TOP WAYS TO SAVE MONEY
A couple of things happened recently which made me very determined to not be “ripped off” anymore and to really think about what I was spending my money on. The first was I left my well paid job because the long hours and commute were taking all the fun out of life. The second was my husband wrote my car off in an accident and I discovered that my 6 year old $50,000 vehicle had a “market value” of $7,000 according to my insurance company.
Since I have always made quite good money I honestly never thought of the real value of a dollar here or there. I also was so busy I neglected to think about big ticket items like cars, insurance, my mortgage or the many other things we buy all the time. So I forced myself to review my actual expenditure and test the market. When I added up the savings I could have made, had I done my research, I literally slumped in my seat and then got to work.
From doing these simple things I cut my bills by more than $50,000 a year. This was staggering to me not just for the amount I was wasting but what it meant for my life. I had always been more concerned with how much I made not how much I was spent. I should point out that I have never lived frivolously wasting money on fancy clothes or acquiring expensive toys, but I also clearly, hadn’t lived thoughtfully. I failed to understand the basic premise that savings of this amount, half my annual salary, gave me freedom. To work less, to spend time with my friends, to volunteer to breathe and live with less stress.
Here is what I did:
MORTGAGE: I paid my mortgage diligently for 10 years never questioning the variable rate I was being charged or considering ways to reduce costs. With one phone call to the bank simply stating I needed all the details on my mortgage (rate, total, time left) because I was going to “shop around” for a better deal, resulted in an immediate decrease by my bank and a saving of $4,000 a year. Wow I was both angry for not doing this earlier and determined to get an even better deal.
BROKERS: I tested the mortgage market using a broker. Most countries now have this service whereby you don’t pay the broker the banks do when they get you a better deal. Mine did and after 20 years with the same bank I happily switched and saved myself another $5,000.
Brokers also handle insurance in the same way so that was step number two – health, life, car, home and content insurance I had a broker negotiate deals in all these areas and saved myself another $3,000 a year.
PHONES and download costs: This was another area I had never paid much attention too. We had contracts for mobile phones, land lines and computer wireless and while we had bundled where we could I never really checked our usage or negotiated beyond the sign up. My service provider was helpful and demonstrated ways we could change our contracts which ended up saving $1500 a year. I was “helpfully” told that it is not their responsibility to contact us with better deals or contract changes its up to us. So much for customer service but I won’t let this happen again.
CAR: I bought my first “brand new” car six years ago the one I mentioned above which depreciated by $43,000 in that time. Now needing another car I shopped around and was astounded at the range of second hand car sale places online. Now you can buy second hand cars which come with warranties and even free shipping within your country. You can also buy privately and find online sites which offer valuations, run car histories and mechanical checks and provide advice on the best performance and value for money brands. No excuses now to buy new again.
FOOD : buying lunches and coffees as well as grabbing take outs on the way home was by far the biggest expense for me and therefore biggest savings once I stopped. On average I would spend $20 a day just on coffee and lunch, justifying it because I was too busy with work to manage a packed lunch in the morning. This cost me more than $5,000 a year. I had never done the sums not to mention the health cost. Don’t get me started on the costs of take away Japanese or Indian at least once a week because I was too tired to cook…..
PET CARE: This was my biggest area of saving by researching the online purchasing options available for the multi- billion dollar pet industry I am now saving more than $10,000 a year (well I should explain that we have 8 pets). I found food, medicine, bed, toys everything we needed for our animals was up to 50% cheaper online than it was at the local grocery store or vet.
PETROL/GAS: Most people have figured out that petrol/gas stations have cycles and there are days of the week where its cheaper to fill up. Some stations change their cycles to deal with this but in most western countries this is now regulated and by law they are required to let you know when their prices will increase and decrease. I simply googled our local station and found that their website contained all this information. We also added a rewards discount card and if we use that and stick to the cheaper days we will save $5,000 a year on fuel for our 3 cars.
SHOPPING AROUND: I don’t like shopping, so I get in and out of the shops as quickly as possible. Being stranded in the country with limited access to a car for a month, I spent a lot of time online researching ways to shop and get things delivered. What I discovered is there is now very little you can’t buy online and have delivered in Western countries. There are huge savings online for items like beauty, medicines, toiletries and clothes. Most bricks and mortar businesses also have websites and its really worth checking them out online before going as they offer vouchers, discount days and supermarkets even give you days and times of the days they further discount. Also when buying big ticket items in shops such as computers, whitegoods and furniture use your phone and google “best deals” on the item you are buying using the brand /code and then show it to the sales person and ask them what they can do. Doing this research gives my family an overall annual saving of more than $10,000!!!
COMMUNITY BARTERING: I grew up in the country where bartering was a way of life. Trading garden vegetables with neighbours, swapping babysitting for music lessons, and borrowing tools and machines was common practise. These days no matter where you live bartering is available and a lot of this is online. If you have a skill you can opt to be paid or trade for another service. There are also numerous communities which have developed their own currencies (money) and guides to buy and trade locally (google “community bartering” for your area it has huge implications for our uncertain economy and for individuals). Where I live, we simply found an online “services bartering site” and began trading.
SECOND HAND SALES: my husband is a “junk” collector and he drives me crazy with it. However when we did our annual clean up this year instead of throwing it all on the verge for collection I started researching trade and sell sites (see blog on this) and while it took a bit of effort we made several thousand dollars on our junk.
The point for me of all of this was I realised that I had never had the time to do my research and to be honest I thought it wasn’t worth my time to look into it. However making this effort using the tips above has Earned me so much more time with my family and for myself without changing my lifestyle. Think about what you spend the most money on and google ways to save money on it.