Growing up, I often cursed the fact we didn’t have a lot of money. Our family never went without but I didn’t always have the same experiences and things as the other children I knew.
My mother worked hard and taught me a lot of wonderful lessons about living cheaply.
For me, most of these tips are part of my lifestyle while others are tips that I adopt in the months before travelling.
Note: I am a single woman with no debts or dependents. I have the privilege of being able to save money at this point in my life.
- Be realistic about your living situation. Do you really need to live so close to the city/alone/in the master bedroom or out of home? Housemates can be frustrating at times but if you choose wisely, they can help save you money and teach you a thing or two about patience. I also live in walking distance to my workplace which saves me fuel and time.
- Plan and create routines around food habits. Every Sunday when I do my grocery shopping, I know exactly what I need because I eat the same breakfast, morning tea and lunch everyday. Then I use dinner time to use up leftover ingredients in the cupboard. This reduces the need for splurging on unhealthy foods because I have consistency in my diet and all of the foods I need waiting at home.
- Accept hand me downs. It’s like shopping but without the guilt of spending!
- Look on buying and selling websites like Gumtree to find what you need for free or at a cheaper price. This is a good way to find quality items second-hand.
- Look after the things you already own and learn how to take care of them.
- Declutter. Sell the items that have value and give away other items for free to friends and family or on Gumtree.
- Make sure your lifestyle suits or is cheaper than your income. If you’re a student, buy items in a lower price range. Take cheaper holidays interstate. Buy a cheaper car. This is the thing that has helped me the most. Don’t fall into the trip of buying bigger and better as you earn more. It’s a slippery slope my friend.
- If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Some people get loans to have everything all at once. I only buy what I can save up for, even if it takes a little bit longer to get whatever it is. Maybe the living room in your new house will look a bit bare for a while but there’s truly no rush.
- Avoid upgrading electronic items unnecessarily. Your iPhone 5 still works just fine. A 30 inch TV is okay. This is another trap that is easy to fall in.
- Prioritise mental health. It’s easier to make better choices when we aren’t dealing with mental health issues. If you are running yourself ragged, learn to say no. Go for walks. Be realistic about your expectations of yourself. Get a referral to see a psychologist if you think you might even have mild mental health struggles. Looking after mental health is difficult but rewarding.
- Don’t buy coffee regularly! I cannot stress this enough. Find an alternative or learn to go without. Coffee is a money drain.
Things I Do Leading Up to Travel
- Avoid buying new clothes. I’m currently on a year-long challenge of not buying new clothes. I have a gift card in case I need an outfit for a special event but until then, it’s the same wardrobe I have and hand-me-downs. I like to choose basic clothes that match easily with my other items.
- Track your spending. Ask friends and family if they have any good ways to record spending. I’ve started using my housemate’s excel spreadsheet to track where my money is being spent so that I can look at ways to reduce spending. Whenever I’m tempted to make an impulse purchase, the thought that I need to remember to add it to the spreadsheet reduces the temptation.
- Become the designated driver on a night out. Rather than spending upwards of $100 on a night out, you can offer to drive. In turn, you will feel better, save money and your friends will appreciate it!
- Stay in more often. Host games nights, movies at home and meet up with friends to go walking rather than going for expensive dinners. Each dinner out is one dinner less you can have at your travel destination.
- Think twice before spending money on entertainment. Last year, my goal was to see as many of my favourite performers as I could. I spent a lot of money quite happily and had a wonderful time. This year I’ll only go to free live music events because now my priority has shifted.
- Be honest. Tell people that you’re saving for your travels so that you don’t get caught up in spending unnecessarily.
- Get creative about dinner. I made a lentil-tomato pasta sauce and pasta for $3.25 and it fed me for a week!
- Challenge yourself to see how many days in a row you can go without spending.
I don’t deny myself of any pleasures. I still go out with friends and have dinners but they’re more carefully thought out. For example, learning Italian is a big goal of mine, so I don’t deny myself of dinners or coffees out with my language exchange partners. If I don’t want to spend $15 on a burger, I’ll be honest with myself and buy a $5 bowl of chips that I enjoy just as much instead. I’m a pretty simple person who enjoys simple things.
What are your favourite money saving tips? Let me know so I can save even more!