In the past twelve months, Mr Millennial and I have made a number of changes to slash our spending and increase our saving. To help you on your saving journey, I thought I’d share a few of them here:
1. Reducing our Consumption of Meat
A few years ago, I had a friend over for dinner and I made a rice dish that I had made many times before. I love this dish, the flavours in it have a beautiful smell that reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen when I was growing up. I noticed that she separated out all the bacon in the dish and gave it to her partner to eat, so I asked her why she was doing that.
She explained to me that she didn’t eat pigs. So specific, I needed to know more, what was about pigs that made her not eat one particular animal? And she said to me “pigs are smarter than dogs, and I wouldn’t eat a dog.”
How silly, I thought, is intelligence really the guideline we use to determine which organisms should be eaten and which shouldn’t? I thought on this for a long time.
Ultimately, I agreed with her, and I stopped eating pigs. I had also stopped eating chickens at a young age. Before long, I had cut cows and sheep from my diet due to their excessive greenhouse gas releases. Today, I am largely vegetarian, although on occasion I eat fish.
Mr Millennial stopped eating processed meat after looking into the health problems associated and the increased risk of cancer. Today, the only meat he eats is chicken, and very rarely a party pie.
Cutting meat out of our diet has allowed us to save money every week on our groceries. We buy large quantities of vegetables, rice and pasta and use these to create our meals. Sometimes, we use the money we have saved to buy an expensive treat, such as macadamia nuts or marinated olives. These foods bring us much more joy than eating meat ever did.
2. Turning off Appliances at the Power Point and Buying a Clothes Horse
Six months ago, I got angry at our electricity bills.
“That’s it!” I said to Mr Millennial after going over our budget “We are cutting down our electricity bills!”
I went around the house and turned everything off at the power point. TV, microwave, toaster, it all went off.
“Not the microwave!” cried Mr Millennial “We need the clock.”
“The microwave is on the same power board as the TV,” I said (a crazy but true feature of our unit), “use the clock that you carry in your pocket.”
Lazy winter days and long work hours had often stopped us from hanging out our washing and we were using the dryer more and more. We went to Bunnings and spent $12 on a clothes horse. We haven’t put our clothes in the dryer since.
We also had a dehumidifier in our bathroom that we left on due to a lack of window and a very poor exhaust fan. We learnt how to set the timer on it and now put it on for half an hour or an hour when we shower, then it turns itself off. We put it on again when there are mould issues.
The electricity bill came in.
“Your useage has decreased by 49% since this time last year” it read. We’ve kept it fairly steady since.
3. Changing Our Phone Providers
The unit we live in is a giant concrete box. When we first moved in, no one could get phone reception except Mr Millennial who was with Telstra. So I switched to Telstra as well, to use my phone at home.
Recently, I looked into alternative. I realised I could move to Boost (on the Telstra network) and pay only 2/3 of what I was paying Telstra. I bought a starter pack half price online. I get reception at home.
Mr Millennial is looking into moving his phone to Belong. They are also on the Telstra network. So, I’ve heard, is Aldi.
4. Using the Car Less
About a year ago, I decided that driving my 2.8 km commute to work was wussy. An unnecessary use of fossil fuels. I set myself a goal to walk at least 3 times per week. The walk takes me 35-40 minutes including traffic lights. This means I am meeting my weekly exercise quota just by getting to work. I’ve been walking ever since. (Weather permitting; temperatures over about 35C usually result in me getting the car out, as does thunderstorms).
Mr Millennial and I were also driving to the shops (a 5 minute drive or 10-15 minute walk due to a pedestrian shortcut) to buy our weekly groceries. We realised that if we both took backpacks to the shops, we could carry our groceries home with only a few light bags to carry each. This also limits our impulse buying – if we have to carry it home, we might not want it so much after all! Obviously, we drive when we have to buy bulk items. No one is walking home a 24 pack of coke or a 5 kg bag of rice. It feels wrong to drive now. I love it!
When we got the comprehensive insurance on our car, we signed up for a drive less pay less option, due to how much we had cut down on using the car. We agreed to drive no more than 9000 km for the year, or else pay an additional excess. After about 10 months, we realised we had driven 8500 km, mostly from a few long drives on holiday or to visit family (this is our only car for the 2 of us). So we stopped driving. When people invited us to places, we would say “can you come here? We can’t use the car” and they did. We caught the train on Sundays for a maximum of $2.50 to go to a couple of functions. When the twelve month period was up, we had only driven 8800 km.
What are your tips for slashing your spending?