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May 16, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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Living on a Budget. It’s Tough.

Despite my best efforts at being sensible with money, I do a damn good job at buying everything from X to Y and sometimes even Z. All of you casual spenders out there—I feel your agony, so I’m going to share a few tips that are easy enough for anyone to get in the habit of doing. Why not give these a go?

• Each week, withdraw in cash the amount of money you’ll need. Stick to this budget. It’s way too easy to swipe the EFTPOS card and forget what you’re wasting your money on. By having cash in your wallet each week, you can see what you have to limit yourself to.

• Alcohol. Keep it cheap, whether it be DouBros, Cindy’s or Brenner. It’s there; it’s cheap. For those of you who consider yourself a little above dirt-cheap drinks, try brewing your own beer at home [Eds’ note: check out salient.org.nz/columns/brewing-beer-at-home for a brew that will cost you about $2.40 per litre!]. Don’t like beer? Make cider! And there is such a thing as an $8 sav.
Avoid drinks in town or at restaurants. These places make a killing off alcohol. Alternatively, just take enough cash for one drink. It’s always a good idea at the time to blow your taxi money on a round of shouts—until you realise you’ve got a 40-minute walk home in the dark.

• Trying to eat off 80 cents? Two words: Mi Goreng. You can also live pretty cheaply off eggs, bread, pasta and rice.

• Kick the bottled water habit—it’s a waste of money. The water we have in New Zealand is perfectly fine to drink. Instead of buying a new Mizone every day (guilty), take a bottle that you can fill up at uni. And as for those of you who “must have three coffees a day to survive”, you’re only addicted to caffeine because you feed your addiction. There is a brighter path!

• Avoid shopping trips: they’re one of the toughest bridges to cross. And if you can’t avoid them, listen to the sensible voice inside your head (probably that of your mother): “Do you need this, or do you just want it?” Enough said.

• Avoid taking your car places, and you’ll save on petrol and parking fees. And if your destination is within walking distance, avoid public transport and save your pennies. Walk, run, skate, rollerblade and get some fresh air instead! The hills of Wellington are nasty to think of, but you always feel great after conquering them.

• Save your change! Don’t tip, don’t use vending machines, don’t gamble. Don’t spend your coins just because they’re there—instead, put them in a jar. I’ve saved $300 this way!

• Avoid overseas websites for buying clothing. Shipping is a bitch (Topshop ships to New Zealand at a flat rate of $18.80), and the clothes are often way overpriced. Browsing online for clothes when bored is a bad habit to get into. Yes, there’s a slight pressure to keep up with the fashionable set of Wellington, but don’t impulse buy online, even on Trade Me. You don’t even know if those $150 pants will fit properly!

• Don’t buy snacks. You might lose weight, but you won’t lose money!

• As my Mum always told me, “Make the most of free stuff”, be it the sample food given at supermarkets or all the free stuff that VUWSA has on offer. Check out their website—they’ve got free bread, club memberships, free bus passes, food banks and flu shots. Make the most of it!

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