I love a bargain. I love knowing I have saved money. However, there is more to life, or at least I think there should be, than saving money. Counting every last cent and aiming to deny yourself and your family everything that isn't strictly a necessity can cause stress and be depressing. I believe it's all about knowing what is important to you, what you find brings you joy and getting a balance in life. Of course, your personal financial position is a major factor too as some people need to be especially careful with their money as they are on a very limited income.
Finding saving money tips I enjoy checking out money saving tips, up to a point. Often they are repetitive or are not relevant to my lifestyle. However, there are also plenty of useful hints and sometimes I come across something different that would work for me.
Where to find tips -
the internet. What a plethora of information is available in the form of personal blogs, blogs from financial advisors, government agencies and not-for-profit organisations. There are You Tube videos and more ways of accessing tips and hints.
in newspapers available from the library or at a cafe while you sip your latte. I will write more about coffee/tea at a cafe later.
good old fashioned books and magazines which you will borrow from the library or swap with a friend or from a book exchange.
exchanging ideas with friends
The tips we have all heard Some advice turns up repeatedly. For example -
don't spend money on takeaway meals.
don't buy newspapers, magazines or books, use the library
don't buy cds, stream music instead
never buy anything that is not essential
have a capsule wardrobe and restrict your colour scheme so everything will mix and match
cancel your gym membership and exercise at home or with a friend at the park or in your backyard
don't buy expensive shoes
don't buy bottled water, use a refillable bottle and fill it up at home
take a packed lunch to work
don't buy coffee on your way to work, take a thermos instead or drink water
invite friends to your place for coffee/tea instead of meeting at a cafe
instead of going out for a meal with friends or family, entertain at home
shop around for a better deal on insurance, power etc
use public transport
There is more public transport in the cities Image:Marie Vonow
There are many other tips which turn up again and again and I won't attempt to list them all.
Which tips work? There is probably validity in all these tips but the degree to which they will help an individual save money will vary. If you live in a rural area where there is no public transport you can't catch a bus or train. Those on a tight budget may not be buying takeaway coffee or eating meals out anyway. Others may rarely spend money on a particular item so over the course of a year cutting out the expense completely may save very little.
Is 'going without' worth the money saved? Every person's situation is different and individuals will enjoy or benefit from different things. Some people may be able to cut out certain expenses and save quite a bit without feeling they are missing out.
Sometimes there is a cheaper alternative which will provide a saving. Other expenses bring joy or may even have a health benefit. Is it worth cutting back on costs that have a positive effect on physical or mental health?
Takeaway meals We limit the number and type of takeaway meals but I wouldn't cut them out altogether. If we have leftover pizza we put it in the fridge to eat the next day. For us a takeaway meal is a real treat which brings pleasure.
Coffee at a cafe My writers' group meets at a local hotel. This hotel is supportive of our group and we use this venue for workshops and poetry readings. I like to support this business so I always buy a cappuccino when we have meetings.
Meeting friends out for coffee at a cafe is a social pleasure for me. I rarely go out for a meal or to the cinema/theatre etc with friends so I wouldn't want to cut out catching up for coffee at a cafe.
Sometimes I go to a cafe by myself and read or do some writing. The nearby bakery serves nice coffee, has a free library, runs community events and the staff are great people. Read more I like to support this business and I enjoy the ambience.
I could save money by cutting out coffee at a cafe/hotel/bakery a couple of times a week. If finances get really tight in the future this is somewhere I could save $8 to $10 a week.
Gym Six months ago I would have told you I will never go to a gym, just not my thing. My attitude has changed. There is a facility which includes swimming pool, gym, cafe and theatre convenient to my home. My physiotherapist suggested aqua classes and when I started attending I discovered the My Fit Life program. This includes an individual program using the gym and access to yoga, tone and other classes. The cost is $13.20 a week and includes unlimited use of the pool and gym as well as any classes one chooses. As being involved is going to have long term benefits for my health I think the regular fee is money extremely well spent.
After aqua classes many people meet up for coffee and a natter in the cafe which has social benefits. Yes, I could skip the cappuccino and save money but I feel I am benefitting from making new friends and talking about different topics. I guess I could say I save a little money by having a cup instead of a mug.
Capsule wardrobe Have you read those articles where someone suggests limiting your wardrobe to 33 items (or another number) to save money and avoid clutter? Everything needs to coordinate and be multi functional. The number of colours will be limited to allow for the greatest coordination. Accessories including shoes will also be limited to a few which 'go' with everything.
It all makes sense but some people love variety and colour. Creative types may enjoy sewing and creating individual outfits. Others make jewellery or other accessories and don't want to be restricted to a limited number of items. They may end up spending more money than is essential on their wardrobe but it is part hobby as well and gives them a way of expressing their creativity.
Saving money on shoes I used to buy bargain priced shoes. Now I am older I find I need to spend quite a bit of money on shoes to get ones which I can use with orthotics. I have a large wide foot so don't find shoes on sale.
I have started buying shoes through my podiatrist. The shoes are more expensive but she gives me a discount because I buy all my shoes from her. I think it is worth the money so I have comfortable shoes which are good for my feet. Comfortable shoes encourage me to walk places and that is good for my health.
I don't think there is a 'one size fits all' solution to saving money. I also believe it is important to spend a little money on enjoyable activities. Everyone will have their own ideas about this and it may take some experimenting to find what works for you.