Before reading this post, I need you to be in the right mindset. After all, you’re probably mad after just having read the title. Or you’re excited. If you’re excited, skip this paragraph. If you’re mad, hear me out… Think about life this way. When we are born, we require very little. We need shelter, clothing, food. We are content with so little. As we grow older… our needs don’t really expand much. Sure we need a bigger place to live. We are bigger. We still need clothing. And we definitely need more food than when we were a baby. But do we need much more? Not really. Yes, the idea of challenging all of your expenses can be very empowering. Leave nothing off limits. I don’t care what it is. I don’t care what it is, ask yourself if you really need it.
Do you really need a car? Could you get away with walking, riding a bicycle, using public transportation perhaps? At this point you may be mad – especially if you’re reading this as an American. Americans love their cars. But hear me out. Cars are fairly expensive. There’s an initial cost to acquire them. Then you have running costs. These include things like petrol, maintenance, repairs, insurance, a place to park the car, tolls, any modifications you’d like for the car, etc. This all can be very expensive. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to cut all this out completely?
You’ll know better than anyone if the public transportation near you is sufficient. Maybe it is. Hopefully it is. If it’s not, consider moving closer to a rail station, bus stop, etc. If you think cycling is crazy, challenge that notion.
When I began biking, I hadn’t been on a bike in nearly a decade. I also didn’t have much of a passion for biking (obviously). But I knew it would save me a lot of money. I also knew biking through my city would be nearly as fast as driving. With that in mind, I bought a bike and began pedaling.
You may be wondering about rain. After all, the UK gets quite a lot of rain. It’s not such a bother. You can get fenders to protect yourself from tires that splash up water. Also keep in mind you’re in a hunched position on the bike. This means your upper body will protect your lower body from water. So once you protect your upper body, you’re good to go. Unless it’s a complete downpour, biking in the rain isn’t a huge issue. Just get yourself a cheap poncho or a waterproof jacket and hood.
Are you out of shape and worried about sweating? Understandable. Biking is a good workout. If sweating is your reason for not biking, consider the purchase of an electric bike. Or convert your pedal bike into an electric bike. There are many kits available. Some of these bikes are crazy fast. I’ve ridden half a dozen electric bikes in my day. I’ve got to say, they are remarkable. So much fun! Is there anything better than saving money whilst having fun?!! They offer up an instant rush of torque. You can zip through your city like a warm knife through butter. It’s really a neat experience.
Another way to move yourself that’s far cheaper than a car is to buy an electric skateboard. These things basically run on laptop batteries. They come with a laptop charger. To control the board, you have a small remote in your hand. You’ll definitely feel cool riding one of these.
Do you buy organic simply because it feels good? Or have you actually seen evidence stating that it’s the healthy option? Because I haven’t. I have never seen a good explanation for why we should eat organic food. Think about it. If non-organic food was unhealthy, it wouldn’t be on our shelves would it? Thus, there’s not really a discernable difference between organic and inorganic. But when it comes to your money, there’s a HUGE difference in price. Challenge the idea of going organic. Make sure your purchases are intentional.
Taxes are certain, pretty much no matter where you live. But there’s a gradient. Are you living in a place with high taxes? Consider moving if you don’t feel the services you receive via the taxes merit the amount you pay. Like I stated earlier, it’s important to challenge everything.
Where I live, the real estate taxes are very high. And the local economy doesn’t really support that. I used to live in a really nice neighborhood. There was a house down the street that had to pay $12,000 per year in property tax alone! If you’re not getting $12,000 back in value, it’s time to question that tax.
Consider moving to a lower tax area. Also consider creating a small business wherein you can deduct taxes.
But remember, taxes aren’t always a bad thing. While saving money is great, it may be worth paying taxes. It would be shame if a talented young programmer stayed out of southern California simply because they have extremely high taxes. Some programmers at Google get paid $3 million. That’s worth paying high taxes, don’t you think? Make sure to look at the net number.
What Will You Challenge?
The above are many good ideas for getting your housing, food, transportation and taxes down. If you can win in these areas, you’ll do alright. In addition to these, what would you like to challenge?
Will Lipovsky is a personal finance freelance writer and internet marketer. His most embarrassing moment has been saying to a Microsoft executive, “I’ll just Google it.” You can get in touch with Will at FirstQuarterFinance.com.