Not having kids definitely gives you more margin to spend your money in experiences that parents most of the time must put on hold while raising their children. In your case might be traveling, extreme sports, pimping your apartment, getting the latest fashion available, spoiling your pet, paying your mortgage faster or financing your own company when it is still a startup.
The possibilities are endless. But it is also true that for many, not having kids is also a very present option because even if they wanted them, they cannot afford them. It can be that your country doesn’t support parents and child care enough, that you live in a very expensive city, that you are not well paid in your job or your contract doesn’t really give you a sense of safety.
Whichever situation you are in and your reasons to have or not to have children and save up for your dreams, we offer you here a couple of tips that can absolutely make a huge difference in your monthly and year balance. None of this advice is about getting rich fast, or making huge changes in your life. In fact, it is all about rethinking your daily routine and trying new things you might have never thought about.
We’re aware these might be unpopular choices, quite against everything society expects you to do and what advertisement lures you to buy. But hey, we are here to question everything we are supposed to do, say and buy. Rethink kids and also rethink all the rest of the must-dos we are bombed with. Yes, we are a bit of communists, anarchist, anti-sytem and well, taboo-breakers. I mean, what’s crazier these days that saying out loud: “I’m not going to have a baby”?
So here we go with a bit of controversial list. We’ll start soft, we promise:
Think EVERY purchase twice. Most people tend to think that only purchases over 50€ will make a difference at the end of the month and that is not true. We tend to buy stuff under 10€ on Amazon on auto-pilot and subscribe to services for 1€-5€ as if it means nothing. Well, that drains your account without you noticing: your 10 gadgets for 10€ cost you 100€ a month, and those subscriptions add up to a lot every year. So always think twice before you spend – just give you one day to double check if you REALLY need it. Most times, if you don’t buy it in the moment, you forget about it later on. Otherwise, why would the world spend so much money in making you buy NOW?
Use real-time banking and free bank accounts. In Germany we are lucky with DKB, N26 and similar. DKB offers free accounts and N26 the possibility to get push notifications in real time, so you know what’s going on constantly. They also give you credit cards without cost that allow withdrawals from any ATM worldwide with no fees or minimal fees.
Check what’s possible in your country and take control of your finances today, not tomorrow. A good way to profit from free bank accounts is to open several to get your hands away from all of your money. It adds up one extra step any time you want to access your savings, which might not deter you but it takes a bit more time and as we’ve seen it is everything. If you need 10 more minutes to access that other account or you have to wait one day for the money to be transferred from one account to the other, maybe you come to your senses and see that you really don’t need to make that big expense.
As soon as you receive your salary, leave in your day to day account only your monthly allowance to pay rent, food, transportation, insurances – your fix costs. Add a bit more for going out, but not too much more. Be strict with yourself! Touch the saving account only for booking your holidays and other investments that you consider yearly.
Don’t smoke. Easier said than done, we know. But apart from messing up with your lungs, smoking kills your skin glow, creates wrinkles in your lips, taints your teeth and makes your sex life suck in the long run. And if that wouldn’t be enough, it is way too expensive. Take a minute to do the math and calculate how much do you spend monthly on cigarettes. Now multiply by 12 and tell me if that in a year doesn’t make for a nice amount you could be putting into your dreams.
Stop drinking alcohol. This one is probably the hardest for all of us: switching from beer, wine or spirits to soft drinks is boring and very much frowned upon in social circles. And that’s probably the hardest: to cope with the social pressure and the temptations. But you need to see it as an investment in your health and finances. You will look better, feel better and you will save money. How much? Let’s say you spend 30€ a week in alcohol: that’s 1.440€ a year. Are you spending more or less than that weekly? Probably more and we all know it… Try switching to ginger ale, tonic water or coke to fake a long drink for a couple of nights out and you’ll be surprised how little you spend.
Make your own coffee, or switch to tea. This is probably the biggest expense and you are not even aware of it. Every time you pick up your coffee in a coffee shop, you spend a little fortune, because 2€-4€ daily on weekdays are 480€-960€ yearly. Coffee that you make at home is still pricey, but you avoid ordering the extra cookie and the tip to your waiter. Another option is to switch to green tea or 100% pure cacao, which are healthier and, unless you go for the most expensive one in the shop, will cost you less.
Eat lunch at work. This is key. It’s a very big expense and it needs quite some effort from your side. Not only you need to buy groceries and cook, you also need to opt to not to join your colleagues daily in their outings for lunch. But think about it: let’s say you are spending between 5€ to 10€ in your lunch daily. That means you are spending between 1.200€ and 2.400€ yearly. And that’s a lot of money! You can reduce it to half if you prepare your meals and on top, you will be probably eating much better.
You could cook some quinoa or brown rice on Sunday night, store it in your office fridge and use it as a basis for salads and soups for the week. If you have a fridge in the office, bring your groceries and fix something quick. Get your company to sponsor a blender if you are in a nice office, so you can prepare smoothies. What helps as well is to find colleagues who also like to save money, cook together or bring food from home alternatively. These efforts will definitely pay off at the end of the month.
Meet friends at home. If you enjoy being a host and like to hang out with people at your home, this one offers quite some saving perks. Even if you cook for 4 and pay for all the food, you are probably still on a better budget than if you go out for dinner and drinks with friends and only pay your part. And the best part of it is that the quality of the experience, connection and bonding is usually much higher. Just consider it next time and do like in Spain – the cook doesn’t do dishes.
Netflix up. Life’s good if you have Netflix, and your pocket is happy too. This is one of the few subscriptions you should allow yourself, because it is an investment. You pay 5€ to 8€ monthly but: how many cinema nights or drinking nights you save? This can sound pretty antisocial – stay home instead of socialising, but Netflix is full of entertainment and learning that is pretty cost effective. Also, I heard interesting stuff happens when you watch Netflix.
Join the gym. This is one expense that actually convert in savings. The practical aspect is water – if you shower in the gym, you don’t shower as much or as long at home. But also the indirect savings come from the fact that if you are at the gym, you not spending any extra money (except if you get your drinks or smoothies at the gym). You are not shopping, or having dinner and drinks out with someone. You pay a fix monthly and if you go often enough, there are 12 evenings a month you are not spending extra. AND you are getting healthier. It’s a damn good deal! If the gyms are too expensive in your city, consider running on your own or using apps for exercising at home – here a few.
Re-think birthday presents.This one is very tricky but worth mentioning Do you really need to receive so many birthday presents, which many times don’t match your needs or expectations and also put you in the position to return back so many birthday presents as well? Even if you spend little in them, which probably is not the case, you also spend a lot of time thinking about them and finding them. Consider to tell your friends that you are saving for this long trip and you won’t give presents this year, and your friends shouldn’t give you any. If they want, they can donate to your trip, or just get you a little something without expecting anything in return. If they are good friends, they will understand. And who knows, maybe you’ll save them some money too and you can start a bit of a less materialistic relationship.
Bike to work. This is a luxury for many, but if your commute allows, it’s a source of joy and savings. You exercise a bit first thing in the morning and even the expensive bikes (and locks, and insurance) are cheaper than a year of transportation in most cities. In Berlin the monthly ticket is around 700€ a year and a comfortable city bike costs around 350€ with lock and insurance included. See? Savings!
Drop the brands. We said it at start, we are revolutionary communist around here 😅. Basically, in everything you buy, just drop the brands. In the supermarket, in clothes shopping, in travel. Not watching TV and Youtube helps. Of course, you should check for quality, but be aware that in many cases if you buy a brand, you are not paying for the product itself, but mostly for the marketing budget. White label supermarket products are really just the same, just without advertisement budgets added into the final price. If you ever fall in love with a branded article, think a day or two before going after it, or just wait for sales and use it the year after if it is a seasonal product.
Sell what you don’t really use. Whenever you move to a new place, you realise how much you tend to store and many things were barely used. Some might still have the price tag. And now there’s plenty of services online and apps that allow you to sell them fast and conveniently. You can also give them away to friends, and remember about it when you tell yourself you need something right now. No, you don’t. Chances are you will transfer it to friends again when the time comes…
Rent out when you travel. In many articles about how to save for your travels, this tip comes pretty early on the list But lately this solution became a dangerous one. You might end up with a fine or paying for damages caused by a bad tenant. Not to mention that you might be contributing to the gentrification of your city, which one day will catch up with you. But going on holiday and paying for rent AND accommodation makes holidays really expensive. Just think about it – and be careful. Renting out to friends of friends and home exchanges might be not as easy to organise, but can definitely be something for you.
Ask for a raise, or switch jobs. If you are good at what you do and you are delivering, just do it. This one goes especially for the ladies, because we tend to doubt about our performance and avoid the awkward conversation. Prepare yourself and go for it – if you get a yes, excellent, more money to save! If you get a no, you have a more realistic sense of how you are seen and valued. Which should motivate you to improve or to find a better place for you. Never wait more than 6 months to find out – we’ve done that mistake over and over and really, don’t do this to yourself.
Share a flat. For many, living alone is THE DREAM. And in these times when you have to share your home as a student and well after you started working, it is normal that the end goal is having a place for yourself. But not having anyone to share expenses with mounts up into your monthly budget, so you should think about it twice before you take the step. Also, we live in very individualistic times, so having company has also its emotional perks. Just don’t rule it out.
And of course, as mentioned before: don’t have children. If you go for it, there you have at least 300€ more of expenses monthly. And I say at least, because your friends with children can tell you that, depending where you live, a child costs MUCH MORE. Take that money and pour it in your other dreams. Need ideas? Check out our Experiences.
Following this list, you can save between 2.000€ to 4.000€ extra each year, depending on how many of these you can complete. We’re not saying saving money is easy, we’re just saying it can be done if you rethink some aspects in your life and you are willing to trade.
If you have other tips under your sleeve that helped you out when saving, feel free to contribute in the comments! We’re sure there are many possibilities out there and we’d love to know them all.