When it comes to saving money, I don’t think saving as much as possible at the detriment of everything else is the right answer. What I believe is more important, is saving money on areas you don’t value in order to spend your money on things you do value.
So…. What do you Value?
Have a think about what you value, maybe even write down a list. What do you believe is most important in your life? Here is my list:
- Spending time with friends and family
- Spending time outdoors
- Being generous
I never feel guilty about spending money on any of these things. Better yet, a lot of these can often be free or have little cost. Write out your own list of what is important to you. Next, look at your last couple of months of expenses. Where has your money been going? Write down another list, in order of what you have spent. Here is mine:
- Living Expenses (Mortgage, bills etc)
- Travel to NT (Fuel, Accommodation, activities)
For most people, our living expenses will be the most costly expense on our list. This is expected and often unavoidable. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to minimise it. Most of my furniture is comprised of items I got off of Marketplace, or hand me downs from others. I rent rooms out to others so we can all live for cheap. We try to keep bills low by putting on a jumper or blanket instead of using the heater, and use rain water instead of mains where we can.
My latest trip to the NT was a holiday that was well overdue. For our 10 day trip to Alice Springs and Uluru, it came in at just under $1000 each for the two of us. We saved money by camping, buying all our own groceries rather than eating out every day, and spent a lot of time doing free activities like hiking and sight seeing. We splurged on experiences like the Field of Lights at Uluru and other things important to us like national park passes and indigenous art.
My biggest tip for saving on groceries is to have a plan for everything you buy. Food waste can cost you, so planning meals, buying only what you need, and then using all of it will save you plenty in the long run. This is what I focus on mostly, so I can put my money to use by buying good quality ingredients.
I am originally from Adelaide but now live in Mount Gambier- a five hour drive away. I visit my friends and family back home as often as I can as it is important to me, and as a result fuel is high on my expenses list.
As you may have seen recently, I was matching every persons donation to the Afghanistan cause with $10 of my own. As a result, we donated over $1000 to the cause, and I personally contributed about $350 to that. This is more than I would normally donate in a month, but for a good cause I am happy to do so. I have other monthly contributions set up to charities I care about, so donations do still make up a big portion of my monthly expenses. Donating not only helps others but also makes me feel better about myself, a win-win.
By looking at my two lists, I can see that they align pretty well. Your spending habits are a great way to see what you truly value, and if its not lining up, it may be time to change things up. I used to spend way more money on new outfits than I do now, and that was always just to impress others. It would more often than not leave me feeling more guilty for spending that money than feeling good for having a new outfit. I have realised now it just isn’t important to me and I was just doing it to fit in. This is just one example of what I was spending money on that wasn’t in line with my values. Shifting towards spending where I want to spend has made me much happier overall.
I would encourage you to compile your two lists and see if they add up. If they don’t, it might be worth making a change to see if you are happier for it.