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10 Ways to Save Money in 2014

Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014 in: Nerd Life

So remember months ago when I blogged about our second bathroom and how we planned to renovate it? All on a shoestring budget - just some little changes to do a nice, simple, straightforward renovation. In fact, I must quote myself, because I did say, “I’m convinced we can do everything including labor for $3,000. Mr Nerd says I am dreaming.”

Well, it turns out I WAS dreaming. Those fixtures I wanted to keep and reuse to save money and mess and stress? They were in such poor condition that there was no point reusing them. As it turned out, the whole bathroom had to be gutted - and everything has to be redone *screams*

ABOVE: I did not want this to become THIS. At least not without a sizeable break between bathroom renovations.

Our tiler friend Mark came round and pointed out all the tiles that had cracks. I had naively thought the odd cracked tile wouldn’t matter, but this seemed to make Mark think that I was cracked. Mark said that in five years’ time, some of those tiles would start cracking right off the wall on their own accord and that the tiles themselves were poor quality. Well, he actually said the tiles were “expletive-shit” as well as “expletive-ugly” but let’s keep this blog G-rated, shall we? Anyway that meant that all the time Mr Nerd and I spent carefully prising the old tiles off the splashback and wrapping them in newspaper and putting them in wooden boxes to save and reuse them was a waste of time. Wonderful. (I think Mr Nerd was secretly kind of pleased though, because he never liked those tiles).

And the vanity I wanted to recycle? TWO cabinetmakers told me the cupboard was so cheap and nasty it wasn’t worth saving. And that it would cost us more to try to reuse it than to build one from scratch. Great. I found a creepy, long-dead skeleton of a dead mouse underneath the vanity. Gross.

I was so frustrated. The LAST thing we wanted to do at that time was do another big bathroom renovation right after finishing the ensuite and having the wedding. I sound lazy, but we just wanted to relax a bit. So… I closed the door to the stupid bathroom and… sulked. And once I had finished, I looked at the pros of having to gut our bathroom and starting from scratch and realised I could now do the beautiful grey and white bathroom I had always lusted after, with one of my favourite things in interior design… REAL encaustic tile *insert emoji with loveheart eyes*

But to get the dream bathroom and the encaustic tile – which is expensive!! - we needed to save up for it. And so we did - for the past few months. But now we are well on our way again to restarting that bathroom again – yippee!

I’ll blog more on what we have got planned for the new-look bathroom next week but in the meantime, I thought I would share a very little rough draft, above - as well as some of the ways I have been saving money to get this new bathroom! I hope this post will motivate you a bit if you have also started saving for a reno project yourself - or for a new house, a holiday, a new dining setting, a wedding. Or shoes.

10 Ways to Save Money in 2014

Grow some of your own food

I am not suggesting you have to go all Italian nonna and start espaliering pear trees (although, you can if you wish) but really – just growing a few kinds of veggies in your yard or on your balcony will save you money at the checkout! You might already know I am a vegie garden convert. But seriously, you can save money growing your own! Start basic with easy things - herbs, pots of cherry tomatoes, rhubarb, silverbeet and plant Warrigal spinach, cos lettuce and butterleaf lettuce in the cooler months - you’ll pay $1.65 for a punnet and you’ll have inexpensive, fresh salads for months. (I know I sound like my mum, but sometimes cos lettuce is $20 a kilo!)

Buy your clothes secondhand… at least for a little while!

I have jabbered on about my love of secondhand markets and my advice on how to score a bargain in one of my very first posts – Successful Flea Market-Ing. Secondhand markets are amazing… and the girls of Perth are cottoning on. Years ago, there would be the odd girl selling her winter wardrobe. Now so many 20-something girls sell clothes and I have gotten many pieces of clothing, shoes and even jewellery from markets. Mr Nerd sometimes covers his face with his hand when someone goes to me, “I like your dress” and I cry, “Thanks! It was $5 from the markets!” But whatever – it means I can top up my wardrobe every weekend so I don’t feel like I’m dying of wardrobe boredom AND I can spend more of my money on things I want for the house. Give it a crack at least for a while. And it means you will feel much less guilty about that Witchery splurge when you do buy new.

Reconsider your car

So this is a big one, but worth it. If your car isn’t really the best fit for your lifestyle and you drive a lot, like me, you could be spending heaps more than you need to on fuel. I used to drive a Pulsar and it was a great car and pretty good on fuel, but I had, ahem, reversed into a few poles, our letterbox, had some light kerb dings etc etc. And it was taking the same route as my first car, which slowly fell down around me to the point where I was spending more money to fix it up than the car was actually worth.

So we recently replaced my Pulsar with an i30, and I LOVE it. It is so economical and runs on diesel too. I have really noticed savings on fuel and also need to top up less frequently, and I drive a LOT around Perth a lot for house reviews and interviews. It is also still under warranty which is great. I haven’t regretting upgrading my car for an instant. We bought the car outright but if you need finance, Westralian Auto Finance can secure good finance options even if you don’t have the most stellar credit rating.

Declutter your wardrobe and junk room

I know girls who do a declutter, take their stuff to sell at the secondhand market one Sunday morning, roping in a friend, a snuggly blanket and some takeaway coffee to make a fun catch-up of it. I confess, I don’t do this. I don’t know why, but when people look at my stuff but don’t buy it, I take it personally. I’m like “Whyyyyyy. Why don’t you want my crap?” Yes yes, even if it’s a 40-year-old man whose eyes happen to fall upon a denim miniskirt. I would feel a sense of rejection. I am too emotionally needy to sell my unwanteds.

Plus you'll have more space in your house! Remember my Monica's Closet-style junk room to craft room makeover

I realise I probably haven’t sold the concept to you… HOWEVER, normal people, like my sisters and mum and friends, frequently sell at markets without any embarrassment or neediness whatsoever and sometimes they earn a tidy little sum. My sisters usually spend it on making the weekend a little better in the form of drinks at a Sunday session that night, or put it towards their next holiday, but you can also use it for things like a Caroma sink, if you are like me. Team up with a friend and give it a go. (Says she, who ended her Small Business Management class happy because her fairy floss started selling like hotcakes).

ABOVE: Even my brazen mum is not afraid to sell her wares at the markets. In fact, she openly flaunts them.

Set yourself up to win

I have a financial advisor friend who inspires me - she saves a lot and is careful with her money yet she has a house, still enjoys treats, affords incredible holidays and always looks beautifully put-together and groomed because she knows how to score awesome bargains on clothes, designer handbags and cosmetics. Some secrets? “Once a year I do a budget, we cook at home most of the time and we don’t buy coffee or lunch at work – only rarely,” she says. “I automatically set up a direct debit to certain accounts for savings, so the money isn’t noticed. Also I have some extra tax taken out each pay so I get a bigger tax refund during the year.” (which is something my accountant father also always tells me to do).

Download a savings app

My savvy financial advisor friend told me to write down what I spent. “One of the simple things I do is keep a money diary to track where my spending goes – you can do this with an app too,” she said. “You’ll be shocked how much goes on incidentals.” I have never been able to stick to a money diary… recording savings on an app is much more fun. BUDGT (.99c, iOS) is a nice simple one, although it’s a little bit boring-looking (I like my pretty pictures). Spendee ($1.99, iOS) is good and you can snap photos of bills and receipts to store them easily (which is great because Bunnings receipts ALWAYS fade! You sneaky mom).

Curb your spending on eating out

Okay, we all know eating out in Perth can be expensive. Eat and entertain at home for a while. Mr Nerd and I cook a lot and buying nice food is something we prioritise. When we get takeaway, it’s usually because we’ve had a long day (nothing better than fish and chips after a hard day of house projects!) and when we go out to eat, it’s usually for something we wouldn’t ordinarily cook at home, like really good Japanese food. We prefer to cook a beautiful meal at home that costs us a lot less money than eating the same thing at a restaurant but paying a lot for it – I know I can probably make that pasta just as well as home! And Mr Nerd often will have his buddies round here for beer in the backyard rather than spending more money at the pub.

Shop only once or twice a week and bring a grocery list

“We shop to a list only once a week, and don’t duck in during the week for other stuff as we walk out with heaps more, and don’t go shopping hungry,” says my financial advisor buddy. “We cook at home most of the time and we don’t buy coffee or lunch at work – only rarely.” I am personally very guilty of popping into IGA for the one ingredient and walking out with five $20 later. So this I definitely need to work on.

Exercise for free

Think about whether you can do without a gym membership. I used to go to the gym every weekday. It was when I got a free membership because I used to work at a fitness magazine. I’ve never missed having it. I definitely see how a gym is great for people who work long regular hours in an office environment and need somewhere where they can exercise at night that is safe, secure and enclosed.

But for my freelance job, I can run and cycle in the daytime safely, go to Zumba at night and time workouts around work appointments and the weather and other friends’ schedules, and have a few buddies I can meet up with to run with when I find it hard to get motivated. Could you do the same? Running and swimming on the beach is free. And in winter, you can hire a treadmill for as little as $20 a week. Park it in front of your TV and watch Game of Thrones. I have noticed I always run a bit faster during the fast-paced action or sexy bits. I wonder if this is because subliminally I think if I do so I will look better naked and be more efficient in the event of battle by swordfight. 

This post was sponsored - I was paid to write a post on a topic of my choosing by Westralian Auto Finance. However, all words and opinions are my own and my writing has not been edited orc changed in any way.

Nerds, what are you saving for in 2014? Are you building, buying, decorating, renovating, landscaping? Or heading off on holiday, saving for a wedding or buying something major for the house? Maya x

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