In praise of the half-arsed money saving effort

Save money now! Turn your finances around in 24 hours! Be more productive instantly! Apply our sinisterly cultish totalitarian system for 30 days and secure your entire future!

Oh gimme a break. And now, a wise-if-sarky word from our sponsor, Hipster Kitty.

While I have been known to bust a gut on various projects whenever the mood takes me, I’m also rather fond of assorted clever hacks, apps and gizmos that make life simpler and easier. There’s a time and a place for a well-judged short cut if you know what I mean.

I’m also extremely wary of those radical plans that promise you the earth, but are entirely impossible to stick to in the long run because they’re essentially incompatible with the ups and downs of life in the real world. All these bits of advice do is offer you something simplistic, fill you with false hope and finally they make you feel like a total failure when it inevitably all goes wrong. They’re disempowering, and the worst thing about them is that they can leave you feeling like there’s no point in making any kind of effort at all.

They also tend to throw you during the learning stage, the point where you might be feeling a bit delicate or easily discouraged. So I’m here to say that it’s okay to have wobbles in the learning stage – go in with a ‘see how it goes’ attitude and don’t beat yourself up when that new budget or plan doesn’t work. Just learn from it and try to remember that the fine tuning stage is where all the best money management is really forged. It needs to work for you, it doesn’t matter at all that it worked for the motivational speaker from wherever with the fancy website and the expensive book.

So, unless you are having a financial emergency such as bailiffs at the door, I suggest going in with a half-arsed attempt first if you want to pick up new money skills. Don’t overdo it, and don’t strain yourself to breaking point from the off. Set one, two, or at the most three nicely modest goals, and test the water. See how you get on. You can ramp it up later if you find something that’s right for you.

For example:

  • Yes, of course it’s expensive to go out for lunch every day. Instead of freaking out, switching to daily packed lunches, and pissing off your usual lunch buddies, try taking a packed lunch to work twice a week. You’ll still save a fair bit of money.
  • Making a monthly budget is an excellent idea, but only if it’s easy to stick to. For example, whatever figure you originally allocate to going out / entertainment, increase it by 25% and reduce other spending accordingly. It just works, try it.
  • If you fancy yourself as a wheeler dealer investor, use a no-money ‘dummy’ market tracker to make pretend deals for a few months to give yourself a feel for the markets. Don’t get sucked into the BS of the ‘buy, buy, buy, sell, sell, sell’ mentality either – try the counter-intuitive measure of making fewer trades and see how a lower churn rate means lower fees.
  • Selling on eBay is often a helpful way to supplement your income, but there usually comes a point where more effort no longer equals more money. Do your selling in batches to save time, and wait for days when the marketplace announces they’re not charging selling fees.

Any other take-it-slow ideas? Are you a money hacker slacker too?


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  1. LOVING Hipster Kitty!!! Hilarious!!!! Great post too Penny – I take leftovers into work every now and again. Saves a few pence and often makes my work colleagues a bit jealous when I rock up with a tupperware box of last night’s beef stew… 🙂

  2. Great post! It’s too easy for people to fall into that all or nothing mentality, sometimes a little financial nip and tuck here and there will save you money without refurbing your entire lifestyle.
    Hipster Kitty makes a valid point! 😉

    @Jackie Tyler – I’m now craving beef stew! Roll on lunch! 🙂

  3. Hi Rachael and Jackie – looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more of Hipster Kitty from now on then…

    Here’s to being perfectly reasonable about personal finance. By the way, would you like to buy a copy of my new ebook? It’s called ‘Cash cow boot camp’ and can be yours for today only at the special introductory price of just £249.99. Bargain! Just kidding.

    Penny x

  4. Another vote for Hipster Kitty.

    I’m a big fan of making ‘real’ adjustments and if you have a business, make the most of stationery being tax-deductible, and buy some nice stuff for yourself.

    Having a lovely work diary is beautiful to look at, a good motivator, great for productivity and it makes you feel good. Even better if the cost comes off your tax bill. Just don’t spend several hundred quid on a diary if it isn’t proportionate to your turnover/profits.

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