How to Start Saving Money (and still use two ply)
I have been a terrible blogger this year. Well to be honest I am not even sure I can say I have been a blogger this year, if by blogger one means “a person who writes blogs” (because I have written NONE!!!).
It has just been a crazy, busy, beautiful year involving new business ventures, new Airbnb flats, new blogs and some other engagements *insert diamond emoticon here*. So much has happened – but more about that later.
Let’s rather focus on the future. I have some very exciting news to share. Starting in November this year Adam and I plan to downscale our lives and squeeze it all into two backpacks (and two somewhat heavier camera bags) to set off on a six to eight month adventure in Asia stopping off in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines (maybe more if we have time).
Being unemployed and seeing the world does sound glorious but its also scary. The scariest part being the absence of my monthly paycheck. It is with that in mind that I have decided to relook at all my monthly expenses. In detail. (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME).
So, how to start saving money? I would like to say that I like two-ply toilet paper. There I said it. I have read so many blog posts about saving for travel that say things like “Stop eating out – you can make new friends on the road”. I am not one of those people. I am not interested in making my life unbearable now to have a little extra later. I think it is more important to focus on making millions than saving cents. In the next blog post I will share with you how we plan to use Airbnb to fund our travels.
So in the meantime I just wanted to come up with actionable, achievable goals for saving money before we go.
*Note that the expenses below are for two people – I am not a little pig 🙂
Save on the dreaded debit order – insurance
When I finished my accounting articles at KPMG in 2012 I thought I would be remembered for my amazing Excel skills (or that time I accidentally put sparkling water in my protein shaker). But instead I will be remembered for my CLM (Career Limiting Maneuver) to fight for every article clerk’s right to be on Discovery (it seemed like a noble cause at the time). So the first thing I did after leaving KPMG was join Discovery.
I currently spend a cool R3211 a month on medical aid for Adam and I, R730 a month on life cover and R1,484 on car/home insurance, totalling R5,425. In a way the Discovery/ KPMG trauma has stayed with me and, even though I have had my suspicions for some time now, I have never let myself consider that I might be paying too much for insurance.
Insurance that decreases over time?
Not so long ago I heard about King Price (from fellow blogger, Relax with Dax). What caught my attention was the fact that (unlike normal insurers who sneakily increase your premiums every year) King Price claimed to offer super cheap insurance premiums which decrease every month. This does seem too good to be true but if you ask me (and based on the King Price journey so far) this is just the kind of disruption the SA insurance industry needs.
I quickly did a check and my car insurance premium could come down from R603.05 to R418.39 (with R1,500 excess) or even lower at R282.13 (with R5,000 excess) if I made the switch. Definitely something I will be investigating this month.
Plan and prep your meals
Is it just me or has food gotten really expensive? I am not even talking about bite-size Woolies meals now costing R50 and upwards. Even just a basic grocery shop at Pick n Pay rarely comes in under a R1,000. I seriously remember a time (yes I am old enough to remember a time) when I was still a student when I spent R200 a week on groceries. This is madness.
Having said that, Adam and I have developed two bad habits:
(1) Shopping for your aspirational self:
It’s Sunday afternoon, we have basically pigged out the whole weekend and feel digusting. We are reminded that we will soon be on a trip of a lifetime and that some photos will need to be taken of us. We go grocery shopping – vowing to turn over a new leaf on Monday morning with a trolley full of fruit and vegs and healthy stuff.
(2) Treating your (very deserving) actual self:
It’s Wednesday around lunch time. We have been working the whole morning and are now starving. We open the fridge and there is nothing to eat. Well not nothing but nothing quick and convenient and delicious (to ease the stress of everything we still need to do today).
So we pop out for lunch and grab something nice like a delicious Harvey Specter (Ciabatta, bacon, brie, tomato, pesto) from Bacon on Bree or we head to Woolies and buy our standard (something unhealthy like a pizza + a triple chocolate dessert + a bottle of wine). In the meantime all that healthy stuff is slowly starting to go off in our fridge.
Planning and prepping can save you money:
I feel like we could save a good grand or two if we planned our weekly meals: Planning for enough variety. Even planning for some unhealthy meals. Being realistic and including some yummy options. Prepping so that there is always something ready-to-eat within minutes of Adam’s “hanger” striking.
Control what you can
There really is no free lunch. Cellphone companies try and fool you into believing you are getting things for free though. You get a “free” headset when you sign a contract. Jis they even throw in some “free” minutes. So what exactly am I paying more than a R1,000 a month for?
Since I switched from my reliable Topup contract (R315 per month) to a Red Advantage contract I have just spend increasingly more on my cellphone. Having 700 minutes a month just means you don’t really pay attention to who you are calling and before you know it you run over.
Know what you are paying for
So I know I said I am not in the business of counting cents and this is small change compared to some of the other items I can save on – but it is a matter of principle. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I am one of those people who got suckered into upgrading my bank account to FNB Private Clients at a sexy R345 a month (bundled price for a cheque account and credit card), thinking that the value-add was worth it.
When I emailed my private banker to find out exactly what I would lose out on if I downgraded my account back to Gold I was shocked to find out that all I would miss out on was:
- My dedicated private banker: This is maybe the only worthwhile aspect of the whole offering and I find it ironic that I have to pay for something that should really be part of the bank’s business – good customer service.
- SLOW lounge access: Read this post by my very smart friend, Jason (who I might add is much better at writing about all things financial than I am) about why it is actually cheaper just to pay for a Priority Pass: Bank Cards and Airport Lounges: A Thought.
- FNB’s Take Me Home service: A service that seems somewhat geared towards a drunk student demographic when really the private clientele are anything but. Or wait, I guess it is safe to assume that all those BComm jocks grow up to be obnoxious investment bankers who order bottles of Moet with lunch. Regardless, I am old enough to know when I am going to get drunk and then I simply hail an Uber.
- Avis point to point: Again, is this not what Uber is for?
- Lifestyle desk: Because I really need someone to book my flights for me or make dinner reservations.
Money and Long-Term Travel
In the next few months I will be writing a bit more about money especially when it comes to traveling long-term. I would love to know what questions people have around the subject (I know people are always emailing me about Airbnb). Do you have any tips on saving money without switching to a diet of dry rice? Are you planning to travel long-term and have cool ways of funding it? Let me know in the comments section below or drop me a line via my contact form.