Trust me, I know what it’s like to have no money. It is my current situation as payback for frolicking around the world in 2014 on a whim and also in preparation for travelling indefinitely next year.
I’ve scraped together 10 tips for saving money from a share house full of people living on shoestring budgets.
1. Stop drinking… or if you can’t give it up, stop drinking as much. Alcohol is one of the biggest drains on a bank account and it serves no actual purpose other than being a social lubricant. Yes sobriety blows, especially when all your friends are blind at the bar and you’re leaving early because you can’t deal anymore, but you know what else blows? Looking at your Instagram feed hungover and seeing your traveller friends island hopping in Greece. Not a hard decision when it comes down to it. I’ve also known many people to sneak alcohol into busy venues, but just remember not to get too messy so that you don’t throw all caution to the wind and start doling out vodka from your hip flask to all your friends in broad view of security.
2. If you don’t stop drinking, at least stop the hangover eats. A hangover breakfast with Virgin (or nah) Bloody Mary costs at least $20. A mid-afternoon feed when the hangover sweats hit at Ben’s Burgers is around $13. A dirty burrito and a Corona from Guzman Y Gomez to wash it all down and suddenly you’ve spent at least $50 that day on junk food to nurse your hangover when you shouldn’t have been blowing your money on booze the night before in the first place. If desperate times call for desperate measures, just remember a Sausage McMuffin costs $1.
3. Cut a habit/luxury – whether it’s your daily mid-morning skinny cappuccino, cigarettes or getting a weekly massage. Learn to live without and put that money towards your savings.
4. Every little bit counts – including your spare change. To avoid losing your change or spending it on silly things at the gas station, collect it and put it into some kind of container. A 600mL coke bottle filled with two dollar coins amounts to almost $1000. If that’s not a motivator to save your pennies I don’t know what is.
5. Re-introduce carbs into your diet. I started eating pasta, sweet potato, rice and bread after years of avoiding them. They will substantiate your meals, cut your food bill in half and believe it or not, I actually lost weight. Win-win!
6. Open up a high interest savings account that you literally can’t touch. You can find one that suits you here. Necessities include high interest and no account fees. It also might be an idea to open one up with a financial institution different to your current one so that you can’t transfer money across to facilitate impulse (ahem drunken) purchases.
7. Pay your bills and your fines on time! Late fees can be $20 a hit for a phone bill and speeding fines increase the longer you deny their existence. As depressing as it is, get on top of them as soon as they arrive.
8. A stern word about shopping. If you need to save, you need to stop shopping. Constantly buying new clothes is a totally unnecessary expense. Only buy something if you absolutely love it, you need it, will wear it every second day and it fits perfectly. Similarly, if you see something amazing but have nowhere to wear it in the immediate future, then DO NOT BUY IT. I promise you will only wear it once or twice and then it will sit in your closet, a glum reminder of what a waste of money it was. Oh, and if you’re addicted to online shopping and think you’re getting a bargain from the US, think again! The Australian dollar and the American dollar aren’t even close to being on par any more and this will come back to bite you at checkout.
9. Ladies, lose the vanity. Fake nails, eyebrow tinting, spray tans are all unnecessary costs. I hate my mangy eyebrows, my nail game is pathetic and I hit new levels of pastiness over the winter, but the amount this costs to maintain over a year is easily over a thousand dollars. That’s a return flight to Los Angeles from Brisbane. Ya feel me?
10. Most importantly, learn when to say no and when to say yes. You will at times feel mean and anti-social but learning to say no to invites is a very necessary evil of saving. Alternatively, you can compromise – for example, go to a Sunday session, but only if it’s at a bar in walking distance of your house. You should also learn to never look a gift horse in the mouth. If someone offers you something, be a yes man and take them up on it – whether it’s a lift or suggestion to carpool, a coffee or lunch, or some clothes they’re giving away.
What’s your number one tip for saving that I need in my life? Hook me up below!