned home, I was able to quickly find a job with that work experience.
What I’m saying is, I can’t give myself all the credit for my saving. But I go to work, I put the money in the account, and then I don’t spend it, in an entirely pragmatic sense. And by saving money, I have been able to travel across Europe, South East Asia, and Australia. I have been able to afford all the things I have needed, and together with my boyfriend, we have been able to get on the housing ladder in our twenties.
So how? Start by looking at your income and expenses – firstly by writing them all down, and then by looking at how you can adjust each of them.
Income: do you have the potential to learn new skills, that will earn you more money? Are there things you are passionate about that you could turn into a job? It could be as simple as picking up a few hours of overtime when your office is quiet in the evening – you might do some flyer runs on a Saturday morning because you enjoy walking in the sunshine. You might realise that you love chickens, and by keeping them in your backyard, can sell their eggs (I want to do this one day – don’t laugh at my dreams).
Expenses: split them up into essential and non-essential, then try to cut the non-essential in half.
- Visit takeaways and restaurants less, and cook at home with family and friends.
- Share a few beers at home, rather than paying bar prices.
- Use your local library, instead of buying books.
- Use Gumtree/Facebook/Craigslist to buy things you need, and sell things you don’t.
- Buy a used, efficient car with cash, and quit your car payments.
- Make coffee at home; for the price of one at a coffee shop, you can get a whole bag from the supermarket.
If you’ve cut your non-essential spending in half and you’re not saving 30% of your income, look at the essential – do you have any essential payments that could be switched to a cheaper option? Even just switching your utilities could save several hundred a year, and using less energy (I will come back to this topic later) will reduce the cost even further.
These are just a few of the ideas that I will summarise over the next ten posts, hopefully in an order which is easy to follow. If you have any good money saving tips, please leave me a comment – humans are as successful as we are because of learning from each other.