I might not be the one to talk about saving money. After all I’ve a negative net worth of around 20.000 dollars. But hey, I’m trying to change my lifestyle and I’d like to share what I’ve learnt so far.
In this post I’ll share my thoughts on saving money on housing, transportation and subscriptions. I’ll return with more posts about saving money in different areas later.
Let’s start with the biggest expense to most people: Housing. It’s critical to get your housing expenses down to an acceptable level, if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life as a wage earner. There’s an ongoing discussion between those who rent and those who own. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this discussion now.
However, I prefer to rent. I’ve just moved to a new apartment with my girlfriend a couple of months ago. We split the expenses 50/50. If I was single I’d be fine in a smaller apartment, but it would most likely still cost me more. As you probably know, finding a roommate (or two) can help you lower your part of the expenses significantly if you’re single.
If you choose to rent an apartment in a relatively expensive city like Copenhagen, you should do some research on the topic first. House prices has been climbing with close to 10 percent pr. year since 2010. This is, of course, affecting the cost of renting in the private market.
We have some relatively strict restrictions on the renting market here in Denmark. Renters can bring their landlords to court and have the rent price lowered, if it exceeds a certain limit pr. m2. Not many seems to take advantage of this due to ignorance or whatever. Therefore, renting in the private market is expensive in Copenhagen.
But there are other options. For example, we have around 500.000 public housing apartments in Denmark. These apartments are financed through government loans, and the cost of renting cannot exceed the expenses of the local housing department. It means that nobody can make a profit from the rent you pay!
You’ll not be living in a fancy building though, but you’d have the option to live fairly close to the city center (and all the jobs).
For example, we have a 75 m2 apartment with a nice kitchen and a balcony in the best part of the city (in my opinion, anyway). We even have a guest room! All this for 970 dollars a month (including water, heating and cable TV). Furthermore, we don’t have to pay any property taxes and have no maintaining costs. If something breaks (as our oven did last month) all we’ve to do is call the janitor and he’ll fix the problem (this is not free, of course, but we already paid for it through the rent).
So if you’re considering moving to Copenhagen and want to rent, I’d advice you to sign up for the public housing association today as the waiting list can be rather long. Make sure you sign up for apartments close to your workplace.
This takes us to the next tip: don’t buy a car (or sell it asap if you already got one). There’s absolutely no reason to own a car if you live in Copenhagen or a similar city. I love the way Mr. Money Mustache describes a car as nothing but a fancy wheelchair. Spot on!
Who wants to sit in a crowded and smelly bus, when you can bike around everywhere? Copenhagen happens to be one of the most bike friendly cities in the world! You get to be outside in the fresh air, it’s great exercise, cheap and quite fun. Driving a car is stressful, especially in a city like Copenhagen where cyclist and pedestrians are all over the place. Furthermore, you don’t have to be stuck in a traffic jam anymore. It’s actually much faster for me to bike to my job than to take the bus.
Biking around is an obvious advice to most Danes, but if you’re considering moving to Copenhagen from another country a bike should be the very first purchase you make.
Again, be creative! A few months back, I borrowed my friend’s longboard and cruised all over the city. I can highly recommend it. The only reason I’m not cruising to work on the longboard is that I get too sweaty, and I won’t make the day worse than it already is for my co-workers.
Finally, I want to speak in favour of just walking from A to B. It’s most likely the least stressful option. You don’t have to think about the traffic, so you can just let your mind flow free thus providing you with a break from all the fuzz of daily life.
Cancel crappy subscriptions
Netflix, Fitness, HBO, Spotify, cell phone plan, Via Play, newspapers, mofibo, cable-TV, internet, you name it. You can subscribe to anything these days. How many do you have?
I’ve got a cell phone subscription, cable-TV and Internet. I hope to cancel the TV soon, but there’s some complications because it’s included in my rent.
I recently tried to bring my cell phone bill down, but I’ve just received an invoice with a higher price than I agreed to. Guess I have to call the company on Monday and have a little talk with a random employee who most likely hate her job. She probably can’t afford to quit because she spends all her leisure time watching TV, Netflix and has a whole bunch of other stupid subscriptions. She has no choice but to keep on going in the rat race. She even has to lie to innocent customers like me to make sure she gets the next bonus.
Notice that almost all the above mentioned subscriptions keep you completely passive without any creativity at all. Fuck that shit. Cancel those subscriptions! It’ll save you a fortune, but more importantly it’ll allow you to quit the rat race before you’re old and dying.
I just cancelled my membership in the local weightlifting club last month. Admittedly, it wasn’t only to save money as I’m injured at the moment so I can’t do the Olympic lifts.
Instead of spending your time feeling awkward in Fitness World, surrounded by bodybuilders and fitness fanatics who’s trying to sell you the latest protein shake or whatever new supplement the fitness industry has invented, you can have great work out outside for free.
I’m just doing calisthenics outside in the fresh air. It’s challenging and fun. I’ll give you a full guide to my free-super-awesome-work-out-regime in a later blogpost. If you live in Copenhagen and want to work out with me, feel free to reach out! Seriously who the fuck prefers paying hard earned money to train in a gym? Run on a fucking treadmill in a bad indoor climate, when you can take a run for free in beautiful nature enjoying the sun in your face.
Find free or cheap hobbies
Think about what kind of activities you can do for free. For example, there’s a nice tennis court right next to my training spot. It’s empty most of the time, so I go there with my girlfriend or good friends and play tennis. It’s super fun and provides me with an opportunity to catch up with old friends.
As mentioned above running is almost free. All you need is a pair of shoes and off you go. Writing is another hobby you can do for free. Hiking in the nature can cost a great deal if you need all the fancy gear. However, it can also be done without much spending. Playing soccer with friends in the park. Instead of going to an expensive bar or a fancy club, you can invite friends over to play a board game. It’s not free of course, but it comes at only a fraction of the cost. If you like reading, go to the library there’s entertainment for the rest of your life completely free!
I’d like to start doing yoga with my girlfriend, but we found the price for most classes is way to high, so we agreed to buy our own mats and learn to do it through free tutorials on YouTube.
It’s not my goal to never spend a single dime on hobbies. But if I can find something I can do for free and have just as much fun, I’ll definitely choose the free option. It’ll force you to get creative and make you reach out to your friends and get them on board. It’s a win-win situation!
For example, I like playing golf, but I like playing tennis just as much. Now, golf will cost me around 1000 dollars a year, while so far I’ve spend 10 dollars on a tennis racket and 20 dollars on tennis balls. So I’ve saved 970 dollars this year alone by choosing tennis. A nice amount of dollars I’ll put to work in the stock market to help me retire earlier – so I can play even more tennis!
You might not have the same interests as me, but I bet there’s plenty of opportunity for you to get creative and find ways to enjoy your hobbies without paying too much of your hard earned money.