How I Save

Saving ANY kind of money when you’re on a budget is bloody hard, I know that all too well…

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But there are ways to cut corners and put away even just a little amount every pay cheque so that you have a cushion. And with that cushion, you can do whatever you like: go on a holiday, buy a car, pay off debt… You might just want a little cushion saved for emergencies. (I’m currently saving to pay off a small debt.) But you have to remember that this is a long term thing and your savings will not magically increase ten-fold overnight and it might be a good year or so before you are even close to your goal.

Of course, saving doesn’t have to be all stinging and corner-cutting, you can still enjoy the small amount of money you have – I certainly don’t let my budget get in the way of my hectic social life and craving for fun and adventure, I just find ways around it. So, how do I lay out my savings plan?

Well firstly, every week when my pay cheque comes through I pay off my rent and any outstanding bills immediately. That way, I never had that money to begin with so I can’t miss it. From there, I put away exactly half of what’s left, in a interest-earning savings account, which I set up at the bank. It’s linked directly to my ‘spendings’ account so I can transfer money easily online.

What’s left is my budget for the fortnight. It’s never a huge amount, but it’s enough to get by on. If I want to splurge (and unfortunately, theatre tickets cost money, so I sometimes splurge), then I have to cut my budget tighter to make the fun things fit. This might mean I don’t buy as many drinks out on a Saturday night, or I walk to my destination instead of catching the bus, because the bus costs money and those $3.50 rides are absolutely better spent at Gelato Messina.

I usually try to buy my groceries early in the week, I aim to buy in season and I try to pick recipes that overlap in ingredients to save. I never buy too much at the supermarket – especially in regards to fresh produce. It goes off quickly and that’s money down the drain – I buy what I need and I try to use every last bit of it. This means less waste of both food and money. It’s a win/win! I take lunch to work most days and it’s usually leftovers.

Oh and remember how I said I avoid eating sugar Monday through Friday? That’s WAY less money spent on snacks (that my thighs don’t need) and more money for alcohol on the weekend (that my thighs absolutely need and so does my liver).

Unless I’m really sick and it’s the only option on a Sunday, I visit bulk billing doctors. I ALWAYS ask for the generic at the pharmacy (it’s exactly the same) and I try to close my eyes when I walk past the lip balms, I have like forty at home, I remind myself.

I go out to dinner a few times a week, but I make those outings count, we often share meals and I check if it’s BYO. If I’m super skint, I offer to cook – we still get to hang out, but for half the cost. I buy my movie tickets using my student card and yeah, I offer to pick up my friend’s too because I can get them my student discount. That way they save too!

I usually have a glass of wine at home before I go out (that’s one less drink bought at the bar!) and if I am drinking at the venue, I avoid places with cover charges – I’m definitely not buying a drink inside your establishment if you make me fork out $20 to get inside!

I don’t smoke – I worked out how much some of my smoker friends spend a year, seriously, I could go to the USA with that money.

If I want something new, I put it on hold for an hour and then come back if I’m still thinking about it… unless it’s cat themed, then I buy it straight away. Meow! Because really, I don’t need another bloody sequin jacket, I really don’t. (Ok maybe I do…)

I buy my underwear and socks in bulk when David Jones and Myer have lingerie sales and I buy winter tights during the post-Christmas sales. It’s forty bloody degrees outside, no one is buying hosiery so they’re often 40% off. This is also an excellent time to buy new gloves, if you like wearing gloves in winter.

We have a coin-operated washing machine in the communal laundry. I wait til I have a big load to do, even if that means hand washing my underwear in the shower for two or three days to get by, and I use the washing line over the dryer where possible. Dryers are money sucking devils.

The money I haven’t spent on these things not only turns into savings, it’s also a buffer if I go over budget – and yes, that happens. Last week, I went to the dentist about my wisdom teeth and it cost more than I planned and I didn’t have to call mum and dad to cover it! That’s one point for Adult Georgia.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I trick myself into thinking I have less money than I do. Not only will it allow me to pay off my debt to my parents faster, if I keep living like this I’ll be able to afford an awesome holiday next year.

I don’t miss out – I still say yes to almost every outing, but it usually means that the day before pay day is lentil day, where I’m lucky to have $2 in my wallet. On that day, my plans involve me, a pot of lentils and my television. Luckily, that day is Monday night – Q&A! Hooray!

I’m a low income earner and if I can squirrel away half my income (after rent/bills) every week, then I figure anyone who is earning an income can find at lest $100 a fortnight to put aside. It’s about making smart moves and saying no to the unnecessary stuff, rather than cutting out the fun all together.

I’m not here to preach, or rant or tell you to be more like me, I’m just letting you know how I make it work. If you’re struggling to live within your means, try some of the above, it miiiiiiiiiiiiiight just work for you. Especially that ‘pretending you have less money than you do’ thing. My debt will be gone by Christmas at this rate! :)

What are your money-saving tips?