I try not to waste money but sometimes it happens and when it does, it often drives me nuts. It seems to happen all of the time. For example, buying a bottle of water only to notice moments later that I am sitting right near a water fountain. Purchasing trendy magazines when I could read most of the articles on a blog or fashion website for free on my iPad. I throw out boxes and then go right out and buy a box to ship something in. Using spray bathroom cleaner when I know that asking the cleaner to use a mix of bleach and baking soda (bicarbonate of soda in the UK) is more effective and will leave everything gleaming. Your mother and grandmother were right (ok, maybe not in the dating sense). Stop buying the cow when you can get get milk for free!
Note: Read all the way to the end for some really great ideas for saving.
Spend with awareness & read the fine print
At the end of the day, it is about being a lot more conscious about what you’re paying for and what you might not need to pay for. I once had a friend who was doing a savings kick and she pledged not to spend in places she didn’t need to. She suddenly found that by being more mindful. My pal was saving money by avoiding waste and looking around herself for opportunities i.e. “get the milk for free.” For example, she was at the post office and they were going to charge her for a larger box. She stood back from the line to get the product and decided to step outside. Guess what? There was a box just the size she needed sitting on a pile of recycling.
Personally, I have had this happen to me too. I joined an arts group last year to learn more about the the London art scene. As part of that programme I got tickets to the London Art Fair VIP room and decided to read the brochure about the VIP package. I learned that I could get free car service within London to and from the fair and free access to the Academicians’ Room (private club) at the Royal Academy of Arts (or, RA for locals). So, instead of having my car take me home, I decided to have them take me to the RA. It turns out that I liked the room. Now, I go there all the time now as my flat isn’t that big and it is a great space to entertain. Also, I get access to the latest gallery events and activities. But at the time I joined there was a joining and annual fee. I mentioned that I was a London Art Fair VIP and they told me that they would waive the annual fee for me. Hooray! Just by chatting with the staff and mentioning that I was a VIP I ended up saving a bunch of money. Once again, speaking up and looking for discounts means that you aren’t buying cows when you can get the milk for free.
Another issue that plays a role in the size of your wallet or bank account balance is pride. Let’s face it. I love luxury clothing but I also remember the famous childhood story of the “Emperor with no clothes”. In the story a “tailor” sells “invisible clothing” to the king for a very high price. The vain ruler buys these items to feel more important only to realize later that people are laughing at him because he is naked and has been tricked. Now, I like luxury clothing and restaurants but I refuse to be fleeced. I don’t care if the restaurant is the hottest one in town. If the food is basic, the service isn’t great, the tables are terrible and the other clientele are annoying, I won’t really go back. At the end of the day, I want to get what I’ve paid for. I understand that a lot of individuals will go to a certain place to see and be seen but at some point the game is up. This “social scene” mentality is harder and harder to pull off in the new globalized foodie culture. People want quality and restaurateurs can only rest on their laurels for so long.
Stop buying the cow and get the milk for free
So, how can you stop paying more than you should, get the quality you deserve, take advantage of freebies out there and getting ahead of the game? There are many ways to take care and avoid spending money where you don’t have to. Think about the ways that you might be “buying the cow”.
- Are you paying more for your utilities rather than looking for a cheaper vendor?
- When was the last time you cleaned out your supply closet? You might be buying the same things again and again because you can’t find what you need.
- Are you too embarrassed to go for the two for one deals or to use a coupon or discount code?
- Do you take a moment to look for a voucher or discount code before buying an item of clothing online?
- When was the last time you checked in on your phone plan? Last year, I questioned why my bill was nearly £50 a month. I called and found plan for £17 a month!
- Can you find what you want/need as a freebie on a site like Gumtree or Craigslist?
Good luck with your savings strategy and remember not to settle for anything less than the best.