True wealth comes from happiness and contentment. It does not grow from having fancy clothes, a big house or a new model car.
You really do not have to spend money on the latest 15-cycle washing machine, a bigger fridge with icemaker, a massive television set, or a new leather lounge to be a happy, wealthy person. Far from it. What you need to do is take control of your spending habits and realise that your ‘wants’ and your ‘needs’ are very different things. When your ‘wants’ control your spending, you will never be happy, because there will always be the next new thing that you simply must have. Money will slip through your fingers.
But if you can meet your ‘needs’ and still put a little bit of money aside for special treats like holidays, going to a special event, or having that rare special meal out, your wealth will increase because you will be off the spending merry-go-round and you will be happier and more content with the things you already have.
Frittering away your hard-earned money on endless piles of ‘new stuff’ will rob you of your wealth, and your happiness, by gobbling up your discretionary cash and making you hunger for more newer, bigger, better ‘things’.
So often we don’t stop and think about our rampant consumerism. We just buy more and more useless junk because there it is right in front of our noses. It beckons from the shiny catalogues, or there it is at the checkout counter ‘on sale’, or we are getting constantly bombarded with messages to ‘buy, buy, buy’ on the TV and radio.
To counteract this relentless pressure, you will need to be ruthless and relentless in return. You will need to take control of both your thinking and your usual spending patterns.
Here are some inspiring stories we have found from our favourite savings website www.simplesavings.com.au to show you what other people have done to improve their lives by spending less and saving more.
We hope our working carers can draw inspiration from some of these simple, effective ideas.
Dianna made a number of small but significant changes to her life and the savings and benefits immediately began to add up. Here are a few of them:
“I almost halved my grocery bill in a month. It went from $815 in February to just $430 in March when I started shopping at Aldi and carefully tracked every cent. I discovered my 'inner baker' and instead of buying cakes and biscuits, I baked them from scratch at home. When my washing machine broke down, instead of having to pay out $700 for a new one my wonderful boss gave me an old spare machine they had and no longer used. I made two calls to my insurers, one for my car and one for my house, and found I could save $150 and $400 respectively on my yearly payments. I checked my mobile plan. Because I hardly use it, it was not working in my favour. I changed to a prepaid plan and now what I spend is what I use.
“And, finally, I stopped looking for another job to earn extra money. Every dollar I save means time I don't have to work. I am now building my 'wealth' every day in more ways than one.
“Many of my friends I used to envy have new cars, impressive houses, expensive clothes – and huge credit card bills. They holiday in Bali or Queensland but work 40 hour weeks in order to do so. They pick up tired and stressed children from after-school programs and feed them take-away foods because they're too short on time and energy to cook from scratch.
“I have a 13-year-old car, a 1980s house, cheap clothes – and NO credit card debt. We holiday three times a year for a week at a time in our trusty 80s caravan and I work 20 hours a week, during school hours, for four days a week. I have one day just for me (or housework). My children walk to and from school and come home to baked goods, home-cooked meals and a happy relaxed household. I'm there to oversee and help with homework and I watch all their sports games.
“Ask me again if I want another job to have the 'stuff' I once thought I wanted/needed and my answer will be a clear, precise, 'No way'. Thank you Simple Savings for helping me to step back and see what's really important in life.”
Kitty has found a great savings strategy that will resonate with anyone who has a grandmother or grandfather.
“My husband and I have begun saving up to $30 per week on our grocery bill since we invented 'Grandma's Day!' When we go to the supermarket we ask ourselves, 'would Grandma have been able to buy this item in her day 60+ years ago?' If the answer is no, then we decide we don't need to buy it either! This saves us money on a whole range of items such as fancy dips, designer coffees and biscuits. We used to pay over $3 for a pack of 10 biscuits, now I can make 12 biscuits for around $1. Using plain yoghurt as a base we are even making our own dips; there are so many websites with great dip ideas. Now we are saving valuable money and our waistlines too!”
Melissa has perfected a jar savings system – one is called 'needs' and the other 'wants'. They make her stop and really think about where her hard-earned cash is going.
“My 'wants' and 'needs' jars are saving me heaps of money in frivolous purchases. Every time I feel the urge to buy something I decide whether it is a 'want' or a 'need', I write the item on a piece of a paper and put the paper into either my 'wants' jar or my 'needs' jar. At the end of the month I assess what's in each jar and decide if it really is a want or a need item. If it's a need I research the cheapest place to buy it, and it comes out of my weekly budget. More often than not I decide that I don't need the item, so the money stays in the bank!”
Eve is saving over $2000 a year by placing visual reminders around the house to help her stop making spontaneous purchases.
“I was spending $20 here and there on things that I didn't really need, telling myself that the blouse, CD, book or thing I was buying was a bargain at just 20 or so dollars. This habit was costing around $40 a week!
“To break it, I dug out a couple of these so-called 'bargains' and left them out on the table to remind me of the money I had wasted. Then I stuck a photo of Fiji on the fridge to represent the holiday I could have spent the money on instead.
“Since then, every time I am in a shop and find myself tempted to buy something I don't really need, I close my eyes and visualise the unnecessary items on the table, then visualise myself sitting by the pool in a Fijian resort. It's a simple trick, but the temptation vanishes with the blink of an eye!
“I estimate that this saves me around $2080 a year. Last year this was enough for my husband and I to have that holiday in Fiji, and this year we went to New York.
“Saving in this way makes me feel so good that I have cut spending in other areas too. It's wonderful that without feeling deprived we've been able to enrich our lives with travel experiences we never thought we could afford.”
Simone has found a clever way to beat the winter blues and avoid depression by baking with a friend.
“Since the cold season began I have spent a lot of money on unnecessary items such as hiring DVDs, instant foods, take-away and junk food. Life tends to take a turn for the worse when warm, sunny, happy, days turn to dark, cold and rainy days, which make you feel depressed and not want to do anything.
“I decided to try and overcome my depressed state and make better use of my time and money. Here are a few of my tips:
“I have made and frozen different flavoured soups so when I feel cold, down, or in a hurry I can quickly make a warm, delicious snack.
“I have decided to bake once a week with a friend (while I cook dinner in the oven). Not only does this help heat my house but it saves money on buying junk food and biscuits too. Also having someone else here with me helps with not feeling down and depressed.
“I am doing one thing each day to make myself feel special and uplift my mood. This helps curb my need for spending money too. I do simple things like painting my nails, giving myself time-out from the kids and making jewellery – which is both relaxing and rewarding. I recently made a necklace and earring set which I gave to a friend. She loves it which in turn makes me feel happy!
“Don't let the winter blues get you down, do something special with your time for yourself and for others, you'll feel a lot better about yourself – whatever situation you're in.