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.
Because 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.