It is hard to find new ways to save money when you already have a tight budget

There comes a point, on your money saving journey, where you may feel like you can’t regularly save more money, than you already are. That there are no more expenses that you can actually cut, at least without being deprived. You could stop eating, but that’s not really an option or the goal.

2 dollars bills and coins

I’ve kind of reached this point and don’t know how to cut expenses any further. Well, to be precise, I don’t know how to cut expenses further, without degrading my lifestyle, which I call simple living but to most it is fairly frugal.

So I turned once more to the internet to find new ideas…

The saving tips I’ve already implemented

Most of the common tips you can find online, I’ve pretty much already implemented. As you see below, there are areas that were just not applicable to me, even before I started on this journey.

Interest rates on credit cards – don’t have any! Free checking accounts too. Cable/TV suscription? No, thanks. Gym? No, no, I prefer to do yoga at home. Hairdresser? I have long hair which I have been trimming myself for over 10 years. I did buy a nice pair of scissors for 30 euros or so, years ago, and that was a great investment! Nail salon? Was never my thing, my nails are healthy and pretty enough, thank you! Movie night? Well, movie theater are just too loud for my sensitive ears. Magazine subscription? There is plenty to read online. Meatless? Ah ah! I’ve been mostly vegan for years. Travel off season – Been doing this as well and lately, well you know…

Cell phone plan cut by 25% last year, so check. Although my 7 years old iPhone is showing signs of age so this might go back up slightly anytime. Computer? 7 years old as well and by just changing the battery and getting it cleaned up inside with seals redone, its life has been significantly extended!

Clothes? Everything changed after my year long no-buy challenge! Things changed in so many ways and in so many areas of my life. It’s kind of mind blowing how liberating it is.

Coffee? Well, I already talked about this and a few other things!!

The list goes on, so I did feel a bit stuck when trying to reduce my spending further.

2 dollars bills and coins

The saving tips I’m currently working on

So I continued analyzing my expenses, categorizing them and I came up with 2 areas where I could do better, maybe 3, we will see.

Well, I’m just starting to work on those so I haven’t accomplished much so far!

Tax savings

Recently, I’ve come to realize that I’m not doing good with my tax deductible. Being independent, I get to deduct from my income, a few extra things that are not commonly deductible but I still don’t do it, or not well enough. I have to study this and do better this year.

In addition, I have to do better in terms of commonly deductible things, things as simple as pension scheme.

Will see how that goes!

Food but without any compromise

As mentioned above and before, I’m mostly vegan. Meaning precisely, I’m vegan at home and vegetarian if necessary when traveling. So yeah, meatless / fishless days are everyday! Big savings here.

And I cook everyday. Even before the pandemic, I had cut out restaurants and take out significantly. No, it’s not boring, I’m a very creative French cook!

OK, but and this is a big but, I eat 99% organic food and this tends to be pricey.

I have no intention of changing this but I do want to reduce my food bills a bit. This, I hope can be achieved in 3 ways:

  • Buying vegetables from producers directly
  • Buying more local if bought in supermarket
  • Growing my own vegetables

Vegetables bought locally directly from the producers can be difficult, require organisation and, where I live, isn’t delivered to your door. It might take a while before I manage this and find the appropriate source.

Meanwhile, since I go see my dad very often, I took over a small patch of his garden and started an experiment with special seeds I bought from le Potager de Santé, a French seed shop, where seeds have been selected for the past 20 years, to be ultra resistant to drought and diseases.

I’ve never had much luck with gardening but if there is nothing to do but plant and watch them grow, then maybe I can manage!! Will see.

My dad always wants to give me some of his vegetables and I’ve come to realize that whenever I bring back some, it makes quite an impact on my spendings and my trash can slims down significantly too. Double win.

In addition, I think I’m going to start replacing my non-productive indoor plants, by plants I can eat! Not sure how this will go either. 😉

Clothes, going a step further?

The thing is after a year of no buy challenge, some of the most used items in my wardrobe are in pretty dire condition. Some I’ve already repaired a couple times, some I wear like this because when working from home, it doesn’t really matter. So I thought that this year, I would buy things when needed. Not going shopping mindlessly but if I needed to, I would. My definition of “need” had really been transformed by my year long challenge so it was not going to be a huge deal for my budget.

The pandemic came, we all ended up in quarantine… Meanwhile, I realized there was a trend out there for visible mending! A sort of anti conformist & eco friendly statement, where visible mending becomes an art, thanks to the Japanese sashiko technique.

Well, I guess I’m going to have to participate to such trend! 😉

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And that’s it for now, tax savings and better organic food supply, are the only 2 areas I feel I can still really work on, to save money. Mending, patching and embroidering my clothes is just a little tiny bonus.

pennies

A simple reminder: cut the biggest expenses first!

When trying to save money, you should focus on cutting out the biggest expenses, first. And then work your way through saving on less significant areas of your spendings. Cutting on the biggest expenses will have the biggest impact.

Obviously, if something is easy to handle, like changing your cell phone plan, don’t hesitate to do it right away.

Now, to cut out expenses, you need to know and understand how you spend your money. I simply use Excel, but there are apps to do so. I found Excel to be easier for me since I already have it, so no extra expenses here. Over time, on Excel, I was able to adjust my spreadsheet to have a very clear picture of my financial situation, and refine the categories to match my lifestyle.

This really helped me live on a pretty tight budget… well apart from my motorcycle renovation project! But you probably have heard about it already!

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What are you currently saving on? I’d like to know, so I can maybe try that too!

It is hard to find new ways to save money when you have a tight budget