A little while ago, I decided to set a savings challenge for myself: I was going to save an extra $1,000 in 30 days above and beyond my regular savings. Below I’ve detailed how I did it, and what I learned along the way.
LESSON 1: HAVE A SPECIFIC GOAL FOR THE MONEY YOU ARE SAVING
I see a lot of people ‘trying’ to save money, but it doesn’t take long before they get demotivated or life gets in the way and they give up. If you don’t have a strong reason to save in the first place, you are way more likely to give in to temptations, or give up when things get tough.
So, what was my goal? I took on this challenge when my husband and I had decided to move house. I had a very specific goal in mind for saving money: I wanted to cover all the costs associated with moving house (like cleaners, removalists, maybe even new furniture…). There was no point getting excited about reduced rent costs of our new place if we ended up spending several hundred dollars just to move in the first place.
Having this goal made a huge difference, because things did get tough sometimes. Half-way through, I kept thinking “Why am I even bothering? It won’t make much of a difference anyway.” In those moments, I really had to tap into what I wanted to use the money for, and why I was doing the whole thing in the first place.
LESSON 2: REDUCING RECURRING COSTS IS EASIER THAN CONSTANT DEPRIVATION
HOW I DID IT: Reduced rent
You know why everyone hates advice about saving money? Because most of it focuses on deprivation: don’t eat out, don’t buy coffee, buy less clothes…So, what ARE you allowed to spend money on??
That’s why, in the beginning it’s easier to be saving money on things that are an recurring expense…because you make the effort upfront, and that’s it.
Before we decided to move house, we actually started out with rent negotiations. My husband and I had been living in our apartment for some years, and the market had moved. I knew we were in a good position to negotiate a reduction. So…we did.
Based off our negotiations, the landlord agreed to a $20 reduction in rent per week. This would have amounted to over $1,000 saved over one year! Here’s the exact email we wrote:
Obviously results vary on a case by case basis, and you need to be mindful of your own situation. What kind of relationship do you have with your landlord? What are current market rates like in your area? Have you been a good tenant?
Now, ultimately…we decided to move anyway, to an apartment that was better suited for our needs AND was $40 per week cheaper in rent. So that was an automatic $160 saving over the one month period (and over the year, it’ll amount to over $2,000 saved).
Guess how many coffees I’d have to skip to save $2,000 in a year? About 500. That is more than 1 coffee a day for the whole year!
LESSON 3: MAKING MONEY CAN HELP WHEN ‘CUTTING BACK’ GETS TOO MUCH
HOW I DID IT: Selling second-hand stuff on Facebook Marketplace
Most advice about saving money focuses on ‘cutting expenses’, and although that’s important…there’s a limit. Living does cost money and we all have different ideas of what’s a ‘comfortable’ standard of living.
The other side of the coin is learning how to make more money. It has literally never been easier, in the whole of human history, to access the tools and knowledge that can enable you to earn more money. Thank you, Internet Gods.
So that’s where the majority of my focus was for the 30 day period. As we were decluttering during the moving process, I started selling a lot of our second-hand stuff on Facebook Marketplace.
Here’s what I learned about selling on Facebook Marketplace:
- My personal experience was that books and clothes were hard to sell, unless the clothes were branded and/or almost new. Items like appliances, accessories, toys, furniture, anything new that could be given as a ‘gift’ sold pretty well.
- At the same time, it wasn’t an exact science. I was really surprised at some of the items I was able to sell. So, sometimes you think “no one will buy this” and you’re wrong. Sometimes you think “this will definitely sell”…and you’re still wrong. You just have to give it a go and see if you get anyone buying!
- Facebook Marketplace lets you ‘tag’ each item. Use the maximum number of tags, and try to be broad and varied. If you’re selling a table, think of all the possible uses for that table: table, furniture, outdoor, bedroom, coffee, storage, gift, IKEA, etc.
- Taking good photos and being responsive to enquiries is important.
- It can get exhausting. I got stood up by people who said they’d pick it up and never did, I had to chase people up constantly (most of whom never responded), I had people haggling over $5 on discounted items. It does take work, and it can get tiring so you have to be resilient.
- At the same time…it can be fun when you see the cash piling up from selling stuff that’s just been gathering dust around the house.
Don’t lose heart if you put up one item and it doesn’t sell. Keep persisting, put up at least 10 different things and see how you go.
LESSON 4: ‘LOST’ MONEY IS NOT SAVED MONEY
HOW I DID IT: Finding lost money
Your money is like your herd of sheep…and everyone has sheep that have just wandered off and got lost. Coins and chump change that are at the bottom of drawers, in jean pockets, in birthday cards, behind bookshelves…
It’s tempting to discount this money, like “that’s not really saving…it was already there.” But just like you can’t shear a lost sheep, you can’t use lost money towards anything and money is only useful in terms of what it can be exchanged in value for.
I know people who, in the process of cleaning their homes, have discovered literally hundreds of dollars lying around in random places. If that’s not a good excuse to clean, I don’t know what is!
So all together I saved $1,022 in 30 days.