I’ve always been a determined thing when it comes to saving.
At 16, I had a burning ambition to go to Canada on an exchange program, but the price was $4000. My mother told me if I saved $3000 I could go, and she and dad would chip in the rest.
I was a freshly minted check-out chick, and that was a lot of groceries to scan, but scan and stack and scrimp I did, eventually jumping on a long plane ride that would leave me with a life-long love of travel (the passion for scanning wore off).
That was 20 years ago, but old habits die hard, and for much of my adult life I’ve saved like a demon for what I really wanted – lots of overseas adventures and an investment property or two – and happily blown the lot.
I wouldn’t say I was a scrooge – no one likes a cheapskate – but I do believe in cutting corners where you can to achieve your goals.
Here are 10 of the penny-pinching tactics I’ve used:
1. eBay? Yes way
If eBay is not the best thing to ever be invented for bargain hunters, I don’t know what is. My biggest victory was buying a microwave (secondhand, but working perfectly) for $5. That’s cheaper than a drink at a bar, and hotter too, unless a handsome stranger buys it for you. I also bought a washing machine for $50 – still going strong. The hot setting doesn’t work, but cold water is more economical and eco-friendly anyway, right?
If one thing excites me more than eBay, it’s finding a discounted airfare. Oh Skyscanner, no one compares those fares like you. Kudos also must go to Air Asia. I’m not sure how they even afford the fuel at that price, but so far, so good.
3. Bargain ‘L’
This might not work for the real tech-heads out there (I’m sure you’ve got other tricks you can share) but my bargain laptop bought five years ago from the ‘ex-floorstock’ bin is doing very well. It did come without an L key – not ideal when your name is Larissa – but much better when you realise the manufacturer will send you a new one for free.
4. More bargain bins
I find it never hurts to surreptitiously stroll past the ‘clearance’ section in your supermarket, or any store for that matter. Sniffing out a bargain has left me with quite a lot of shower gel in stock, but at a fifth of the price, what are you going to do?
5. Top Shop? Nup, I’ll go to the op shop
A choice op shop find is great at the best of times (thank goodness op shopping seems to have a certain cred these days), but it’s even more electric when you find something new. I got great joy when I discovered an op shop down the road stocked factory samples from some pretty good brands, perhaps even more joy than wearing them. But perhaps that says too much about me.
6. Baby bargains
This doesn’t refer to actual babies – note: they are illegal to buy. However should one of your friends or family members produce a lovely little poppet, I find it never hurts to have a few, carefully selected bargains in the ‘present box’. Usually I end up buying extra anyway, as I almost feel guilty at the great deal, but if there’s a sale, and the baby clothes or toys are particularly cute, well, who’s gonna know? Any of my friends that read this I guess.
7. That’s a wrap
Honestly, who would really pay $3.99 for a piece of paper, no matter how nice it is? Not me. I’d rather spend that money on the present, or not (see above). You’ll rarely find me buying wrapping paper outside the Reject Shop or a Sunday market. But I always try and give it a special touch, usually by re-gifting some particularly nice ribbon.
8. Water is free
You can feel like a tight-wad taking your own water to the movies (or even to the office), but why would you pay $4 when it comes out of the tap for free? Plus I don’t like the thought of more plastics in those rivers and oceans.
9. Taking its toll
Sometimes I get lazy, but when I remember I try and dodge those expensive highway tolls, at least one-way. And of course petrol, or gas, is one of the biggest money guzzlers going around. Where practical, it’s the tram for me – or at least a discount petrol shop-a-docket.
10. Rent dodger
I’m not a fan of paying someone else’s mortgage, although I’m thankful someone else (a tenant) is paying mine. Anyway, last year I house-sat for two housesitting websites, paying about $100 for the entire year to register. That’s right, no bills, no rent for the entire year. There were a lot of random cats and dogs to look after – including one pooch named Miss Marples – but I digress. Well worth it if you’ve got a sturdy suitcase and nomadic tendencies, and possibly a weird streak.
This article by Larissa Ham was first published on Hey, Little Spender!