For quite a while now I changed completely my way of shopping. Actually, the way I look at prices.
How do we pay for stuff? With money. How do we get the money? By working – around 8 hours a day, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. The more stuff we want, the more money we need. So the more we need to work. It’s an exchange of our time for money, an exchange the robs us from our freedom. We’re almost never home during the week and we spend the weekend cleaning, cooking and organizing. So when do we spend quality time with others or just by ourselves?
So here’s my eye-opening exercise. Calculate how much you make per hour. Next time you’re out shopping and debate whether something it’s too expensive or not, ask yourself “how many hours do I need to work for this, is it worth it?”
If we buy less, can we work less and spend more time doing the things we love? I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so.
By looking at our budget throughout the years, I managed to compile a list of things we usually overspend on (without even noticing sometimes!). And if you read the Budgeting 101 post and used the budget sheet you may have found something similar yourself. If not, I suggest you do the experiment and see where does your money go every month. It might be a surprize.
- Rent. By rule of thumb, it shouldn’t be more than 30% of your household income.
- The little things that add up. I’m looking at you, Starbucks regular!
- Work week lunches. A reasonably priced store-bought ready meal is somewhere around £5 in London. You can make yours at home for less than a pound. You do the math.
- Big brands – food. When it comes to food, supermarket own-brands are as good and sometimes better than the big known brands. Big brands sometimes have more fat and more sugar – they need to keep you addicted, remember that! So next time you’re in the store, hold side by side one cheap product and one expensive product and compare the ingredients.
- Big brands – clothes. I used to be obsessed with big brands and it came with a price. Looking back, I wouldn’t pay so much money for clothes anymore. What’s the point? When I was purging last summer, I donated many clothes that were brand new. And I’m not the only one who does it. So when you need something but you’re in trouble money-wise, don’t disregard charity shops or e-bay. You never know what treasures they may hide.
- Health stores. Our normal shop from a supermarket is £30. Whenever we visit a health store, we pay around 60 – sometimes for products we can find in supermarkets too. Yes, there are things that we can only find there and we enjoy from time to time, but don’t make a habit out of shopping from health stores. They’re expensive.
- Pre-cooked, pre-chopped, pre-washed. Seriously, why pay 1 pound extra to have someone cut your carrots? Don’t be that guy.
- Buying on offer or sale stuff you don’t normally use. That’s not saving money, that’s spending money.
- New furniture. There are tons of reasons why I don’t recommend new furniture (environment, ethics, etc.), but let’s stick to price. We’ve recently been through a move – from a semi-furnished flat to a non-furnished house. We needed stuff, so we had a look on websites and boot-sale apps. For 180 pounds we bought a recliner sofa, a recliner armchair and 4 chairs and we paid the man & van that helped us collect them from people who were selling them. That recliner set that we got for almost nothing has the retail price of £3500. New furniture is expensive, but your neighbours might want to sell what you need. And really think twice if you actually need the items. For example, we don’t have a bed – we sleep on a mattress and we don’t have a kitchen table – we use the kitchen counter.
- Addictions. When we decided to stop drinking alcohol regularly, our supermarket bill dropped by the hundreds. If you drink, smoke or have any other habit you can’t give up, try to figure out how much it costs you per month and that might be an incentive to quit.
How many of these are you guilty off? Do you have any other examples?