Money stresses have been doing their rounds lately. (It seems to be that time of year).
Here are twelve tips to (hopefully) help lighten the load:
- Prioritise your wants – the number system.
Write the numbers 1-10 on a piece of paper in columns.
Write all of the things you want and allocate each to a number between 1 and 10.
(10 = must have it now/can’t do without it very much longer, 5 = would like it but probably don’t need it just yet, 1 = nice to have one day maybe if I win the lottery).
Now you have a savings strategy.
Start saving for things in the ‘10’ column and work your way through the list. Put the list somewhere that is easy to refer to so that when you are tempted to buy something from the ‘1’ column – you can put the same money aside for something with a higher ‘value’ from the 10 column.
Cross things off as you go to monitor your budgeting achievements.
2. Scale down needs – go old-school
Look to the past for what you really might ‘need’ – sometimes less really is more. Allocating your wants to the number system above can be a useful activity to begin with.
Eg: By the time you have set aside the cash for an item in the ‘2’ column, you might have decided that you really don’t need it anymore…
3. Buy quality
You are better off buying something that is good quality and well-made than something cheap and likely to fall apart.
Look for brands that provide ‘tried and true’ products that have been quality tested by people in the same position as you.
4. Buy more less often
We live in the ‘wops’ and this has been a lesson learned due to our geographical location. We have found that doing our grocery shopping monthly (and only shopping for fresh produce, meat and fish weekly) has reduced our grocery bill immensely. It has also reduced our petrol consumption as we are traveling less often to do our grocery shop.
This takes a bit of organisation in terms of knowing what kinds of meals you would like to prepare, but we have managed to cross off a few more ‘10s’ on our number list just by doing this little tip.
5. Have a mad account
I used to have a savings account when I was a University Student that I couldn’t access unless I physically went into the bank. It was not loaded to any of my cards and it made it hard for me to spend it.
The ‘mad money’ was useful whenever ‘mad’ (unexpected) situations arose. (Eg: once my studio burned down in my final year of Art School and my mad money savings meant that I could go away for a week to get away from it all for a bit).
6. Think of future you
Future me will one day be old and broke and will be cursing present me for not thinking of her. I am trying to look after future me by having a retirement savings scheme and by not letting myself get into too much debt.
This is also useful for near-future-you.
EG: Near-future me (tomorrow’s me) wants to buy a coffee with loose change on her way to swimming. Present me should not spend said change on a sneaky snack when out and about when there is food already prepared at home….
An economics teacher once told me that you should be putting away at least 10% of every dollar spent in your life in order to save adequately for retirement… I am not sure that I am doing that but at the very least I am not neglecting future me entirely.
7. Use cash like pocket money
If you have a personal spend limit that you have budgeted for – withdraw the limit and keep it as cash in your wallet.
Real money is harder to spend than plastic money and you are less likely to ‘break a fifty’ for something small – or at least I am.
8. Start a piggy bank
We have a ‘koha piggy’ in our house that gets filled with loose change weekly as we don’t like carrying heavy change in our wallets.
Every now and then ‘koha piggy’ can be raided for small things that might normally be a treat.
EG: Ice-creams (for example) are often happily purchased with loose change from the savings stores of our little family piggy bank – so little family ‘on a whim’ excursions don’t feel too expensive if things are feeling tight.
9. Ask for a deal
I am a small business owner and my little brand is still human. When customers have written to me telling me how much they love my products but how they can’t quite afford them at the moment, I have often felt flattered enough to offer them a deal.
If this is not possible then I can at least let them know of my next planned sale.
(Sometimes being cheeky pays off – and the worst thing that they can say is ‘no’. Right?)
Mister Outie tells me off for this one quite a bit as he would rather ‘buy it now’ rather than have me fill my studio and his basement with yet ‘another’ project. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons of this one. If you are craftily challenged then buying may be the best option but I am always up for giving something a go…
I justify my DIY by saying that I am spending money on two things whilst spending it once. The two things: the thing itself and my entertainment/joy in making it.
Some DIY really saves money in the long run too. DIY cloth nappy wipes, DIY house cleaner, DIY nappy solution and DIY pedicures are my current favourite ‘regulars’…
11. Be creative with gifts
You can spend as much as you like on your child. Sometimes ‘cheap’ things will give them a lot of pleasure too.
This year my son is getting his own seed raising kit for mimosa pudica (tickle me plants). This packet of seeds cost me $3 – and I will include a little craft kit for him to decorate his own little plant pots so that he can have his very own tickley plant garden.
12. Unpin yourself
I love pinterest. I love looking for ideas and inspiration one day BUT the next day I get depressed that my house/my life doesn’t really as ‘pinnable’ as the things that I have pinned most days despite my best efforts.
The best thing you can do to address this is realise that real life happens off pinterest. Unpin your expectations of yourself and do one cool thing a week and photograph it. Even if you do one cool thing a month/a year – ‘pinnable’ moments are not everyday things – or at least I have found that real life is a lot less pin-worthy.
Unpinning yourself will save you money by releasing you from trying to keep up with the ‘Joneses’.