Hi folks! Hope you are doing great on this wonderful rainy British spring day. Regards from the good old England.
I haven’t written anything in the Frugal Living series for a while so I’m gonna give it a stab. My previous anti-latte factor article received some great feedback, especially from Angela at Tread Lightly Retire Early, who loved the idea of using ROI to measure frugal habits.
This one is much less serious as I lay out the 8 bizarre ways that I use to live frugally, save £$€ yet without seeing any impact to my living standard.
Buckle up and enjoy!
1. No bottled water, use a water bottle instead
Seriously not sure how that made it to the top of my list! I absolutely detest plastic water bottles, not because it kills out environment (well that as well) but because tiny plastic particles gets dissolved into water (especially after sunlight exposure) and when you drink it, boohoo! They get inside you. Super unhealthy. Why bother!!?
Instead I just carry my £35 S’well water bottle with me most of the time (even through airport security, just remember to empty it or bottoms up beforehand). We used to use on average 2 bottled water per week and each costs around £1. So I make the money back in 18 weeks!
2. Cycling instead of taking the subway
I hate the subway, period.
This is mainly because my phobia of being surrounded by many people in a confined space. More importantly did you know that the surface on the London Underground is dirtier than the toilet? It’s an actual fact!
Instead I cycle everywhere. You can read my detailed ROI analysis here but the gist of the story is that:
- Cycling is faster than the subway most of the time
- Cycling is more relaxing and fun
- Cycling saves me at least £1k in transport fare and another £500-1,000 in gym cost because my bike is my gym!
3. Cut my own hair
I honestly didn’t know whether I should include this one because its one of my best kept secrets, but hey, now you have no reason not to share yours!
I hate long hair. It makes me uncomfortable, ugly and time consuming to wash/dry. I’ve had an army style crew cut since the age of 6 and I love it.
The only problem is that a short hairstyle needs to be regularly trimmed to maintain its shortness. I need that maintenance every fortnight.
Barbers are not only expensive (£10 per cut minimum) but also a pain to arrange in the U.K. I normally have to ring up at least 3 days in advance, book an appointment, make time, travel before even commencing the cut. The whole process take 1.5 hours at least, every fortnight!
Instead, I bought a hair clipper in 2008 for £45 (even less nowadays) and started trimming it myself. I haven’t looked back since.
It takes 20 minutes each time, costs nothing and I can do it whenever I like. I make about 25 cuts per year, thus the little beast has saved me £2,500 so far and counting!
4. Interest free credit card
If you’ve read my train hack post then you’ll know that rail commuting is stupidly expensive in England. I pay around £3,000 per year for the pleasure of getting into London and coming home.
Personally I can afford that money upfront but why bother when there’s a superior alternative: an interest-free loan in the form of a 0% credit card.
I use the Sainsbury’s Bank Purchase Credit Card where I can put the annual ticket on it in one go to achieve the best fare discount but then pay back in equal monthly instalments out of my salary without incurring interest (because it’s interest free). This is essentially a 0% loan.
This means I now have £3,000 of spare cash that can be deployed elsewhere, earning an interest, a dividend, capital growth or just to treat Mrs WB40 to a nice holiday.
Give it a try, although remember to check your credit rating beforehand as you will need to be Good or above to be approved. Here’s a comprehensive guide of how to get a 0% plastic alongside with the best current offers.
Also don’t go crazy. Spend it on a one-off purchase that will actually bring long term value to you.
5. Sleep more
The more you sleep, the better your decision making ability will be and therefore you are less likely to be compromised by some persuasive advert compelling you to buy their latest unnecessary gadget.
Another fun fact: an extra hour of sleep is an hour less available for buying things. Fact!
6. Learn DIY
I suffered a massive humiliation when I was 21. I just moved into the first house that I had bought. It was a freezing November evening and I had no idea how to turn on the lights or gas (the switches didn’t work). So I spent £90 to call in an electrician and all he did was to flick on the central switch board and everything came to life.
It was the most expensive 3 minutes of my life!
Let’s face it, things break down in the house. That’s just a simple fact of life. Domestic helpers are expensive in the West, which is also a fact of life.
So I started learning various DIY skills and try to fix household breakages myself, with varying degrees of success. More often than not however, I did get the problem resolved myself without having to splurge out any cash.
7. Spending interrogation
Credit card is a universally accepted payment method now and let’s face it, it does take away much of the resistance or guilt when it comes to binge shopping.
We as a nation, added an extra £746 million of credit debt in January 2018 alone!
So the method I adopt to trigger guilt and decrease spending is through spending interrogation.
In summary, I review every line of my expenditure at month end meticulously and ask myself “could I have avoided that transaction?” I then add up every “yes” and more often than not, I could shave off at least 20% of the expenditures.
I love this method because it’s simple yet super effective. It makes me think twice before committing to a purchase and that 2nd thinking often distinguishes an essential expense from a discretionary one.
8. Embark on a fulfilling career
The emphasis is on “fulfilling” here.
A fulfilling career occupies the majority of your brain space, leaving you with little time for discretionary spending.
A fulfilling career enhances your happiness, depriving your neocortex the need to binge spend to bring further pleasure into your mind.
A fulfilling career will more likely than not enable you to progress further, thereby boosting your earning power and taking you a step closer to financial freedom.
So here you have it, my 8 bizarre ways of living frugally and happily.
What are yours? I’d love to hear them and see how we can learn from each other. Please comment away.