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Money saving tips - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
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: www.wesabe.com. 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.
7 have fought ~ fight the power!
leggz From: leggz Date: August 6th, 2009 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm an expert in this area. ;]

I just posted these on facecrack but I'll paste them here as well for others' use:

-Always bring a drink bottle with you and fill it up in bathrooms.
-Rosehip oil is great as a moisturiser. It softens lines, prevents wrinkles, helps discolouration and is hell cheap.
-I buy baby wipes instead of make-up removal wipes as they're so much cheaper.
-Sign up to survey sites and earn vouchers or direct cash. Can take a while to build up but it's worth it.... Read more
-Sign up for market research with as many groups as you can. Assignments are generally easy and only go for 1-2 hours and usually yield $60-100.

Also, I use a pretty great website for money-saving tips too. This one is Simple Savings. Ironically you have to pay for a subscription which gives you access to the entire site [known as the vault] but I get away with just getting their newsletters which cost nothing, and usually have some useful tid-bits in there. :]

Best of luck with it all, saving money can be kinda' fun once you get going - in a nerdy kind of way. ;]
From: haakonspet Date: August 6th, 2009 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Well for bigger purchases, research what you need/want and then shop around for the best price be that online or in a shop. See if one shop which might have better service, etc will match another shop's pricing.

As crazy as it sounds, don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

Do comparison shopping for groceries too. We (master_haakon) and myself buy most of our food like tin tomatoes, etc from Aldi, but there are some things we like/want/need that Aldi don't carry.

Sometimes, especially when we are talking about meat and fresh fruit and veg, it is better to pay a little bit more for quality food that lasts, than buying cheaper and loosing half of it because it goes off really quickly. If you can, find a really good butcher and fruit and veg shop, they will give you better quality for you $.

Borrow books from the library and if you really like them, what to refer to them again, scan them - yes it is breaking copyright, but I won't tell if you don't tell.

If you need stationary, buy it from a $2 store, the quality in many cases for basic notepads, etc is just as good as elsewhere and is much cheaper (that is from a confirmed Stationary Addict).

Recycle and Repurpose items that you have no need for.

Give yourself and Joe (if you can cover him too) a small allowance that can be spent on whatever, a magazine, a yoghurt, whatever - that reduces your temptation to spend what you don't want to, while at the same time, you still get stuff that makes you feel happier, want, need, fills a craving.

If you do have the opportunity, use a clothes line to dry your clothes, etc - but don't totally forsake the dryer either.

Back to groceries, use generic versions of stuff and avoid a lot of the stir in sauces, etc. Don't totally avoid the frozen food options, but weigh up what it would cost for you to make it from scratch rather than buying it, sometimes it is cheaper to buy it pre-made.

Set realistic budgets for your food, etc.

Put aside money every pay to cover a share of the bills that come in periodic like electricity, etc so that it is not in one bulk.

Shop early for Xmas - The Master and I have done most of our Xmas shopping for the kids already and yes it is only August. The same applies for birthdays and other special occasions that crop up if you can anticipate them. Alternatively budget an amount that you can spend on presents for various people.

Hope these ideas help you.
earthminor From: earthminor Date: August 6th, 2009 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Being a vegetarian is pretty darn cheap. A kilo of dried kidney beans will get you a lot more protein than a kilo of steak and at a much lower price.

So perhaps reduce your meat intake to 3-4 times a week and go for legumes. (Maybe you already eat that much, I don't know!)
stonelizard From: stonelizard Date: August 6th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Being a Scot, I am pretty frugal at times :)

Don't buy coffee at starbucks etc, brew your own. Tastes better anyway! If you like frothy coffee you can buy them second hand fairly cheap. Buy a nice thermos and you are off!

If your fruit and veg is "turning" chop it and freeze it, spreading it out on a flat surface and bagging when completely frozen, that way you can use it later. I will often make double and freeze half as it saves doing emergency shops at the end of the month.

Home made soup. Costs *pennies* to make, tastes beautiful and with a loaf of bread that's often what we eat for dinner. Not just to be frugal but because it is yummy.

You can bulk buy Rice, pasta, flour and it works out very cheaply.

As someone mentioned, going vegetarian can reduce your shopping bills.

Find out what day the cinema offers two-for-one tickets and utilise it.

Cooking your own meals from basic is often a lot cheaper than prepurchased made meals. - I make my own pizza by buying the base and chucking on whatever - it turns out to be very, very cheap.

Potato based meals are cheap and varied! I make baked potatos with lots of toppings, I make bubble and squeak (grated potato, cabbage, marge) that is lightly fried, tastes brill and fills you up. One of my favourite filler meals is potato cakes which is mashed potato, flour, a little bit of milk, marge and then make into flat pancakes and griddle. Tastes divine and cheap as.

Check expiry dates on your food and buy things like milk that have the longest expiry date so you have time to use it up.

We don't have subscriptions to sky / fox as it's a lot of money for very little. Buy second hand books :)

Turn your thermostat down by one or two degrees - you won't really notice

Only put your dishwaster on if you have a full load.

Um.. I have many more but can't think of then. You would be surprised where you can cut corners. When I am saving for something, if I want to buy something like a mag or a chocolate bar, I put the money into a piggybank instead, you would be surprised how fast those pennies can add up.
c_eagle From: c_eagle Date: August 6th, 2009 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Those are some great ideas awreddy yup!

I'm guessing Op Shop means the same as Thrift Shop over here?

I dew 4 outa those 6 things usually... (I pretty much never rent movies already, like.. twice a year maybe)... (the only one I don't do to help then is cook, I can cook, but it's just easier not to... it's a good plan though!)

Think of any other luxuries you might cut out, car washes, manicures, hair, (things you can do yerself)... or gaming, alcohol, any other things ya might do without.... and utilities, texting, long distance calls, anything ya don't need.

...and maybe do some commishes ;D
ameliabeare From: ameliabeare Date: August 6th, 2009 08:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the only reason I survive on my budget is because I don't go out. I have plenty of things to amuse me at home - thankfully I'm just that easily amused - so I'm sure I save a bundle on just.. not leaving the house.

Living alone, paying rent, bills, feeding two dogs and a cat, keeping the fire fed and food in the fridge, is possible on a student budget.... if you never, ever, ever plan to have any fun.

I ask myself the 'need or want' question around almost every purchase. 'Do I need this to get through the week?' Yes? Buy it. No? Go without.

If you buy kitty litter, shop around for a good product at a lesser price - I recently found something almost half the price of what I was paying before, and it's based on wood shavings that actually smell quite nice.

Start swapping preferred 'brand name' foods for 'home brand' variants - they're not as different as you think.

Light bulbs - if you haven't already, buy the more expensive but much more long-lasting varieties. I think I've saved a bundle in electricity swapping to those - which matters a lot in Tassie. (Be warned, power down here is much more expensive than the rest of Australia - average households go through 7-8$ a day in electricity.) Turn lights off in rooms you're not using, even if you think you'll be right back, you may get distracted and not be back for hours, so flick that thing off. Don't leave computers on unless you're sitting at them. Shorter showers helps - this is one of my sinful pleasures. >_> Hell, save water and power and shower together. :D

Also, check your electricity provider for power saving tips - down here, use less electricity between 4pm and 8pm, because that's 'prime time' and more expensive than, say, drying your knickers in the morning or late at night.

Don't buy anything you can make yourself. Think you might be hungry while you're out? Bring a snack from home. Hell, buy a box of muesli bars to see you through a week will cost less than a meal at a cafe.

That tip someone mentioned about not shopping when you're hungry? Best advice ever! It makes it much easier to ask the 'do I or do I not need this to survive the week?' question.
(Deleted comment)
tania From: tania Date: August 6th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, definitely! Incidentally, I've got her book on mortgages and it's very good. Re catchup, when did you have in mind? I'm up the coast for the next week, booked out the next 2-3 weekends, but after mid-August my days and evenings are going to be extremely free. :)
7 have fought ~ fight the power!