If you are like most people, you aren’t the most committed budget-keeper. You are conscious of the money you spend, and you try to save and invest and budget. But you’re aware of the people online, those personal finance forum commenters, who do it all a lot more intensely than you do. Let’s be honest, most of our lives involve mild to moderate waste of money. This is true even for people who don’t make a lot of it. Call what follows “frugality” or “living beneath one’s means” or “being smart with money”. But whatever you call, combinations of these methods are the only ways that many people will become wealthy.
- Avoid PPI. Many people in the UK are paying for insurance they didn’t knowingly sign up for. PPI (or Payment Protection Insurance) was tacked onto many financial agreements, and lots of UK residents didn’t learn they were paying for it until long after they’d made thousands of pounds in payment. Check your financial accounts for this and other mysterious payments. And check out this PPI calculator to see what you’d save if you have PPI.
- Learn to Cook. Restaurant meals cost at least 3x the cost of the ingredients used to compose them. Learn to cook from simple ingredients, and you’ll save loads of money over the weeks and months and years.
- Ride a Bike. If you can drive infrequently or, better yet, avoid owning a car at all, you’ll save thousands of dollars each and every year in fuel, upkeep, monthly payments, and insurance costs. Your humble author has been without a car for more than a year, and it’s hard to imagine going back to that cost structure.
- Buy a House. While this will be more expensive up front, homeowners pay much less for monthly occupancy of a house than renters would for the same property. This is for the simple reason that renters are paying the homeowner’s mortgage cost, and then some. Homeownership isn’t easy or easily attainable for every individual. But if it’s possible for you to make it happen, it is worth it in the long term.
- Pay Less for Routine Payments. Look up competitors of your ISP, your insurance provider, your utility company, and the like. In almost every case, you’ll be able to find the same service (or better) for less money. It’s important to do this research at least once a year. These industries are being upset by new models introduced through web and mobile technologies and communication infrastructures. If you can identify new alternatives that will give you discounts, you can save hundreds or even thousands a year.
Once you’ve started to lock in significant savings, it’s important that you use these savings for profitable purposes. First and foremost, create an emergency fund that could cover you for months if you were to lose your income. Then invest up to the maximum allowed amount in an IRA to cover you when you are old. From there, the sky’s the limit.