Last week I wrote about how moving to a place with a cheaper cost of living (specifically accommodation costs) such as a smaller city or town, can give you similar disposable income to a richer person in a big city. This week I want to show you how simple being more frugal can achieve the same thing (of course for maximum effect, do both!)

The maths is pretty simple. The basic idea is that someone who earns $1000 a week but only spends $700 a week has the same disposable income as something who earns $2000 but spends $1700. They both have $300 left over, despite one of them earning twice as much. Here are some examples of relatively pain-free ways to save some $$$ without really impacting your quality of life:

Driving

No, I’m not talking about switching to walking/cycling and public transport, though honestly you should consider it for maximum impact. But on the basis of roughly switching like-for-like, let’s just say that instead of driving a brand new SUV that sucks up 10L of petrol per 100km driven (and that’s on the conservative side. Many of these monsters munch on a lot more gas), switch instead to a second hand hybrid vehicle (and you can take your pick these days, it doesn’t have to be a Prius).

At minimum, you’re going to halve your fuel consumption. If you live waaaay out in the ‘burbs and commute 20km each way, your $80pw fuel bill just became $40. If you live 10km away from work, maybe you’ve halved from $60 to $30 (it’s not a linear regression because not all fuel is spent on commuting). If you live 5km from work, well you should probably get on ya bike πŸ™‚

But that’s just the petrol. Notice I also said changing from a brand new SUV to a second hand hybrid. Don’t go thinking all those people driving around in their flash cars paid cash! 95% of them will have car payments in the vicinity of $50-$100 each week. Switch it up for a used model that’s more efficient and safe, and you can either heavily reduce that payment, keep it the same much pay it off over a much shorter time period, or (best option) pay cash.

Of course there is a way to lose in this equation, and that’s if your brand new car is depreciating faster than you’re paying it off (if it’s less than a couple of years old this may be the case). To avoid a situation where you still have a loan left even after trading it in, you might have to hang onto it for a couple more years. Still, do the maths on your potential fuel savings, you may still come out ahead if you part with it now.

Food

There’s one mega-hack in the world of 21st Century grocery shopping, and it’s not coupons. Online shopping is going to be the saviour of your food budget for one simple reason: It shows you how much you’re spending before you check out.

Social convention dictates that it’s rude to start putting items back once the checkout operator has scanned and bagged them all. Fortunately, when your checkout operator is your computer, no such conventions exist. If the tally for all your groceries has come up more than you want to spend, you can simple remove or swap out items until you get it down to what you want it to be. In my experience, the first time you shop online you should be able to get your total down by around 20% compared with what you’d spend in-store. After a couple of months of this discipline you can even go back to shopping in-store if you prefer, as you now know what you’re looking for.

You’ll quickly identify items you don’t really need (or need as much of) and may even see some improvements in your waistline as a result πŸ™‚

So if you haven’t tried shopping online (or have tried but haven’t tried using it to save money), your challenge for this week is to cut your grocery bill by 20%. Just don’t waste that saving by getting the store to deliver! Go pick it up yourself for free.

This is turning out to be another long article, so I may need to come back next week for one last part to finish it off.

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