Friday, 7 December 2012
Last week we talked about "The Mindshift" - when you start actively seeking to change the way you live - this week is all about "The Downshift" - the bits that come next.
Deciding you want to change the way things are is almost the easy bit, in some ways, when it happens, it's not necessarily a big flashy lights, chorus girls and fireworks type thing, it's more likely to be a quiet realisation of the fact that you're ready to move to a new phase. How to go about that though can be far more difficult - when we first started we had no idea how to go about making the changes - we just knew that we wanted to see actual money in our accounts at the end of each month, not simply have our pay returning us back to zero again! Tackling one thing at a time can be the way forwards - for example:
- Stop throwing the car keys to those nice chaps in the supermarket car park and paying them to wash it. A sturdy bucket can be bought for £1, as can a pack of large sponges, and car shampoo is not much more (in fact I bet 99p stores do that, too!) - doing the job yourself gives you a chance to check for any scratches or knocks to the paintwork, too. Don't be tempted to economise still further though and use washing up liquid - it's appallingly bad for the paintwork and will prove to be a false-economy!
- While we're on the subject of the car - think about fuel economy. Empty out any rubbish you've got hanging about in there, and sort out the clutter in the boot - do you really need everything that you're carrying about? Remember that heavy acceleration and sharp braking is not only poor for economy, it's piss-poor driving too, so cut it out - a little bit of looking ahead will make you far better and safer driver. If your car has one of those trip computers that shows the Miles Per Gallon set it to show this on the dashboard - that will make you think. My 1.5 litre diesel can do 65mpg on a good day! Think about your speed too - if you'd usually drive at 70mph on the motorway, cutting back by 5mph will make almost no difference to your time of arrival, but quite a lot of difference to your pocket.
- Stop heading into one of those faceless big-brand coffee shops each morning out of habit. If a number of you in the office are doing this why not agree to club together on buying a coffee machine - those that take the "pods" can make a seemingly endless number of different styles of coffee at a fraction of the cost per cup of buying from a chain. Alternatively there is the option of a cafetiere or one of those little stove-top espresso makers, if you have facilities for such a thing? If your walk to the station or bus is short enough why not invest in an insulated mug and make your brew before leaving home - lovely to have a hot drink while you're standing at a nippy bus-stop or on a damp platform, too!
- As above - buying lunch each day could be costing you the earth! Even the cheapest of the supermarket "Meal deals" is around £3 a day - in the course of a working year this could mean you parting with over £700! The simple switch to buying packets of rolls and sandwich fillings to put in them, or a pack of cup-soups to eat with them, could save you a fortune. Buying multipacks of fruit with your weekly syhop is cheaper than buying individual items each day - you could always take them all into work on a Monday and leave in your drawer. A friend has recently started taking those "Add water and leave to stand" flavoured couscous packets for her lunches and loves it - fab to have something hot in the middle of the day, and if its raining, you don't even have to go out and buy it!
- If you and your friends/family/workmates all buy assorted magazines each month why not organise a swap? Each person buys one mag that they would have bought anyway, and you all swap about - the same reading material for a fraction of the cost. Also remember the free magazine - at some supermarkets, railways stations etc. You never know what you might learn!
- If you are going to be travelling somewhere by train, try buying your ticket in advance via Red Spotted Hanky or a similar site. Even our little short-hop into London can be booked the day before at a saving, and the more notice you have of your intended date of travel, the higher the saving can be. Remember my recent trip to Sheffield and back for just £6.50 return? Also think if you are travelling any distance whether a train ticket booked in advance like this may even be cheaper than using the car? MrEH and I are off to Manchester next year - we have booked train travel there and back for just £48 for the two of us - it would cost us more than this in diesel!
Things to remember...
- A little planning goes a long way
- The sooner your finances get sorted out, the sooner you can resume some of the things you are giving up - if you want to, that is!
- Life without "stuff" can be so much more pleasant!
- Don't confuse "Frugality" with tightness, or meanness of spirit. Neither are attractive traits and they stand out a mile in those suffering from them!
- There will always be those who don't wish to join in - live & let live. They will either come round or, in ten years of so, will be suffering a serious case of the green-eyed monster.
-The meals you make, for yourself, from scratch, will always taste better than anything that required you to "pierce film lid" before cooking.
- home made bread is one of the nicest smells in the world.
- It is much, much nicer, to know that there is money in the bank to cover an unexpected bill, than to have to panic that one might arrive.