When you start living on your own, your moments of thinking "I need that new iPhone" and "I need a nice pair of Louboutins" become a thing of the past
As soon as adulthood kicks in and you start living on your own, your train of thought becomes more like "I need a house of my own", or "I should get a new washing machine", or even "I need a car. I can't use public transport anymore."
You get a better sense of what is essential versus what is a luxury in life. The trouble with some of these essentials (like a house and a car lease in Melbourne ) is that, more often than not, they cost a lot more than what you can afford in a pay week. This is why it's imperative that you know how to save up for a big ticket item.
The trouble is, not everyone knows how to, and understandably so. Our time in high school and uni often taught us how to make money, but not necessarily how to manage money. It's rare for people to formally learn how to properly handle taxes, finances, savings, and retirement. These are the types of ‘adult activities’ that most of us just figure out along the way. In effect, most of us end up with zero or close to zero days before the next pay is deposited in the bank.
But it doesn't always have to be this way. Unless you're really set on it, you don't need to cut off the big things like weekly catch up with mates or cable television. There are actually little things at home you can do to help you save up more (and faster) for that big ticket item. Things like switching from Branded To Generic and cooking at home. Yes, cooking at home can help you save up more and faster for that big ticket item. Here's how:
Change the Mindset
Let's face it: most of us don't really like cooking every night. It's frustrating, complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. Add in the fact that you probably don't know your way around the kitchen the way your mum does, and you'll probably give up after the first or second try. These mindsets hinder you from actually enjoying cooking (and doing it the right way). You're going to need little bit of will and mind power to ensure success. Before you even start cooking, these three have to be your mantras:
1. Cooking helps you save money
2. Cooking is faster AND CHEAPER than takeaways
3. Cooking is easy and fun
Set Yourself Up For Success
Most people fail at doing this because of lack of planning. It usually stems from parents who were amazing cooks and could whip up mouthwatering dishes without thinking about it and in no time. Because of this, people set very high expectations right from the beginning, making big margins for disappointment. What most fail to understand is that it's a learning process and it does take some time before you get to the point where you can cook something spectacular at random with both eyes closed. That's an exaggeration, of course.
- 1. Start With Simple and Easy
Don't expect to make a foie gras or some other fancy dish you could barely pronounce at your first try. It's always good to start with something that takes less than 10 ingredients, and less than 30 minutes to make. This is because the more complex the dish, the more time it takes, and the more frustrated you'll be when it doesn't turn out like the video or photo you copied it from. More importantly, the more ingredients and time it takes, the more expensive it'll be. Start with something cheap, simple, and easy like pumpkin soup with crusty bread.
HOT TIP: Google 5 Ingredients – some amazing recipes have 5 ingredients or less!
- 2. Plan Ahead
One of the most stressful things is coming home tired and hungry, and not having enough strength in you to think of something to cook. Trust me, trying to just "wing it" will result in you reaching for the phone and calling for take away. A little bit of research does wonders. Pick 10 recipes with 10 ingredients and under (bonus points if a lot of them have some of the same ingredients), and plan your meals for the entire week. It doesn't have to just be your meals at home. You can make a big batch one evening and pack a healthy, cheap, and homemade lunch the next day. You don't even have to limit it to food. You can press your own coffee, place it in a sealable thermal coffee mug/jug. Imagine how much you'll be saving if you replace the daily $4 - $8 coffee with a homemade fresh batch?
HOT TIP: Alternatively – have a cooking session once a week and freeze home-made meals ready for those nights you really don’t want to cook! Most meals freeze well
- 3. Expect to "Feel" Your Savings Later On
I'm not going to lie, you'll be spending a bit more at first, most especially if you don't really do much cooking around your home. You'll need to invest on a few key quality equipment and ingredients, before "feeling" or seeing how much you've actually saved. The good news is that you don't really need a 14 piece knife set or a fancy electric pealing gadget. Here's a quick guide for the Basic Tools You for Your First Kitchen. Then you'll probably spend a bit for your long lasting pantry staples like grains, pasta, herbs, oils, and such. I know that at first it seems like it's going to be more expensive than just getting takeaway but don't cave in! Not yet. Give it a month, when you've gotten into the groove of shopping for food, and have found that cooking is actually enjoyable. When you've bought all of your kitchen basics, and have a steady supply of pantry essentials, you're going to start seeing that you're actually saving a lot on food.
Remember that you don't have to buy everything all in one go, that you are going to make a few mistakes along the way, and that it's going to take some getting used to -- more importantly, remember that all of these things are okay. Rome wasn't built in a day, so don't expect your culinary and money-saving skills to be either. Hang in there, and you'll be cooking like a pro, and you'll have that big ticket item in no time.
This is part 2 of a three-part series on little ways to help you save up for a big ticket item. Check out part 1 Save Up For That Big Ticket Item Pt 1: Branded to Generic.