Let’s face the facts. No matter how much money you have it doesn’t make sense to spend money you don’t need to. Heck, even Warren Buffet negotiates the price down when he purchases a new vehicle. This brings me to one of my current focuses. Saving money. I am currently in the process of reevaluating my spending habits. I think Pablo Picasso said it best…
“I’d like to live like a poor man with lots of money.”
~ Pablo Picasso
So what has sixty days of living out of an Airstream Basecamp travel trailer taught me about saving money? Lots! I have learned by living on the road and with less square footage ( 96 sqft ) that we don’t need nearly as much stuff as we have. Although minimalism is cool, it doesn’t necessarily help one save money. That is why I am going to jump right into my top 7 things that are helping me save money in 2020.
1. Cutting My Own Hair
Let me say that I love my barber. He has been a friend of mine for almost as long as I have needed haircuts. His service is highly valuable but since I am living on the road I am able to save close to $100 per month by cutting my hair myself. Technically my girlfriend cuts my hair but luckily she doesn’t charge me. Is it possible for you to cut or color your hair yourself? Do the math on what your savings would be annually if you cut your own hair, and then leave it in the comments. I bet for some of you the savings would be tremendous. If you are a model ( which I am ) this may be hard to do but if I can do it then I know you can. With the annual savings you could possibly make two extra car payments or invest your money into the market for great returns.
2. No More Retail Stores
I enjoy gear, products, and the latest greatest items that stores have to offer. So in order to keep myself from falling into the “retail” trap, I have committed to NOT go into a retail store for the remainder of 2020. Let me say that this is not easy. It is like deciding to lose 20lbs of body weight it will take serious discipline to be successful. Preventing myself from even being in the position to buy stuff that I most likely don’t need has greatly reduced my unnecessary spending. Could making the commitment to avoid retail stores for the remainder of 2020 be good for you financially? For me the answer is a resounding YES! I also recommend getting your spouse, partner, gf or bf on board so they don’t drag you into what I like to call a spending hole.
3. Frugal Living Space
I am currently sitting on a cooler using the back of my truck bed as my mobile desk. My ninety six square foot aluminum home is parked behind me. The daily rate for my little spot in the woods is $12. Soon I will be in spots that are free. Thankfully, the USA is comprised of many wild lands that we Americans are able to use free of charge. Now if you know anything about life, nothing is truly free. The money for these lands comes from US tax dollars that are derived from every hard working American. For that money we have the right to use many beautiful lands for free or near free of charge. So if you are equipped to travel, you will be able to live quite affordably on the road if you so choose. If however you are stationary then there are many ways to “house hack” so that you can reduce your living cost. One of my favorites is to simply sell or rent out your current home and then downsize into something smaller for a few years. You then can invest the rental or sale income into the market, starting a business, or into real estate. The point is that you find a way to reduce overall living cost. This crucial financial step is important to do BEFORE you actually need to. If you wait until tough times arrive or you need to do it, you most likely won’t be able to find what you need.
One last thought on frugal living. Remember that a home is NOT the best investment. You alone make the payment each month with the hope that it will not decrease in value over time. Hopefully for you the value does increase, but in the meantime if you can, convert your home to shared space with roommates or use a portion as an airbnb. Or just sell it and live full time in the woods!
4. Buy Clothing and Other Items Secondhand
Have you heard of Plato’s Closet? It is like a thrift store but they hand sort the clothes to allow only the best into their stores. During a recent stay in Salt Lake City, I managed to find t-shirts that I liked for just $4 each. Candi was able to purchase a pair of jean shorts, workout shorts, and a Victoria’s Secret sports bra for just $16. Are these items new or in perfect shape? Sometimes, but not usually. However, they provide 90% as good of a value as purchasing brand new. I have found that running out to retail for something new isn’t always the best plan. It just happens to be what most of us are in the habit of doing.
I think it also might be a mental hangup for myself and many others to go into a second hand store to purchase clothing. We feel as if this is somehow inferior or demoting ourselves. This is simply not true. In a recent interview with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates who are two of the world’s wealthiest people, they were on camera at a McDonald’s and Warren used coupons when he purchased the meal. If one of the richest people in the world can use coupons to save money when eating at McDonalds then I certainly feel confident saving money on clothing and other items by purchasing second hand.
Recently at a town in Idaho the owner of the local laundry mat put me onto an estate sale business. I was able to purchase two brand new books and a stainless steel mixing pot for a total of $2. Yes just $2 dollars for two new books and a perfectly good mixing bowl that I needed. I am sold. From now on I will look for second hand before purchasing new on most items. Now let’s all get to saving and investing. I will talk more on what to do with the savings later.
5. Cooking Instead of Going Out
Small things over time surely add up to be big things. That is my thoughts about saving money by eating at home a majority of the time. Please know that this is being written by someone who has tried almost every method of eating programs. You see, before heading out into the woods I put on forty pounds of body weight ( mostly muscle ) in six months. During this time I had to eat lots of calories while staying close to a budget. I cooked, went out to eat, and meal prepped. What I learned about food budgets is that it is mostly a money vs time evaluation when making the decision.
Meal Prep – Most Time & Most Frugal
Going Out – Medium Time & Not Frugal
Prep Service – No Time & Expensive
The best tip I learned was to purchased affordable food in bulk and then cook in bulk. When you go to a grocery store make sure it is a large discount store. Buy most things when they are on sale. Remember that food cost changes weekly so keep your eyes open. Carbohydrates are cheap ( think rice and grits ) but protein is expensive. Vegetables seem to fall in the middle.
Lastly there are coupons. I must admit unless it is right in front of me I do not search out coupons. Living on the road makes it not as easy to locate coupons for the local grocery. This is a great benefit to families who cook a lot. We all can save money on food, but remember we only get one body so be careful what you put in. “Cheap food” isn’t always good for us.
6. Drive Less – Ride the Bike
In the year 2020 we all have had the opportunity to drive less. I will say this definitely was not by choice but with anything that happens you can make it good or bad. We chose to make it a good thing. When we were home we purchased a set of awesome E Bikes from www.radpowerbikes.com This turned out to be an excellent decision as it got us out of the house and provided us an affordable way to commute. We would ride these bikes to the gym, our office, to dinner, and sometimes to visit family. Once we hit the road we used them to scoot around campsites, explore bike paths, and ride into town from camp. Having E Bikes has allowed us to save right at 200 miles of driving in just a couple of months. I estimate that the fuel savings will almost cover the cost of the bikes after one year. Plus being on a bike is fun. Health is a big factor in our lives and although we ride e bikes they still take some work to pedal so there is the cardiovascular benefit as well.
7. Limit Commitments
“You can do anything but you can’t do everything.
~ Walt Disney
- Do you want to go to dinner tomorrow night?
- Would you sponsor this sports team?
- Join this board?
- Donate to this or that?
Have you ever stopped to realize the financial cost of all of your commitments? They come so quietly into our lives. Each one on the surface appears to be such a good opportunity and harmless, but make no mistake, each time you say YES to one thing you are saying NO to another. There is an opportunity cost to every single thing you commit to. So how do I save money on commitments? By saying NO to almost every single thing that doesn’t align with my major life goals or purpose. At first I think I have to say yes to my friends, family, and every organization that calls on me to be a member. The thinking behind this is that we are doing good. The truth is we are using up our most valuable resource time closely followed by money. These little money vampires disguised as feel good things are hindering your bigger success.
By simply reevaluating what you are committed to you can quickly determine where your money is being spent. This pull back on clubs, organizations, and donations is not permanent but rather a short to mid term move to allow you to save more money. In turn hopefully you will be able to use the savings to pay off any debts, then eventually invest wisely. So what no necessary obligation will you be quitting first? Candi decided she no longer needed to pay for a local women’s civic group while traveling. They even offer a one year “hold” on membership for $100 but she decided not to spend the $100 rather saving the money. I hope you will leave a comment below if you decide to say NO to one or all non necessary commitments.
While this is just a simple list from my experience there are so many ways to cut cost while living in one place or on the road. If you have a tip that has really helped you please feel free to leave it in the comment section below. See you on the road!