You can imagine how much fun I am at parties when I boast about not owning an umbrella, or describe my strategies to avoid buying sugar when travelling since sugar sachets are available freely at food courts and cafes. Chronic frugals who may have taken things a little too far and find themselves avoiding even the most basic purchases should read this guest post by Louisa Peterson.
It might sound a bit contradictory - especially after reading the last post by Kristy Ramirez about How to Take Charge of Your Shopping Addiction, but sometimes spending a little money now can actually save you money and reduce stress in the future.
A good friend recommended Gretchen Rubin's book "The Happiness Project" to me, but she told me to persevere through the first couple of chapters because Gretchen is one of those women who already seem to have the perfect life: great job, supportive husband, kids, financial stability etc. Could a woman like this actually be any happier?! But trust me on this one. Bite your tongue and stick it out because a bunch of her tips are actually really useful.
One of Gretchen's tips that really made sense to me (besides cleaning out your wardrobe), is to invest in those things that make your life just that little bit easier. For some reason these "necessary" purchases remind me of the Scout's motto "Be Prepared".
So here's an example, combined with a small confession: I have an aversion to ironing. So much so, that I check before buying clothes whether they need to be ironed or not. But, having said that, I know that there are about five times a year when I will need to iron something. My ex-boyfriend was a stickler for pressed shirts. (I know right?! Sometimes you do get lucky!) When we were together I'd ask him sweetly to iron my shirt too. But when we split, he took the iron, and I went straight out and bought another one. Ok I know you're thinking that's a ridiculous waste of money for someone who has just admitted how rarely they will use it. But hear me out. On those few occasions in the year when I do need to iron something, for an important meeting or job interview, I can. By buying an iron now, I've protected myself against future stress. Also buying an iron now, I had time to do a quick price comparison and get a cheaper model - as opposed to rushing out and buying the first thing I saw when I was in desperate need of a pressed shirt.
Applying Gretchen's philosophy to my own life I realised that there were a few other necessary purchases that I needed to make now, that would save me time, money and stress later.
Example number two: a friend invited me to play tennis last week - something I haven't done for a while - but I really enjoyed it and we've decided to make it a weekly thing. Obviously it's just a good excuse for a fun catch-up. But during the game I realised that my sneakers were seriously on the way out. They're almost four years old, have hardly any grip and virtually no support. I hadn't gotten around to getting a new pair because I couldn't be bothered (and I'm not THAT sporty!). But growing up playing netball meant that I've also had my fair share of knee and ankle injuries. After hitting the court last week, I was feeling it a little so I went out and bought a new pair of sneakers. These are a cheap contribution to the health of my ankles, knees and back - which will also save me stress, money and time down the track. The only gripe I have is: when did sneakers become so high-tech and ugly?!
One of my other friends just told me her laptop had a meltdown last week and she didn't have it backed up. Now she could be facing hundreds of dollars to get her data back. If you don't have an external hard drive to back up your computer. Go out and buy one. Now. In this day and age if you don't back up your data, I'm sorry, but you'd have to be an idiot. If that's a bit harsh, think about it. What is your data worth? It's not just your tax documents. If you have a digital camera, these are your memories. If most (or all) of your music is digital - that's your soundtrack to life right there. Sure you can replace mp3's - but you can't replace photographs.
I bought my first 1 GB USB stick about 8 years ago for $80. Now you can buy 500 GB for $89 - or 1.5 Terabytes for $149 (from Dick Smith). That's a small price to pay for peace of mind if your computer kicks the bucket or gets nicked. It amazes me when I hear of someone who doesn't have their data backed up today. I mean, seriously...?!
On a side note, its always a good idea to defragment your hard disk now and again (if you have a mac, run the disk utility or another maintenance program), to make sure that your computer is running as efficiently as possible.
If you're planning your next overseas holiday and you're going to take your mobile phone, electric razor, computer - or any other gadget with you - get yourself a travel adaptor. You can either buy one for the particular country or region you're heading to, or pay a little extra and get a universal travel adaptor that will work everywhere. Buy it and pop it in your backpack or suitcase. Then it's there when you need it and you won't forget it in that last minute packing frenzy. If you buy an adaptor ahead of time, you won't be stuck paying inflated airport prices for something you can get cheaper online. It also cuts down on stress because you won't have to spend valuable holiday relaxing time hunting for something you could have organised so easily beforehand.
My last tip for today costs a little more money, but in addition to avoiding stress, this one is also a safety issue. Whatever your preferred mode of transport - whether you drive a car, motorcycle, scooter or ride a push-bike - you need to make sure that the essentials are in working order. There are straightforward, regular maintenance checks that you can do at home. If you're not sure what these are, get out your manual :), check with your state motoring organisation, or the guys at your local repair shop, phone a friend, and/or Google it. If you drive a car, you should check the oil, water and tyre pressure every three months, or before you go on a road-trip. If you own a bicycle, you need to check the tyres, brakes and oil the chain regularly. If you let smaller things wear out, there can be a knock-on effect where they cause bigger problems and will cost you a lot more later on. As my Dad would say "if we take care of them, they'll take care of us".
Of course you have to get a yearly rego check for your car, which helps to ensure safety standards, but if your wheels are a bit older, you might need to do additional repairs during the year. While we all hope that nothing major goes wrong, it's always good to have a contingency plan, and this involves a little bit of forward thinking. Make sure you set aside a little bit of cash each month, so if something bigger does go wrong, you have the means to sort it out.
By maintaining your wheels regularly, you're making sure that they work more efficiently (just like your computer), protecting your own safety. A positive side-effect is that this is pre-emptive stress and cost reduction.
Clearly this list could go on indefinitely (think spare light bulbs, candles, a torch and a tin of baked beans in the cupboard), but these are my top five tips for spending money now, to save money, time and stress later.
What are your tips?
- Louisa Peterson from Delivery Hero, online takeaway solutions for Australians. Louisa is a food, travel and lifestyle blogger who enjoys finding out about - and writing about - practical tips. When she isn't blogging about all things food-related, she still enjoys hitting the kitchen to try out new recipes, travelling and going to the beach.