Writers - The Starving Artists (Some Tips For Saving Money)

I don't like to harp on about money too much - I find it a devastatingly dull conversational piece. But I can't hide from the facts...in giving up my fairly-well paying career so that I could focus my energies on my writing, I simply do not have the disposable income I once had. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The fact that I'm happier and healthier is vindication enough for my pre-mid-life-crisis. And so I find that I have to live off a tight budget. For those of you who have just made the leap into writerdom, or are considering it, here are some of the money-saving ideas that I have found to be the most effective for me:

1. Five Dollar Meals - Essentially this is a rule that means I can't (or won't) spend more than $5 on a meal. This means that, when I am cooking, if I spend $20 on ingredients, the food needs to have at least four servings. Now, keep in mind that it's a maximum of $5, I usually aim for about $2 - $3 per serve for a home cooked meal. This involves lots of slow-cooked cheap cuts of meat, lots of rice, and lots of imagination.

This rule also counts if I forget to bring my lunch to work, or I am running late and need to buy breakfast on the go. I get really, really uspet with myself if I have to buy both breakfast and lunch. Including a coffee, I will not spend more than $5 for either of these meals. That's the tough one - coffee these days costs at least $4, especially as I have soy milk, so I have to really want a coffee if I am going to buy one. I have had to learn to live with the instant coffee that my boss provides me with.

And if you're out to dinner with friends? This is a tough one. Usually I know in advance that I am going to have to splurge on a night out, so I will really tighten the belt in the week leading up to the aforementioned dinner. This means absolutely no coffees, and sandwiches from a $1.09 loaf of bread from Coles. Not overly appetising, but I enjoy the dinner with friends all the more for it.

Image source: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSq52b4NDuhLC7G7QrAINDOq6Ea7nCYN-j4eXszfEEXJ-L91sgIvw

2. Five Dollars a Wear - This is a rule given to me by a friend, only she had a $10 a wear rule. If you are going to buy an item of clothing, it should work out to be at least $5 a wear. So, if you buy an $80 dress, it needs to be worn 20 times. I have to admit, this rule is easy for me to follow as I don't tend to bother with fashion, and so I apply it to spontaneous purchases as well. For example, I will not buy a book for $20 if I am only going to get a day or two out of it -  that's what libraries are for.

I sometimes cheat with this rule. For example, I have a friend's wedding coming up and she is very particular. The day is really important to her, and it is a social faux pas to wear a dress to a wedding that everyone has already seen. After weeks of searching I bought a very nice dress for $80 that I will probably only wear 3 or 4 times. To be able to afford it, I didn't drink coffee for a month.

3. Utilise Lay-By - this one is to help with idea number 2, and is something I only recently discovered. I recently bought a ring for myself in memorandum for my Nan, who I lost to cancer a few months ago (with little forget-me-not flowers on it, which we used to gather together). I paid $5 a week until the ring was paid off, THEN I got the ring. This meant that I had to really, really want the ring, as the luster wears off a bit after waiting so long when the purchase is not something you really need. As it happens, I haven't had even the briefest moment of regret.

Image source: renault4.co.uk

4. Ease Off the Gas - I discovered that I get an extra day's worth of petrol if I don't 'floor-it' when driving. When you ease up to the speed limit, you use less petrol. I have a granny-mobile so this can be really tough to do. It takes me so much longer than everyone else to reach the speed limit even when I do stomp on the accelerator. And so I crank up the music and bop along, refusing to look at the speedometer and how slow I am going. This does not mean you have to drive slowly - I don't. I am just not in as much of a rush to reach the speed limit as I used to be. Once I reach the speed limit I travel at the same pace as everyone else. Disclaimer: sorry to all those folks who drive on the same roads as me.

I am still fairly new to this whole saving money palaver. I would love to know anyone else's tips and tricks that I can try!


  1. I'm current in the middle of saving for a holiday and I have become Mr. Tight Pants McGoo to the point of being almost impossible to live with. You, my friend, have given me more than any abnormal person would ever need in the quest to squeeze an extra dollar out of life.

    I could kiss you!

  2. I'm glad I could help! I try to be realistic about it. To say I will never forget my lunch, or would never buy something spontaneously is naive, so I place limits on my impulsivity.

    I would love to hear some of your money squeezing ideas too.

    Enjoy your holiday, you deserve it :)


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