My sister in law posed an interesting question this week, one I had been asking myself. "How much do you save with all the things you do? Do you think it's a lot?"
I had been meaning for a while to sit down and work it out. A lot of things I do I can see the savings easily, like cloth nappies. Other things, like switching everything off at the power point and doing everything possible to save water can be a little bit harder to gauge, but here it goes.
Starting with water, I know when we moved out and our tenants moved in, the water bills jumped. They were using much more than we ever did, and it was $50 - $70 more. Judging by that, we would be saving between $200 and $280 a year on water.
Our electricity is normally $200 less than most people I know. That's people with the same size homes. Based on that, we are using $800 less each year. I also know we are using less and less each bill.
For groceries, there are so many things here that I do to save money, that it is really hard to judge. Menu planning, shopping in season and using a pricebook are the biggest things, as well as buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, and looking for substitutes, (I will post more on groceries later). Based on what we used to spend a week, around $250 a week, and the fact that we are now down to about $100 a week, I have managed to save us $7800.
My groceries include nappies. I now mainly use cloth nappies and when people ask why bother and isn't it too much hassle? With 2 in nappies I am saving about $800 a year by using cloth. That $800 is included in my groceries though.
Moving to a smaller place with cheaper rent. We were living in a house in Sydney, then we moved to a 2 bedroom unit closer to my family. Our mortgage repayments are a lot more than we were charging in rent, but the rent we were charging was more than we were paying. The difference was $50 between our rent and the rent we were charging. By self managing our property, we save $1500 a year in agent fees. By renting smaller, we were saving $50 a week, plus we were able to claim expenses on tax. That $50 difference has grown now, as we charge slightly more rent, but have also moved to a cheaper place to rent. The difference now is $130. $130 a week is $6760 a year. That is a lot of money.
Trying to use the car as little as possible saves us in petrol and car maintenance, like services, tyres etc... How much, I couldn't give you a definate, but I can do an approximate. Instead of driving my husband to and from work each day so I can have the car, I simply go without most days. This would be saving about $15 in petrol a week, not to mention wear and tear on the car. The $15 a week is $780 a year.
Also, we only have 1 car. To register, insure, service etc... another car, we would be looking at around $2,500 a year. An expense we do not want, nor need.
I approximate our clothing savings to be around $2,000 a year. I never buy anything new, always second hand or try to make them. I would feel sick buying new and paying those outrages prices all the time. I am actually going to save even more on clothing soon,as I will be creating a classic wardrobe.
There's more I do, I know, but these are the main things. They total $19,260 - $19,340. That is a lot of money.
More importantly, if I was to stop doing all these things, and just give in to keeping up with the Joneses, not only would we no longer be saving, we'd be in the red.