Some people who know me, know that I’m niggard. I mean really niggard. Though I sometimes enjoy spending money on something, I try to save as much of it as possible. It started some years ago, and ever since I have been questioning my spendings regularly. I question whether I have too much and I ask myself if I have enough.
I try to make “smart” expenditure choices. An expenditure is quite simply explained. In our modern culture, you have a problem, you go into a store, you buy something to solve that problem, you go home, and apply the thing you just bought, to solve the problem. It’s comfortable for most of us. There’s many many problems we have and that we like to get solved. That’s why there are so many startups and companies who like to solve these problems for us. They charge money for their solution. And that is the price we literally pay. We exchange money for comfort.
Some of the items we buy fall into the “needed for survival” category, like food. Some of the items are “luxury goods” like apps, music, and movies. I see lots of people who spend money on things needed for survival thoughtlessly. Survival items are not questioned. It’s a thought that not occurs to many. The thought that even if something is needed for survival, the thing a supermarkt offers may not be the best option to get.
Now “best” is controversial in and of itself. What you prefer to buy is influenced by various factors like quality, if it was made naturally, and sustainable, etc. Often an item that is of higher quality is also more expensive, though that is not always the case because what is also involved in determining the price of an item is how complicated it is to manufacture. Say you have the problem that you want something red to your pasta. Something to surround your pasta that is of fluid quality. Something that tastes like tomato and herbs. If you don’t know anything about the process of making tomato sauce and you have no tendency to get into learning it, and you also don’t have the time to make your own or learn cooking, then buying a pre-made tomato sauce is a plausible choice. But as many people who can cook will tell you, making tomato sauce is really not that difficult and you can save a ton of money.
So this is my theory. The more you know, the more you are able to dissect and question an existing product in terms of its quality. And the more you know, the easier it is for you to make your own products, therefore potentially saving money. (Or making a product that is more individually tailored to your personal needs.)
I did write about saving money in the past. That previous post was mainly addressing luxury goods. In this post I’d like to focus on consumable goods and mentioned “needed” items.DIY
What it boils down to is mostly this: do it yourself, roll your own.
You don’t know how much stuff you can do by yourself. Easily within minutes. A couple of examples.
- You can double your shampoo with gelatine.1
- Prepare food at home. This way you get more healthier food, pay less, and you won’t have to be worried where to get food from because you have it with you already.
- Check your subscriptions and try to find cheaper alternatives.
- Your gym membership. How often do you go? For the amount of money you pay, is it necessary to pay that amount?
- Internet. Does it really need to be the fast connection?
- Phone. I switched to a new mobile provider recently and save about 60% compared to my old provider.
- Internet-based subscriptions: all those little $1/month subscriptions add up.
- I took Gabe’s idea and made a spreadsheet with my subscriptions. It may not make sense to you because you may be thinking “How many subscriptions do I really have? This is ridiculous! I don’t need this!” But just do it! You’ll be surprised how much stuff you pay for regularly.
Over the last years, according to numbers, I save about €200/month more now. That is quite a huge number, isn’t it? It didn’t come easily from one day to the next, it took effort. Interested to know what changed? Read on.Beauty Products
The main reason I write this article are my investigations in the realms of beauty products. Beauty products are not makeup or things “a man doesn’t need”. I am a man, mind you. But a man can still be a manly-man, clean, and save money. I’ve been “hacking” beauty products since the end of 2013. These are the results of my research and investigations. Though I acquired most of this research in 2014, the soap for showering example is from 2011-2013.
As I’ve written earlier, I’m questioning the obvious. The obvious is stuff we are told by the industry to use. Stuff like “here’s shampoo, it makes your hair good.” I haven’t found much information that said that shampoo is required for good hair. In fact when looking at the history of humanity, shampoo is an item that is actually not that old. It’s mainly soap. All those years before human didn’t need shampoo. Why now? What would happen if you exchange shampoo with a bar of soap? I can tell you what happens. Exactly nothing. Your hair is a little more squeaky after the shower, but otherwise I wasn’t able to observe any negatives, if you call squeakyness a downside that is. I switched back to shampoo 6 months or so ago, but quickly searched for articles on how to “stretch” the usage.
If you take anything from this article, then this: do a quick research to see if you find a recipe to “stretch” the usage of a product. In the case of shampoo, you can double the amount with something as simple as gelatine, without adding anything negative to the product and you can still use “shampoo” for showering, if the thought of not using shampoo for your hair scares you.
The same goes for other items as well. Cremes, for instance, can often be replaced with oils. If you have (really) sensitive skin, this is a secret tip: use natural oils for your skin. You’ll be surprised by the effects, and how happy your super-sensitive skin will be.
If you want to take it up a notch, you can roll your own products relatively easy. There are tons of recipes you can find online for everything. From "make your own soap" to "make your own lotion". I actually actually find making soap quite a nice experience. It takes about an hour to make, but afterwards you have soap for a year at least. And it makes a good present.
All these things don’t save you €30 here and €20 there. It’s all just €3 per month per item, but it adds up to €30 and more easily!Electronics
Try to buy cheaper alternatives for things like an Olloclip2, on a site like AliExpress or Amazon. You’ll be amazed by how much of the items you can purchase cheaper, that are exactly the same item as the more expensive version.
You can ask yourself if you really need the main brand name of a certain product, or if the cheaper alternative does the trick. I would recommend to set preferences and focus points. Personally I’m not hugely into photography, but I do like to take some artistic pictures occasionally. I’m fine with the ten-dollar-version of the Olloclip. The lens may not be as well thoughtout and manufactured as an Olloclip, but it does the job.
You may have different focus areas. Maybe eletronics are not as important to you as getting the brand name in the clothing area. That’s cool. Just (try to) make smart purchase decisions. That is all.