“Gosh, are you going to Disney in America again with the kids in this short May break? What a wonderful thing. Had you not just been to Cape Town, Kyoto and Tulum? No, but nice for you to say! You work hard for it too”. I sigh a moment and pick up my phone. “Honey. I’m going to book something for the May break now. It doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s tropical, and somewhere nice. Agree?”
Looking back, I think. Seriously? I am sick of this… We try to keep up with each other at a killing pace. Both partners work, we buy too much stuff, have nice clothing for the kids, and want to have the most enjoyable journeys, but we are also exhausted, tired, have monthly appointments with the psychologist who refers to us as “an epidemic,” and then, we have a trade in sleeping pills. Honestly… what the hell happened to us? And when did this happen? And how are we going to change this as quickly as possible?
Since when are we only someone when you drive that car, live in that house, wear branded clothing and can take your children to the most luxurious places every school holiday. I simply had enough of it! I wanted to starve myself to some kind of exhaustion to see if life became very different. Whether I could do it. Whether I could stand the pressure. Whether I could stay myself or whether I just got to know myself. I wanted to go back to basics. And suddenly it was there; a kind of resistance to this current thinking.
Seven tips for saving money
Even with my very average income, living in a more expensive area of the country, I managed to save 10,000 euros within 12 months. I did this by changing my lifestyle extremely and living under my current lifestyle. It was not easy and required a lot of hard work and sacrifices. And if I can, then you can too. I’ve provided a solution that will allow you to do the same.
1. Become financially independent
- Super cliché but most of the time the clichés are true. Your own job, your own income, your own worries.
- How much do you really want this? To save in 12 months you seriously have to go for it. It is not about a sprint, but about a marathon. No one else is going to do this for you, it requires sacrifice, it is difficult and you need a degree of perseverance. The right mindset is everything.
2. Check your expenses
- Money does not cause stress, but, if you have no idea where your money is going, or afraid to check your balance? Then you have some serious stress. A super simple solution is; block 2 evenings or a weekend, arrange a good bottle of wine and use excel to record all expenses of each month (or use a handy app for this) and you will get insight into your cash flows. Up to the euro, you can see where your money is going and whether you want it to go there. Write down everything. Believe me, you need wine now.
- What do you spend on food per week? Including groceries, eating out, fresh coffee, snacks at the gas station etc. What do you spend on entertainment? Netflix, telephone, internet, cinema, books, music, concerts etc. And what about alcohol and cigarettes? What are the monthly bills such as rent, mortgage, energy, water/gas/ light, car, taxes, insurance, student loans, gym, shopping, clothing etc? You are probably very surprised by how much you spend. It is the small things that make the total a big boost.
- Don’t worry be happy. It is what it is, and from now on you will do things differently. Check how much you have to save every month to get to where you want to end up. Hey, you’re not perfect and it takes time to get there. It takes time to build this kind of consciousness and to follow everything strictly. But when you see the successes, you will automatically change.
3. Go budgeting 2.0 – needs vs. wants
- Make a budget. Start at the top with the monthly income (average).
- Calculate all monthly income. Do not forget the income that you receive once a year/half year/quarter. It gives a good idea of what your income looks like on average per month in a year.
- Below you start with the fixed costs, from high to low costs. For example your mortgage or rent, insurance, car, energy/water/ light etc.
- Once you have calculated the fixed costs, check which monthly costs are important to you. Do you want to continue to pay this or do you stop certain fixed costs? For me, groceries, the hairdresser, beautician (difficult skin), clothing for my kids (mind you, nothing for myself that year round) and saving remained on the fixed expense list. In addition, I gave myself 50 euros a month in pocket money (so I also had to buy presents, date and other things all together).
- As you can see, I was very rigorous & very serious. I wanted to reach my goal of 10,000 euros at all costs. I really looked at my ‘need to have’ versus ‘want to have’. Hairdresser and beautician I actually thought was luxury but gave me the boost I needed to radiate enough confidence. Basically, everything I left after these posts went to post save. The trick is always to make sure you know how much of your budget is left. I knew exactly what I spent and started working harder to reach my goal.
4. Develop the habit of saving money
- You could also see if you can go to work by bike. Or instead of paying expensive parking costs: park outside the center and then cycle to the center with your folding bike. I myself had a company car, so I didn’t have to save on it. But I had chosen the cheaper class in the lease range. This saved me 100-150 euros a month compared to colleagues.
- Weekly shopping instead of doing daily shopping (on a full stomach with a shopping list). Cheaper supermarkets, check offers and go to the market in the afternoon (a lot of items are at reduced prices). We made all our food ourselves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is quite a job but once you are in the rhythm, it works. If you cook for yourself, you can save between 5-10 euros per meal, around 120-200 euros per month.
- And then about the girlfriends’ drinks. Instead of going to an expensive cafe (40-50 euros) you can convince them to meet up at someones house and take something with you. They really like it and this way you will come to someone’s home again.
5. Lower your mortgage or rent
Since mortgage or rent is the largest item, it can be interesting to take a good look at this item.
- Check with your bank/advisor whether your mortgage can be taken out for a lower interest rate. Sometimes you have to pay a fine because you break off your deadline earlier, but it can also be very interesting in the longer term. It is, therefore, a short loss for a long-term profit.
- Take a roommate and split the costs.
- Move to a cheaper neighborhood. Rigorous, but not impossible.
- If you spend a weekend with friends/parents, you can rent your home through Airbnb. Sometimes look a little further than you initially envision. It seems drastic, but everything gets used. It is about realizing your goal, which you must keep in mind.
6. Sell your crap
I need cash now. How do I do that?
- By having a thorough cleaning in your house and selling everything on the marketplace. Children’s clothing, shoes, coats, furniture (they do well), books, you name it.
- Cancel cancellation insurance and travel insurance & other subscriptions (sports, magazines, etc).
- “Going out at home.” For example, I didn’t go out, remember? We went shopping for less money, and I didn’t buy any clothes for a year… and you know, I didn’t need it all. When I was with friends at home in the evenings, I could immediately look into their wardrobe and see what I could borrow. A super handy and fun evening!
- Shorter showers, candles and fewer lights on, purchase LED lights etc.
- Comparing the energy suppliers and health costs every year. It is offered enormously and is certainly worthwhile and saved!
7. Find a sidekick job
Everyone wants to earn something extra.
- See where your talents lie and respond to them! Can you play the guitar well? Go teach! Are you handy? Sign up as a handyman/woman. Just do it and make extra money! I did that by giving Zumba lessons and giving extra attention. Easy earnings!
- Set yourself a viable goal with a reasonable timeline. Go for it and work on your dreams, go on that dream trip or buy that piece of art or just keep on saving and ensure a mortgage-free existence! Whatever, what you find important. You don’t have to be afraid of failing, but you have to be in exactly the same place next year as today.
For me, it has become a way of life. I no longer feel the urgency to buy things. Let me say: I don’t need it anymore. Black Friday was a non-buying day for me (just out of opposition), but I will also organize these upcoming holidays as purely as possible. I love buying presents, don’t get me wrong. But it can all be a little less and more conscious. We prefer to do something fun together, enjoy the time together. Having experiences together has become the most important thing.
Extra tips for saving money:
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