In my previous post on savings rate, I established that I needed a 70% savings rate if I had any hope of retiring at 55 ie I needed to save 70% of my take home pay. Currently my savings rate average around 55% so I have my work cut out for me! At this rate, it will take me 14 years to retire which means traditional retirement instead of achieving FIRE 😞
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So ... how do I improve my savings rate?
There are only two ways to improve my savings rate – decrease my spending and/or increase my income. Increasing my income would involve asking for a pay rise or working more hours or getting a second job or as they call it in FIRE circles, a side hustle or two. I already work long hours and my current job is stressful so working extra hours here is just not palatable. Note to self – check out side hustles.
Hmmm …. if increasing my income is not readily achievable then that leaves decreasing my spending …
I am not a frugal person by any stretch of the imagination. After all, you can’t take your money with you when you die so why deny yourself that little luxury or extra comfort in life if you can afford it? As long as you can afford it, why not? That has been my philosophy towards spending money since … forever. So I need all the help I can get for this project!
Mrs Frugalwoods' Uber Frugal Month Challenge
Fortunately, I came across Mrs Frugalwoods’
Uber Frugal Month Challenge and decided to participate on a whim.
I need to get this off my chest now … I LOVE Mrs Frugalwoods and her
family and her life. It is addictive reading about people far away who
have embraced frugality to the extreme (vs my way of living) and are so
genuinely happy about living with less. They achieved FIRE at 33 and
moved to a homestead in Vermont by living frugally. They are now living their dream lives … how inspirational is that? Read about it in their book – Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living
So I’m hoping that participating in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge would kickstart my own frugality attempts.
I decided that the lowest hanging fruit was my buying a cappuccino or
two on days I worked. My coffee expenditure averaged $65 per month over the preceding three months which to be honest, was lower than I expected. Over the previous year, I had begun to reduce my coffees to one a day instead of two or sometimes three. So the plan now was to cut out this expense totally.
I LOVE my coffee … instant coffee was never going to be my
solution. I discovered my favourite coffee roaster, Padre could deliver
freshly ground coffee in 500g bags as a monthly subscription with free
delivery. Problem solved!
My next worry was if I could get up earlier each morning to brew the coffee in my moka pot.
I was pleasantly surprised that I could, indeed! I was also delighted
that this caffeine hit was strong enough to satisfy me and stop me
craving coffee later in the day.
During the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, I bought 3 takeaway coffees
(when I was out with friends), Padre coffee cost $29 – taking my total
coffee expense to $39.25 – so ok, the savings are not massive but hey, I am happy with every dollar saved as that means I have more to invest.
And savings however small, add up over time.
Unexpected additional benefit
But wait, there’s more … my routine had been to rush in the morning and get to my local cafe, cursing about the lack of car parking. Or get to work only to rush out to buy my cappuccino.
I never realised that this was a rather stressful way to start my day. By getting up half an hour earlier, I had time to brew my coffee and perform little chores eg load the dishwasher while waiting for the coffee to brew. It was a much calmer me that arrived to work each day, ready to tackle the stresses of the job.
It is this unexpected benefit that will sustain my making coffee at home in the morning. And fingers crossed, so far so good!