5 ways to Save Money

Friday 11 May 2012
Lately, I've been inspired by my fellow blogger friend, Katherine of Feather Factor who posted useful tips on savings. It's so hard not to cave in to consumerism especially when I walk into Selfridges, Liberty or Harvey Nichols. I remember the time when I felt that I'd made a giant leap toward savings was when I was very focused on my investment goals. I'd devoured enough books to understand that the earlier one started to save and invest, the further ahead I'd be compared to someone who did so years later, thanks to compounding interest. We'd scrimped and saved to purchase our very first property, albeit a tiny flat right next to one of the most exclusive residential areas in Auckland. I figured that when the boom hit, there would be a ripple effect on the adjacent suburbs.

I'd fallen off the bandwagon now and then. I decided I needed to be a bit more vigilant about my spending habits. I still splurge every now and then because I feel entitled to my fair share of luxury goods. *grin*  I've noticed that £20 here, £50 there, the amount adds up to a sizable chunk at the end of each month. So here's what I've done lately:

Photo credit: Madison Public Library

1. Library and Free books
The library is my best friend. Hubby has a yearly DVD membership there which costs a mere £40. This entitle us to borrow any DVDs including new releases. Movie tickets cost £9 - £12 per person. Babysitting is another £20 - £30 on top of that which makes a night out to the movies a very costly practice.

Secondly, instead of buying more books from Amazon and finding ways to store them in our small flat, I get the books out from the library for free. These days, Amazon has a lot of free e-books you can download.


2. Cafe
I live right in town. In fact, I live minutes from the nearest cafe so it seems rather silly to go to a cafe when I have the goods at home. A cup of coffee and a slice of cake will set me back £6. I'd much rather have friends come by. Besides, home baked cakes and cookies are far tastier and they cost next to nothing. Moms often find it particularly stressful trying to hold down a conversation, control the kids and try to finish that darn cuppa at the cafe while avoiding glares from fellow patrons.

I normally chuck the kids into Lil L's room and shut the door so us moms have a bit of down time listening to jazz music and enjoy a piping hot cup of coffee.

3. Rail card
UK public transportation is possibly the costliest in the world. You can generally expect a return ticket for an hour ride into London during peak hours for 50 quid. Ridiculous, no? Buying a rail card which costs just under £30 a year will knock 30% off tickets outside the peak hours. That's literally hundreds of pounds of savings in one year.

4. Car
It's hard to make do without a car in New Zealand, Australia or the US but it's actually very doable here in the UK. I'm so sick of driving that I absolutely refused to buy a car when we emigrated here. Living in town means that I have easy access to all the amenities including public transportation. I walk everywhere. It's still a novelty that I don't have to get into a car,  drive and fight for a parking slot if I run out of milk. I love the fact that I no longer have to pay for fuel, insurance and maintenance which adds up to thousands each year.


5. Eating at home
 A meal for 3 at a family restaurant will set me back £30 easily. A meal at home costs a measly £5.

What are your tips on saving and investing?


  1. Not having a car is a huge savings. Huge! I feel that one all the time. And I've been surprised how much less money is spent now that we don't go out for coffee or dinners all the time.

    Over in the US, we have Netflix, which is a monthly service for DVD or streaming movies at home. Love this. Another thing we do is not have TV or Cable, which around here is about a $50 savings a month. And our big one: No packaged food. Packaged foods and desserts are a big waste for money and packaging--and I swear, full of chemicals that add on the pounds.

  2. Good tips! Hubby and I almost never go to the movie theater but rather rent DVDs instead. We have these DVD kiosks where each movie is $1 :) I have a tendency to get caught up in buying clothes so I've been trying to sew my clothes instead. Much better to spend $10 in fabric than $40 on a top.

  3. hi dear! this is great post!

    saving money is the first thing i learned when i moved to another counrty and live all by myself. though i have to admit its not easy specially for those material things i just cannot resist., but now i'm a mom i became more strict and discipline regarding money... i never imagine i would be like this but since my baby was born everything i buy, things for myself, i always think first if i need it or not because i often tell to myself my baby need things most than me...
    and if i really wanted to buy something i would rather wait because i know i can find it in the future.. just like buying bags i will just save money for it maybe it will takes months but its ok at least i'm learning how to manage my money!
    but when it comes to food.. no saving for it! wether its expensive or not i will buy it because food is important and yummy :)
    i love and i prefer eating at home because i know i cook and preapre healhty. we avoid junk or fast food... but you know italian restaurant is hard to ignore :)

  4. I completely agree with you. I rarely eat at the restaurant, I like to prepare delicious dishes quietly in my kitchen listening to music. This is even more delicious when you do it yourself and certainly less expensive.
    I love your posts!

  5. Perfect tips that fit your lifestyle just right! Oh how I wish I could live in town and walk everywhere - love that! I'm stuck in suburbia, though!!

  6. i live in the city as well, and since my move i decided not to get a car either.. i use a carshare instead. i walk to work, huge savings, hopefully smaller butt in the long run too haha x

  7. I do the million pound savings club. I currently have £280 in a jar and am saving up for a porta romana lamp :)

    Here's the link:

    I also have £25 a week transferred automatically into a savings account. I honestly don't notice it (except on the odd occasion when it's taken me over my overdraft limit!). I figure that that amount would come out if I went for lunch with a friend.

    Saving should hurt just a little but not too much.

    Have a great wekeend Marlene!

  8. The main changes I've made in saving money is skipping coffee's out - unless it's catching up with friends then it's cheaper than going for a meal. Totally agree about eating out though, I prefer to cook these days as that way not only do I save money but I can also gaurantee that my food has been cooked to my hygenie standards and good quality ingredients lol.

  9. I love reading what others do to save their money. You know there are times when I am playing a mind game - should i buy or should i save? There are many unnecessary purchases I was able to pass but then i question myself -"do i just make money to pay bills in this life?". What kinda of life 's luxuries I want to have? Where is my fine line as when to splurge or when to save - I am still trying to figure out those question.

    In order to save money, I avoid emotional buying at all costs (shop to relieve stress or known as "retail theraphy"), those turn out to be worthless purchases in my case. Also i try to cook more at home for the very same reason Parveen pointed out.

  10. I am a shocker when it comes to buying books. I don't even keep them, I pass them on, to reduce clutter. Not sure if that's good or bad. BTW, shout out (link) to you today on my blog...

  11. Oh how I wish we could give up our cars! That's basically impossible here, though, since public transportation stinks and the city is so spread out. I love your tips though!

  12. These are such great tips! I save money by going to the library to read magazines or reading them in the store.

  13. Great tips, I am all about the library too, my branch is really good about getting books and DVDs that I want from other branches. Hubs and I share a car, so we don't need an extra vehicle and I make our coffee at home in the mornings. We tend to save and splurge - we like treating ourselves to treats sometimes but otherwise we are fairly simple people and don't need to indulge. Our meals are fairly simple too and we don't buy a lot of packaged food. We like to save our $$ for savings and vacations, that is more important to us.

  14. We eat at home quite a lot and packed lunches for work have become a must. I'm not much of a coffee or tea drinker but my husband is, and whilst he takes his own coffee to work he likes going to the cafe...So I've given him a 'cafe allowance' and that money goes into an envelope and when it's done, that's it he'll have to wait til the start of the new's an easy way of keeping tabs on how much you spend :)

  15. Thanks so much for sharing these useful tips. I like to save money by cooking fresh meals at home. Also we like to rent DVD's instead of going to the movies. When going to the city I try to take public transport or even the bike (which is really common in Holland), instead of taking the car. Apart from these things, I still have to learn a lot about my spending behaviour and saving money I'm afraid. :)

  16. I really wish that L.A. was less of a 'car' town. Public transportation isn't the best here and you seriously have to drive everywhere. You're lucky that you don't have to waste money on gas. Carpooling is an option that helps to save money on gas here in the states. As for money saving tips, I agree that eating at home saves money, and that's something that I've really been trying to do more of. I love your blog because you cover a range of topics such as this one - thanks for sharing! :)


  17. Hi, I stumbled on your blog whilst I was on Lucy's Suburban Style blog. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about the DM piece of writing which I think missed the point of why these ladies blog and dismissing the idea that it's simply okay for someone to take pride in their appearance. So much I want to say but I will try to keep it short - saving money. My husband now takes a tin of Millicano coffee in to work which makes "55" cups of coffee depending on how strong you like it. That is the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee at Starbucks. I also love your blog which is very up my street. A little bit about everything. Brilliant.

  18. Great tips! I don't do cafe, I drink my own coffee and one type only. Normally when we visit the cafe it is for my husband who takes espresso and only at certain cafe. We eat home mostly as I am a bit a**l about what I eat but twice a month we eat out for the sake of the boys. I also wash my own hair and hardly visit the salon for wash and blow (which in Dubai is a normal thing). Great post!

  19. Great tips! I live in NYC so I walk a lot and I use the subway which saves money on cabs. Hubby and I recently signed up for Zipcar, a car sharing service. We are going to get rid of our car because we rarely use it. Something new I'm trying out is a strict monthly budget for clothing. I recently cleaned out my closet and after seeing how many things I have with the tags still on, or worn only once or twice, I've vowed to stop buying so much clothing. The monthly budget has really made me stop and think about my purchases and it's curbing my impulse spending too. I'm still a work in progress though ;)

    I hope you have a great weekend! Thank you for your sweet comments on my blog!

  20. Great tips Marlene! I eat out at restaurants much less than I used to and, when I do, skip on the appetizers, soda and/or alcohol. Most main dishes are extremely filling anyway. I also have been to Starbucks about 5 times in my life. I prefer to make my own coffee (bought at Costco) at home in the morning. I also shop almost exclusivly at Costco (with the exception of fruits and veggies) and buy the Costco home brand as much as possible.

    I do not dry clean anything. Waste of money and toxic to the enviroment and to me. Read The Laundress blog when you have time. Those girls machine washed a Chanel jacket!

    Totally agree that it is wonderful not having to rely on a car! I live in a "car city" but moved near the downtown urban area about 3 years ago. Though my house is in a leafy, "suburban" historic neighborhood, the main north/south bus line and bus stop is 2 blocks away and, with that, I can connect with the rail system downtown and go anywhere. My supermarket is about a 5 minute bike ride away. I plan on using my car less and less as my children get older and leave home and could see myself managing without it one day. I hate driving anyway!

  21. Haha! I usually just wear sweaters and t-shirts too when I go on campus! But thanks for this post, something I really needed (as a college student)



  22. I've found it so hard to save money since living in New York City. People go out much more here than they do in France and I live in Soho where there are so many great shops it's tempting. Likewise, women in New York are much more pampered and since I work in the beauty industry, I feel obligated to follow the trend. I've realized that I can save money mostly by cooking my lunch and dinner at home. And by taking care of my diet and getting good skincare products, I don't have to get facials as much.

  23. Yeah I find it getting harder to really save, too, but packing lunch and eating dinner as much as I can at home really helps. I didn't realize how much of my money was going to just food. For me, it's a total checks and balances of how I can optimize shopping without optimizing my credit card! - Aliya :)

  24. I love reading Katherine's blog! She always have nice tips, and interview, and she has a great style.
    I'm not a mom, but I do like to save money, and your tips are great as well. Coffees and meals out of the house, can cost a lot, especially if you go out a lot. Really useful tips.
    Thank you so much for passing by my blog.

  25. Aww thanks for the shout out (and the kind words from Call me M above me!) Loved reading your tips, I so wish we had a better public transportation system here - I'd take it all the time!

  26. Oh I love sharing these little tips. I agree with you on libraries. I live and work in close proximity to so many and I'm nerdy and love them. I collect rare books and coffee table books, but check out a lot of books that I don't need to own. I work in a touristy area so food is very, very overpriced. I'm not a big fan of large meals, so I pack lots of snacks- fruits, nuts, salads everything. I do like having fresh flowers around the house and have found that buying them wholesale from the flower district is much cheaper and more reliable than going to a deli, Whole Foods or a florist.

    We walk just about everywhere (unless it's freezing), so I don't do a monthly Metro Card. Cabs are reserved for really late nights or truly inclement weather.

    I don't drink coffee but I bring my teas with me everywhere. I love fine art and visiting museums but a few visits for two people quickly add up to a membership, so for the ones that I don't have a corporate membership to, I've purchased a membership. It's paid for itself so quickly.

    Please keep all of the tips coming:)

  27. DEFINITELY the library! I am a huge reader what i do is to go to the bookstore, check out what looks good, take note, then go home and log on to the library's website to request for those books. That was probably the biggest discovery of mine - realizing that i am not bound to just the library by my house. all the libraries in my state are on one system, so I can get a request to transfer a book to the nearest library and they'll ring me when it's there.

    I have an average of 10 books out at once, so you can imagine the savings. I do go to book sales and yard sales and pick up tons of books too though, especially antique books

    I don't like to spend money on food, so it's usually cooking at home for me (also, i tend to crave malaysian food, so it's far easier to make it myself)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...