Technically, I have been raised in a very frugal family. My dad is the more extravagant but still thrifty.. My mom IS thrifty… but me, having lived away from home since I was 14, not so much… Don’t get me wrong, I was supported financially by my parents, until I finish university. So I did get some kind of ‘income’ and I did learn so-called ‘money-management’ early (well, I can’t simply spend everything that my parents sent me in 1 week… well I can, but I didn’t).
Anyway, I have been earning income for few years now, but only recently (about 9-10 months ago) I started to really keep track of my income vs spending. BF mentioned that it’s because I have more free time. Well I do now, considering my normal work-hour used to be from 9am to at least 8pm. Either way, I do try to be aware of my finances now… maybe it’s also part of getting old…
Couple of things I did recently to be more frugal… and of course to save money..
- Make your own coffee – at least the daily one…I have to have my coffee everyday… big cup small cup.. I NEED COFFEE… I used to buy coffee every morning from either Starbucks, Tim Hortons or McD. Well Tim Horton’s coffee sux.. I stopped buying from there eventhough it’s slightly cheaper than Starbucks… Starbucks is IMO the best of the 3.. It is also the most expensive of the bunch… at about $2.30 per grande brew coffee, you’d have spent close to $50 bucks per month. Not including the weekend coffees… I used to want ‘fancy’ coffee on the weekends. The kind they’ll cost at least 5 bucks for a medium size. That’s another $40 per month.
So what I do know is buy a canister of Nescafe rich. That particular one cost me $12 bucks. Last me about 3 months… so that’s $4 bucks a month not including the sugar and the milk… but still… Even if you get your fancy coffee every weekend (Saturday and Sunday), you will still save like $45 bucks every month.
- Pack your lunch – now that you make your own coffee… naturally what follows are – make your lunch… or pack your lunch… or if you do buy something, find something that you can save for next day lunches or something…
What I do usually to make a larger portion for my dinner… much much larger… so there are some leftover to bring to work the next day for lunch…. easy and simple food to make is fried rice… it’s filling and full of nutrition (add beef, egg and veggie and you’re good to go). Some sample recipe that I have made are here, if you’re interested.If I am too lazy to cook… or just happened that was sooooo hungry at dinner and there’s no leftover for lunch the next day.. I go to a chinese/thai restaurant 2 block from my work place called GO GO Curry for lunch. I usually order a 2 dish meal that comes with either rice (fried or steam) or noodle (egg noodle or rice noodle). For me the portion is wayyyyyy to big for 1 meal. What I do is just have it to go… and bring rice from home the next day… Sometimes I could have that 1 take out for 3 lunches… at about $8 bucks per box divided by 3… it’s a $3 lunch… good deal or GOOD DEAL?
- Re-examine your need and change your plan – cable, phone, internet, etc
I recently got an iphone… well that was more of a want, instead of need… but in my defense, I got that phone for free! Anyway, it was with Fido under 2 year contract. I was looking at $40 (400MB) VS $50 (1GB). I picked $50 because it was free for the first month and i intended to monitor my data usage to gauge my level of usage. I emphasize on data because I hardly use my phone for voice call and the plan comes with unlimited text message. My first month, i’ve used close to 700MB of data… so I decided to keep the plan. AND THEN!! Fido was having a promotion… and lower their $40 plan to $39 and increase the data for that plan from 400MB to 600MB (they increase some other things too.. like air time and whatnot… again, my concern is the data). SO Fido have this web chat thingy on their website. It was NEAT! i loved it… so, anyway, I changed the plan… I would need to control my data usage for a little bit… and make full use of the WiFi at work.. but I’m saving about $10 per month now…
- Make a list for grocery shopping, use coupon, be flexible, and don’t go shopping hungry
There are a couple of things here but essentially if you don’t make a list and go shopping hungry, you tend to either forget to buy the necessary, or you end up buying a whole lot of things that you don’t need at possibly high price.
Being flexible means you don’t have to insist in getting what you have on the list. It might sound contradicting, but what I mean is that if you are getting a veggie, you wanted kale, but it happen that spinach is on sale, at a very good price (or with coupon)… then get spinach instead of kale…
AND/OR another example, bf eat corn flakes for breakfast… he always buy name brand product that cost about $10bucks for family size. He bought it just because he’s used to buying that brand.. And one time, I insisted that he try the store brand… and whaddya know… taste the same and 30-40% cheaper..
That’s a few of what I remember right now.. I’m not saying that you absolutely have to do this like everyday for the rest of your life… but do it like most of the time… every so often, go ahead and buy the fancy coffee on a Wednesday afternoon… or buy that $10 bucks a pack of brand name spicy pepperoni stick for a snack.. just because you love it… or want it… I mean there is no point earning an income if you absolutely can’t enjoy it and feel miserable no?