Saving money is hard. I get it. If you’re saving for the right thing (or indeed, for anything – those people with a constantly brimming savings account for no reason astound me), hopefully it will be worth it in the end. But, the fact remains that if you’re serious about this, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices, and that can be tough.
Figure out which luxuries have to go… and which ones to keep
Let’s be realistic here for a minute: if you want to save as much money as possible, but you’re committed to having your nails done once a week, buying lunch out every day, and going out for drinks a couple of times a weekend, this isn’t going to work.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to do absolutely nothing (and, as I stressed in my first post in this series, making yourself miserable will only lead to disaster!). What it comes down to is, like everything in this game, a balancing act: you need to have a serious look at your expenses and figure out what’s going on.
This works for both your monthly and weekly spending, but for today we’ll be concentrating on the former (check back next time to see what can be done about your day-to-day spending!). When we first got serious about saving, we sat down and went through all of our monthly direct debits and standing orders (just open your online banking app, or if you’re old-fashioned, go through that statement with a highlighter), and put them into two categories: necessary, and not necessary.
The “necessary” category speaks for itself: unfortunately, you probably can’t do without paying rent or paying your electricity bill (though by all means, try to cut down on your usage – you might save some pennies plus give the earth a little helping hand, win-win!).
Equally, unless you’re deluding yourself, the “unnecessary” category is pretty straightforward too: clearly, you don’t need expensive (or inexpensive) magazine subscriptions, gaming platforms or gym memberships. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everything that’s unnecessary isn’t important and thus needs to be thrown out.
I can only speak from experience, but when we were going through this process, I said a melancholy goodbye to my Birchbox subscription. Although it was lovely to feel like it was my birthday every month when their delightful box of treats turned up, I knew I could live without it (and quite easily, it would seem – nice as it was, I have not once missed it since cancelling). A Birchbox subscription is only around 13€ a month, so we’re not talking millions here, but over the year, I’ll have saved over 150€, which is not bad. And, even better when you consider that I have “saved” this money with zero effort (as I said, I haven’t missed it).
However – and this is the important bit – there were some things on our “unnecessary” list which we decided to keep. For example, we knew when we started this thing that seriously saving for a year meant we wouldn’t be able to go out as much as we used to (bye bye, lovely summer weeknight drinks, and impromptu restaurant meals when we couldn’t be bothered to cook), so we’d sure as hell better make sure we had some entertainment at home.
Thus, the Netflix subscription stays (and let’s be honest, who needs to go out when you have The Crown anyway?). Equally, my husband is a gamer, and decided to keep the monthly fee he pays for his Playstation subscription (and believe me, he gets his money’s worth…).
The things you decide to keep will of course be different to ours: if you’re a gym bunny and feel weird without lifting weights/running on a treadmill/whatever else you weirdos do in those places every day, then your membership is worth keeping. But, if you have a gym membership and don’t go, or don’t go regularly, you can probably let it go (let’s be realistic: if you haven’t started going twice a week yet, it’s probably not going to happen).
Well, that’s it. I hope this tip is useful, and please pop back to see my next post in this series, where we’ll dissect your weekly spending (just where is that money going, anyway?!).
Until next time – and if you’re trying to cut out some of those pesky “unnecessaries”, good luck!
P.S. if you want to read Part 1 of this series, here it is!