Sounds boring, I know. But it’s also the best way to get out of the habit of spending compulsively. And it will also tell you which bills are coming up in the next few weeks, so that you don’t have to stress about making ends meet when they arrive.
Don’t Carry Your Credit Card With You.
We live in a world which is designed to make us spend money on things we don’t need (to impress people we don’t like, but that’s another story).
You might have a strong desire to save money and stick to your budget, but you walk past a shop which is having a sale of your favourite brands, music is blaring and – boom! – you start swiping your credit card at machines in the same way that an angry ninja swings at opponents.
Leaving your card at home will allow you to go through a “must have” phase and cool down, hopefully helping you make a rational, rather than an emotional, decision.
Buy Fruit And Vegetables At The Markets.
I buy two boxes of freshest produce every week. In the supermarkets it would cost about $150. I get it at the markets for – I kid you not – about $50.
To save you time as well as money, find a smallholder who has the freshest stuff and variety you like the most and do all your shopping in one hit. Don’t walk around, trying to find a cheaper price for each separate item. The discount you’ll get for loyalty and buying in bulk will be much greater.
Use Freshly Ground Coffee.
Are you as much of a coffee addict as I am? And you can’t stand the bad stuff? I get it. I also get that buying coffee is not just about having another beverage. It’s about taking a break from the computer.
But two or thee cups of coffee a day adds up to thousands of dollars each year. And if you have yours with milk and sugar, you clog up your arteries more than you need to.
Get a freshly roasted and ground bag from the best cafe in the neighbourhood, buy some filters and drink it freshly brewed, black, with a dash of milk if you have to.
I challenge you to do it for two weeks – you’ll never look at those hazelnut cappuccinos with extra chocolate and extra sugar again. Make yourself a cup and go for a walk to give yourself a well-deserved break.
Slash Electricity Usage.
There is a good and a bad way to reduce your electricity bill.
The bad way involves going overboard – having cold showers, sitting in a cold house in winter, living in near darkness and installing energy saving lights which emit light so horrible that fluorescent tubes look warm in comparison.
The good way is just to be sensible. Turn off a light when you leave a room. Don’t leave air-con and heaters on all the time. Use a drying rack instead of a tumble dryer.
If you have spot-lights in your home (the ones which switch on in groups of anywhere between 2 and 10), be aware that each one is rated at 50W – and together they add up quickly. Don’t use them as a main method of lighting a room – buy a standing floor lamp instead.
Create A Meal Plan.
If you’re like most people, you probably go to the supermarket like this – you wonder through the aisles, throwing stuff int the trolley. Then you bring it all home, look at it and wonder, “what should I make with this?”
After you cook one meal, you realise you are now short of a few ingredients to make anything, so you pick up the phone and order take-away for the rest of the week.
I invite you to flip your approach to food shopping on its head. Go to a great recipe website now and find out how to make 4 dishes that you’d love to eat. One meat dish, one soup, one pasta, one salad. Write down all the ingredients you need and only then go buy them.
Not only you’ll save 30-40% on food, you’ll save yourself time spent wandering aimlessly through supermarket aisles.
Cut Back Booze.
Enough said. Chances are, you can easily cut your drinking by 20% and not hurt your lifestyle one bit.
Here’s a tip – only drink when you really really really feel like it. Don’t drink because it’s there, because others are or because you have nothing else to do.
Free Fun Challenge.
Marketers are constantly selling you an idea that having fun costs money. But when you really think about it, you probably had most fun in your life when you’ve done something you really like with someone whose company you enjoy.
Ask yourself – if you suddenly had a billion dollars, what would you spend the rest of your life doing? Sure, you’d spend some time buying everything in sight and splurging, but then what? What would you choose your life to be about, now that the burden of having to make a living is gone?
Chances are, your answer will reveal one of your deepest passions which you’ve been neglecting. Now find a friend to share it with and go immerse yourself in it.
Create More Value.
And one last thing. You’ll make a lot more money in your lifetime and be a lot more happy in the process if your passion and your job are the same thing. And these days, it’s easier than you might think.
There are businesses out there which care about the same things as you do and are looking for people like you to join their cause. In the super-connected modern world finding them is becoming easier every day. And if you can’t find one, why not start one?
Irene Kotov helps entrepreneurially-minded people get jobs in exciting start-ups. She helps shape their social media presence, prepares them for the interview process and arms them with a kick-ass resume, cover letter and Linked-In profile to help them confidently stand head and shoulders above their competition. You can connect with her on Google+.
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