Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More ideas for reducing outgoings

In our day to day lives there are several areas we can look at to reduce our costs. Here are some changes we have made.

Use the library - I read voraciously. When I was at school someone came in one day and taught the class how to speed read. I caught on to that and now can't read any other way. The negative side of this is that I race through books very quickly. One example is a 10 day holiday we had a year ago where I took 6 books to read. Within the first few days I zoomed through those and went and bought another 6 books. That was only just enough! In the past I bought lots of books (I really don't want to add up how many books or how much they cost me!) to feed my habit. I did try to pick up books on special when I could and bought second hand sometimes too. But, still, it was an expensive habit. With our new budget in place I knew that couldn't continue so now I utilise our local library. I go every week or two and check out a stack of books. I never get the bestsellers as they cost a couple of dollars - eventually they turn up in the main library collection. Using the library saves us hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year.

Take your lunch to work - I used to buy my lunch every day at work. I would easily drop up to $10 a day on lunch, often more. Now I take my lunch 99.9% of the time and it saves me lots. Sunday is my baking and cooking day so you will find me in my kitchen making soup, risotto, curry and other dishes for tasty lunches. I freeze meal size portions and then the Optimist and I can take whichever meal we feel like having that day for lunch. At other times I have made up sandwiches and either eaten them as is or toasted them at work. All of this saves us money but also results in us eating healthier meals than a lot of the food that we would have purchased in the past.

Home baking - As mentioned above, Sunday is my baking day. I calculated the cost of making a batch of biscuits one day and figured out that a batch of Anzac biscuits (usually around 40 biscuits) cost me under $3 to make. This didn't include the cost of using the oven. I would struggle to find yummy biscuits that could compete with that amount of money. There are lots of recipes out there that are really easy to follow. If anyone would like my Anzac biscuit recipe let me know and I will post the recipe.

Transportation - This was a biggie for me. I live 32 kilometres from work and used to drive every day. Parking in Wellington was costing me $12 a day and petrol worked out, as a minimum, at $10 a day. I never know how to work out the cost of wear and tear and subsequently maintenance on a car but I know there is a cost associated with that. So, in a nutshell it was costing me over $100 a week to drive to and from work. When I sat down and worked it out I realised it was a no-brainer to ditch using the car and get onto the train. It's a 15 minute brisk walk to get to the station which is a fantastic way to start the day and also a nice amount of time to unwind at the end of the day. A 10-trip ticket costs $64, a monthly pass $192 and a quarterly pass $547. What a huge saving! Additionally in the summer months I started cycling into work 2 or 3 times a week. This takes about an hour - it's flat the whole way. I would take in food and clothes on the train so on cycling days I wouldn't have to carry too much on my back. The added benefit of cycling in was the sense of well-being from having done some exercise and the subsequent increase in fitness and decrease in weight.

I guess one thing I have done is to be very focussed on reducing what we spend so I don't make excuses and just get on with implementing the change. If it is something that is hard I stick with it for 30 days then reassess how I feel about it. I can't think of any instances where I have reverted to the old (more expensive) way of doing things.

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