How to be the Greatest Money Saver in the Galaxy
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most incredible money saver in the world. I’m not going to only eat food out of a can, ride my bike when it’s snowing, or reuse tissues because, “They’ve got a whole other side to use!” In fact, I don’t think that I’d be very happy with my life if I was the kind of person who saved every single penny that I possibly could.
But that being said, I know that there are lots and lots of personal finance bloggers out there that swear by this way of life. They sock money away for about 10 years, and at the end of it come out of the journey with no debt, and enough income to support the lifestyle they want.
I just don’t know that I could do that. I know that in order to get to achieve most goals, sacrifices have to be made. But I think I’d be happier spending two weeks in Europe while I’m still in my twenties than waiting until I’m 40 to do it.
So today’s article is more of a hypothetical on my end than anything else. We’ll be diving into, “If I had to become the best money saver in the world, how would I do it?”
Step 1 – Kick your living expenses in the face
Rent/Mortgages are probably going to be your number one most expensive item on your budget, and as such, the greatest money saver in the galaxy is going to do everything in his/her power to obliterate them. That being said, in this wonderful world of technology and the interweb, there are some people that have done some AMAZING things to change up their living situation.
- Move yo’ ass – Fuck NY, SF, LA; the Rio Grande Valley is where it’s REALLY POPPIN’… alright, so maybe that’s not quite the case. But living 4 miles from the Mexican border (which has the cheapest cost of living in the United States) allowed my girlfriend and I to live like royalty for almost no money. And on a teachers budget, no less. So yeah, maybe you got the finance job in NY, the software engineering gig in SF, or maybe you think you can beat the RIDICULOUS ODDS of becoming an actor in LA. But if you’re down with living somewhere that has an overall lower cost of living, then do it. Trust me.
- Find roommates – An oldie, but a goodie, finding roommates is arguably the simplest method that exists for lowering your housing costs. That being said, it does come with some downsides; they eat your food, have weird friends, and might make some obnoxious noises after swiping right on tinder 5 hours earlier. Is it worth the $300 to $1000 a month that they’ll save you? That’s for your to decide.
- Rock a Tiny Home – This is something I’ve seen more and more prevalent, but seeing as us millennials are all about not putting down roots and punching traditional values in the throat, a Tiny Home might actually make sense for your situation. You get to travel around the country, you don’t have any wasted space (making clean up a breeze) and at somewhere between $30,000 and $80,000, you’re going to do much better than a house/mortgage payment. Again though, there are downsides; God forbid there ever comes a day that you DO want to settle, and you’ve dropped tens of thousands into a tiny home. And I’d imagine that you’re going to pay out the ASS for gas (seeing as you need a car big enough to tow it AND actually tow it). But it does allow you some crazy mobility.
- Get weird – The best money saver in the galaxy are going to think outside the box to really reduce their living expenses. Think about this couple, that spent 12 weeks repurposing an old school bus and now just nomad the shit out of North America. Or what about Steve over at thinksaveretire.com, who (at the ripe old age of 35) bought an Airstream and takes the most jealousy-inducing photo’s of any financial blogger on the internet? I actually think Steve’s got the right idea here, as he uses solar panels to get all the electricity he needs to run his blog. What a boss. Now there are obviously ups and downs to this method as well, but if you’re looking to drop your living expenses to “as close to 0 as possible”, these would be the methods I’d follow.
There you have it, a list that runs the gammut of all the normal to unconventional things you can to do redo your housing. I’m not sure if I could throw away the idea of living in a house quite yet, but it’s awfully nice to think about.
Step #2 – Stop eating… (expensive food)
If you’re cursed with an Italian background, then you know that food can absolutely be your downfall when it comes to saving money. After all, if you’re going to buy steak, why buy the shitty kind? But I’ve noticed that those financial bloggers who are great money savers all have some stuff in common.
- They don’t go out to eat – EVER. PERIOD. FIN. DONE. And to some degree, this makes a lot of sense to me. Once you’ve dated a picky eater, this becomes even more of a “common-sense” move: why go out when you can just cook something your S.O. likes? Here’s how I think about it; my dad made sure that I knew my way around the kitchen. You can pretty much always cook for less than you’re going to pay while eating at a restaurant. So why not just learn to make the shit you love, and just eat it at home? Yes, there’s a convenience factor, but if you’re so busy that the amount of time saved actually matters, then you probably don’t need to be on a personal finance website anyway. Not that I’m not glad you’re here, I am.
- Vegetaria-ish – This is something I’ve tried out myself, and frankly has been the reason I’ve been able to keep my budget in the black. Bear in mind, this is coming from a guy who LOVES MEAT!!! But there have been a number of vegetarian meals that I’ve made in the last couple months that are still high in protein, “pretend” to be meat, and all come from stuff that’s WAY cheaper than actually buying meat. If you’re looking for some tips, check out these vegetarian meals that are saving my budget.
- Fight the organic – Ok, so I KNOW I’m going to get a bunch of flack for this, but hear me out. Until I see research produced by a reputable source that PROVES (not demonstrates, or associates, but PROVES) that “Organic” food is better for you than “regular” food, I’m not going to spend $3 for a fucking pepper. I say this because one of my best friends studied nutrition at Cornell, has her Masters in Dietetics from Baylor, and is one of the smartest people I know. And until she tells me that organic food is worth it, I’m not buying. Nor do I think you should, either.
Step #3 – Cars? Where we’re going, we don’t need cars.
As evidenced above, if you’re hacking your housing, you’re probably already living in something that has wheels. At that point, I’m not sure there’s a ton more you could do. But if you’ve followed this blog at all over the last year, I’m sure you’ve realized that I have a burning hatred for the car industry as a whole.
It’s an incredibly inefficient market, you never know if the deal your getting is good, you never know if/how hard you’re getting fucked over, and cars are an asset class that depreciate faster than my interest in learning about the different kinds of pinecones.
And so I completely understand all the frugal Phils and Francines out there who try to lower their car liability, through buying used, buying something that lasts forever, or from throwing out the idea of using a car at all. Believe me, if I could bike to work and not be a sweaty mess by the time I got there, that’s exactly what I would do.
After all, there are lot’s of other costs that occur when dealing with cars. Insurance, gas, maintenance, and regisration costs are all fees that pop up that you don’t necessarily consider when first purchasing a car. And when they pop up, they fucking suck to have to deal with. Which is why as soon as they come up with a bike that I can power and can go 50 mph, I’ll be signing up for it.
Step #4 – Trim the fat, fatty
There, I said it. Yes, sadly, there are a number of things that we’re sold on a almost hourly basis that frankly, we don’t need. But if you’re going to be the best money saver in the galaxy, here’s what you need to start cutting out.
- The Bar – If you must drink, and there’s really no health reason saying that you should, then go to the store and be like the rest of us sad saps and drink at home. There’s no good reason for you to drop 6 bucks on a beer you could buy for 2 at the store. Invite your friends over, and let them stay on your couch. It’s safer and cheaper. Boom. You’re welcome. Also, I’m thinking of changing the name of the site to “thecodetoresponsibledrinking”.
- Spotify – Believe me, you’re not so important that you have the luxury of paying $10 a month to not have to deal with the ads. Just deal with the commercials. ‘Nuff said.
- Gym Membership – This is an oldie, but if you’re not using the fucking gym, then stop paying for the fucking gym. The greatest money saver knows a solid run 3-5 times a week will do whatever is necessary to get you back into shape. And no, you don’t need the gym because this summer you’re going to finally do that diet and make ourself look like Chris Hemsworth. Shut up. No you won’t.
- Entertainment – Pretty much all the frugal bad-asses out there are sure to use a form of entertainment that’s free. Instead of going out to a movie, they’ll watch one at home. Instead of going out to a concert, they’ll just stream it at home. Instead of going to the circus, they’ll practice doing little flippies at home… alright, maybe I’m a little off track with that one. But let’s call it out for what it is; frugal peeps don’t spend money on entertainment.
How to be the greatest money saver in the Galaxy – The Wrap Up
Chances are, unless you’re a crazy mofo, you’re not going to employ all of these methods. Hell, even I just came back from Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (yes, I loved it). But the thing you’ve got to keep in mind is that while every little bit really doesn’t do all that much, if you’re to do a couple of the things in this list, you’re sure to start making a dent in whatever is in desperate need of denting (I’m looking at you, looming student loan debt).
Just to reiterate, here’s what the best money saver in the galaxy is doing:
- He/she has minimized their living expenses to as close to absolute 0 as possible. Meaning they’re living with other people, living in smaller places, or being nomad as fuck.
- He/she doesn’t eat anything fun. Ever.
- He/she does what they need to to get their transportation costs down. Why? Because car salesmen suck, that’s why.
- He/she trims the fat around their budget, meaning they pretty much limit whatever isn’t actually 100% necessary to live.
What you need to keep in mind is, while this is SUPER restrictive, these are the people that are socking away half of their pay to invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, businesses, you name it. And these are also the people that are retiring about 30 years earlier than the rest of the country. So yes, the dream is out there for you to achieve.
You just won’t see the inside of a restaurant for a decade. 🙂
What say you? Do you think that there are other things that people are doing to be hyper frugal. Have I missed out on something obvious. Would you ever go this extreme, or is it just not for you? I want to know; comment below!
Keep trying to crack the code,
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