Happy 2018! How was everyone’s break? I’m super rested now that for the first time in six years I wasn’t on-call/working over the Christmas/NYE period. I was in the fortunate position to have six weeks off, taking all of December and half of January to rest, recharge and catch up with friends.
Thought I’d start the first post of the year talking about how I’m planning on achieving one of my goals for 2018 – that being saving more cash. I’m a pretty good saver, but I had a very expensive 2017 living temporarily in Melbourne and flying back and forth to Brisbane to visit my partner.
So 2018 is about clearing whatever debt I have and reconnecting with my savings habits again by kicking them up a notch.
Using the Barefoot Investor’s money methods
If you live in Australia, chances are you’ve heard of the Barefoot Investor; this book was the best seller of 2017. I got this book in early 2017 and set up my banking according to the guide over a year ago, however I just want to give it a plug as something I’ll continue doing. Forget budgets – this guide is better!
Renting a really cheap two bed apartment
When I moved to Melbourne, the job I had was only a contract position, so my partner and I decided not completely uproot our lives and move interstate in case the job didn’t work out. Turns out, that was a good decision because the job wasn’t for me.
Anyway, before I moved, we downgraded from our three bedroom house in Brisbane to a two bedroom flat, and I also rented a one bedroom flat in Melbourne. Now that I’m back, we could move to something bigger again, but we’ve decided to stay put. Aside from me having already moved three times in 2017, the price is super cheap for the two bedroom in Brisbane.
Yeah, this place is a bit older (built circa 1980s), but old apartments are also bigger than new builds. It has air-con and a modern kitchen – that’s about all the nice things I can say about it. Otherwise the carpet is pretty worn and old, the lights and fans are weirdly designed, there’s two doors into the apartment for some reason(?), the bathroom and toilet need a good upgrade, it’s on a noisey street and we have to climb stairs (no lift).
However the price is super super cheap, we’re close to restaurants, bars and public transport. So for now this place will do for the price.
Joining the library
One of my biggest spending vices is books. I have hundreds (not exaggerating here) of books, and with the aforementioned two bed apartment, not much room to shelve them – so most are sitting in boxes in the garage.
During the break we joined the local library – one is in walking distance from our house and the major library in the city is also close to my bus stop. This year, I’m putting a ban on buying books – this includes physical and Kindle books. I actually have heaps that I haven’t read (I visit lots of Writers Festivals and load up) and anything else I want to read I have to borrow from the library. Old school.
Saving coins into a money jar
This is an oldie that I’ve always done – I keep an old beer stein (I don’t drink beer) in the house and empty my purse every day of coins. Mostly I just hate having coins to lug around. Some people think it’s better to just spend the coins rather than break notes, but I feel I don’t miss the coins and they add up pretty quickly. In the past we’ve banked the coins for spending money on trips – last time our loot came to $400 before we went to Italy. Not bad from some spare change.
Taking lunch to work
Again, this is nothing new and I’m pretty good at keeping this habit. But it still requires a bit of work… and sometimes forcing yourself to eat a lunch you may not necessarily feel like come lunch time on a Wednesday when the city markets smells are wafting up your nose.
BUT, I can easily spend $10-12 on a bought lunch, that’s more than $50 a week. Or $2,600 a year. Can’t you think of better things to spend $2,600 on? Wouldn’t that make a nice flight to Europe? Maybe even two.
Buying food from the farmers markets
Speaking of food – I try to shop at the farmers markets every week rather than buying my fruit and veg from the supermarkets. Yeah, I still have to stop into the supermarket for general grocery supplies, but I save so much more money by buying direct from the farmers.
You’re also able to get a good idea of what’s in season (rather than what’s been kept for weeks out of season) and sometimes I will get a deal/bargain with the farmers who can decide their own prices. I’ve often been charged less if I’m just buying three punnets of berries instead of four even if they’ve said ‘four for $10’, just because the farmer is being nice.
Growing my own herbs
Ever buy herbs and find they go bad two days later? Grow your own! I love growing useful plants – fruit trees, herbs, veggies. But you do need to put in a bit of effort for this one, e.g. they need water, good soil, making sure they get the right amount of sun etc.
I often grow basil, rosemary, oregano and Italian parsley – but these are herbs I use on a regular basis. In all my pasta sauces, meatballs, casseroles. So for me, it’s way cheaper to have my own supply on tap rather than continually buying herbs that go bad after two days at $3 a pop.
Also, in case you didn’t know, there are many foods that can be regrown from kitchen scraps.
Using public transport instead of driving
If you live in a major city, this is a bit of a no-brainer. It’s cheaper to get public transport than pay for parking. Brisbane is no different, however… the traffic in Brisbane is nowhere near as busy as somewhere like Sydney or Melbourne. So it can be tempting to driving and park in the city because it’s convenient and you can actually park for about $15/day just across the river – a short walk to the city.
But, taking public transport costs me about $7.92 per day return. That’s $7.08 cheaper than parking in the city (at the cheapest place possible). That’s $35.40 per week, or $1,840.80 per year.
Catching public transport also means you can up your incidental exercise. Speaking of which…
Not joining a gym
A couple of years ago I joined a gym that I absolutely loved, rare for me considering I’ve joined and quit many gyms over my life. However after I developed a bulged disc, I had to stop going for about six months.
I definitely need to get into shape again – more on that on Wednesday – however I don’t want to pay $40/fortnight membership fee for somewhere I’m not committed to attending. For me, a gym membership doesn’t make me want to go, even if I’m paying for it. That’s more than $1,000 a year when I can exercise for free.
I plan to get back in the habit of power walking every afternoon – for me, active walking is one of the best ways to get more exercise into my life. All I need is some walking shoes and a park – and I have access to three walking parks direct from my house. You don’t even need a park, you can walk anywhere. And it’s free and low impact.
Brisbane City Council also has a Active and Healthy program for South East Queenslanders, with parks that provide free workout equipment and classes. Check out your local council for something similar that might be in your city.
Is saving money one of your goals this year? What are you putting in place to help you reach your goal?