Today I wanted to share with you how I reduced my monthly expenses, and talk about whether I’ve noticed much difference in my life. I’d like to thank a brief period of unemployment that motivated me to make these positive changes, some of which were only temporary – if it weren’t for my need to reduce expenses, I might’ve never truly evaluated where my money was going, and what was important to me.
When I proof-read this to my partner, he shot me a hilariously sarcastic look and said, “You were just wasting a lot of money to begin with.” And I was. So while I write this, please know I understand that everyone is different, and this post might not be relevant to those of you who have been wiser with money. But here’s why I write it: even if this post is irrelevant to 80% of its readers, to the 20%, 10% or even 5% of readers it is relevant to, it may be helpful and inspiring. Or I hope so!
Here’s exactly what I cut back on..
Spotify Premium | This was the first to go, as it’s obviously a want and not a need. By cancelling my subscription, I saved $14.99 NZD a month. Not a bad start.
Have I noticed much? No. I still use Spotify, and surprisingly the ads don’t bother me as much as I thought they did. However, I use it less. I noticed that I always listened to the same artists & albums, so instead I listen to their CD’s. To me, having a tangible piece of work made with love, sweat, inspiration and creativity, is priceless. I love the original artwork, the lyric booklets, the quirky sentimental photographs, the artists’ personal thank-you’s – all of it feels so much more authentic than a digital music library. To me, buying a new CD for $20-25 every couple of months and only when I’ve actually found something I love > paying $15 every single month.
LinkedIn Premium (Career) | I was subscribed to this service because I enjoyed using LinkedIn Learning – the courses are well structured with helpful tutors and chapter quizzes to build your knowledge. You can find anything, from photography, to graphic design, to human resources, to leadership, to writing.. The possibilities are endless! Though I loved it, unsubscribing saved me $40.24 NZD a month.
Have I noticed much? No. Shortly after unsubscribing, I subscribed to more Youtubers of lifestyle, organisation, productivity, minimalism, zero waste and personal finance (see here). I also signed up to a two month free trial of Skillshare, another online learning platform full of exciting courses – plus earned extra months by signing friends up to a free trial! I’m divided – both LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare are great, so I’ll do an update further down the track as to my choice of online course self-learning.
Mobile Phone Data | After my mortgage & car, my phone is one of the priciest expenses. Looking at where I could save, I realised I had a ton of carryover data – about 30GB – which is enough to last me months! Reducing my data from 7GB to 2.5GB saved me $30 NZD a month.
Have I noticed much? Not at all – especially with my change of job and change of habits. I spend less time on my phone and when I do, I usually have WiFi.
Office 365 | I can’t believe I even got an Office 365 subscription – not because it’s not an extremely useful service, that provides you with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote etc. It’s more that it goes to show that people buy things for convenience. I’d used only Word and Excel all my life in school and work, so when it came to wanting to type things up at home, they were my first choice. What I’m surprised at is that I never looked around for better, more affordable or even free services. (I thought people were silly not to do that for insurance & banking, but here I was doing the same thing, just for something else!) I was so determined to use Office to be more productive, but I just never used it as much as I thought I would – so unsubscribing saved me $10 NZD a month.
Have I noticed much? No. After unsubscribing, I searched for something like ‘best free writing apps”. It took a bit of experimenting, but I ended up loving the brilliant WPS Office, which comes with Writer, Spreadsheets & Presentation, and have used it ever since. It does absolutely everything I need it to, like formatting text & pictures and converting to PDF. (And for what? Putting up with only one ad every time it opens.)
Gym Membership | I’ve always been part of Les Mills because the atmosphere is like no other – it’s bright, loud and colourful, with brilliant classes and motivating instructors. Luckily, they have an option for you to suspend your membership for up to 90 days per membership year, at no cost. I took the opportunity to temporarily suspend my membership and fortnightly payment of $49, saving me a whopping $98 NZD a month.
Have I noticed much? Yes. I miss the runner’s high after a long treadmill workout, and feeling strong, refreshed and energised after a BODYPUMP sweat session. Unfortunately I’m not motivated to run at all in the drab winter weather. So while I’ve balanced out my lack of gym exercise with Blogilates, free yoga sessions (offered by Lululemon and Golden Yogi every Sunday morning!) and eating healthy foods, I’m delighted to go back soon.
Mortgage | I truly prioritise time over money, but this was another temporary solution that helped. When I first took out my home loan, I was overjoyed that I could change my regular payments online with just a few clicks. Rounding up my fortnightly mortgage payments and increasing them by only $19.49 saved me 2 years & 7 months, hence I went ahead and did it. So when I really needed to stick to a budget, I reversed the change – saving $38.98 NZD a month.
Since earning a stable income again, I increased it by $79.49 a fortnight – $158.98 a month – saving me 8 years and 3 months. Hooray!
So how much did I manage to save?
The things I managed to save on indefinitely: $95.24 a month.
Including the things I saved on temporarily (gym, mortgage): $232.22 a month.
The experience of reducing my monthly expenses wasn’t frustrating. In fact, it was enlightening and eye-opening. Much like decluttering my physical belongings, I felt lighter. Not only do I have less bills and less to remember, my life feels, once again, more intentional, allocating my time and money to better things! I hope this has been helpful to you, and if you’re still here, thank you for reading!