My brother, in his infinite genius, recently quit his job. Now I can’t really blame him because his boss was to put it in the most polite way possible – an ass. I could list the myriad ways he was an ass, but suffice it to say, it was hell and I probably would have quit years before he did. In any case, he has taken a serious pay cut (think less than half of what he was earning before) and things are not going well for him right now.
The whole family is clubbing in to try to help him keep his head above water, and the task of teaching him how to make his money go much further has fallen to me. So I explained how I keep my costs down every month and told him to go check out some frugal living tips. When I asked him what he thought, his reply was that the advice is okay but that it’s ‘more for chicks than guys’.
And I realized that he was mostly right. While a lot of the advice was unisex, most of the articles were aimed at women. And because men think differently about their money, they might not think the advice they find on these blogs could be applied to them. So I met up with a couple of single men I know and asked them how they keep their costs down every month.
Now I’m sharing the easiest tips with you because the advice is really good! And the more money you save on unnecessary expenses, the more you will have left to spend on experiences!
1. Guys can use coupons too
Now I know that a lot of couponing sites are more aimed at women than men, but I checked all my favorite ones Discountrue.com, RetailMeNot.com, Coupons.com) and they do have coupons for “men’s stores” like hardware stores, men’s clothing, auto parts stores and electronics stores as well as the most important ones – grocery stores.
So, no matter if it’s Nordstrom or Banggood that you need, there is no reason why men can’t shop with coupons too! It might take a while to figure out how they work, but you would be surprised at just how much you can save on costs – especially if you are a portable black hole like my brother and eat more than should be humanly possible!
2. Be realistic about your wheels
I know how much guys love the newest go-fast cars, and how many of them often buy a car they can’t actually afford because of how much horsepower, torque or chrome (or some other insane reason) it has. At the end of the day, your car needs to get you, and possibly your family, from A to B, so as nice as that other stuff is – it’s not really necessary.
Your car payments should never be more than 15% of your TAKE HOME salary so keep that in mind when you’re shopping for one – or save for a year and put down a hefty deposit to get the payments on the car of your dreams to that level!
3. Service your own vehicles
I believe in buying a car with a maintenance plan because while it is still under warranty, services can cost a packet. But once the warranty has run out, or if you’ve bought a second-hand car, then service your car yourself. The owner’s manual will tell you how often your car needs to be serviced, and often what needs to be done or replaced for each.
Don’t wait until your service is due to shopping for the parts and supplies you need, keep an eye on discounts and promotions and buy when the price is right! Oil and fuel filters don’t really do well with just being cleaned, but you can extend your service intervals by ‘rinsing’ them and your air or cabin filters every month or so. Rotate your tires regularly and keep them pumped to the right pressure to make them last longer. Check YouTube for ‘how to’ videos and other internet resources if you’ve never done something before.
4. Cut down on your gas use
Keeping your air filter clean can help with your gas costs, and it is generally a pretty easy thing you can do on your own. You can also carpool if someone you work with stays nearby, or check out ride share sites to find people headed in the same direction. If possible, try to cut your commute by staying near to work (you’ll need to compromise on this if you’re living with someone) and take advantage of public transport.
My brother sold his expensive car and bought a cheap used car plus a 250cc motorbike which is his main transport. Not only does he have less traffic problems, his fuel costs are a fraction of what they were. He only uses the car when he has to; while grocery shopping, if it’s raining and if he knows there are meetings to go to.
Riding a motorcycle is a lot riskier than a car, but if you have a lot of experience, don’t ride like a maniac and you’re not riding too far every day it is definitely worthwhile. Do not speed too often, because the faster you go, the more fuel you use and you risk expensive fines – no matter what vehicle you use.
5. Rethink fixed monthly expenses
When your budget is tight, one of the first things to go is often your insurance. But that can be a very bad idea and something you’ll regret on the day you need it, whether it is health, car or home insurance! Your car insurance doesn’t have to be fully comprehensive, and there is probably quite a bit to be saved on your household insurance too.
Speak to some brokers, tell them what your budget is, what absolutely has to be covered, and that you want as much coverage as possible. Then let them advise you on the best plans to suit you. With your health insurance, you can get one that has high deductibles and open a health savings account which will earn a few tax benefits too! You can also try to pay some monthly expenses (such as auto insurance, cellular contracts, and cable) annually, this would get you a discount.
6. Learn to make your own meals
When we were going over my brothers budget, his biggest expense every month was by far his takeout bill. Whether breakfast, lunch or supper he would ALWAYS buy something rather than try to make it. And in the quantities that he eats, that makes for some pretty hefty bills!
So one of the first things I did was teaching him to make some basic beginner meals that were leftover friendly. In other words, things that only involved a few steps were difficult to mess up and that he didn’t have to keep too close an eye on, such as casseroles, crockpots, slow cooker meals, pasta, and curries.
I also taught him to make burgers, quick and easy French fries (basically homemade oven fries), pizzas, and other ‘fast food’ that he likes. He’s gotten pretty good at using leftovers for packed lunches, and what to shop for, so that he can still pack lunch on the days there are no leftovers to use. We also created a small grocery club where we buy certain things in bulk then split it between us to cut down on both our costs.
There are tons of other money saving tips that guys would feel comfortable with, and in this case your favorite search engine is your best friend. Just look for ‘money savings tips for guys’ and you’ll find more than a few articles about how men can save money. And who knows, you might just find some couponing or frugal living blogs written by men where you can get even more ‘guy themed’ saving money advice!
Why Rethinking Your Commute Could Save You a Million Dollars
Work! As if it’s not bad enough that we’re expected to check in with the office for nine hours of grind each day, many of us are compelled to trudge through bad traffic, worse weather and crowds of other miserable commuters just to get there. It’s no wonder that by the time we reach the workplace, we already feel stressed or tired – and find ourselves watching the clock tick by until we can complete the whole process in reverse on the way home.
A whopping 76% of commuters travel by car, despite studies showing that this is the most stressful form of transport, while only 3% of us opt for the traffic-busting option of cycling – which also keeps the mind and body in a healthier condition. But if you’re not ready to swap four wheels for two just yet, you can at least recalibrate the manner in which you drive: one in five of us reckon other commuters to be the biggest cause of stress, but we are all ‘other commuters’, so driving considerately and showing gratitude to others is a basic way to get a bit of good will circulating. Switch off your connected devices, make peace with the amount of time you’re inevitably going to spend at the wheel, and live in the moment. Rethink not only the way how you commute but the whole need for that. And save lots of money of course!
The headline probably startled you a bit. A million dollars? Sounds like an exaggeration… but if you sit down and calculate how much your car commute to work will really cost you during your career, you’ll start to realize the feasibility of such a number. But don’t worry, you can put your pencil and calculator down – we’ve done the work for you.
Revealing the Real Cost of Commuting
When you factor in costs such as maintenance, tires, gas, oil and depreciation, your car commute costs you about 34 cents for every mile you drive. The further you live away from work, the higher the cost of your commute. Each mile you have to drive to get to work will cost you $170 in car expenses annually.
This is before you consider the income you forego as a result of spending countless hours behind the wheel doing nothing productive. We only get paid for work produced or hours spent on the job.
On average, you spend 26 minutes driving to work. That means you spend 9 full days every year on the road commuting to and from work. Assuming an hourly rate of $25, the numbers add up quickly. If it takes you six minutes to drive a mile, you forego $625 every year in wages for each mile you have to drive to work.
When you add the car expenses, the costs come to $795 annually per mile.
That is just how much a one-mile drive costs, though. Some people have insane commutes that are more than 40 miles each way.
What would the figure come to if we accounted for the many miles the average person has to drive through to get to work? Let’s take a conservative 11 mile commute. If you drive 11 miles to work, the costs add up to $875 per year. Over a 30-year career, you’ll have lost $263,350. If you invested this money in an index fund with a compound return of 8 percent over the course of your 30-year career, you would end up with $1,086,099.
Factoring in the Strain on Health
I am not going to put a figure on how much long car commutes can cost you health wise. Your health is priceless so your insurance or medical expenses aren’t a good enough measure to price the toll long car commutes can have on your wellbeing.
I mentioned earlier that the average person spends 26 minutes sitting behind the wheels driving to work. In one workday, the individual spends 52 minutes sitting down driving to and from work.
A report published by Christine Hoener and colleagues in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals that commuting long distances increases the risk of cardiovascular death.
Lengthy commutes have also been linked to increased risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, back pain, depression and obesity.
The Solution? Rethink Your Commute
How far you live from work is the most significant variable determining your commuting costs. It goes without saying that you will get the greatest bang for your buck if you significantly reduced the distance from your home to the office.
You can do this by either moving closer to your workplace or getting a job closer to you.
I know this is easier said than done. Nonetheless, while it might seem hard right now, making these changes can be easier than you think. Often, people are not aware of the many options available to them if they only bothered to look around.
If you really cared enough, you can definitely find a comfortable place close to work or find a job close to where you live without harming your quality of life. The result will be a much shorter commute that is easier on your wallet and health.
If you do move within 10 miles of work, you can forego the car commute and take up biking instead. If you are not fit, this will definitely be hard during the first few weeks. Like with all things that require physical exertion, your body will adjust to the routine and you will get used to it in no time.
Being out of shape should actually act as motivation to take up biking. The health benefits far outweigh the inconvenience of arriving at work physically worn out during the first few days as your body adjusts to the new routine. What’s more? You can save time by combining exercise time and commuting time.
What if biking is not a practical option for you? I know reasonably fit people who sweat profusely when they engage in any form of cardiovascular activity. If one of those guys took up biking, they would show up in the office all sweaty. No one wants that. Showing up to work drenched in sweat is counterproductive.
There is a solution to this, though. If you still want to take up biking but fall in the sweaty group, find a gym close to work and secure yourself a membership. You can bike to the gym in the morning, use the bathrooms to freshen up and change, then walk to the office.
Alternatively, you can ditch car commuting and biking entirely in favor of public transportation. When you take public transportation, you free up your hands and mind to handle light tasks such as responding to email, organizing your day, planning and reading various work literature.
These are things you would have to do anyway even if you were not using public transport. When you take care of these small tasks while commuting, you free up time and energy to do other things that have greater impact during official working hours.
In addition, the positive impact you make on the environment adds up too – less emissions and less congestion on the roads means a greener planet.
You might argue that your commute time is too small to have an impact on your career or the earth. Remember though, the small daily costs you incur during your commute adds up to quite a hefty figure over time.
While the daily costs might appear negligible, the cumulative effect over a 30-year career is mind boggling. The same can be said about being productive while using public transport or contributing to the environment. Often, it is the small things, if done purposefully and consistently over time, that set us apart from the pack.
Finding the sweet spot between a reasonable commute and a home location that provides you with the quality of life you desire can be a challenge but it is doable. If you can’t get the best of both worlds then you will have to make some sacrifices.
The problem most people have when looking at a situation like this is that they consider only one variable in the equation. In this situation, their immediate reaction would be to consider the economics of moving closer to their current workplace. If the move doesn’t make economic sense, they’ll quickly dismiss the idea. What they are missing is that they are not eternally bound to their job and that they can find an equally good or even better job close to where they live.
When it is all said and done, a million dollars in wasted opportunity is just too big to ignore – especially when you consider the effect of this money on your retirement. You should strive to reduce the figure as much as possible by optimizing your life around cutting your commuting time or finding ways to do something productive during your commute.
For more great tips on how to make the most of a tough commute, check out this great new infographic that explores some of the research above and offers some realistic solutions. Once you’ve taken control of the morning commute, you’re halfway to winning your working day. It’s worth taking care of it!
With journeys of over twenty minutes shown to increase the risk of burnout, it pays off in both our professional and our personal lives to take countermeasures against the agonies of the daily commute. Around 1.2m commuters have used guided meditation apps like Headspace to zen out on their ride in, though it’s important to maintain a certain level of alertness when you’re actually in control of the vehicle.
Try breathing exercises and body awareness – keeping the shoulders rolled back and the chest open – to reset your system and keep things in perspective. Here are more ways to reduce commuter stress in case you cannot get rid of it totally!