These 5 things saved me a lot of money in 2018

We all work hard towards the fun things in life and I suppose most of my readers work hard towards (early) retirement as well. One of the biggest contributors to retiring is the art of saving. I will list 5 things that helped me to save a big chunk of my monthly salary.

We all know the general rule of ‘paying yourself before you pay others’, but what actually allows you to maximize the part that you pay yourself? Well I don’t have one answer that fits all. But I can give you 5 suggestions that’ve worked for me.

Forget about your car

As I’m Dutch and as you know Dutch people go everywhere on their bike it might be easy for me to talk but ditching your car saves you a great deal of money. No insurance, no fuel, no taxes, no depreciation, no repairs, no nothing. Get a bike and use it for your groceries, bar nights, dinner parties etcetera. For work I have a specific train subscription and if I need to travel across country this subscription provides me with 40% discount. Now I completely understand that families might have the need for a car for various reasons, I’m not saying you have to go out and sell your car, but you could forget about the car a bit more. Take your bike instead and save yourself some fuel and mileage. Also: cars depreciate, a lot, maybe think about buying an used car instead of that flashy new car you’ve been dreaming about. Make it practical, and cheap with low monthly costs.

Make a budget

How will you know how much money you can afford to spend, or how much even comes in every month, easy: a budget! Write down all your income sources, all your expenses and be honest, even those little coffee purchases on your way to work as well as those subscriptions on magazines or services you use. Once you’ve written it all down you’ll see how much is leftover every month and if this number is enough for you, or if you could squeeze a few extra percentages out of it. You might find out that you pay quite a lot of money for things you barely use, if so: CUT IT. Every saved Euro/Dollar is worth it, it can be used to generate more money for you next year!

Just a little tip: try to be realistic, if you’re a parent and you have to provide for children it’s unrealistic to expect to save 50% more money by making a budget. This will just demotivate you, just create the budget and try to improve your savings rate bit by bit. Cut back on unneccessary things, but don’t get crazy and serve dry bread with water to your kids every evening.

Learn how to cook

It’s simple, eating out always results in a huge expense. The dinner, the extra drinks and the probability of going to another place with your friends afterwards. Learning how to cook and having fun doing so can save you a ridiculous amount of money each and every single day. Now I understand that cooking isn’t everyone their hobby, but especially when you are in a relationship and/or you have friends over you’ll have company and you can use the cooking time as ‘quality time’ to talk about things. This will take your mind of the ‘boring grind of preparing and cooking’. The other option is to use a certain passion you have and to put it into cooking. I myself am very passionate about Italy and thus I watched quite a few cooking videos of traditional Italian dishes and I try to recreate them myself. Whenever I leave Italy to go back to The Netherlands I take a bucketload of fresh ingredients with me that cost very little and I get to make my favorite dishes (albeit it little worse than the original ones in Italy) at home. This way I keep cooking fun, I eat delicious food and I have something to impress my Italian friends. It’s also quite fun to show your regular friends your improving cooking skills while having them over for a nice dinner.

Meet friends at home

We pick up where we left of in the previous point. Going out to bars is a lot of fun, I used to do it multiple times a week for years. The bad thing is that it costs way more than drinking/eating the same things at home. Why don’t you invite your friends over at home and have a dinner party at your place. It saves you on food costs, drinking costs and you can entertain yourselfs by talking just as in the bars or restaurants, or you can make a game night out of it. I personally enjoy playing some multiplayer videogames with my friends every now and again. Usually it’s just as much fun as going out and spending €50.

Make grocery lists

Buy what you need. Don’t buy all kinds of extra groceries because ‘you feel like it’. It’s generally known that when you’re hungry and you go grocery shopping you’ll more than likely pick up extra food or snacks. So you better make sure you go shopping on a full stomach and with a list of items you currently need. Plan your meals for the entire week and pick up the needed groceries. This way you prevent yourself from going back to the grocery store everyday and picking up snacks for example.

The goal of this post is not to make you into a introvert ‘stay-at-home’ kind of person, but to provide you some general tips on where you could improve your budget. Do you really need to go out to a bar for the third time this week because you want to see that friend of yours, or could you maybe invite them over at your home and have the same beer, but way cheaper?

I hope I gave you some ideas as to where you can start saving a few bucks every month!

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  1. We are cooking at home everyday now. Also, instead of going to a gym, we just go out and run. It is more fun to be outside too.

    • DutchIndependence

      Breathing in the fresh air and cooking with fresh vegetables AND saving money, it doesn’t get much better than that!


  2. Great list on what saved you money last year. I think your points are spot on. I save a lot of money by not having a car, and I like your point about being realistic about your savings rate. Not having a car also helps with budgeting because you have less unexpected expenses. Looking forward to following your journey this year. Keep it up!

    • DutchIndependence

      The unexpected expenses on a car can be so bad, I’m happy I don’t have to worry about it! Thanks for your comment and I’m looking forward to this year!


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