Cubicle Throwdown’s Guide to Keeping it CHEAP
I have been reading a lot of blogs and websites lately and gotten some good tips on downsizing your spending before a trip (see my post recapping all the links here). I have a few of my own so I am going to share them here to add to the wealth of knowledge on the old interwebs.
First, a disclaimer. I am not going to eat packaged ramen and Kraft Dinner every day just so I can go on a trip. I feel like if you’re down with that, you probably don’t need any tips on how to live cheaper so you can save for travel. You’re probably already pretty hardcore and this list might not have much to offer you. Sorry, you already rock the cheap! Go you! For those of you who are like me, not into being ghetto but still need to save… so a few lifestyle adjustments need to be made, read on.
1. Decide what you’re willing to ‘sacrifice’
By this, I don’t mean a real sacrifice, like living in your car or something. Get real. No one needs to do that. For me, I’m deciding certain things are more important than others, and while I’d like to have some stuff that I’m used to having, I’d like to move to Roatan and be a diving instructor a lot more. Think of this like a spending diet, and a good chance to really get your priorities in order.
Here’s what I’m doing:
– no more shopping for veggies at Whole Foods – there is a cheap produce market near me and the food is not organic but it is almost 60% cheaper
– no fancy gym membership at the YWCA
– eating out once a week MAX, and trying to keep that meal under $15
– no spending money on booze!!
– no buying music on iTunes
– new clothes budget reduced to $40/month (usually $100+)
– no more Groupons! (I have a very serious Groupon addiction! They are such good deals… but… I end up buying them because they’re good deals, not because I need them)
– no more concerts (definitely a vice of mine…I spend a ton of money on shows! I love them, but they are not integral to my well-being)
– decide what organic/natural/super expensive personal care products I need, and what I could buy conventional (so far: no more shampoo/conditioner or make-up)
Here’s what I’m NOT doing:
– I’m not going to stop buying organic/non-GMO tofu, tempeh and meat at Whole Foods, because it’s important to me that these types of food be of high quality (and as humane as possible)
– I’m not going to stop buying monthly passes to the pool. They are only $40 and swimming is going to be essential to my job as a dive instructor.
– I’m not going to stop eating out altogether. Living in a big city like I do (and forgetting my lunch as much as I do), this is not realistic. You need to be realistic!!
– I’m definitely not going to say no to free drinks from guys at the bar…….
– I’m not going to illegally download music either. I don’t feel right about that. However I am going to raid my friend’s iPods!
– I’m not going to buy clothes from anywhere but Winners. That is the cheapest store for clothes and I can get at least two pieces for $40 so that will make it stretch farther than my usual high-end organic fancy-schmancy clothing store.
– I’m not going to buy conventional body wash or toilet paper/paper towel/kleenex. The difference in price between the conventional and organic/natural products is 50 cents or less, so there is no reason to buy conventional. I can afford the 50 cents.
2. What can you get rid of?
I don’t mean selling stuff, that’s kind of obvious if you want to get money. I mean what costs can you get rid of?
– Do you really need cable? I haven’t had cable for almost 7 years, and I think I’m way smarter than when I sat starting at an electronic box every night filling my brain with garbage. However, if you like that garbage, consider alternatives like Netflix ($8/month!) or if you want to be illegal you could download torrents of stuff you want to watch. There are also TV stations that have all their shows online for FREE if for some weird reason you can’t wait for a show to be added to Netflix or torrents. Remember, the likelihood of you having TV on your big trip is mega-low anyway, so get in the habit now of not watching that shit!
– Do you really need your gym membership, boot camp or personal trainer? How often are you actually going anyway? I like home workouts that don’t need any equipment, like BackOnPointe’s daily workout plan which is keeping me fit and I don’t pay one cent for it. It’s spring now, so if you go to the gym to run on a treadmill, get your ass outside and run. Borrow workout DVDs from the library (free!!!) or have a buddy system with a friend and alternate weeks where you each find a cool workout online that you want to do. Also if you’re hardcore (not me) you can get some pretty badass workouts at BodyRock.tv for free.
– I already know the answer to this one. You do not need your yoga membership. These are way overpriced and you can do it at home. If you’ve been to a few yoga classes you should already know enough about the postures and breathing that you can follow along a yoga DVD or online for free (and not have to worry about that guy farting in your face during forward bends).
– Do you really need all those fancy add-on features on your phone? I realized I could save $15/month by removing my super-cool visual voicemail on my iPhone and just having regular voicemail, and getting rid of my call-waiting (you can call back people… or text me… it’s not the end of the world to get a busy signal! Remember when we all got them in 1999?)
– Do you really need that haircut from a high-end salon? Do you really need those highlights? Here’s a fact: highlights haven’t been cool since 2003 anyway. Stop coloring your hair and you can save TONS of money. Go to your colorist and get something close to your natural color and then just leave it alone. I haven’t colored my hair in about 4 years and no one has ever said to me, “Jesus EM, your natural hair color is disgusting. You should do something about that.” I also haven’t cut my hair in over two years. That is actually kind of gross and it doesn’t look too good, but it’s also really really long so it’s easy to hide not getting it cut. You might not be able to do that (especially if you’re a dude) but you can go to a cheaper salon instead of the $100/cut place.
– Do you really need your car? You might. But maybe you’re just being prissy about public transit. I needed a car when I lived in small towns without transit. But where I live in Vancouver there is absolutely no reason for me to have one. Yeah, I don’t like taking the bus and SkyTrain with smelly hobos. But that only happens about once a week and nothing horrible has happened with the exception of one time I actually gagged, but I didn’t throw up, so overall a success.
– other things that come to mind when I think of potentially unnecessary crap people pay for: Sirius radio, video games, magazine subscriptions, hair products, expensive clothes/shoes, buying iPhone apps, tennis lessons, daily Starbucks habits, manicures/pedicures, buying books, buying gifts (give an experience or something homemade instead! Ugh I hate gifts!), going to the movies, new makeup when you have lots of old stuff left, protein shakes (really people?), weekend trips.
These are all really nice things and if you’re not trying to save for a trip, or you’re just really rich, then give ‘er. However for the rest of us, it might help spark a few ideas of things you can cut down on. Don’t deprive yourself, but be accountable and recognize where your money is going. Some people get so used to dropping money on that kind of stuff that they don’t realize it isn’t really necessary and it adds up quickly.
3. Call in your favors
First of all, if you don’t have any, you might be an asshole. You should look into that. I always have lots of people who owe me favors, and I’ve been calling them all in while I’m trying to save for this trip!
Buddy owes you dinner? Save your money you would have spent on food and ask him to take you for sushi.
Mom said she would pay for something and then you never did it? Do it, and call your wonderful mother to remind her of her offer. (PS. Thanks mom.)
Co-worker offered to give you rides to work? Sell your car, hop in with her. It’s not permanent since you’re leaving on your awesome trip soon anyway!
Nerdy cousin owes you for that time you helped set him up with a cute nerd girlfriend of yours? Get him to fix your shitty laptop instead of paying some other nerd to do it.
Brother has a truck? He can move your stuff to your storage locker instead of you having to rent a truck. Better yet, if your brother has a house, make him store your crap in his basement for free while you’re away, and call it even for all the wedgies back in the day.
And obviously, if anyone owes you money, get them to pay you back.
Don’t be a dick about it, but if people do owe you then now is the time to take advantage of that!
4. All the regular stuff you don’t need someone on the internet to tell you
Sell your stuff. Ask for a raise (but maybe not if you’re leaving soon, that’s kind of rude and you might not get a good reference). Get a second job. Don’t spend your money on things you don’t need.
It’s not rocket science people, you just have to think a bit.
Do you have any tips for saving money for a trip? Comment below!
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