August 6th, 2009

Tania pratfall

Money saving tips

OK. Having done the Serious Thinking I referred to earlier, I've decided I'm going to spend the remainder of this year doing a few specialised writing courses. I've been researching these for about a month. The four I ultimately chose vary in length and pricing, but all of them are run by experienced published authors in my areas of interest, and all are held in high esteem.

Beyond that I'm going to do a little freelance to keep myself alive, but I want to spend the time between now and the Hobart move learning as much as I can, as quickly as I can. I'll also be taking a couple of courses in dressmaking and growing produce, and spending some time getting my fitness up to scratch again.

The point of this entry is that I'm going to be paying for these courses and making very little income in the process, so I'm looking for some money saving tips from you, my good friends and readers. My current situation is simple. I have no debt beyond a small mortgage and I've already done the calculations and found I can cover my rent, mortgage payments and groceries with money to spare. I want to hang onto that spare money for course costs and periodical costs like bills, my health insurance and additional mortgage payments, so I have to reduce those little everyday costs that have been nibbling away at the corners of my paycheck. These are the money saving ideas I have so far:

- Stop using the dryer. It's dying anyway and costs about $4/load.
- Ensure the fridge isn't set too cold (sucks up a lot of extra electricity).
- Cook with fresh ingredients: no takeout or frozen meals!
- Always do grocery shopping with a list to avoid impulse buys.
- Only ever purchase clothes from Op Shops (I pretty much already do this, but not exclusively).
- Cease and desist DVD rentals; we have other ways of getting those anyway.

What else? Suggestions?

Reading back through the above, I'm embarrassed that I didn't apply any of these ideas sooner. This is where working for the money really gets me; when I bring in too much money I start living to the extent of my means... even where that means deliberately wasting the stuff! It's pretty douchey to complain about earning money, but to be frank I think it makes me a worse person. I don't bother fixing things that break, I just throw them out. I don't bother learning to MAKE anything because I can buy instead. Half the time I don't even bother hunting for the best price, I just swoop in and buy based on pure convenience. I don't like seeing that sort of blind, thoughtless consumerism in myself. I don't like spending just because I can.

A couple of good friends showed me an absolutely awesome website: Using this you can import all the data from your bank statements online, tag each purchase into a category (ie 'coffee', 'groceries', 'books'), set financial goals, and check out the amazing charts the site automatically produces to show you precisely where your money is going. For instance, as much as it shames me to admit it, it turns out I spent roughly $120 on takeout meals for Joe and I during the month of July. That's a fortnight's rent right there. Don'tjudgeme.

Wesabe taught me that I spent as much on coffee as I did on the electricity bill last month. I spent more on books than on my own healthcare. I spent more on transport (buses and the odd taxi) than I did on groceries.

Wesabe showed me that I waste roughly $10 dollars per month on ATM fees, from those instances when I've used another bank's ATM because I couldn't be buggered finding my own. Doesn't sound like much until you think of it as an amount of $120 per year. I could buy myself two wicked pairs of hot boots for that!

So, Wesabe. Pretty cool! Highly recommended. And speaking of recommendations, if you've got any tips on how to make everyday life cheaper, please lay 'em on me. This next month or so is going to require some major lifestyle adjustments.