“Gosh, are you going to Disney in America again with the kids in the May vacation? What a great thing. Haven’t you just been to Cape Town, Kyoto and Tulum? Cool, good for you! You also work hard for it, right? ”. I sigh and pick up my phone. “Darling. I am now going to book something for the May holiday. It doesn’t matter where, as long as it is remote, tropical and something great. Agreed?”
When I look back at my behavior, I’m thinking … serious? It makes me puke. We try to keep up with each other at a killer pace. Both partners work, we buy too much stuff, good (brand) clothing for the kids and want to make the most amazing trips, but in addition, we walk around like dull, we are exhausted, we have monthly sessions with the psychologist who ‘our kind of calls’ an ‘epidemic’ and we have a trade in sleeping pills. Really. What the hell went wrong with us? And when? And how are we going to change this as soon as possible?
As if you are only someone when you drive that car, live that house, wear beautiful (brand) clothing and can take your children to the most luxurious places every school holiday. I simply have had enough. I wanted to kind of materially starve myself to see if life got very different. If I could. Whether I could handle the pressure. Whether I could stay myself or whether I just got to know myself even better. I wanted to go back to basics. And suddenly it was there; a kind of resistance to this current way of thinking and behavior.
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 in 12 months. I did this by making extreme changes in my lifestyle and living under my current lifestyle.
It was not easy and required a lot of hard work and sacrifice. And if I can, so can you. I have described a formula so that you can achieve this too. Curious?
1. Become financially independent
- Super cliché but most of the time the clichés are true. Your own job, your own income, your own hassle.
- How badly do you really want this? To save hard for 12 months, you have to go for it. It’s not about a sprint, it’s about a marathon. No one else is going to do this for you, it requires sacrifice, it is difficult and you need a measure of persistence. The right mindset is everything.
2. Check your expenses
- Money in itself is not stressful, but if you have no idea where your money is going, or being afraid to check your balance? Then you have stress. Super simple solution. Block 2 evenings or a weekend and arrange a good bottle of wine. Use excel to record all expenses of each month (or use a handy app for this) and you will gain insight into your money flows. You can check where your money is going up to the euro and whether you want it. Write down absolutely everything. Believe me, now you need wine.
- 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 will probably be super surprised how much you spend. It’s the little things that really add to the total.
- 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 where you want to be. Hey, you’re not perfect and it takes time to get there. It takes time to build this kind of consciousness and to strictly monitor everything. But when you see the successes, you will automatically change.
3. Start budgeting very hard – needs vs. wants
- Make a budget. Start at the top with the monthly income (average).
- Calculate all your monthly income. Do not forget the income that you receive 1x per year / six months / quarter. It gives a good picture of what your average income looks like per month in a year.
- Below that overview 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, you check which monthly costs are important to you. Do you want to continue to pay these or do you stop with certain fixed costs? For me, groceries, the hairdresser, beautician (difficult skin), clothes for my kids (mind you, nothing for myself that whole year and mostly pre-loved/vintage items for the kids) and saving remained on the fixed costs list. In addition, I gave myself 50 euros a month in pocket money (so I also had to buy gifts from this, dating together with my girls and other things).
“need to have” versus “want to have”
As you can see I was very rigorous & deadly serious. I wanted to achieve my goal of 10,000 euros at all costs. I have looked a lot at my “need to have” versus “want to have”. I actually thought a hairdresser and beautician was luxurious, but it gave me that boost I needed to radiate enough self-confidence. Basically all I was left with after these posts went to save post.
The trick is to always make sure you know how much of your budget is left. I knew exactly what I was spending and worked harder and harder to achieve 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 that. 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 daily shopping (on a full stomach with a shopping list). Cheaper supermarkets, checking offers and going to the market in the afternoon (then everything goes cheaper). We made all our food ourselves: breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is quite a job, but once you are in the rhythm, it will work. If you cook for yourself, you can save between 5-10 euros per meal, about 120-200 euros per month. That is easy to earn and it is very nice and cozy.
- And then about the girlfriends drinks. Instead of going to an expensive café (40-50 euros) you can convince them to meet someone and bring something with them. Do they really like it and that way you will come to someone’s house again, just like when you were a student 😉
5. Lower your mortgage or rent
Since mortgage or rent is the largest item, it may be interesting to take a close look at this item.
- Check with your bank / adviser whether your mortgage can be taken out for a lower interest rate. Sometimes you have to pay a fine because you break off your term earlier, but it can also be very interesting in the longer term. So it is a short loss for a long lasting profit.
- Get a roommate and split the costs.
- Move to a cheaper neighborhood. Rigorous, but not impossible.
- If you are with friends / parents for a weekend, you can rent out your house through Airbnb. Sometimes look a little further than you initially envision. It seems drastic, but you get used to everything. It is about realizing your goal, you have to keep that in mind.
6. Sell your crap
I need cash. How do I do that?
- By thoroughly cleaning your house and selling everything on the marketplace. Children’s clothing, shoes, coats, furniture (they work well), books, you name it.
- Cancel cancellation and travel insurance & other subscriptions (sports, magazines, etc).
- “Going out at home”. For example, I didn’t go out anymore, remember? We went shopping for cheaper, I didn’t buy clothes for a year… and you know, I really didn’t need it all. During the evenings at home with friends, I could immediately check in the cupboards what I could still borrow. Super handy evenings!
- Shorter showers, candles on and fewer lamps on, purchase LED lamps
- Compare energy suppliers and healthcare costs every year. There is a lot on offer and is well worth it and saved!
7. Find a side kick job
Everyone wants to earn some extra money.
- Find out where your talents lie and respond to this! Can you play guitar well? go teach! Are you handy? Sign up as a handywoman / man. Just do it and make extra money! I did that by giving zumba lessons and by doing extra help. Easily earns!
- Set yourself an achievable goal, with a reasonable timeline. Go for it and work on your dreams, take that dream trip or buy that piece of art or just keep saving and ensure a mortgage-free existence! Whatever, whatever is important to you. You don’t have to be afraid of failure, but you do 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 no-buy day for me (just because of resistance), but I also organize these upcoming holidays as purely as possible. I like to buy gifts, don’t get me wrong. But it can all be a little less and more consciously. We prefer to do something fun together, enjoy the time together. Gaining experiences together, that has become the most important in my life. That’s what I define as success.
Extra tips for saving money:
- Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin & Joe Domingues
- Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your by Barbara Stanny
- Minimalism: a documentary about the important things
- Tidying up with Marie Kondo
Do you want to know more or do you have questions for Rachel? Feel free to do so in the comments below. Do you see errors? Then let us know! Do you want to stay informed? This can be done via Facebook and Instagram.