Over the past few months I’ve been making more of an effort to economise – caught by the budgeting bug like everyone else.
The world markets are making us economise in some areas, but saving money has seeped into our psyche as well.
I’ve made good inroads on my electricity, and water bills after a neighbour complained that I didn’t' turn my appliances off at the wall. I'm consciously using less water as well. The children love that fact I make them take fewer showers.
The trouble with economising is that all of the little savings can be wiped out by one big blowout. That's why it's important not to give up dining out, for example. Instead slot the occasional dinner out into your budget if you have one, or make a rule about eating out just once a week or once a month, if that is less than you were doing.
In recent years I've found thinking laterally can save a lot of money. Case in point was the Roman blind I've just finished making for my daughter. I already had fabric, but needed the slats, attachments and strings. Buying these from Spotlight would have involved a one-hour round trip, $12 in petrol and at least $30 at the checkout. Instead I nipped to the local op shop on foot, bought a used blind for $5, and dissected it for the parts I needed whilst watching the evening news that night.
Likewise when my daughter was diagnosed allergic to cheap shampoos recently, my wallet groaned. Yet 10 minutes on Google and I found it was possible to buy the ingredients for plant-based shampoosonline for a fraction of Ecostore prices.
Talking to the elderly is really useful when it comes to a reality check on your spending. They've seen many a downturn and some grew up in the Great Depression and went without for their entire childhoods. When I had my eyebrows threaded recently for a mere five bucks, my mother drew breath in through her teeth at the money waste. Ditto for the fantastic necklace I picked up at Portmans for $5 – a quarter of its original price. This is, after all discretionary spending.
The ways in which I could economise further are myriad. Having a few general rules help:
I always ask myself: "do I really need it" before I buy anything.
I never borrow money to buy anything or use store cards and HP. It's a slippery slope otherwise.
Before buying anything that I need I check out TradeMe in case I can get it cheaper.
Sadly I've been looking for ways to save money on my cat's food. The kids love him, so he's here to stay. But every time I try to buy economy brand food, the beast simply vomits it all over the carpet.
How are you economising?