I Want To Blog: How Can I Start and Why Should I?

I’ve been blogging since 2007 now, hardly a lifetime but pretty long in the world of blogging. It’s been a rocky ride and although much a hobby it’s also a large part of my full-time income and allows me to freely travel the world.

Why you should blog…

Put simply blogging is fun, it gives you something to do (a hobby) and isn’t expensive to get started with. You’ll connect with people who share a passion. Knowledge in your subject of choice will sky rocket and you’ll interact with new people maybe even eventually make real friends. I have many people I consider friends that I met through blogging.

Other opportunities can pop up too. Your passion may start earning money, you may improve your chances of finding a better job through networking and may even find yourself head hunted.

Blogging also gives you an outlet, somewhere to talk about and share things related to your passion.

What you should blog about…

start a blog

You can start a random blog and if that is what you want why should anyone stop you? That is the beauty about blogging, it’s your place, you can start a fanzine for your favorite music, a blog about an obscure (or widespread) hobby, instructional or informational, professional, creative, whatever!

The fact that you are thinking about blogging means you may well have a subject in mind. When reading about starting a blog you will likely be one of two things. Either that you must follow your passion or that you should go after a profitable niche! I say don’t worry about that stuff, start a blog about whatever you want, something you have a passion for or a passing interest that you’ll just enjoy working with. This is your first blog and it doesn’t matter if you grow bored of it and drift off to start another blog.

The quickest way to start…

You can be blogging within 5 minutes. Simply visit blogspot.com and start a blog, easy peasy. You get a YourDomain.blogspot.com url and an easy way to choose themes and write content. If you are thinking of being serious with blogging though I believe owning your domain and using the blogging platform I use is the way forward and the blog and content will 100% be yours.

Links in this post may be affiliate links and i’ll earn a small commission from services you purchase but these are companies I recommend and have used personally. You have my word they are good.

Setup YOUR own blog, step-by-step

Name your site

You need a name for your site. You can go for something descriptive or something fun or a mixture of the two. Just have a think and jot down some ideas then I recommend you get your domain from NameCheap. I recommend Namecheap as they are affordable and very reliable in my experience. So…

  1. Brainstorm a name.
  2. Visit NameCheap, use their Domain search to find out if it’s available and if not find one available. I recommend you use a .com domain.
  3. Buy your domain.

Namecheap.com - Cheap domain name registration, renewal and transfers - Free SSL Certificates - Web Hosting

Set up hosting

Next up you need web hosting. Hosting is the place your files go, your domain name points to this place. So it’s like the warehouse for the content of your blog. I recommend when starting that you set up with Hostgator and the hatchling plan at $7.16 monthly is a fine start. The longer you sign up for the cheaper montly price you get and it can go as low as $3.96 per month.


Also here is a little video I put together to basically explain what web hosting is…

Pointing your domain name to your hosting.

Once you have your hosting set up you will need to point your namecheap domain to your hosting. You would have been given 2 addressees when you set up your hosting called nameservers. These will be in your welcome email.

  1. Log into Namecheap.
  2. On the top right click My Account
  3. Under domains select your domain name
  4. Now on the left hand side click Transfer DNS to Webhost
  5. You’ll see 5 places to enter your nameservers, just enter the two in 1 and 2 and save changes.
  6. It could take up to 24 hours for the domain to start pointing towards your web hosting account but usually it takes less than a few hours.

changing nameservers in namecheap

Install wordpress, Hostgator’s 1-click install

Ok, first off you may need some coffee right now, get some of that first! Then come back and we’ll install wordpress. WordPress is by far my favorite blogging platform and it allows you to control the look of your site in every detail, allows you to post content that can be read and hopefully indexed well in Google. It is also hugely expandable with plugins and can be bent to do pretty much anything you want.

Hostgator have this great video showing you how you can install wordpress in a few minutes. I suggest you install wordpress on the root directly of your site if the blog is going to be the main component. This means www.yoursite.com rather than www.yoursite.com/blog/.

Write your first post.

Now you have a blog! Time to open the champagne…. But first you may want to write your first post.

  1. Log into WordPress, normally www.yoursite.com/wp-admin if you installed WordPress on the root directly.
  2. Click on Posts>All Posts on the left hand side menu.
  3. Hover over the one post title which will be Hello Word, click the option to trash it. This will now be deleted.
  4. Click on Posts>Add New. You’ll now see the window to write your first post. Give it a title, write some content. Even add a picture using the Add Media button if you feel adventurous.
  5. Hit Publish on the right hand side and share your new blog with the world.

What now…

This post should have you set up with a basic blog. The sky is the limit now and I suggest you get writing and writing and sharing all your work with friends on Facebook, down the local bar, at work and wherever you can.

Beyond writing you may be a bit lost right now but nearly everything you need to learn can be found in video tutorial form over at WordPress.tv. I suggest you watch videos on plugins and general settings right away to get yourself up to basic speed. About plugins, always be very careful and don’t install too many. Often they have been responsible for creating security leaks for hackers to get into people’s sites. So basically only install highly rated trusted plugins.

You may find yourself wanting to change your theme. There are 1000s of free themes available and you can learn to customise themes yourself. In fact the default Twenty Twelve theme is an excellent theme to work with. However for a supported and highly professional theme that you can customize I suggest you check out Genesis Framework and their huge range of awesome themes.

StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes

You may even want a custom design or design elements such as  a logo. I mentioned that I make some of my money from blogging but I also make money from creating blogs for people so I am up for hire. Send me a personal email at forest@frugalzeitgeist.com and we can talk direct about your specific needs.

Any problems or questions?

This is a lot to take in and you may be a little blinded by it all so feel free to ask any questions, let me know if something isn’t working as it should or if you have any other comments.

Also please do share your new blog. I can’t wait to see it. 

Save money or support the independent coffee house? And the wider questions…

I like to head out for a coffee and do some writing. There is a case for working at home all of the time but hey I would go absolutely crazy!

I’m back in my home town of Woolwich, London right now. First off I can’t believe how fast it is changing and I am undecided about my thoughts on this! I keep thinking about the man who came up to Banksy while he was painting on the wall in Palestine and told him to stop. He told Banksy he didn’t want him to make the wall pretty because he hates the wall…. Woolwich hardly matches up to the wall in Palestine. I guess deep down I have a little misguided hatred for the place!

Good or bad the fact is that the changes are not only affecting me, I am making use of them. The trendy new pub, the giant (and I mean USA sized!) supermarket and of course Starbucks.

Starbucks came to town and for me it changed Woolwich. It gave me somewhere to go grab a reasonably priced coffee and work on my blogs. Great…. However I always complained that I only used Starbucks because it was my only choice!

Well, my remarks have been tested now as Woolwich and it’s changing landscape has finally landed a viable Starbucks alternative.

Not only a viable alternative but possible a better one! The Coffee Lounge is situated in a beautiful building on Woolwich’s most recently updated town square. You get better views than Starbucks, just as many drinks choices (as far as I can tell), more plugs for laptops and it’s got a nicer decor, in my opinion.

The Coffee Lounge Woolwich
img src: facebook.com/TheCoffeeLoungeWoolwich

So of course I HAVE to use it, I love supporting independent business and it’s simply better than Starbucks.

But wait! Coffee is just a tad more expensive in The Coffee Lounge! Ahhhhhh, a frugal dilema!

So what would you do?

After back and forth between the two I have sided with the independent coffee house over the saving and likely will be using that in 80% of my visits.

If in Woolwich I suggest you take time to visit The Coffee Lounge.

The bigger picture…

This was a tiny choice to make. I generally have 1-2 coffees and stay for 5 hours or so. I’m not a highly profitable customer but am steady. So the savings by going to Starbucks are minimal.

When it comes to other frugal choice vs moral / local choice things get a little more harder as the money implications grow. As an example buying clothing from a sustainable source with no sweatshop work involved in a big area I want to improve in but I still often take the frugal choice.

My conclusion: Frugality is important and minimalism is a goal that can be worked upon but where choices involve a moral and you have the means to take that then you probably should.

I’d love your thoughts and stories.

I’d also love if you took the time to share on Twitter or Facebook and help us continue this discussion.

Reusable Tampons!! Have You Thought About The Menstrual Cup?

You may think that my frugal thinking has gone a little far but hear me out….

The traditional tampon is a very expensive “necessity” that women around the globe sometimes have to struggle with in order to buy on a monthly basis. A box of tampons and a pack of liners or pads can set you back around $10 bi-monthly. That works out at approximately $60 per year- all which could be much better spent.

Price aside, tampons have a lot of risks associated with them. Looking at a pack of “Tampax Compax” that I have to hand, there is a warning that:

“Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death.”

Furthermore, there is a leaflet inside the pack explaining the scary symptoms of this disease! This info can also be found in the TSS & Tampon Safety section of the Tampax website.

Tampons are also related with other health issues. Health Canada says:

“Tampon use is associated with an increased risk of vaginal dryness and vaginal ulcers, especially if the tampons that are used are more absorbent than is needed to control menstrual flow. There is also a risk of serious hygiene problems if tampons are forgotten and not removed on time”.

Expensive and risky, and full of hassle. It’s a wonder anyone uses them!

So What is the Alternative?

diva menstrual cupI present the reusable Menstrual Cup!

It’s quite a neat device. Although its been around since the early 1930’s, it has not yet fully caught on to consumer tastes.

Yet as far as I can tell, this is the most frugal, the most environmentally-conscious and possibly the most hygienic menstrual off-the-shelf product available.

Various companies make them, but they all work in the same way. There is a barrage of positive, glowing reviews for this product across the web.

How does this Menstrual Cup work?

The menstrual cup is easily inserted at the base of the vagina. Its bell shape acts exactly as you would imagine: It captures any menstrual blood that flows from the vagina comfortably (some women disagree they are comfortable), cleanly and without leakage (No more pads to accompany tampons!). When the cup is full, you remove it, empty and clean it before reinserting.

Why would you use the Menstrual Cup instead of traditional tampons or pads?

This list really could go on and on. With a frugal focus, here are some of the main points.

  • At an average cost of around $25-$40 per cup, and the cup’s life span of up to 10 years, your savings could be around $550 over the ten year life.
  • They can be worn for up to 12 hours, depending on how heavy the flow
  • Due to the fact that you would only discard this recyclable device once every 10 years, the environmental impacts are far less than traditional disposable methods
  • You can safely wear the Menstrual Cup while you sleep
  • Its concept is that Menstrual cups catch and contain. They don’t suck (or absorb) like tampons. Thus there is no interference with the body’s individual menstrual flow (i.e. the risk of drying out the vagina’s natural fluids and defenses).
  • They don’t have to be removed every visit to the bathroom, only when they need to be emptied and cleaned.
  • Many have markers to allow you to measure how much menstrual blood is cycling. This can be helpful monitoring your health in some circumstances.

How and Where can I get myself one of these snazzy Menstrual Cups?

There are quite a few brand choices and they are made of various materials from natural rubber to silicon. Different brands may suit different people’s preferences. You should also pay attention to size (check out the multi-brand size chart here). This is a possible 10 year purchase, so it’s worth researching and reading the websites of the manufacturer.

Some of the major brands include: Mooncup (The Keeper), DivaCup, Ladycup, Lunette, Femmecup and Miacup.

Diva Cup is the only cup approved by both the FDA and Health Canada, but it is recommended for change once per year. Mooncup seems to be the most popular brand and is FDA approved, lasting up to 10 years-definitely more frugal!

You should be able to buy Menstrual Cups at local pharmacy’s for around $30-$35. However, as always, I recommend saving even more money and buying online.

I found them on Amazon for some great prices:

Diva Cup On Amazon (affiliate link) – Only $29.99 with free delivery.

The Keeper Moon Cup on Amazon (affiliate link) – Only $23.49 with free delivery.

Disclaimer: Ok, so I am a man so you may think I have no business talking on these things and of course you may be right. I did talk a lot with my partner about this post and tried to make sure that I represent this alternative fairly. I would however LOVE your thoughts and opinions, also other alternatives and advice.

A tweet, facebook like, stumble or add to any social network would be great, if you like the post :)

Useful Resources:

Menstrual Cups page on Wikipedia – Contains a little more info and a great multi-brand size chart.
Planned Parenthood – They have great information on all sexual and reproductive issues.
Menstural Cup post on TFP – I got some cool users’ opinions and information from here. Worth reading, for sure.
MoonCup – The official site. Has some great information.
DivaCup – The official site. Full of useful information.

Stop impulse spending now!

This is a guest post by a good friend Duncan Wilson of www.duncwilson.co.uk

A £2.50 paper cup of coffee. A packet of 10p crisps. Another packet of 10p crisps. A £1.80 newspaper. A single pack of chewing gum. A bottle of water. A chocolate bar. No, this isn’t my dream shopping list. It is, however, a list of items I would have once bought in an average day. And regularly too.


change on tableBecause I ‘needed’ a caffeine hit to wake me up, that’s why; Because I ‘fancied’ a cheap snack; Because I ‘needed’ a drink; Because I ‘needed’ something to read on the train. These ‘reasons‘ are all absolutely fine. Provided you really, truly enjoy that coffee; Provided the crisps satisfied your need for food; Provided you finished the paper and ended up better off than you were before it; And provided you’re not bothered about saving money!

Living the frugal life, I’ve learnt a lot about not spending money. Or as I prefer to call it ‘the art of suppressing the need for impulse spending’. You see, spending money is fine. It’s the spending of money on things you don’t really need that is a no-no. And these things add up. Even without the expensive cup of coffee, the 10p bags of crisps can soon mount up. In a week where you visit the shop on five occasions, you can see yourself part company with anything up to £10; more if you have coffee! I wouldn’t mind so much, but it’s not as if any of this stuff is actually any good for you!

If you must snack outside of meal times, pre-buy your cravings in multipacks from the supermarket – no rocket science here! Better still, snack on a nice, locally grown, piece of fruit! If you ‘need’ a caffeine hit first thing in the morning, the best value option is to have it before you leave the house, but if you really insist, I’ll allow you to purchase a flask (ed. check out our FREE tea and coffee post). Now the newspaper part. That’s tough. I’m not going to tell you to pick up an unsold from outside the paper shop in the dead of night and live your life a day behind everyone else. Neither will I promote picking up second hand broadsheets on the subway! The answer to the paper quandary is a simple, self-promise. In order to purchase your favourite glum-comic, you simply have to solemnly swear that you will read at least 70% of its content, you will complete at least 50% of the puzzles and you will read 100% of the stories that concern you or can benefit you financially. You see? That way, the newspaper miraculously becomes a financial investment. OK, that, perhaps, is rubbish, but just make sure you get your money’s worth!

Once you’ve reprogrammed yourself to question every small, seemingly minor purchase, you can start to stash the cash you’re saving. I use an old plastic bucket that some candy floss came in at a festival. At the end of each day, I chuck the loose change that I would have spent on coffee, crisps, chocolate and ‘news’ in the bucket. Once a month, I go and annoy the bank clerk with a bag of pennies.

Related: Stop Buying Expensive Coffee and Save Calculator< Great link!

Thanks Duncan, an excellent post!

A travel coffee mug is an excellent way to ensure you take coffee with you in the mornings.

Vinegar: A Frugal Wonder

One of the best, oldest and essential tools that a frugalist can have in their arsenal is a very cheap and common acidic substance called vinegar! Yes, yes.  I know you know what it is…..

Most of us purchase vinegar for cooking.  Even just within this area, we probably do not use it as much as we could.  It is safe for the environment, extremely cheap (as I’ve mentioned), and tastes great on fish and chips!

I used to love vinegar as a child! Any chance I got i would drink some.  When caught my parents, they would be very angry and tell me that it would dry my insides out and cause death! I am not sure that is true, but I am sure they had a point. KIDS! Don’t drink gallons of vinegar!

sour face after drinking vinegar

In the kitchen you can use vinegar to zest-up sauces and foods, bring out flavor, tenderize meats and stop things such as eggs and fish from breaking when poaching. As well as using it to preserve, pickle and marinate, you will always run across new uses.

Must of us know of the cleaning ability of vinegar.  Yet many of us do not actually use the substance. Vinegar basically destroys bacteria, cuts through grease and soaks up and destroys smells.  There is not a cleaning job that I can think of that won’t benefit from vinegar use:  Streak-free shiny windows, brighter carpets and disinfected surfaces are just a few cleaning abilities. For laundry, it can help reduce and remove stains as well as give clothes a sifter, crisp feel.

For health, vinegar is said to alleviate arthritis pain, cure hiccups, soothe insect bites and be used as a bug spray. It can clear chests, kill toenail fungus, help remove warts and, according to some research, may even be good for cancer!

Horticulturally it can help increase the acidity of soil, can be used as a natural weed killer and help cut flowers last for a long time in the vase.

Many lists of uses have been compiled on the net. Some of the best can be found here at The Vinegar Institutes’s Vinegar Uses and Tips and the BBC’s Handy Uses for Household Vinegar.

What do you use vinegar for?

Vinegar is an old product and has been produced for more than 10,000 years and used by many civilizations including the Egyptians and Babylonians.

It is made through a process of fermentation, much like wine and beer, but actually left to ferment for much longer. In fact, the word vin aigre, is French for “sour wine”.

Vinegar can be made from pretty much anything that alcoholic drinks can be made from, such as fruits, vegetables and grains. For example, balsamic vinegar is produced from white Trebbiano grapes grown in Modena, Italy and can take 12-25 years to ferment! White vinegar comes from distilled alcohol (such as white wine and gin).  Malt vinegar is produced from malted barley. Believe it or not, a place that I worked for as a teenager use to get it’s malt vinegar from the brewery. I assume that they just made vinegar from old beer!

Bartering Websites and Finding a Local Barter Network

shaking hands, a deal

I’ve written about using bartering more to spend less cash and although most of you don’t think it can 100% replace money (including me) I think it’s a genuine way to get things done without exchanging hard cash. I think bartering can free up more cash to go to pay down debt or pay into savings. If you are low-income it is also a way to get more stuff done without needing more money.

Barter networks as a whole tend to work using some kind of credit or points system. Each trader / supplier works out or is given a rate for their service or product so that you can use points to trade with anyone in the network, not just straight exchanges.

Online Bartering Networks

Slowly but surely bartering seems to be migrating towards online services, bringing the ideas and ideals of a local barter system to a national, and maybe one day worldwide, scale.

Bartering online can bring many problems for the networks such as legitimizing services and goods offered and getting over the face to face aspect offered by a local barter system. This could be the reason why bartering online has not taken a big stronghold yet and although there are likely many local bartering networks websites which just represent local activity it does not seem that many National offerings exist.

My search found two legit looking networks (I have not personally tried these bartering website networks) catering mainly to small business but with decent looking online systems.

The Barter Network (http://www.barternetworkonline.com).

The Barter Network has been around since 1996 and says it is the biggest growing online bartering service. Barter members include large companies like ClearChannel and Invisible Fence and many small businesses with a large variety of services to offer. They even say they will pay your business $1000 to join right now!

Barterquest (http://www.barterquest.com/).

With some strong media mentions and a focus on bartering higher ticket items Barterquest seem to have brought some mainstream attention to the idea of exchange.

One last place that may be worth checking out is http://www.transmediatrade.com. A commenter left this website for me to check out but he may have been from the company himself even though he acted like he was a customer of theirs…. Still their site looks very interested and well worth checking out.

Finding a local barter network

The larger national networks mentioned above seem to be mainly set up for small business. You may find it much more appealing to join a local bartering network where you can at least interact with some of your barter partners.

The GigaFree offers a fantastic list of USA Bartering Exchanges, this is the best list I could find for the whole of the country. The same commenter who told me about Trans Media Trade also mentioned the IRTA (International Reciprocal Trade Association)  and they look like they have some good info.

You could also try searching Google for “Bartering Exchange in wherever” or “wherever local barter / bartering network”. Craigslist also sometimes has local barters too. Failing these options it’s time to take to the streets, maybe talk to your local business association, local town hall or the consult the classifieds of any local circulars. You could also ask small business if they are involved in barter networks.

Be careful and verify any network you become a part of. You don’t want to get dragged into anything that will waste your time so try to find something that seems structured with monthly meet-ups, printed information and a regulated system.

Tax On Bartering

As you theoretically gain the same net worth from bartering as you do from buying services or goods, bartering exchanges are considered Taxable by the IRS. I recommend you talk to a Tax professional about this but the general gist is that services and goods will be converted to current market value when applying tax to barters. So basically make sure you keep good records and extra cash aside for these!

I think bartering is an absolutely awesome way to stay frugal and also get involved in your community on a wider scale. It’s great to trade services and goods whilst being social and saves on items traveling across the country / world keeping things working on a local scale.

If you are already part of a barter network or have any comments at all I would love to hear from you.

Please also take a moment to share this post on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else using the social buttons below.

Thanks a million.

Healthy Cheap Chili Sauce, Kebab Shop Style

I love chillies, so at the market the other day when I saw a huge kilo of red chillies for one English pound I had to buy them, it was a steal! Of course a kilo of chillies isn’t easy to use up and it was the latest in chilli purchase in what may possibly be becoming an addiction, I know it’s not frugal but I may be addicted to buying chillies!!! Anyway, the frugal thing is to make sure they get used….

The other day I had a hummus plate at a kebab shop. Hummus, pita, cabbage and salad smothered in kebab shop chilli sauce. Since then I have been making a similar meal for lunch at home with healthy ingredients, of course I have been missing the kebab shop style chilli sauce.

So, with an abundance of chilli there was only one thing for it! I wanted to create a kebab shop style healthy sauce. This is what I came up with.

Ingredients: Makes about a small take-out carton of sauce.

  • 14 medium heat red chillies – This may vary depending on strength of the chillies.
  • 2 Medium red onions
  • 4 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 can / carton chopped tomatoes
  • Salt for taste
  • Water

chilli sauce ingredients


Chop everything into small pieces, this could also be done in a food processer. I kept the garlic chunky but it could also be crushed.

chilli sauce ingredients chopped

Heat a pan to medium heat, put all ingredients in at the same time. To keep the sauce healthier I skipped the oil, there is a little natural oil in the chillies.

fresh ingredients in pan

Cook for a few minutes until everything softens.

chilli sauce ingredients softened

Once softened add the tomatoes, add a little salt to taste. Keep cooking and add water when sauce becomes dry, the ingredients will start to break down into a mushy sauce consistency. The sauce can be ready in 15mins but stew up to 1 hour, remember to add water throughout cooking, for a better sauce (in my opinion).

chilli sauce ready

And there you go! I ate some there and then and let the rest cool to store in the fridge. It should last a good few days and would also do fine frozen.

So now I can have my healthy lunch salad kebab with homemade flatbreads, homemade hummus and heaps of chilli sauce. Yum!

Let me know if you try this recipe or have something similar.

How you can save money and help feed starving children

Anyone who has an ounce of frugal sense about them are fully aware that almost every purchase has the potential to be cheaper with the use of a coupon. When a company prices a product the discount factor is part of that pricing. If a customer buys without a discount then it’s a win for them, if not then they should still turn a profit. This opens up the space for coupons which actually create buzz around a product because it opens up a perceived saving and ultimately can lead to more sales of a product.

So, when you save $1 on something the companies offering the coupon may also be able to offer a few cents to the person who supplied the info about the coupon to the customer.

That’s a fair system really and it’s how many couponing sites earn their money, a win-win situation. Of course when I was contacted by Save1.com  to review their coupon site I understood how providing a huge list of coupons for people like you and me could potentially earn money for them.

save 1 website

You might be wondering why I explained this whole process but there is a reason. Save1 seem to have a different idea to the rest of the coupon sites out there. They provide free coupons to us, they earn a commission and instead of that solely lining their bank account they are putting some of that money to good use and helping to feed children who need the cash.

Through feeding partners including Action Against Hunger they donate a percentage of their profit to this needy cause. So, you save some cash and help provide a meal for a hungry child, win for everyone!

As far as coupon sites go Save1 is pretty robust too. The design is slick, their concept is explained in plain english and you can easily search for the coupons that you may need.

They have their top coupons easily reachable and you can opt to receive their weekly featured coupons via email. However probably the most innovative (but simple) feature they have is the ability to set up a store alert.  Simply go to your favorite stores on Save1 and sign up for their store alerts in the left column.   As soon as one of your favorite stores offer a coupon or special deal, you will be immediately notified of the offer via email.  This way you never miss a deal. See Overstock.com’s coupon page as an example

I’ll be honest I don’t use a lot of coupons myself because I hardly make any purchases! However when I do I always search online first for a discount and would much rather feed a kid in the process so love the idea of a company sending a small part of their commissions to a good cause.

I’m really liking the site, looking forward to seeing them grow and in conjunction with other couponing sites I am sure you’ll find some awesome offers.

Back home and trying to be frugal!

I’m back in London for a while. My home city.

After being in New Zealand for a year London suddenly feels very cheap, not something I would have ever thought I would feel. I’ll probably only be here for a month so there is a feeling of pressure to get a lot of things done. Friends to see, favorite spots to visit and new things to experience.

My life as a frugal minimalist really took hold after my London years. When I lived back here I had an apartment full of stuff and a life full of spending. Returning home often brings temptations for the old me to rear it’s ugly head.

London can be affordable and is a city with a lot of cheap and free things going on and frugality is essential on this visit as I try to save cash for a move to a new country, right now it’s looking like that country may be Hungary.

AS it feels cheap here the temptation is to spend. The fact that I can eat out easily for below $10 NZD is a novelty right now. The fact that a beer is available for $6 NZD is a temptation too. However if I succomb to this i’ll quickly rack up huge spending so need to ground myself in reality that frugality needs to continue.

So how am I fighting it?

  • Of course I need to see friends but have made them aware that I am on budget.
  • Eating out is being reserved for social events, as is drinking (not that I make a habit of lone drinking). I’m also planning on not having any big drinking nights if it can be helped.
  • I’ve been shopping at the local market for lots of fruit and veg and the supermarket for packaged items and cooking at the places we are staying is going to be done whenever it is possible. I like cooking and eating packed lunches so it should be easy enough.

So, I would love your input and help in getting me through it all!

Living for nothing: Ideas from traveling that could be used at home

I’ve been traveling now for some time and in order to keep myself on the road I employ a fair few techniques to spend less. I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon but I have started to realise that there are no reasons why some of my budget travel ideas can’t just be used to slash budgets in everyday living.

Don’t pay any rent or mortgage costs

Rent is one of the biggest balance killers and if you are in a low wage job or jobless there is pretty much no hope to meet those costs. I’ve been traveling in a way that I spend large amounts of time paying no rent at all.

There are many schemes for volunteering in exchange for board and sometimes food. The most basic is something like working in a hostel for 2-3 hours a day in exchange for food. I wrote about my experience with this on my new travel site EverydayNomad. This kind of work may fit if you work an afternoon or evening job. If you don’t have a job at all then you could do Wwoofing until you found a job. This entails working for 4-5 hours a day for food and accommodation. Find them locally and you can literally live for free whilst job hunting. Helpx.net is another option for finding very similar opportunities.

So these options are not that flexible but there is another that could potentially work alongside your job and that is housesitting. You may be required to look after pets and tend to gardens but you may find a few months of free accommodation  Getting into it can be tricky but reading a guide like the one, Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting, from Globetrotter Girls is a great start or just going for it yourself.

Spend way less on food

OK, so if you try something like wwoofing you can save on food but you may not have the time for that. I can give you all the tips about bulk buying and things and you should do all this but a very important thing is to get good at making a few very nutritious basic healthy meals. Hummus is an example, it’s super cheap and quick to make. I find these simple easy meals like pasta and bean sauce on rice can be whipped up for cheap in almost any kitchen no matter how understocked.

Go vegetarian, replacing meat with beans is a great saver. Things like brown over white rice is initially more expensive but I think it fills you up quicker so also stick to whole foods and you’ll eat less.

They say don’t drink your calories, well don’t drink your dollars either! Just suck it up and drink water. Squeeze some lemon into it if you want a little taste.

Get free entertainment

I love doing things but I try not to pay for it. At home it’s easy to not follow what’s going on in your area bt seriously start digging and you’ll possibly find an abundance of free festivals, events, movie screenings and more. Just plan your social calendar around these and take food and drinks with you and your costs will keep on staying low.

So they are simple but solid tips. Do you have anything to add or questions to ask?